INTERVIEW: Get to Know Aliyah Royale as She Chats About Her New Series ‘The Walking Dead: World Beyond,’ How She Got Her Start, the Role of Iris, and Some of Her Favorite Things
Aliyah Royale is leading the highly-anticipated television spin-off series The Walking Dead: World Beyond and is showing the world why she is one of Hollywood’s next big superstars.
Royale stars as Iris Bennett in The Walking Dead: World Beyond. The series, based on AMC’s TWD: World Beyond, is a gritty drama set ten years following the apocalypse and is a coming-of-age experience for the youth who grew up in the decade following the outbreak. It expands upon the already established apocalyptic society and introduces a new group of young characters led by Iris Bennett (Royale) and her sister. They are the first generation raised in the apocalypse and have never known a world beyond. The show premiered in early October.
The actress’ first TV series debut was in the CBS limited series The Red Line. She received rave reviews for her beautiful yet heartbreaking and emotionally demanding role as Jira. Royale hopes one day to be able to start her own production company. Read our exclusive interview with Aliyah Royale below to hear more about the moment she knew she wanted to be an actress, moving to LA to pursue her dream, being the lead of TWD: World Beyond, her character, why she loves fashion, the challenges she faced while shooting The Red Line, and what’s next for her.
GLITTER: You grew up living on military bases in Michigan, Kentucky, Fort Knox, Baltimore, Macomb, and San Jose. What was it like growing up moving from base to base? Did anything about that experience stay with you as an adult?
ALIYAH: I developed an appreciation for people who didn’t look like me or talk like me. I enjoyed making new connections and traveling to new environments. My humanity and my empathetic heart came from the conversations I’ve had with people I only got to know for a month before my family was on the move again. I will forever be thankful for the things I learned on the road. And now, I travel frequently for work as an actor. I guess I was always meant to stay in motion.
GLITTER: What was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue acting?
ALIYAH: It was always playing pretend to me, playing dress-up and playing in my mommy’s makeup. I became aware of the value of money at a young age. And then I put two and two together. I could get paid to play pretend. The rest is history.
GLITTER: How did participating in local musical theater, church, school plays, and acting classes help your acting improve?
ALIYAH: I was always working my muscles. Learning new tools to use in audition scenarios, and I didn’t even realize it. These environments always gave me a safe space to work on my craft without the professional pressures.
GLITTER: What was it like moving to Los Angeles to pursue your craft professionally?
ALIYAH: It was a strange transition. I’m thankful that my mother trusted me to pick up our lives and move cross country at 11 years old. She’s an angel. She protected me from many of the more heartbreaking aspects of the business as long as she could. I’m thankful to have a mother that knew when to protect her child and also knew when to let her get her footing for herself. LA is not an easy place to be. I had to make my own way, and I’m still paving that road.
GLITTER: Favorite place to go to in LA?
ALIYAH: Anywhere I can get pasta. But I absolutely love Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. The scenery is stunning.
GLITTER: You’re starring as the lead in the spin-off series, The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Even though that journey is just beginning for you, what has that experience been like so far?
ALIYAH: Never have I ever been blessed with an opportunity on this scale! To join a franchise, a family that has welcomed our show with such open arms is truly heartwarming. I’m so thankful to be here!
GLITTER: What is the show is about, and what can fans expect from it going forward?
ALIYAH: World Beyond centers on four young adults navigating the undead world and figuring out how they fit into this new normal. There’s love and heartbreak: misfortune and glory. And there’s a little something for everyone to identify with.
GLITTER: How would you describe your character, Iris Bennett?
ALIYAH: She’s the most loyal gal in the land and will take on any role you need her to. She’s the true definition of “ride or die.” But she’s growing into herself. She’s becoming comfortable with risk and uncertainty. And she’s not backing down from any challenges. Fear has no place in her world.
GLITTER: The Walking Dead: World Beyond premiered on October 4, what was the fan response like after the premiere?
ALIYAH: World Beyond has been such a wild journey for fans. It’s very different than the other Walking Dead series, and the story is told from a younger, more hopeful perspective. I love hearing everyone’s surprise at the many beautiful elements of the series. We gave the fans something unexpected, and I appreciate the way they have received it so lovingly.
