All American: Homecoming may be a fictitious spin-off drama about Simone Hicks, played masterfully by Geffri Maya, but it accurately depicts HBCU culture on the silver screen. Maya, who simultaneously stars in All American and FX’s Snowfall attends Bringston University, a made-up college based in Atlanta. ATL, also known as the mecca of the HBCU experience, is the new home for Hicks as she explores her tennis life on campus.
“I was absolutely stretched to play this character. I think people really underestimate what it really takes to be a collegiate athlete the training alone is extremely tedious, said Geffri in a candid chat. “I have never played sports in my collegiate career and for those who do my hat goes off to you. It’s hard work for sure.”
While Geffri may not have experience in tennis, she is well-versed in HBCU culture. “One thing I’m extremely proud about is that I’m a Clark Atlanta University Alum. So, I get to give Simone some HBCU authenticity being that I have experience with being an actual student on the yard in the city of Atlanta.” She added, “I get to show the experience of life transitioning from youth to adulthood. You never forget that moment when you are away from home and making your own decisions, the first time you have to pay your own bills, the first time you have to get a job like this so many first when you’re stepping out of mommy and daddy household and kind of going into what adulthood.”
With a background on Broadway and a dancer trained by Debbie Allen, Geffri made the decision to pursue acting full time after taking a break to focus on her education. All of which, led her to discover not only herself, but passion for writing and directing.
“I got back into acting around my sophomore year. So, now I’m just taking it by storm but just in a different way I have a new passionate love for creating and wanting to tell stories that not only celebrate black culture but also just tell stories of authenticity cause you know black people don’t just feel pain but we love, we laugh, we believe in sci-fi too you know so it’s kind of things that we could do so I’m just happy to contribute to that through my artistry.”
With auditions and casting calls coming at a moments notice, Geffri has figured out how to balance the high demands of the entertainment industry — filming two shows at the same time during the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic.
“I shot season four of Snowfall during the same time I was shooting All American,” she admitted. “It was very new for me, but it put my skill level, my professionalism on a different map and I was grateful for that. I had never been pushed in that way and I think the only way that we get better and stronger and wiser or you know just overall just grow and experience that growth is that we have to be put in the fire. That was a fire time for me and not only was I filming two shows at the same time, but it was COVID. This was pre-vaccine. We had no idea what was going on or how the country was going to contain but you know for some like myself included I was able to just utilize my art to kind of like give me away from all that.”
Catch All American: Homecoming every Monday night on The CW.