Toronto-born contemporary dancer and model Zoë Edwards graduated from U of T last year, and has had the pleasure of working with choreographers such as Esie Mensah, Allison Bradley and Shawn Bracke. She was featured in Glossier’s summer campaign and has modelled for eco-friendly shoe company Allbirds.

For Zoë, modelling has become a source of collaboration with other creatives here in the city, something she believes is vital to creating new and interesting work. Still, dance is and will always be her first love and she is looking forward to seeing where it takes her.

We caught up with her this week.

SDTC: When and where do you feel most at ease? 

ZE: I am most at ease when I’m in the dance studio, at home listening (and usually dancing) to music, or just walking down the street with my thoughts and headphones.

What food/dish always satisfies you?

Find me a good cookie and I’m set, or a really great mac n’ cheese (throw in some truffle oil for decadency).

What film/show has recently wowed you?

GOT all the way, love me some dragons. Billions and Insecure are also up there. Film-wise, If Beale Street Could Talk. It took me a day or two to process and come down from the weight of the film and the brilliance that is Barry Jenkins.

What’s on your current reading list? 

Currently reading The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. Next up will probably be Becoming, and then Beyond the Angry Black edited by John A. Williams (the contributors feature James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks). I’m expecting it to be heavy but good.

What Toronto spaces do you truly love? 

I love Hart House. The grandeur of it all makes you feel like you’re at Hogwarts; it’s absolutely magical all year round. It also has some great napping spots, which came in handy while I went to U of T. I also love my neighbourhood. There are people from all walks of life here (Jane and Weston). It’s also secluded enough to feel like a suburb but close enough to get to any part of the city.

What exhibit/museum/site are you dying to see?

The Mickalene Thomas: Femme Noires exhibit at the AGO, I’m probably going to go by myself—no distractions, ya know.

Your go-to coping mechanism/self-care?

My go-to coping mechanism usually involves dancing in my kitchen into the wee hours of the night or going for a run. There’s probably a face mask in there too and a long conversation with my mum.

What five things would you want if you were deserted on an island?

I would probably want a book, a radio, a machete, a first aid kit and a dog for company.

What’s a childhood memory that always brings a smile to your face?

Jumping into piles of leaves with my friends during recess. There’s a sensory aspect to it as well, specifically the smell of dried leaves in autumn will always bring me back to that.

What life philosophy is currently helping to guide your journey?

Take it one day at a time, and be grateful if you wake up the next day.

One skill you’d love to learn/nurture/improve this year?

One skill that I’d love to learn would probably be coding. To nurture and improve upon would be retaining French and Italian more.

What’s a piece of career advice that has served you well?

Treat everyone with kindness and respect. You never know who’s in the same room as you.

What outfit makes you feel the most you?

A turtleneck with jeans, booties, and my long, brown wool coat.

What toy/book have you held onto since you were small?

I have a collection of miniature versions of Robert Munsch books that are near and dear to my heart. Toy-wise, I think I still have one of the few black Barbies I owned in my basement. Sadly my mom never let me play with it because it was some kind of special edition. I think she was a Kenyan princess of sorts. Every year I’d go take a look at her, and every year my mum would say, “Okay, now put it back.” She’s still in the box.

What’s a subject that is currently holding your attention? An issue that you’re focused on?

There’s so much going on in the world right now, it’s quite difficult to narrow down, but two that still flabbergast me are in regards to the lack of accessible clean water for Indigenous communities right here in Canada and the on-going debate surrounding whether or not there’s still racial bias in carding and random stopping by the police here in Toronto.

When you compare yourself now to where you were at ten years ago, what’s a major change you can identify?

Ten years ago I was thirteen, so I would definitely say I’ve become much more grounded in who I am today but that in itself is an ongoing process. Twenty-three-year-old Zoe is taking more risks, slowly but surely, and I’m proud of her for that.

Goal(s) for 2019?

Create and release more work. Dance more. Live more.