“I believe there’s a bigger plan for all of us at play. We’re just not always in tune with the seasons of life.” When actress Asha Bromfield noticed a lack of projects that told stories like her own, she realized it was her responsibility to create them. Asha tells Zibby about how she was able to write her debut novel, Hurricane Summer, which parts of her own womanhood she wanted the story to explore, and in what ways the experience allowed her to better understand her relationship with her father as well as with herself. Asha also shares what she’s been working on outside of both writing and acting, and what she plans to do next.


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Asha. Thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” to discuss Hurricane Summer.

Asha Bromfield: Hello. Thank you for having me, Zibby. I’m so excited.

Zibby: I’m so excited. This is great. I was just saying to you, as you know, you’re a beautiful writer. First of all, the letter you wrote to readers was so moving in the beginning. Most books don’t have that. It’s just like, okay, settle in. Your heart is on the page. We’re going with you on this journey. Then we literally board the plane with you, and off we go. Tell listeners what your book’s about, how you ended up writing a book. I want to know about everything, your whole career, everything.

Asha: Oh, my god, you’re awesome. Thank you for saying all of that. I appreciate it. It’s an interesting story. I’ve been an actor for ten years. Well, more than that now, almost thirteen years in the business. I was just at this place where I was really frustrated being a black actress in the business. A lot of the stories I would get, I always found them so limiting. A lot of the auditions or the roles that I would book, I felt like I was always sort of a quota filler. I never felt like I was really seeing my life reflected back to me, the fullness of my humanity. I’m a Scorpio, which means I’m super emotional, which means I’ve got a lot of ups and downs in my life and things that I’ve gone through I wanted to see on screen. I feel like that representation is so important. That’s where I got the idea to write Hurricane Summer. I wanted to expand this narrative about what it means to come of age, especially as a young woman of color. I think that oftentimes in our society, we think that it looks different, but it doesn’t really. I wanted to see a story that didn’t center around a character’s race, but centered around her humanness.

Tilla is seventeen years old. She goes to Jamaica to visit her father for the first time. He’s estranged from the family. She goes down during one of the worst hurricanes that the island has ever seen, unbeknownst to her. She doesn’t realize this at the time. There’s this impending hurricane that is about to destroy the island, essentially. What started as a journey of seeking the love of her father quickly turns into this journey of discovering the love of herself. Quite literally, there’s a hurricane coming in her own life. The title’s kind of a metaphor for a lot of the secrets that she discovers beyond the veil of paradise. Then diving into that, the book really explores themes of sexuality, womanhood, the father-daughter relationship and how that impacts a woman’s self-esteem or her understanding of herself, her worth, and also just young love, making mistakes, being messy, and discovering who you are in the midst of chaos. That’s how Hurricane Summer came about.

Zibby: Wow, you make it sound even better. That’s amazing. I read in one interview that you did, they asked you for a movie tagline. What would the movie poster say? You said something amazing. It was like, how beautiful it is to be destroyed, or something. That was so good.

Asha: Thank you so much. It’s interesting. Also, just going back to my emotionality as a young kid, I had so many emotions. I often felt shamed a lot of the time by society as if being too sensitive or being too emotional — what I’ve learned as I’ve grown and I’m growing into my womanhood and I’ve become a woman, I’m really learning that emotions are so much of our superpower. It’s really about learning to honor it and surrender to it in those moments of deep despair, allowing it to destroy us, and allowing us to be recreated, to have the courage to create something new once we go through the heaviest times in our lives. That’s the resilience of the human spirit.

Zibby: It’s so true. I just interviewed recently, the author of a book called How to be Sad. It was all about the power of allowing yourself to feel all those emotions. Actually, one of the biggest side effects is connection. When you put yourself in that space, you’re much more open to connecting with other people. That’s what fuels us, in a way. I was trying to convince my daughter of this this morning. I’m like, “You’re going to be so more connected because of your crying fit.” She’s like, “Whatever,” but I agreed. That’s so funny you say you’re a Scorpio. This morning, I literally posted my horoscope on Instagram. I’m a Leo. I’m like, this is so accurate.

Asha: I love Leos. You guys are amazing. I think my rising or something is a Leo, so I have a love for Leos. I’m so into astrology. I love that.

Zibby: What is Scorpio? I don’t have a child or a loved one who’s a Scorpio, so I don’t know enough about it.

