Rutina Wesley: Fit For A Queen


There’s a good chance you already know actress Rutina Wesley from her role as Tara Thornton on HBO’s vampire hit show True Blood. But her star keeps rising as she plays the character, Nova, on Oprah Winfrey’s mega-hit, Queen Sugar. Many may not have known it when she was younger, but Wesley was seemed like she was born to be a star.

She grew up in Las Vegas, where her mother was a showgirl and her father was a professional dancer, so performing is definitely in her blood.


“Both of my parents were dancers, so I grew up in the business,” Wesley said in a Q&A with her alma mater, Juilliard. “When I got to high school, I got to major in both theater and dance. I love playing characters and telling stories and moving audiences. I decided to go to college and focus on acting because you sort of can’t do both. My dad was like, ‘Well don’t forget about your feet!’ ’cause he’s a tap dancer… but I was really excited about acting. It was that performing arts high school that made me into the actor that I am.”

“I think as a young actress I was like, ‘I just want to do a black play. I want to do August Wilson. I want to play a black role. I want to play myself. I want to see myself,” she told HuffPost video producer Jaques Morel. “When I would see Viola and Angela and they look like me ― I was like, ‘If they could do it, I could do it.’”

It’s not only her acting that gets people’s attention, it’s also her cut physique. Wesley has these very toned arms, striking cheek bones and just a flattering slim build. It’s something she works hard to maintain daily.

“For me, I have this tough exterior and these Angela Bassett arms, and people think, ‘Oh, my God, Rutina’s tough.’ But I’m just a little Juliet on the inside. I look like I can beat you up. But I’m as soft as a flower,” she tells Fitness Magazine.

“I do a mix of cardio and strength — the elliptical machine and weight lifting — three times weekly. But a lot of my agility comes from being a dancer; I trained at Juilliard. I also do yoga. It helps me relax and let go of the crazy character I play.”

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“About every other day, I do a special 30-20-10 push-up circuit: 30 push-ups and 30 triceps dips, then 20 of each, then 10 of each.”

“My body is a reflection of how grateful I am for my life and my health; there are a lot of people less fortunate than me. And I still want to have these arms and legs when I’m 75.”

So what’s next for Nova and Wesley on Queen Sugar? Wesley is tight-lipped when it comes to next season, but one thing she does say is that she’s up for the challenge.

“[Nova] is very challenging to me as an actor because she has so many layers,” Wesley said in a recent Queen Sugar promo. “I’m intimidated by Nova, actually, because she is so sharp. I kinda joke and say Nova is like five things that I am, and like 15 things I’ve always wanted to be.”

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