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ziwe's score on wikiFeet is 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Welcome to mixed feelings’ Hyperspecific, a profile series of increasingly intimate questions in which we ask our favorite artists, scientists, musicians, and the like to unveil their innermost selves — their weird existential musings.
Here’s an oxymoron: Ziwe’s actual heaven is New York, but her low-key hell is trash and rats. I learned this important detail while sitting next to her at The Odeon — a very old-media New York bistro in Tribeca, open since 1980.
“I like the old classic New York that feels fun and inspirational,” she begins, complimenting the restaurant choice. I personally had never been to the Odeon but selfishly suggested it because I’ve always wanted to do an interview there — the same restaurant that hosted regulars like Basquiat and De Niro, and now, me and Ziwe.
Ziwe first rose to fame interviewing folks like Alison Roman and Caroline Calloway on Instagram Live then channeled that infectious comedic energy into an eponymous sketch talk show on Showtime that will go down in his- and herstory. Last month she released a book of essays called Black Friend: Essays.
The book covers a lot of ground from Ziwe’s own personal life to commentary on pop culture and identity. It’s a peek into the inner workings of her mind, maybe even the “dark parts” of her psyche that play Law & Order: SVU quotes on a loop. We attempted to go there, too, by interviewing her for Hyperspecific. Enjoy.
Something you’re always hoping people bring up in conversation when you first meet. My feet and how my score on wikiFeet is through the roof. It's five stars. It used to be two stars, but we've changed that. I actually wrote an essay that was excerpted in The New Yorker about my wikiFeet score. And it has mobilized millions of people to create an account and rate me. There are comments like “Ziwe’s feet are from God,” “Ziwe’s got the best feet,” and it's because of people like you watching at home.
A positive trait people always tell you you have. Kind.
One destructive trait you know you possess and wish you didn’t. Controlling.
If a bodega were to name a dish after you, what would it be? (Be specific.) Ziwe’s Bacon, egg and cheese, which is a bacon, egg, and cheese, but with more hot sauce packets. I don't like it when they only give you one. I want 10 and I'll use them all.
One song that makes you feel understood. “Lacrimosa” by Wolfgang. Another song that makes me feel understood is Britney Spears “Toxic”. Britney is my hero. I love her. A more modern Britney song that makes me feel understood is “Work Bitch”. Every day when I go to my job, I think of Britney Spears' “Work Bitch”.
Something you think is wildly underrated. I think being on time is wildly underrated. [I know it’s] problematic….This is not me holding people accountable. This is because I know that it's actually embarrassing to show up 20 minutes early and be upset with everyone because they aren't on the same neurotic schedule as you. So it's really me holding a mirror up to myself rather than society.
A movie you watch when you want to self-soothe. Shrek 2 is the greatest film. Shrek 2 is the greatest American comedy. It's hilarious. It's also really sexy. What's happening between donkey and that dragon? Donkey and Dragon are the original queer couple. While we don't know their genders, we do know that they exist in spaces that reject them and for that they are leaders.
Your problematic fave artist/actor/musician (and why). I'm my favorite problematic artist. Sometimes the things that I say, I'm like, “Why would you say that?”
A line from a TV show/film that plays on a loop in your head. It's from Boy Meets World and it's the older brother Eric talking to the younger brother, Corey or something. He goes, “Life's tough, get a helmet.” And then he knocks on his head. I will never forget that. It's very solution-oriented. I also love when the girl from Lizzie McGuire is like, “Lizzie, you’re an outfit repeater!” I was a big Disney kid, obviously.
Something you bought recently after lots of research. I don't love to buy things. Is that wild? I guess I could say food…like going to a really good restaurant. I'll research. I'll look through the Yelp reviews and I start with the bad ones, and then I try to see if the good ones can convince me that the bad ones were just being hysterical. I went to a nice restaurant upstate called Stissing House — I obviously researched it first.
One time you laughed so hard you cried. I was going to the Delta Lounge in CDG Paris and my suitcase got stuck in the escalator and I started to laugh. It was really funny. The French do not help. They did not help me. I can't speak re: all French people, but I can say that every French person watching me did not offer a hand.
One time you cried so hard you laughed. When I cry I always laugh because I love to look at myself in the mirror when I'm crying, like, “Daughter to Father” Lindsay Lohan vibes. I just really appreciate how absurd it is to cry. So when was the last time I cried? A week ago I was leaving my dog and then I started laughing because my dog does not care about me. He was happy for me to go. He goes to a farm and they play. At my house he just sits and watches me watch TV and then he'll go on trail hikes. I don't abuse my dog, but he would prefer to be on a farm.
What’s an anecdote you usually tell to describe how you were as a kid? I made people watch talent shows that were hosted by me, performed by me, and produced by me. They were my first live productions. That's the thing about a child. You can't say “I don't want to watch you sing and dance. Don’t cry.” It's not nice. And I did cry.
What is your low-key hell and actual heaven?
My low-key hell: trash and rats. But my heaven is New York. If we got rid of the trash and the rats? Game over.
Share a quote of one of the most meaningful things someone has ever said to you, context optional. Recently my friend told me that I shouldn't ever worry about my work because I put such distinct quality and thought into it that I don't have to compete in the rat race of content. I really appreciated that. It made me feel good to know that I am not doing anything wrong by being slow with what I share. I want it to be good.
Random thing you hate for no apparent reason. Everything I hate is justified for sure. What do I hate? Rats. I hate rats. I hate dirt. I hate grime. But I don't think that that's unjustified. I think that there are a couple plagues that would suggest I'm on the right side of history.
How you exit a party. I like to leave parties first and quietly. But it's not Irish. It's a Nigerian exit. A Nigerian would be like, “Hey, who's going to the after party?!” But my Nigerian exit is…“Thanks. Bye. This is a great party.”
How you wanna go (either un-seriously or seriously). I would like to go in an unserious way, hopefully surrounded by a harem of beautiful men who also help upholster my couches. I'm serious. Not that I want them all to pass on with me in a dark cult situation…but life is a joke.