Asha: We’ve kind of got a bad rep. It takes a Scorpio a bit longer to evolve, depending on where they are in their lives, because we feel things so intensely. It can be good or bad in the sense of, we have a lot of emotions. If we use it productively, it’s good for creating, passion, being a loyal friend, partner. Obviously, there’s duality on both sides. I love being a Scorpio. It brought me Hurricane Summer.

Zibby: There you go. Tell me about the cover. Were you involved in this? Was this how you had envisioned it from the start? What did you think?

Asha: Oh, my gosh, it’s so funny. This cover was probably one of the most stressful things of my life. I was absolutely involved in it. I learned a lot about the book process through it because I had a very specific vision for the cover. I knew that I wanted Tilla to be standing in the storm. I knew I wanted to see the storm in her hair and around her kind of consuming her. It took a little bit of time, honestly, to get there. I actually ended up having to do a whole photoshoot and a whole reference photo to show what I wanted it to look like. That’s how it came about. From there, we had an amazing artist from Thailand who painted the cover.

Zibby: Wow, so cool. It’s just gorgeous, really beautiful. Do you have this necklace? I don’t even know why I’m asking these random questions. Do you? It’s so pretty.

Asha: I do. I totally do. I bought a necklace in LA a few years ago that looks just like it. That’s sort of where the inspo came from.

Zibby: Nice, I love it. Tell me a little more the writing of this book and the story. You wrote so poignantly about how it feels to have your dad not be around. Not you, I know. I kept flipping to the cover. I’m like, this is a memoir? It’s not a memoir?

Asha: Great question. It’s kind of. People definitely ask me that. I would say this. It’s inspired by trips to Jamaica, but my life is pretty different from Tilla’s. I used to go to Jamaica quite often. I would go every summer as a child. Yeah, a lot of this was based off of my own healing with my own father, discovering what it means to be a young woman with agency. What does it look like to forgive my dad for things that I feel like he could’ve done better? It started as this journey of catharsis. It moved into this journey of just deep healing as the book continued to go on and I found myself more in the character.

Zibby: You wrote about the dad, though, with a lot of compassion. As the reader, we understood the dad wanting to be back where he was from. He didn’t fit in here. He wanted to be out and about and doing what he did. His role here, it wasn’t his whole self. You kind of understood that this is where he belongs. He tried to make this family work, but it just was square peg, round hole situation for him to be who he was. Not that it excused the year of absence or whatever. It wasn’t an anger. It didn’t come across as angry. It came across as compassionate and understanding, which was really interesting.

Asha: Listen, it wasn’t always that way in my own relationship with my dad. I feel like this idea of forgiveness was so important to tackle because I think so many of us will hold ourselves hostage to the mistakes and errors and learning of our parents. I arrived at this question of, what happens to the girls who are daddy’s girls but now are no longer getting that love from their father? They’re no longer validated through the men in their life. Through Tilla, it was almost this journey of really understanding what it means to release and to forgive someone and learning that we do that for ourselves when we understand that our parents only do the best that they can to their level of awareness and their level of consciousness. When you realize that a lot of the times our parents are just grown-up big kids who are hurting too who have a lot of trauma and repressed things that they haven’t dealt with and that they did they best that they can — I just feel like a lot of people don’t often get that perfect apology from their parents. Oftentimes, we don’t get apologies for the things that our parents have done wrong in our lives, but we still have to rectify it within our own souls. We still have to come to terms with it and move forward. Through this story, I wanted to show the power of forgiveness, how we do it for ourselves to set ourselves free from — I say in the book, there’s a line I love when Tilla says she’s forgiving the sins of her father. She’s not going to hold herself hostage her whole life because her father was unable to show up for her. I think that’s why it was important for me to show it with compassion. I didn’t feel like the things Tyson was doing was intentionally to harm Tilla.

