Every now and then, people wind up exactly where they’re supposed to be. This is how actress and beauty, Ilfenesh Hadera, describes her romance with being on screen. “The summer before 12th grade, I started getting into a bit of trouble. My mom said I could either go to summer camp again or do theatre, and I chose theatre.”
She attended Harlem School of the Arts that year, a community in which she still resides, and the rest is history. “From there I just kind of knew that that was the path for me,” Ilfenesh recalls. “It’s hard enough to figure out what you want to do with your life. I feel really lucky to have left high school having an idea of what I wanted,” she says.
“When I returned after filming “Baywatch” to the set of Billions, where I have a pretty small role, everyone was so happy for me,” she says.
You may have seen her face in some of your favorites like the hit Showtime series Billions, but “Baywatch” is the first time we’ll be seeing the 5’11 stunner as the star of show. Hadera describes that feeling as interesting yet exciting. “When I returned after filming “Baywatch” to the set of Billions, where I have a pretty small role, everyone was so happy for me,” she says.
Hadera plays Stephanie Holden, a super cool and badass chick, and also, Dwayne Johnson’s love interest in the film. When asked how she prepared for the role, she credits cleaning up her diet, amping up her workout routine, and spending lots of time getting acclimated to the water. Surprisingly enough, she didn’t binge watch the OG Baywatch in fear of not “bringing myself to the role.”
She also shares a tender onscreen kiss with her film bae, and while I’m sure we’ve all dreamed of what locking lips with the actor formerly known as The Rock, Hadera says her guy friends were more interested than the girls. “It’s kind of like he’s the guy girls want and guys want to be,” and when asked how fiancé Andrew Soroken felt about it she says, “It was actually really funny. He gave me a kiss (sometime) after and said to me, ‘So, I guess technically, I’ve kissed The Rock.”
“Growing up in New York, my schools were pretty diverse, so being bi-racial didn’t really affect me as much as it probably would if I grew up somewhere else,”
When she’s not busy on her many projects that also include Hulu’s Difficult People and Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, Ilfenesh spends time volunteering at her parent’s nonprofit, the African Services Committee. Ilfenesh is bi-racial, her mother is from Vermont and her father came to the U.S. as an Ethiopian refugee, something she thankfully hasn’t had to stuggle with. “Growing up in New York, my schools were pretty diverse, so being bi-racial didn’t really affect me as much as it probably would if I grew up somewhere else,” she says.
Her parents started the nonprofit organization located in the Bronx to help others just like her father get on their feet. “Now that I’m getting my own thing off the ground, I’m able to help out a little more,” Hadera says. Something you can tell she’s proud of. Who doesn’t love a woman who’s both beautiful and humane?
You can catch Ilfenesh on the big screen when Baywatch premieres friday, May 26th, and in the meantime follow her ascending career on her insatgram @ilfenator…