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Samira Wiley on Practicing Gratitude, Body Positivity and Her Recent Run-In With Shawn Mendes

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Samira Wiley on Practicing Gratitude, Body Positivity and Her Recent Run-In With Shawn Mendes featured image

To put it simply, Samira Wiley is a joy. She’s bubbly, she’s bright and she taught me a thing or two about gratitude. After I told her about my failed attempt at morning journaling, she says, “Trying is something too, you know? I feel like so many people don’t try gratitude practices for themselves because they feel like they’re going to fail. In my opinion, you’re killing it.”

This message is exactly what Wiley is teaching in her upcoming documentary—it’s debuting in June—with vitamin brand One A Day, entitled The Gratitude Project, a movement inspiring personal acts of gratitude (even if that involves trying to journal, like me). “Showing yourself and your body gratitude can be something that feels big, like taking time to meditate each day or something small, like taking a daily multivitamin to give your body the key nutrients it needs. No matter how you show it, it’s something actionable, something more than saying, ‘thanks!’” Here, the Emmy-nominated actress and producer dives into her simple gratitude routine, new practices she wants to try and a few funny stories along the way.

Why were you inspired to a make this film with One A Day?

“When I first heard about One A Day’s Gratitude Project, I knew it was something that I had to be involved in. Incorporating gratitude into my everyday routine and expressing gratitude for my body was something that I was subconsciously doing before learning about it. Once I got with the One A Day team and learned about their initiative, I realized how much my life was already in line with their messaging. I’m diabetic myself, and 10 years ago I decided that enough is enough and I that needed to start taking care of myself. So, when I made that decision, something became clear in my life: I needed to take care of my body in order for it to show up for me everyday. These are the kinds of things One A Day was talking about and the message they were trying to put forth. Like me, you may realize you actually practice gratitude in your daily life, which is super encouraging.”

What’s does your daily gratitude practice entail?

“On a really basic level, being diabetic, I have to be very conscious about the kinds of things that I put into my body. When I wake up in the morning, I usually skip the caffeine and just drink water. And, I don’t do this every morning, but I try to get some exercise in—like a run—and make something like a smoothie or salad. When I think about a routine for my body, I am a lot of times focused on what’s going inside my body. Gratitude is about mind, body and spirit, so, for my mind, my wife got me into journaling. At first, I was like, ‘What is this? A diary?’ But it’s really just a way to get your thoughts out and have a productive, constructive start to your day. I’m trying, okay!”

Do you ever meditate?

“I don’t, but I really, really want to try. Recently, I was at the airport and I used to get a lot of anxiety when people would recognize me and come up to me. So, I’m in this part of the airport lounge where no one else is and this guy comes back by me and it turns out to be Shawn Mendes. He was completely by himself, no bodyguards or anything, and he’s just strolling around with his guitar and I’m like ‘This is a global star!’ But, anyways, he sits down and immediately takes off his mask and assumes a meditating position and just goes right into it. At first, I was thinking to myself, ‘Wow, this is such a great trick. Now, no one is going to bother him because he’s meditating.’ But, what I realized is that this wasn’t a trick—he was actually meditating. When he finished, we spoke a little bit but it was so interesting to see someone that was so completely centered. He had no idea who I was, he was just really nice to me because he’s a super nice person and I was just a fan, and there was something about that that made we want to get into the whole meditating thing. Shawn has got it all figured out! It was fantastic to see.”

How do you use One A Day products in your everyday routine?

“I love their gummy vitamins! It’s kind of become a habit to take them, just like brushing my teeth. They’re all super good and they taste amazing, which is kind of dangerous. I take the multivitamins in pill form as well, but the gummies are my favorite.

How do you stay focused on body positivity?

“That’s such a great question because I travel so much and I see messaging on TV and in magazines and I don’t even know how some women and young girls in our society are able to dodge this messaging because it’s really intense. I feel like the body positivity movement is becoming more of a thing that people want to talk about, but we have a lot of work to do. The damage that has been done from the previous messaging is really deep. Staying focused on body positivity is already a feat for myself, and I have a whole support system! I can’t imagine what it would be like otherwise. I remember being on a photoshoot and one of the people directing the shoot said something to me along the lines of ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to Photoshop that out,’ and I had never even said anything about that part of my body looking off. It’s just a lot to navigate. I try to stay surrounded by like-minded people and that’s why it was so easy to say yes to One A Day. Even being involved in this documentary and doing things like talking to you has brought gratitude into my daily life and keeps it in the center of my life.”

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