It’s rare that you see a Black girl leading a major network show, but Saniyya Sidney is doing just that.
The star of Fox’s The Passage, a TV adaptation of the bestselling trilogy centered on a deadly experiment that turns people into vampires, Sidney’s character, Amy Bellafonte, is the only person on the fictional planet who may lead scientists to a cure. In other words, a Black girl is the key to saving the world.
The 12-year-old starlet, whose resumé is already full of projects with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, such as Julia Hart’s Fast Color, alongside Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Lorraine Toussaint, spoke to ESSENCE about what she’s learned from Hollywood veterans, including the Godfather of Black Hollywood excellence, Denzel Washington, and the Mother of Acting, Viola Davis. The young actress worked with the pair in the Oscar-nominated film, Fences. Sidney said Washington and Davis dropped pearls of wisdom that she’ll carry with her throughout her career.
“Denzel always told us to always bring 100% to the table,” Sidney recalled, “and bring your heart to work—that’s from Viola. Bring your heart to work and love what you do.”
And Sidney loves what she does. She called being on the set of The Passage “so awesome and fun” and said that the best part of working in entertainment has been learning from those around her.
The actress is also receiving attention for her turn in Fast Color, a film about a woman (Mbatha-Raw) with supernatural powers who returns home after years on the run.
The film put Black girl magic front and center, a phrase that has special meaning to Sidney.
“It means abundance, beauty, toughness, it can mean so many other things. It can also inspire others to believe in stuff and know that they have the magic too and that they have the ability to do and be what they want to be. I believe it means confidence and so many others,” she said.
And, for Sidney, bringing her Black girl magic to the big screen in a superhero role would be the perfect future role for her.
“I’d love to do a Marvel or DC movie,” she told ESSENCE. “I want to do one so bad. I’d love to play Bumblebee, [a member of the Teen Titans].”