From the moment Candace Nicholas Lippman‘s Zoom profile picture pops up for our conversation, I get the feeling that she’s a person filled with a lot of joy. The image is of her smiling, but not just any simple smile. She’s literally beaming. Her eyes are squinted because she’s grinning so hard, her skin glowing. Once she greets me, my feeling is confirmed. She’s a naturally happy person, excited and filled with gratitude. And she certainly has a lot to be thankful for in this season of life.
Lippman is one of the star’s of Starz’s hit comedy/drama Blindspotting. It’s a spin-off from the critically-acclaimed 2018 film of the same name, created by the movie’s lead, actor Daveed Diggs. The show has recently returned for a second season. She’s also living in her best body yet, dropping more than 30 pounds after putting on weight unexpectedly over the last few years. The transformation was prompted by a desire to alleviate some joint pain, but also to prepare herself for roles in action movies and Marvel films. Granted, they aren’t roles she’s landed yet, but as a woman of faith, they are things she’s believing will come to fruition; just as her role in Blindspotting and her spoken word album Parts of Me did. She knows that it all starts with the mind, and if you can see it, it can come to pass. We talked to Lippman about that faith, the new season of her hit series, and her weight-loss journey. Here’s what she had to say about being grateful for all of it.
ESSENCE: Congratulations on Season 2 of Blindspotting. How are you feeling about it?
Candace Nicholas Lippman: I just feel so blessed and grateful. I’ve worked so hard to be living this dream, finally. I’ve been believing in it since I was a little girl. And to be one of the leads on a Season 2 show, I’m like, wow! Jesus. Dreams really do come true.
What can we expect from Season 2, specifically from your character of Janelle?
If you’ve seen Season 1, you will recall that Janelle was very guarded and mysterious and we didn’t really know what was going on with her. It wasn’t until the season finale that we finally knew, oh my goodness! She was married in Bali, she became a stepmother. She literally lived this whole other life that she kept secret, not only from her best friend Ashley, played by Jasmine Cephas Jones, but also from her mama, Margo Hall, and from her brother Colin, played by Daveed Diggs. And it’s just like, she kept this secret from her whole Oakland life. And now we pick up in Season 2, where she is still the same in terms of being guarded and mysterious. But the good thing is, we don’t have to wait until the season finale to get a little bit more insight with her. So I’m really excited for fans to just get more of an inside look on what Janelle’s life was like in Bali.
A lot has happened since Season 1 ended. One of those things is this health transformation that you’ve gone on. Can you share about it and what inspired it?
One of the things was definitely health reasons. I had some back and knee issues and I was like, what is going on? Because they’re like, “You’re still very young to be having these issues.” And part of it is, I had gained weight.
I’m used to being relatively thin and that’s the most weight I had ever put on myself. And to be honest, I did not feel good about myself. I’ve always been very modest in how I dress anyway, but I really was just hiding myself because I felt so uncomfortable with my weight gain. But more so, I always tell people, “Faith without works is dead.” And I believe in God for a lot of things in my life. I want to do action, I want to do Marvel. I want to do stuff like Miss Viola [Davis] in Woman King. I want to do these amazing action roles. But if I’m believing God for these roles and my body is not matching with the thing I’m trying to manifest, how is that going to align? So all this working out, I’m putting the work in behind my faith. That way, when the opportunity presents itself, I’m ready. If I’m huffing and puffing going upstairs, how am I going to sit there and do a whole karate kick on somebody?
So a big part of my fitness journey, again, is to feel better health wise. It takes a lot of pressure off my joints, relieving some of the weight. And more importantly, it’s just really me manifesting all these roles that I see myself doing, and I see myself looking a certain way for the roles that I’m believing God for. And in order for those things to come to pass, I have to be ready for them. So I’ve been putting in the work. I’ve literally lost 32 pounds so far. I want to shout out my trainer by the way, Teresa Conrad. of Conrad Coaching for her holding me accountable and always being that support system I needed on the days where I was really hard on myself. Thank you so much Teresa!
You said you were naturally small. Did you put on COVID weight?
I don’t know what was going on. I really realized it when I had went home to Sacramento to visit my family. When I went home, my mama, excuse this language, but she literally was just like, “Girl, when did you get all these titties?”
