Ever since the 26-year-old actress Myh’ala Herrold understood what an actor was, she was sold. “I was dramatic from day one.” She attributes her successful beginnings to her supportive parents, who saw she had an affinity for the dramatics of stepping into someone else’s shoes for a performance. “I was six when my mom put me in my first musical class, and from there, my mom always know once I started that I literally was never going to stop,” she told ESSENCE. “Storytelling in kid form and adult form has always been my greatest love.” She was right; she never stopped and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama in 2018, taking a liking to live theatre performances until moving on to our big screens.
Essence sat down with the in-demand young starlet to talk all things acting, her love of Eartha Kitt, fashion icons, and her newest gig as the face of the new COS spring/summer campaign.
Suppose you’ve been keeping up with the British drama Industry, where her calculated and cunning character Harper Stern is seen to have plenty of fast-moving moments and sometimes breakdowns. In that case, the character is relatable because of her ability to pivot and plan on the fly. Stern in season 2 got a very rude awakening the last time we saw her, and not to spoil anything, but I’d be just as livid and confused. Herrold assured ESSENCE that she’s rooting for Harper. “I know the most human parts of her because those are places I have to fill on my own. I admire that Harper is uncompromising; she’s relentless. She doesn’t take no for an answer. She’s surrounded by the threat, and she betters them. She bests them every time. And I think that’s really boss, regardless of how she gets there.”
Those human parts that Herrold is speaking of are how she reaches inside of herself to pull out the anguish and anxiety that all humans experience. Some days she is completely lost in her character’s psyche, and those emotions of an anxiety attack for her character Harper are hard to escape. On other days she might have to rely on training and think about her character’s physical and visceral reactions. Either way, self-care to come out of that state of mind looks like a bath after a long shoot, a binge-watch of reality TV, or a drawn-out skincare routine. “I try to just enjoy the small, really mundane things that are a part of my routine that make me feel whole.”
Someone who she has emulated throughout her life and would love to play in a major biopic is Eartha Kitt. And who can blame her? Kitt, the late American singer, actress, and overall icon, became a personal role model in Herrold’s heart as a young woman, partially due to one interview that Kitt is asked about compromise. “She says, ‘Compromise for what?’ And she burst out laughing. And I remember the first time I watched that, I was like, ‘Oh my God. That’s how I feel.’ Why should I have to compromise who I am, what I love, what I’ll do in this life for anyone or anything?” Compromise for Herrold has never been an option. Growing up as a Black girl was difficult, as it is for all of us Black girls to live up to the expectation to assimilate. Herrold tells ESSENCE, “I felt throughout so much of my life that people were asking me to compromise parts of who I am to assimilate, to be more palatable. And I always felt like that crushed my soul. So when Eartha said I will not compromise, I was like, big bet. Neither will I.”
As her burgeoning career continues, the young actress’s personal style caught the eye of COS, a brand known for its chic and understated elegant clothing. Herrold has a good eye for placing pieces together and even shouts out her co-star Amandla Stenberg and, of course, Rihanna as her style inspirations and who she looks to for what’s trending. “She [Stenberg] really does exactly what she wants. She’s not trying to please anybody.” Herrold went from an all-black phase for its chicness to a minimal yet elevated everyday look. “I think the throughline has always been quality, integrity, and elevated version of that.” That’s why when she found out about the COS campaign, she was, in her words, gagged. The campaign features her alongside the likes of Saint Jhn and Sheila Atim — in her element of clean lines and well-constructed clothing—quality, integrity, and elevated.
As Herrold’s profile continues to rise, we’re excited to have a front-row seat to whatever is next.
The Spring Summer collection is available now on COS.com.