Q&A With Jill Scott

The actress and singer has a new album, a new film, and a big love of good health.

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on June 01, 2013
4 min read

Singer, spoken-word poet, writer, actress -- creativity is at Jill Scott’s core. The multi-talented, three-time Grammy Award winner and star of the upcoming film Baggage Claim is now putting the finishing touches on her latest studio release, The Lullaby Album, available in December. "It’s made for children and adults who have insomnia," she says. "It’s filled with positive affirmations." For those who prefer to remain wide awake, Scott, 41, is also collaborating with hip-hop artist Too Short on some brasher beats she describes as "a combination of ‘50s, ‘60s, and super-hero. This album’s a super-hero soup!" Here, the VH1 Diva, Los Angeles resident, and single mom to son Jett, 4, shares the secrets to her success -- and no surprise, such insight starts with the importance of good health.

How do you tap into creativity? Do you have any personal rituals?

I love being creative. I don’t abuse it. I’m patient and I wait for it. I try my best to sleep a full 8 hours if I can. I keep a pen and journal by my bed. I jot down my dreams, look through the book, and grab whatever idea strikes me at the moment and work on it. It might be the beginning of a play, an opera, a screenplay, a song, a poem, or just remodeling my house! I don’t know what’s going to come, but I honor it. Do I get a full 8 hours most nights? No ... I have a 4-year-old!

You juggle multiple projects across disciplines. How do you avoid burnout?

I ride my bike for 8 to 10 miles pretty much every day. I don’t have any concerns on my bike, except for watching traffic and staying on it. I look at scenery and people’s homes, or maybe the water or the trees. It’s a real escape for me. Sometimes I’ve ridden for 20 miles and I don’t know it until I have rubber bands for legs, particularly when something heavy is on my mind.

What’s your number-one tip for other single moms?

I always tell other women that it’s important to get your village together, your team of friends and family who will support you. Every mom needs a moment to decompress. It can be a lot, working and having a child. I’ve checked into a hotel to get sleep before, and to just be still.

How do you stay healthy on the road, and on the set?

Being healthy on the road is really difficult. There are buses and planes and the hours can be outrageous. I say take a good shower and get some rest, and try to eat a healthy meal -- slowly. The road is the most grueling part of my career. The crew, the band, the bus driver, security, it’s easy for the lot of us to get sick. I use Wellness Formula from Whole Foods to stimulate the immune system. And I eat healthfully and work out, and balance it with rest. I’m grateful all of this [fame and success] started when I was fully an adult. The first 2 years I went like a crazy person, from this country to the next. And I had pneumonia four times in a year. I learned early on that maintenance is super-valuable in this business.

What three makeup items do you never leave home without when you’re traveling?

When I’m traveling, the makeup, lights, and heat gives me acne, which I don’t usually get. So I use a Dermalogica facial wash, plus topical vitamin E. I also bring comfy pajamas. I like fabric that slides on my skin.

What’s your signature beauty tip, or favorite beauty product?

I use Black Up makeup, out of Paris. It’s created for brown skin. I slide on a little blush and I feel refreshed and good. A little Black Up goes a long way!

What three ingredients are always in your refrigerator or pantry?

Jalapeno peppers! I love them. I put them in egg whites, pastas, and tacos. And there’s always a sesame dressing and some spinach. Spinach is my best friend. When I want a snack I can always grab a handful and have a fresh salad, and it keeps me going.

When you’re trying to lose 5 pounds, what’s the first thing that goes and why?

I don’t beat myself up! I do what I can. But bread is my enemy. I love it. I love croissants. I’ll switch off to spelt bread. And then I try my best to eat more vegetables. I gain, I lose, but I refuse to be a slave to it. What’s most important to me at this stage of life is being healthy and feeling good.

What is the best life advice you ever got?

I saw a quote from Will and Jada Smith, who basically said that these children who we’re blessed to have are eventually going to grow up and move on -- and that’s the goal! We have to prepare them for living and having a life of their own, and we also have to maintain our own lives, because once they're gone, now what? You can’t live your entire life for someone else.

What do you always keep in your purse?

I have every ChapStick imaginable! I have ChapSticks that nobody has -- in flavors like Coffee Strawberry. I get them from boutiques and from out of the country.

If you could visit any one place on earth, where would you go and why?

I’d go to Mozambique. Never been. I hear nothing but wonderful things about its beauty, about the grace of the people, about the fashion, and the family structure. If I could go tomorrow, I would go there.

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