Zibby: Here, maybe I’ll read this quick passage. I’ll just read this little bit. “My father was born in the countryside of Jamaica, and although he moved to Canada in his twenties, his heart never left the island.” Then you talk about your mom. You said, “Dad could never let go. Although he started a family abroad, Jamaica was the one he longed for when he was with us. She was his first love. It didn’t matter that together, we had built a house. We were not his home.” That’s really poignant and powerful there. Then you were saying, “We were changed with every goodbye, words that teach you heroes don’t exist.” You write so beautifully. Here, let me read this. Wait, one more. “The last time we saw him, the familiarity of anxious silence filled our house the way it did every Sunday afternoon. Silence of Sundays was the calm before every storm Mia and I were forced to witness. It was the prelude to the screaming, the yelling, the breaking things. The prelude to my mom telling him he was full of –” you know, whatever, I’m not cursing — “before slamming the door in his face. To him packing his bags and telling her to –” Lots of curses in this passage, actually. “Venomous words children should never hear their parents spew at each other. Words that cut deep and take away the little innocence you have left. Words that pierce through your heart and stay buried there forever. Words that teach you heroes don’t exist.” That is good stuff. It’s good. It’s really, really great writing.

Asha: Thank you. Thank you so much. I appreciate that. It’s real-life lessons. It’s something that we all have to learn. Even if we had the most perfect parents, there’s still things that we all wish our parents could’ve done better. I think that when we surrender to it, see the pain for what it was and address it, see it head-on, we’re able to just forgive it. I remember listening to an Oprah podcast years ago. She talked about how our parents only have the capacity to love as much as they were loved. As I said before, we have to be able to forgive people for not being able to act outside of their level of awareness and consciousness. For me, that was the journey that I had to come into not only with my father, but within my life. There’s so many disappointments from other people, things that people say that get buried in us that we hold onto. I think there’s so much power in just being able to see it and understand that it doesn’t belong to you. A lot of the pain and suffering that we put ourselves through is oftentimes just a projection of the people around us and recognizing, okay, this is not about me. This is because my father didn’t receive the love that he needed, and so I’m going to hold space for that. I think it’s a powerful lesson that we could apply in any situation.

Zibby: It’s so true. You’re very wise. That sounds so condescending, like I’m this older sage or something.

Asha: No, I love it.

Zibby: It’s true. It’s very wise. Tell me about what it was like to write this book. How long did it take? Where did you do it? How did you find time? How did you mix this in with your acting career and all of that?

Asha: I actually was lucky. I say lucky because I was not booking. I was going through this dry spell. I remember being so depressed. I had just, not finished on Riverdale. I wasn’t really sure what was happening with Riverdale. I remember being like, god, why? Just wanting it to work so bad. I knew that it was like, okay, if the industry’s not going to give me what I need, I then need to create it. As I said, that’s where the book came from. Writing this story was really empowering for me because I realized that there’s so much power in owning our voices and our stories. Oftentimes, especially in this industry, it’s so easy to get comfortable waiting for someone to hand us something. We’re auditioning and all this stuff. This book really taught me self-agency. I wrote some of it in Chicago. I wrote some of it in LA. I wrote some of it in Vancouver, just flying different places and auditioning and trying to get work. It’s interesting now looking back. I realize exactly why I wasn’t working, because if I was, I wouldn’t have been able to write the book. I think that’s the beauty of life. That’s exactly the messaging of the book, taking what is oftentimes perceived as the worst of times — I think it was a two-to-three-year period where I hadn’t booked at all, and just being so sad, but using that period and crafting something and understanding that there’s a bigger plan, I believe, for all of us at play. It’s just, we’re not always in tune with the seasons of life. Do you know what I’m saying? Sometimes it’s about chilling out and just writing. That’s how it came about.

Zibby: Yes, just willing it to be so does not make it so, which is incredibly frustrating and only makes sense after.

Asha: Totally. Then we look back, and we’re like, oh, okay, I get it now.

Zibby: Amazing. Do you have more plans to write? I know you have a lot going on. By the way, I loved the Dove campaign you have going on and your involvement with the CROWN — not the newsletter. What is the —

Asha: — The CROWN Act.

Zibby: Act, and getting people to sign that. Your whole natural hair essay, that was amazing and just so cool. You’re getting involved in everything. When are you doing what? What’s the plan?

Asha: The plan right now is that I have a deadline to write my second book, so that’s new for me. I’m currently working on my second book. It takes place again in seventies Jamaica. It’s about the political war that was happening between a more socialist party and a more conservative party. It ended up being a huge war where a lot of people in the ghettos were having to fight on behalf of the politicians because there was a lot of interference from the CIA, drugs being funneled into the ghettos. It follows two girls, Iry and Jilly, who go to the same school but are from two completely opposing classes. Jilly is rich. She’s from the hills. Iry’s from the ghetto. We see how the power of music and reggae music, which also — a lot of people don’t know this, but reggae music was also not welcomed in Jamaica in the early seventies. It was seen as very rebellious music. We see how the power of music brings them together and the choices they make versus the choices that choose them. That’s been interesting. In general, I want to continue writing.

