Excerpted by Latoya Peterson
RJ: My parents were crazy cool and I was a straight up geek. I wanted to be a lawyer, a judge, president…
WH: And instead, you became…an actress!
RJ: That was never the plan! But I always wanted to pursue theater and my black cultural identity. In my second year at college, I did the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, and it was so healing. It was an incredible experience.
WH: Healing because the African-American crowd shunned you for “not being black enough,” right?
RJ: Yeah. I’m lucky because I have so many clashing cultural, racial things going on: black, Jewish, Irish, Portuguese, Cherokee. I can float and be part of any community I want. The thing is, I do identify with being black, and if people don’t identify me that way that’s their issue. I’m happy to challenge people’s understanding of what it looks like to be biracial, because guess what? In the next 50 years, people will start looking more and more like me.