Dominique Fishback Is As Real As It Gets
Dominique Fishback is all about living her truth. Hailing from one of the Big Apple’s most-heralded boroughs, she takes pride in her hometown that’s apparent whenever she speaks about it. “No, I’m from Brooklyn,” she responds whenever someone asks if she’s from New York. As an actor, she credits the community she calls home with giving her the tools to persevere in a notoriously unforgiving industry. “I think Brooklyn just made me more confident to speak my truth, no matter what it was,” she says.
Fishback’s road to success was an often winding trail as opposed to a straight path. Her love of stagecraft began after a youth performance she attended while in elementary school created a passion inside her that would forever define her trajectory. But her desire to act would be tested on various occasions—so many times in fact that a person of lesser resolve would surely have been discouraged from pursuing acting as a career.
“In second grade, I saw this theater company called TADA!, which was kids performing musical theater,” she recalls. “When I saw them, I was like, I have to do that. I went home and I told my mom, and then I auditioned for the company three times—from the age of 8 to 10—and I never got in.” Later, the aspiring actor applied to the LaGuardi High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, on which the movie and TV series Fame was based—and again, rejection reared its head. This moment, along with a major shift in her family’s dynamic when she was 15, led Fishback to a transformative decision.
“My mom told me she was having a baby, and somehow I knew that if my mom didn’t know how to help me get into acting before this, she definitely wasn’t going to be able to get me into it after the baby came,” she says. “I realized I was going to have to do it myself, so I Googled ‘free acting programs for kids in New York City,’ and I found this company that changed my life.” Since then, Fishback, now 32, hasn’t looked back. After graduating from Pace University in 2013 with a theater degree, she made her official acting debut in The Knick—followed by roles in Blue Bloods, Royal Pain, Show Me A Hero, and The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, among others. In 2017, she was cast as a series regular in HBO’s The Deuce, and in 2021 she earned a BAFTA nomination for her portrayal of Deborah Johnson in Judas and the Black Messiah. For the budding star, it would mark just the beginning of an exciting rise to prominence.
If you’ve seen Fishback on television or in film, then you’ve felt the intensity of emotion her performances exude. Her powerful presence is the result of a determination to live with purpose and intention day by day. Her spirit is humble, but she’s not surprised by her achievements thus far. The Project Power star literally asked for this, putting pen to paper and making her vision plain.
“There’s something about having proof that you spoke your life into existence or you manifested your dreams,” she says of her longstanding practice of journaling. “It’s one thing to tell people, ‘Oh, yeah, I thought about this. I talked about this when I was a kid,’ but it’s another thing to have the evidence, in written form, that you did speak into being the specific thing that you are now experiencing. It just contributes to the power of the mind, the power of the written word, and it’s also a tool to reflect and say, ‘See where I’ve grown, and how I’ve grown?’”
Journaling also supports Fishback’s acting. She says it helps her to find the connection between herself and the characters she portrays. She reflects that for the most part, it hasn’t been difficult for her to identify points of connection between reality and script, with one exception—when she was preparing for what many consider to be her most complex role to date, that of Andrea “Dre” Greene in the satirical horror film Swarm.
“I approach all my characters similarly—I try to find the through line of what I have in common with them,” she explains. “But Dre is harder because we morally don’t agree. So I had to discover another connection—which is love. I know what it’s like to love my sister. I know what it’s like to love an artist. Not in the way that she does, but love is still love.” Leaning in closer, she continues, “If I can grab onto that, that means that the audience can grab onto that. I also had to journal, as myself, to remove any blocks or fears that I had about playing this character—because I didn’t want the camera to pick up a war between Dominique and Dre.”
“Every time I take on a role,” she finishes, “I always pray that I can be a vessel, a clear vessel for the energy and truth of that character to come through.” There’s an urgency in her tone that clearly communicates the deep sense of gratitude she feels about being able to express herself in this way, and for the heights she has reached in her life’s work.
As an actress, the Aries has already conquered a broad range of genres on-screen. Next up, she stars in the summer blockbuster Transformers: Rise of the Beasts while working on her one-woman show, Subverted—a story she says is about “the destruction of Black identity.” And she’s also exploring other artistic outlets, including songwriting.
“I’ve always wanted to do music,” she says with a beaming smile. “That was actually the first dream. I have a piano, I have a guitar, and I’ve been learning and experimenting and just trying to find what I want to say musically, and what my voice is. So I’m always just looking to expand artistically.”
In truth, her artistic drive knows no bounds. She speaks about crafting a documentary one day, curating an exhibit of her own paintings, directing her own films, and so much more. Given her talents, and Brooklyn’s confidence and resilience, her opportunities are endless. When asked what she wants her legacy to be, she responds, “Shoot, I think I want to be known as one of the most versatile actors ever, and one of the most creatively expansive artists we have ever seen.”
For Fishback, that goal is astonishingly attainable. With each role, the multitalented actor continues to grow her legacy, and she knows how large it becomes is entirely up to her. When all is said and done, she’s fully aware that limits are only as real as we make them. But unlike limitations, Dominique Fishback is as real as they come.
Photographed by Callum Walker Hutchinson
Styling by Bin X. Nguyen
Hair by Sharif Poston using Bumble and bumble at The Visionaries Makeup by Brandy Allen using Chanel at Celestine Agency
Nails by Sarah Chue using Deborah Lippmann at Exclusive Artists Photo Assistant: Devon Concord
Stylist Assistant: Ryan Phung
Tailor: Shirlee Idzakovich
Shot at Solar Studios
Special Thanks: L’Ermitage Beverly Hills
Production Coordinator: Gabriel Bruce
Production Assistants: Dion O’Joe and Jordan Mack
Visual Direction: Michael Quinn
Production by The Morrison Group