Teyonah Parris Wants to See Into the Future

Just five short years into her acting career, Teyonah Parris is already having quite the hot streak.

In 2012, the South Carolina-raised stunner landed a major part on Mad Men as Dawn, Sterling Cooper’s first black employee. “I love what Dawn meant to that world, integrating the workplace,” Parris says. A couple of years later, she made the leap to starring roles in the critically-acclaimed Sundance hit Dear White People. And right now, you can see her in Chi-Raq, Spike Lee’s satirical drama that tackles Chicago’s gang violence problem head-on. “I didn’t always understand what he was asking for,” she says of working with Lee, “but it was amazing.”

Taking a brief break from her rapid pop cultural ascent, Parris indulged us with a hard-hitting round of “Would You Rather?”


Photography: Ben Miller
Hair: Felicia Leatherwood
Makeup: Beatrice Sandoval
Styling: Toye Adedipe

Photography: Ashley Nguyen
Hair/Makeup: Adora Tokyo
Styling: Ayanna James

Photography: Ashley Nguyen
Hair/Makeup: Adora Tokyo
Styling: Ayanna James

Photography: Ashley Nguyen
Hair/Makeup: Adora Tokyo
Styling: Ayanna James

Which of the characters from Mad Men would you want as a roommate?

Not the actors playing them, right? I couldn’t choose! Of the characters, I guess I’d have to say Shirley, who was my character’s office friend.

Would you rather be hot all the time or cold all the time?

Hot all the time because at least then, maybe, I’m on a beach.

Would you rather never be able to stop dancing or never be able to stop singing?

Singing. I don’t want to be moving around all the time! I just wish I could sing.

Would you rather explore an unknown area of the world or invent something?

Oh. That’s hard. I’m going to say explore. Oh! I don’t know, that’s tough. Okay, today I’m going to say explore.

Would you rather be able to teleport or read minds?

Oh man! Teleport. I’d go anywhere I wanted to.

Would you rather be fluent in every language and never travel, or always travel but never be able to understand anyone?

Travel and not understand the language. There’s always that human aspect that helps you communicate with people no matter what.

Would you rather be able to always see five minutes into the future or always see 100 years into the future?

Five minutes. Actually, I’m going to say 100 years! You’d drive yourself crazy if you knew everything that was about to happen! You would never live in the moment. If you have 100 years, you’ll never have to worry about that, it wouldn’t concern you. I’d like to see what’s going to happen in 100 years.

Would you rather hiccup forever or always feel like you’re about to sneeze?

Oh god, hiccup. I would definitely rather hiccup.

Chi-Raq is available on DVD now, and on Blu-Ray January 26.