As a nod to the nostalgic, we're asking celebrities questions pulled from those revealing MySpace surveys that we all know and love—highlighting their innermost thoughts, feelings, and favorite things with Broadly's "The Survey."
Amanda Seales’ spirit is infectious. When I sat down next to her for our interview, she noticed that I was anxious and called for a dance-off to loosen me up. The comic turned on a portable speaker and cued up the rump-shaking classic “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJs. Thirty seconds later, my mood lightened and we started our chat. Seales invokes this same upbeat energy on her debut HBO comedy special I Be Knowin’ to engage her audience as she delivers observational quips on racism, sexism, and life’s day-to-day perplexities.
The one-hour stand-up special, which premieres on Saturday (1/26), is a rite of passage for the comic, as she joins the ranks of Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, and other greats who have billed HBO specials.
In recent years leading up to the premiere—having been in show business since the age of 12—Seales has been sharpening her comedic wits in many ways. She currently plays Tiffany, the bougie and forthright member of Issa Dee’s (Issa Rae) crew on the HBO dramedy Insecure. Seales also has a live game show series called “Smart, Funny and Black” and podcast Small Doses. Now, Seales is ready to bring her smart humor centering Black women to a popular platform.
“I don’t think we have gotten enough opportunities to see Black women doing intellectually-based comedy,” Seales tells Broadly. “We need to see that. I wanted to be a continuance of that growth and of those examples to show there is a broader voice.”
In the special, Seales breaks down topics like traveling while Black, catcalling in Harlem versus Brooklyn, responsible hoes, code-switching at work, and white women tears—to name a few topics. She peppers her act with impersonations of guys she’s dated and loads of Black cultural references (i.e. the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”) while winning the crowd over with exaggerated facial expressions and hilarious dance routines.
“I was proud of my faces,” she said. “The biggest thing I developed in the last year and a half was realizing how my body and my face can help bring a joke to another level.”
While writing her material, Seales didn’t watch other comedy specials to avoid comparing her work but after she wrapped, she caught one of her faves, You So Crazy, Martin Lawrence's 1994 stand-up comedy special. “I was thinking, ‘I still am connected to this. I still love this. I can still quote this.’” She believes if I Be Knowin’ gives someone the same feeling, then it’s mission accomplished. “I can only hope that I have done something that is reminiscent of that essence because that to me is a perfect special," the 37-year-old says.
To wrap up the interview, I asked Seales a series of rapid-fire questions inspired by various nostalgic MySpace surveys. (For millennials, these were tedious questionnaires shared across the internet and answering them revealed your personal tastes and cool or embarrassing factoids about yourself.) She was totally down and especially excited to answer one question about her favorite fictional world.
Broadly: What’s the last beverage you drank?
Amanda Seales: Water.
What’s the last song you listened to?
Ghost Town DJs, “My Boo”
Do you have any pets?
I have a cat named Lando Catrissian.
What was the last time you cried?
This morning watching a Gillette commercial. The one about toxic masculinity. My makeup artist had to stop working.
Have you ever dated the same person again after breaking up?
(Laughs hysterically.) Yes of course.
If you had to change your name what would you change it to?
For my entire adolescence, my name in any imaginary space was Robin Devoe.
Besides social media, what’s your most visited web page?
What did you do for your last birthday?
Ugh. We don’t even want to go there.
Do you have any nicknames?
“Mands.” But only for family!
Do you identify with your zodiac sign?
I am my zodiac sign. Every morning I descend from the sky and then do this thing and then go back up in the sky and then become a crab. I am 100 percent cancer to the fullest.
Do you believe in psychics?
I am psychic.
If you could go back in time what year would you go to?
1977 so I could experience New York at its worse but also at its best in terms of hip-hop’s creation.
What’s your biggest insecurity?
Why does everyone keep asking me that?! Is it because I’m on Insecure? Could we do something else with the word "insecure?"
What insecurity do you feel is overly said compared to others?
When you order Chinese food, what do you get?
General Tso's chicken, but no spicy.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.
Have you ever been in a physical fight?
Yes. On West 8th Street in front of Superburger.
If you had to choose a different job what would it be?
Once upon a time I would’ve said, cardiothoracic surgeon. But people are so annoying. I’d really like to deal with just animals.
If you could live in any fictional universe, which would I choose?
This is a question I’ve never been asked before and I live so much of my life in fictional universes. I’d have to live in the wizarding world. It’s a very important question. Because if you think about it, if you live in like Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, or Star Wars galaxy, it’s unrest. But at least I can do magic. And there are more people against the unrest than for the unrest.
Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?
Anyone that doesn’t say Home Alone—it’s like what are you talking about? The Preacher’s Wife is a close second.
Is there any song that immediately makes you cry?
I have a whole playlist called “Sad White Girls.” There’s Fiona Apple, Sarah Maclaughin...I mean they’re killing your whole soul. You’re crying in the shower, on the floor. You’re smearing your lipstick.
What is your favorite meme right now?
My favorite GIF of all time is Natalie Cole and Whitney Houston going (pointing and laughing with each other). Cause I don’t know what they’re talking about and they don’t care that everybody else doesn’t know.