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A Beautiful Mind -- A Conversation with Troi Zee

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As I prepare to return to school once again, for the fourth time in my lifetime, it occurs to me that I have always been excited about learning. I always embrace the opportunity to discover something new, whether it is a new place, a new culture, or the psychology of human behavior, which makes us so special.

As I scroll through the list of courses I'd like to take on this journey of knowledge, to enhance my newfound career, I become giddy. Yes, I can do it on-line, in the comfort of my own home. However, the classroom experience offers interaction with others, exchange of thoughts and ideas, and the possibility to grow as a professional. The prospects are so exciting.

This was the same excitement that I heard in the voice of an enchanting young actress I met this past summer, Troi Zee. At the age of 10, this charming young lady is able to hold her intelligent conversations, without sass. You will be in awe of her ability to convey her thoughts and engage in a conversation that stimulates the mind. I was referred to this bright young lady by a dear friend, Chef Rodney LoveJones, who enthusiastically called me after reading one of my articles about ABFF (The American Black Film Festival). I listened intently to the excitement in his voice, and couldn't wait to meet Ms. Zee. But that proved to be difficult as she was on a movie set in Philadelphia with the legendary Ruby Dee, Bokeem Woodbine, Sharon Leal, Elise Neal, Hill Harper, Quinn Aaron, Wayne Brady, and Lala Valesquez. She is in good company.

At the tender age of ten, to have your first major acting gig with an all-star cast is pretty phenomenal, to say the least. That in itself is exciting. However, this is not what impresses me the most about Ms. Zee. It is her excitement about learning and school that was extraordinary for a child her age. Troi Zee is the daughter of a Chinese father and an African-American mother. She is a Brooklyn girl, who sings to the popular sounds of music, dances, gets all A's, and plays soccer.

I must elaborate. Troi doesn't just sing for fun like any typical kid, she is also a recording artist and pianist. When we caught up with her outside her attorney's office, she told me that she was writing a song, and was in the middle of recording it. I thought how sweet of her to have this little hobby. To my surprise, she is as professional as they come. She's in the studio working on an album with producer, songwriter, and singer Angela Johnson. I can't wait to see her in her upcoming movie "1982," the true story of the early life of director Tommy Oliver.

Atop her list of heroes is her mom Sheneen Zee, a well-spoken, strong woman, whose beauty is obvious in the "in your face" kind of way. You can see where Troi gets her confidence to speak so freely. When we met, Troi stood up and shook my hand, and I was taken by her beauty. Troi's list of heroes also includes Martin Luther King Jr., the multiple Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald, and President Barack Obama. Troi stressed the challenges the President is facing and the support he has from young people like her.

In our conversations on both visits to her attorney's office and in the recording studio, she expressed her desire to change the world, make a difference, be a leader, and most importantly to enjoy life. I love getting her status updates on Facebook every morning. It's always something so positive and promising amidst all the challenges of life and disappointments that we face daily. This is a ten year old who can make you excited about life, and help you continue to see the brighter side. Life without learning can be pretty dull. Troi Zee may be the secret weapon this next generation needs to get them motivated and on a quest for knowledge.