With Hurricane Summer, one of my favorite themes in the book is this exploration of young womanhood. I realized so much how women are so disheartened and shamed in a lot of ways and aren’t given a space to safely explore themselves sexually, to feel celebrated in their power as they become a woman, and just really uncovering that shame. Why is it there for so many girls? I was really inspired throughout my own journey of becoming a woman and Tilla’s journey to continue writing stories for young women that kind of pull back the curtain of this, I want to say it’s sexuality, but it’s also this sensuality that girls are never fully given the space to discover. Either we have these overt forms of sexuality in media or we don’t see it at all, this repressed version. There’s no middle ground where there’s this balance for us to figure it out. I’m passionate about exploring stories that show women uncovering their womanhood, uncovering who they are, and stepping into their power. I hope to continue writing books that cover that.

Zibby: That’s so great. I love that. Your Netflix show, is that still filming? How does that work?

Asha: We just wrapped on the third season of Locke & Key. The second season premieres October 22nd. I just had, actually, my first episode of Riverdale where I narrated the entire thing. That episode was, again, such a forging of love because it came about because of the Black Lives Matter movement, us speaking up and really calling out the show which then led to us our getting our own episode, which is really amazing. That was really cool. That just came out two weeks ago, episode 515, Return of the Pussycats, on Riverdale. Fingers crossed for a spinoff. That’s where my focus is right now.

Zibby: Wow, so exciting. Really cool. If we were long and shorting stocks, I feel like I would go long on you. I feel like your stock is about to take off. Not that it hasn’t already. It’s just really cool to watch.

Asha: I’m honored. Thank you. I’m just excited. Honestly, I feel like there’s so much love to be had in this world and so much healing available. We’ve seen the shift that the world is taking. I think people are ready for these messages. People want more diverse stories, more layered stories, more full stories. At the end of the day, we are all human. We’re so connected. Even with Tilla, this idea of sexual shame, so many women know what that is, that journey is, and releasing your parents, forgiving your parents. I think that what I’m trying to say is these stories are so universal. I look forward to more of them, being able to contribute to that global consciousness, the raising of love vibrations and healing because so many of us need it.

Zibby: Last question. What advice would you have for aspiring authors?

Asha: Oh, my goodness. Don’t believe the negativity because there’s going to be a lot of opinions. If I believed everyone that told me not to write a book, I would not have been here. There were a lot of people who told me not to write a book and told me I wasn’t ready or told me it wasn’t the time. You just can’t listen to the naysayers. I got rejected by everyone. It just takes one yes. By the way, I went into this, I didn’t know much about being a writer. I was like, okay, I’m on TV, maybe people will take my email seriously. Didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, there were people who wouldn’t read my emails because of that too. I learned a lot about the book industry. I feel like it always comes back to believing in yourself. You have to be so adamant about your vision. Just know that you’re worthy because you have the idea, period. Oftentimes, we think we have to be so worthy or we’re not good enough. We’re trying to live up to this fake standard. No. Because the idea dropped in your head and you thought to do it, you’re worthy of writing it. Just commit to doing that. Make it the best that you can. Believe in it. It’s really just time. It only takes one yes.

Zibby: It’s true. It only takes one yes. I love that. I actually just started my own publishing company. It’s called Zibby Books.

Asha: Wow, that’s so cool.

Zibby: I’m trying to do it over the way I want it to be working. I’ve written a couple books myself. I’ve been talking to authors for three and a half years. I see all these opportunities. We’ll see how it goes.

Asha: It’s going to go great. Congratulations. That’s so exciting and amazing.

Zibby: It was great to meet you. I wish you all the best. I’ll be following along.

Asha: Thank you, Zibby. All the best to you too. You have given me so much inspo. Those colors behind you, oh, my goodness. I know the listeners can’t hear, but her bookshelf is popping. It is awesome, so nice.

Zibby: I post it a lot, so yes.

Asha: Do you? Okay, I love it.

Zibby: I should do it again. It’s been a while. Take care. Thanks. Have a great day.

Asha: Take care. Have a great day. Bye.

Zibby: Bye.


HURRICANE SUMMER by Asha Bromfield

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