True, the daughter of Forest Whitaker, becomes a star
When True Whitaker was in third grade, she had a school biography project. The assignment was to choose a famous person, research and write a little about their life. Fairly normal things for an 8-year-old and, one would think, a rather simple task for a child whose father is Forest Whitaker.
“It was around the time my dad was filming ‘The Last King of Scotland,'” True, now 23, told The Post. “My mother, my sisters, my brother and I flew to visit him in Uganda.”
Now for the plot twist: “He had a meeting with Nelson Mandela.
“So I got to sit down and talk to Nelson Mandela, and I got to interview Winnie Mandela, who was his wife at the time. There’s a picture of me and Nelson Mandela holding hands and talking, and I’m like eight,” she laughed. “I wish I was older so I could really understand the significance — how crazy and iconic that moment was. I will cherish forever.
Such is the life of a celebrity offspring, and a refreshing self-awareness. True, the youngest of four children, was raised in Los Angeles by her mother, actress Keisha Nash-Whitaker, and her actor/director/writer/producer father, who starred in ‘Panic Room’, ‘Black Panther “, “The Butler” and countless other films.
“I feel like I’m half my mom and half my dad. My mom put a lot of energy into me. She’s very outgoing, very funny…I feel like my mom carried on my comedic side,” True said of Keisha, who split from Forest last year. “My dad is funny too, but he’s a little quieter in public spaces. My mum is still on 10 , in the right direction.
True also inherited many character traits from her father: “My spirit and my empathy. I feel like he taught me and my brother and sisters to approach life with a sense of understanding and openness to different kinds of people in this world – to embrace different kinds of people, with different energies and from different walks of life.
“I have always been very close to both my parents. Sometimes a little too close, maybe, I feel like I share everything with them. Even if it’s like, ‘Oh, daddy, I followed a cute guy [on social media] today !’ added True, who is single. “It’s literally anything and everything. But I like the feeling that I can be myself and not be afraid of being judged by my parents. I am truly grateful for the close relationship we have always had.
Another thing that runs in the family is a fondness for movies and television. At 18, True moved from Los Angeles to New York to pursue creative writing studies at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
“I feel like I took every creative writing course they had to offer, to figure out what part of writing I really wanted to delve into.” She graduated last year and lives in New York.
“Writing has always been an emotional thing for me. Whenever I felt overwhelmed with joy or sadness or any other type of emotion, I always turned to writing. I sometimes feel like when I speak I’m not as concise as I could be when I write. It gives me a different sense of power, so I always liked that.
And yes, she is also interested in acting.
“I starred in the last season of ‘Godfather of Harlem’, with my dad. I had a character called Sandra. She was definitely a challenge, but I loved every second of it and I hope she’ll come back because it’s filming,” she said of the Epix series.
Although she didn’t have any scenes with her father, True recalled the first time she saw him on set — which was also her very first day on set.
“At first, I didn’t even know he was there. But when we were done, I left the set, and a guy came up to me and said, ‘Oh, you just missed your dad.’ I was like, ‘What?’ I guess he was secretly watching with a little monitor somewhere.
“He’s very supportive,” she laughs. “When I went back up to my dressing room, I found him with balloons and a bottle of champagne, congratulating me. It was really special, of course, to be able to do this with my dad.
Ultimately, True hopes to continue both acting and writing professionally. In fact, since graduating from NYU, she’s been working on a treatment for a television series with playwright, writer, and director (“Almost Christmas,” “First Sunday”) David Talbert, who is also one of her mentors.
“I’m a trillion drafts in my streak. I hope that in the next few years you will see and be able to feel and hear my voice and understand the things that are close to my heart,” she said. “Everything I work on will be something that means something to me.”
Although it remains to be seen if she will star in the series if it is carried out, she plans to continue to pursue other acting opportunities.
“I did a lot of auditions. I’m signed to William Morris [Agency], and I love my agent – he gave me a lot of opportunities,” she said. “So hopefully it picks up soon, because I’m really passionate about acting.”
Whitaker is also passionate about social activism, just like her father. (Forest is an official advocate of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, and the founder of Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative.)
“No matter who I am, what family I come from, what my father does or his success, wherever I go, I am a black woman. So I will meet the challenges that this country presents to us because of its horrible story. As a very tall, dark-skinned black woman, I feel my blackness everywhere I go. Even when I go to a store, sometimes I feel like I have to buy something or keep my hands tight. in sight,” she explained. “I’m always going to feel the weird microaggressions. But I also have a sense of power, of course, being a black woman. I want it to be known that we deserve that kind of recognition and success, to be able to live the way I lived. I’m so proud that my dad, as a black man, was able to give us this life and this legacy of ours, a black family.
True’s Instagram bio reads “Black Lives Matter / Protect Black Women!”, and between family photos and selfies you’ll find pictures of marches and protests.
“I get up when I see things happening in the world that I think are bad,” she said. “We have to put some peace in the world, put some love and care into it.”
True’s Instagram also features photos and videos from the more glamorous side of her life — like debutante balls, red carpets and celebrity parties — but she insists her day-to-day reality is pretty normal.
“I just try to work on my writing and hang out with the people I love. Obviously if there’s an event I’m invited to, it’s crazy to go and I like to be included. I always like to be thought of! But I wouldn’t say I do that often.
In fact, you’re more likely to meet her at a karaoke bar.
“My sister and I, actually. In our time, we like to practice. We’ll perfect a song, then we’ll go to a karaoke bar. We will harmonize, overdo it, show our skills. We literally did it the other day – it was so much fun,” True said.
Their current favorite song is an old but good one, from 2007: “‘Potential Breakup Song’ by Aly and AJ. They’re having a bit of a resurgence, so we’re accepting that.
Photos: Tamara Beckwith/NY Post; Stylist: Heather Blair; Hair: T. Cooper/crowdMGMT using Cricket Company; Makeup: Markphong Tram/ABTP using Maybeline; Location: PHD Rooftop in Dream Downtown.