‘I want to be part of the generation that makes a change’ – Kiara Barnes

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Kiara Barnes, who stars in The Bold and the Beautiful (Eva, DStv channel 141), explains how the Black Lives Matter movement has impacted her life

You’ll have seen Kiara play Zoe Buckingham, the British beauty who gets into a love triangle with Xander Avant (Adain Bradley) and his girlfriend, Emma Barber (Nia Sioux). It’s a meaty, substantial role that Kiara has embraced with every inch of her talent, especially since the all-American girl has had to put on a very believable British accent.

It is slightly ironic, however, that she’s ended up in a show about the fashion industry, seeing she started out her career as a runway model. “It was a really interesting experience,” she remembers, “especially when it came to New York Fashion Week. You could go to up to 15 castings in a day and walk nine to 10 miles a day for go-sees. I soon realised that although it was an adrenalin rush, runway wasn’t really for me. I did enjoy doing campaigns, however, which were great fun.”

Kiara definitely feels that acting is her first love. “I adore it,” she explains. “There’s something about being in a scene where you aren’t delivering lines but are just locked in your partner’s eyes and you are inside a story and it feels – tingling. It’s amazing.”

As a biracial actress, Kiara has found herself at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement that has gained traction this year. “I have been dealing with it in waves,” she says. “At first I didn’t know what to do with it all. I was very emotional; it was very complex to even speak about because you have to be in our skin to even understand the full effect. Luckily, I have people that I can have open discussions with.”

One of the reasons she is grateful for the movement jumpstarting is that many people in the entertainment industry are starting to take stock of how they have treated people of colour. “They are saying they need to take a look and correct some things, and that means a lot. I’m a young actress and I want to be part of the generation that makes a change for all the young girls and boys coming through behind me, waiting for someone to open that door. I am so grateful that we can at least get this conversation going.”

She says she has seen production companies switching things up a little more and being increasingly open-eared to people of colour. “They are not writing our story, but they are hearing us out,” Kiara explains. “It’s been a stressful time, but it has really opened my eyes as to who has been here for me and my family and friends and who is a true advocate.”  Luckily, Kiara has realised she has some great people in her life who have reached out to her, especially the other The Bold and the Beautiful cast members. “So many of them have come to me and said: ‘We are here for you and we really do care’. That alone means so much to me.

“I have many feelings about the issue,” she says, “because sometimes it feels like there is an ebb and flow and then it becomes this hot-button topic again, and it fades away, then something sad happens and it comes back.”

Kiara even made a video to post on her Instagram feed discussing the way she feels about racism. “It received a great response and a lot of shares,” she says. “It made me think, you know what, it’s not all bad. There are people out there who acknowledge but just don’t really know. So even the video just opened people’s eyes, and so many people said, ‘Thank you for making that’. I wasn’t thinking that would be the impact but it’s really cool to know that there are people out there willing to help change.”

She’s not the only person in her family advocating for change. Her 27-year-old brother Kaden, who lives in Utah, even had a meeting with legislators to discuss the issues with the police department to try to find some new ways of doing things.

“It’s easy to only look at the negative side of things because of the pain that has been caused,” she says, “but sometimes it’s far more beneficial to try and look forward and find the positive.”

The Bold and the Beautiful is on weekdays on Eva (DStv channel 141) at 5.30pm and 11.30pm with a binge-worthy omnibus on Saturdays at 4pm and Sundays at 11pm.

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