Emmy Award winner Ashley Nicole Black is one of the writers and stars of HBO’s comedy series, “A Black Lady Sketch Show.” She recently was surprised to hear that Georgia politician Stacey Abrams said she’d want Black – or actress Viola Davis – to play her in a biopic. “I was in shock,” said Black. “I’m such a big fan of (her) and her work. So the idea that she likes my work as well is very humbling. And to even be mentioned in the same breath as Viola Davis? I’m not worthy!” Black stays in touch with her fans on Twitter (@ashleyn1cole) and Instagram (@ashnb1).
Q: Following up on what Stacey Abrams said, who would you want to play you in a biopic one day?
A: Viola Davis! Duh.
Q: What have you been up to travel-wise during this pandemic?
A: I haven’t traveled at all during the pandemic. At first, I was spending a lot of my down time taking long walks with my dog — too long. She started refusing the walks! My mom built a gazebo in her backyard with a couch, chairs, fans, a TV, the works. So, our new vacation spot is her backyard with a glass of ice tea.
Q: How do you feel about not being able to just hop on a plane and get to your next location for a project?
A: I miss it so much! Not the traveling, but the people you meet while you’re traveling. Whether I was performing live, or interviewing people for “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” I always got to have great chats with people on the road. That’s the best way to know what people are thinking about and what they think is funny. I can’t wait to get back to it.
Q: What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A: I enjoy my own company. People think it’s weird or scary for a woman to travel alone, but I love it. I like to sit quietly in a cafe reading a book and letting a language I don’t know wash over me. I like chatting with strangers. I like figuring out directions with the confidence that even if I get lost, I will be OK. I like trying new things. I like abandoning new things immediately if it turns out I don’t like them.
Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?
A: I love San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s beautiful, the food is amazing and there’s always some partying going on and it’s totally cool if you join in! I would recommend you leave one night open, don’t make plans, and just walk around the city. You are bound to find someone to dance with.
Q: What was the first trip you took as a child?
A: When I was a kid, our parents surprised us with our first trip on an airplane. You could never do this now. This was pre-TSA being as intense as it currently is. They were like, “Do you want to see the inside of the airport?” “Do you want to see what a plane looks like?” And before we knew it, the plane was taking off. We went to visit relatives in Ohio. All I remember is being shocked by all the grass and how far apart all the houses were from each other and by seeing my first basement — very different from what a little kid from Los Angeles is used to!
Q: Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A: I love going to Ojai, when I’m in L.A., and upstate when I’m in New York. Just getting outside of the city, going to a nice house with a chill vibe and cooking.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A: “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” For whatever reason, I don’t watch Food Network at home, but if I am in a hotel it is on from the moment I check in to the moment I check out. I love Guy Fieri and, though he doesn’t know it, he is my most constant travel companion. Guy, if you're reading this, run away with me.
Q: What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A: None? I’m a figure-it-out-when-I-get-there person. I know that this is stressful for people. It doesn’t stress me out because it’s a vacation, I don’t feel pressure to see every site or do everything. Rest is part of it! I like to ask people who actually live there what about their favorite restaurant, and people almost never steer you wrong. Not never. But almost never. I’m probably happier sitting in a bar eavesdropping on people’s conversations than running across the city trying to make it to every museum. I firmly believe planners should vacation with fellow planners and nappers should vacation with fellow nappers. Or if you are a planner, we can vacation together, but know that I might decide to take a nap while you scale the side of the Louvre or whatever.
Q: What would be your dream trip?
A: Post-pandemic, all I want is a little house, with a pool, a hot tub and a beautiful view that I can take my dog to. That’s it. Someone please tell me where this is. If you own this place, invite me. I will take many pictures of myself in a bathing suit on your property. I have great thighs. You should really take me up on this offer.
Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A: I basically take the supplies for a little mini-spa with me. I’m usually traveling for work. When I’m performing, I sometimes get keyed up and it’s hard to fall asleep. So, I always have aromatherapy, skin care masks and tea in my bag to help me wind down.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)