taste test

Doechii Can Act, Too

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images, A24, Everett Collection

In the 2020 song “God” — well, less a song, more of a sermon — Doechii raps, “I have an unlimited supply of lyrics, and songs, and visions, and jobs, and money, and houses.” The abundance mind-set she was preaching then is clearly working for her now — her viral hit “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” was featured on the same album as “God” (Oh the Places You’ll Go), and she’s had several more viral hits since (recently, her song “What It Is” inspired a dance on TikTok). Last year, she became the first female rapper signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, the label known for signing Kendrick Lamar and SZA, among others. And now, she has officially dipped her toe into acting, playing a supporting role in Earth Mama, a meditation on care and survival directed by former Olympian Savanah Leaf.

The film stars San Francisco–based rapper Tia Nomore as Gia, whose third pregnancy is a source of both joy and extreme stress. Gia rushes from her job in a mall photo studio to an hour-long visitation with her children to a mandatory group-therapy session that is one of the many requirements she must fulfill to be reunited with her children full-time. That therapy session is where we meet Doechii’s character, Trina, also pregnant, and Gia’s purported best friend. As Trina, Doechii is the confident, self-assured foil to Gia’s quieter demeanor, providing much-needed moments of levity. But she’s also deeply principled and fervently religious, and the two begin to grow apart as Gia starts to consider putting her child up for adoption, something Trina feels is morally wrong.

Despite Trina’s inability to accept her friend’s reality when it conflicts with her own, Doechii’s portrayal lends a sincerity to the character that makes her hard to completely dislike. Her performance feels seasoned, despite the fact that it’s her first time acting. Considering Doechii’s own background and upbringing in a strongly religious household, it makes sense that she slips so comfortably into the character. What she’s not comfortable with is Trina’s severe opinions on adoption; Trina’s version of God is very different from Doechii’s, but both are passionate about what they preach.

Your Earth Mama character, Trina, is deeply religious. You have a background in the church, and you’ve spoken about how your creative expression feels spiritual for you. Could you talk about your spiritual background and how it may have informed the character?

Yeah, I grew up in the church, and we were heavily religious in my household and my entire family. I’m from the South. So a lot of it started Baptist, and then it kind of went into a different form of Christianity. But everybody in my family has pretty much grown up Christian. I sang a lot of Christian music and listened to a lot of gospel music and stuff like that. So I’m familiar and I can relate to and encounter people who are even sometimes overly religious in a toxic way. I’ve seen people have a healthy boundary with religion as well. There’s a lot of ways I could kind of relate to Trina, and then the people who don’t even practice what they preach, which is very much Trina.

Photo: Gabriel Saravia/A24/Gabriel Saravia

Is this your first time acting?

This is my first time acting. When I was younger, a lot of what I did was auditioning, or I would do plays at the church and stuff like that, but I wasn’t actually trained or anything. A lot of what I did is self-taught. I would read books about acting and just kind of make my own little skits on YouTube and stuff. But other than that, no, no actual experience or training.

What was your thought process when getting into character?

I’m just thinking about the actual scene and how I really feel and how I would really react in that scenario. I think I already understood the character, but Savanah was very adamant about us making the character. Even down to my mannerisms and how I talk with my hands and things.

Whether you’re acting, singing, dancing, or rapping, you have a powerful visual presence. How do you incorporate style into your artistry, whether you’re playing a character or just being yourself? 

Yeah, even the prosthetics, like the belly and stuff — I really like to get into character with any type of makeup looks I do. It’s a thing with me. People say that I look different every time they see me, because I just really allow makeup and fashion and hair to make up whatever character and feeling that I’m trying to portray. I think that same thing with Trina: the braids and the way she chews her gum, and her nails and her earrings and all of that plays into the part, and I really stepped into the essence of Trina and who she was.

Where do you get your best culture recommendations from?

Probably my friend Matthew. He’s my hairstylist and my best friend, and he is in the know about everything that goes on. Anywhere. You can ask him anything about pop culture or art or what happened to SWV in 1996, and he’ll have a story for you.

You’re hopping in an Uber XL. You can bring five celebrities, dead or alive. Who’s coming?

Rihanna, Aaliyah, who else … what’s that basketball player’s name, he used to dress up in drag sometimes: Donnie, is that his name? I can’t remember. Somebody knows who I’m talking about. Let’s see … Lil Nas X. And my best friend, Cici.

What is the last meal that you cooked for dinner?

A red-sauce pasta last night.

Classic, delicious. What’s your pre-performing ritual?

I usually need a second by myself. I’ll clear the room and just sit in silence. I like to listen to music while I get ready, and I think in my head I’m meditating while getting glam in my own little way. It’s hard to describe, but I’m just … I don’t know, just thinking. I’m still.

What do you listen to in the car?

I actually just like to chat instead of listening to music. I don’t even drive, so I’m usually talking to the driver.

I know that you were on YouTube in your teen years. Were you ever on Tumblr?

I had a Tumblr phase, but it was brief. I don’t know. It was too intimidating for me. I was like, these are writers, like legit writers were on Tumblr. I was like, I can’t keep up with this shit.

What’s your comfort rewatch?

Probably White Chicks. I love that movie. It’s so good.

Something that you will never, ever watch, no matter what?

I don’t want to be shady. Something I would never watch again is — I know everybody loves this movie — Holes. Boooooo, boring! I hate that movie.

Best piece of gossip you’ve ever heard?

Oh my God, okay. I did a remix of Beyoncé’s “America Has a Problem,” and somebody told me that they played it for her in the studio and she heard it and she said she liked it. But that’s just a rumor.

I believe it! Favorite game to play?

Bully. It’s an old game that I used to play on PlayStation 2, but it’s my favorite.

What music do you listen to when you’re alone?

Recently, I’ve been really into old ’70s French jazz. Such a vibe.

What’s a book you couldn’t put down?

This is gonna sound really childish, but it’s a Goosebumps book. Goosebumps in general. So lit.

Did you watch the Goosebumps show on Netflix?

I watched it. Fire.

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve received is to be detached. Don’t get so attached to, like, I’m winning. I’m doing great. And don’t get so attached to: I’m losing. I’m doing horrible. Just live a detached life and don’t attach yourself to everything, because nothing is permanent and that’s the beauty of life.

But the worst advice I’ve received, you remember that era where, like, Gary Vee was at an all-time high? And it was like, “Wake up at 5 a.m., and do this, and this is how you live your life to be successful.” That was the worst advice I could have ever received. I started making a lot more money when I woke up later and did what the fuck I wanted.

Doechii Can Act, Too