And I said, “I don’t know, mama. I don’t know.” I’ve just never have been big breasted and now I am. It was certain things. And again, I started feeling pain and stuff on my joints and I was just like, “What is going on?” And it turned out that they were saying that I was overweight. So I don’t know when it started. I don’t know if it was I was depressed, maybe because I’m very much an emotional eater, which is why it’s also been very difficult for me to have control over my diet. So I’m proud of myself, being able to stay disciplined and consistent with what I’m eating and putting into my body.
Why has it been important for you to share your journey with your followers on Instagram? Is it a form of accountability or you just want to encourage and inspire others? Or a little bit of both?
Well, yes, accountability, but it’s more so the inspiring and encouraging other people. I live my life like that in general. I went through this four-year development process of my one-woman stage show, A Rose Called Candace. And it was through that development process that God revealed to me how important our stories are. And our testimonies are not about us, they are meant to be shared for other people to hopefully make a change or inspire, encourage someone. And it’s through the development of my one woman show that, like I said, I really got that revelation from God and through my pastor mentoring me. My story is not unique. And because it’s not unique, that’s the reason I need to share it. So with that, I carry that with every area of my life. I’m so unashamed of who I am, I’m so unashamed of my struggles and obstacles and what I have overcome because it genuinely has built me into the person that I am today.
How are you feeling in this body that you’ve built through consistency and hard work? And what has your journey taught you about yourself?
Oh my goodness, I love it. I love how I look. I feel more confident, I feel excited for the first time in a long time about the summer. I’m like, okay, I’m going to wear a bathing suit this summer and maybe I will go ahead and wear shorts. I have beautiful long legs. Like Candace, it’s okay. Again, I’ve always been so modest even since I was a young girl and I don’t know what that’s about. I’m just now starting to really bloom and really be all of who God has called me to be, and really just be proud of how I look and who I am, especially as a chocolate Black woman. So I’m excited.
My journey has taught me literally that everything starts in our mind. When I look at my before photos and I look at myself now, I’m like, Candace, it really is in your mind. You genuinely can conquer and achieve anything through your faith and through hard work. And the biggest thing is, you will reap a harvest if you faint not.
And my last question on this particular topic. As someone who dealt with emotional eating, how have you been able to get control of that?
Again, just disciplining myself and re-shifting my thinking. Everything starts in the mind. So I’m like, okay, Candace, you’re not even hungry right now, so I need you to acknowledge what you’re feeling.
If I’m using food as a coping mechanism, I’m never really dealing with the thing that’s causing me to want to eat in the first place. I’m just covering it up and letting the sore continue to just get infected. So I try to think, “Okay, Candace, what’s going on with you? Why are you feeling how you’re feeling right now? You’re not even hungry, so put that down. Go for a walk, go do something productive.” I try my best to get myself out of whatever that head space is that I’m in that’s making me want to eat my emotions.
As a woman of faith, and you’re so bubbly and positive and everything, how do you stay that way in an industry that is obviously very focused on surface things and on, sometimes negative things and on body changes and on a lot of things that can really be detrimental to the spirit? How do you stay in line with your faith and stay encouraged and stay disciplined in everything that you do?
I stay encouraged because I’m always focused on my end goal. I’m very aware of my purpose. I know exactly what my assignment is, I understand why I’m called and why I’m here on this earth. So because I know what my purpose is, even when things are happening around me, I try my best. Also too, I stay so gracious because I am very aware that my gift doesn’t belong to me. My gifts and talents come from God. I am just a borrower. I am used as a vessel. So because I understand that my gift does not belong to me, it always keeps me so humble and grateful, and I am very aware that I have a responsibility with any opportunities or platform that I may have.
So that’s how I stay focused. And also too, I come, again, from nothing. I have dreamed and worked for this since I was a little girl. This seems impossible, the life that I am now living, and the fact that my dreams are really happening, all this hard work is paying off. There are a lot of people, it doesn’t happen for them, and I understand that. So I never take for granted my position in life. I know where I come from, I know how impossible this dream may seem to achieve. And the fact that it is happening for me, that’s nothing but God. So I am always and forever His servant and am in service with my art and with my gifts and with my whole being of who I am.
New episodes of Blindspotting air Friday nights on Starz.