GLITTER: What made you fall in love with fashion?
ALIYAH: Presentation has always been critical to me. My fashion sense is an extension of my beliefs, my interests, my personality.
GLITTER: What is your day to day fashion like?
ALIYAH: I am overdressed. All. The. Time. Fall and Winter fashion are my favorite. I love a good trench coat + heeled boot combination. And I always keep my beret in my car, in case she needs to make an appearance.
GLITTER: Your first TV series debut was in the CBS limited series The Red Line as Jira. We understand that it was a very emotionally demanding role. Is that what initially drew you to play Jira? Was it a challenge in any way?
ALIYAH: The ability to play a young woman with so much fire is a blessing. Jira is young, but she is a force of nature. And the emotional demands of the role was a fabulous challenge for me!
GLITTER: What did you love most about that experience and what did you learn from it?
ALIYAH: I faced challenges on and off-screen while shooting The Red Line. I was growing as Jira, and I was also reinforcing who I wanted to be as Aliyah Royale, the entertainer, and the person. Jira taught me how to stand my ground and how to assert myself properly. She knew when to be diplomatic and when to shake things up. I will carry her with me always.
GLITTER: What is one classic film that you could watch on repeat?
ALIYAH: Breakfast at Tiffany’s! Holly Golightly is the essence of my being.
GLITTER: When you need to smile, what genre of film do you watch?
ALIYAH: Chocolat is one of my all-time favorites. The mother-daughter duo brings a smile to my face every time. And I love love.
GLITTER: Last show you binge-watched?
ALIYAH: The original The Twilight Zone! This show provokes so many different thoughts and feelings from me. I have a special friend that I watch episodes with, and we debate on what themes we saw and what we learned. I love this series!
GLITTER: If you could co-star in a film with any actor or actress, who would you pick and why?
ALIYAH: Timothee Chalamet delivers the most brilliant nuanced performances. He can make you laugh, or he can break your heart. He might even do it in the same film. It’s a big deal to be able to make people really feel something through your work. He’s immensely talented. I would be blessed to share the screen with him.
GLITTER: What do you like most about writing?
ALIYAH: I feel free when I write. Like all the little thoughts and wonders and hopes and worries locked up in my mind finally get a voice of their own. I can breathe a little easier when I’ve gotten it all out.
GLITTER: What was one book that you could not put down while reading it, and why?
ALIYAH: The Mothers by Brit Bennett! This book inspired me in so many different ways. The themes of sexuality, religion, womanhood, and community as a young woman of color were explored so beautifully. I re-read this book regularly.
GLITTER: What is your reasoning or motivation behind wanting to start your own production company?
ALIYAH: There is a lot of really awesome content out there, but there is still a specific depiction of girls of color and young women that I haven’t seen enough. I want to make films about the girl who knew she was gifted and didn’t need the teacher to tell her she was smart. I want to make shows about the girl who didn’t need her crush to validate that she was desirable for her to know that she was born beautiful. I want to change the narrative of what strength really looks like in a young adult. It’s not naivety. It’s not rebellion. It’s a curious mind and a strong heart.
GLITTER: Is there another part of the industry you hope to try in the future as well as producing?
ALIYAH: I would love to try my hand at directing. Directing an episode of a show that I’m in would be an absolute dream!
GLITTER: You aim to help kids in foster and to create luxury housing communities for low-income, single-family households; what inspired that?
ALIYAH: My mother was a single parent raising my older brother. She was 20. And there were very limited opportunities and programs available to her as a young, single mom, especially in the housing department. She just didn’t qualify for anything. It’s important to me to help give single mothers a safe environment to raise their kids and programs to help make things a little easier. They will not have to do it alone.
GLITTER: How important do you feel voting was in this recent election and is there any message you want to give your fans about voting?
ALIYAH: Do your research. It’s not just about choosing our next President. It’s about the propositions, too. Know what you’re saying “yes” or “no” to.
GLITTER: How do you use your voice and platform to promote change?
ALIYAH: I set the example. It’s easy to tell people what they should do or say. Instead of doing that, I show people what I do and what I say. And I trust them to do their own introspection.
GLITTER: Is there a series of films or television that you are a fan of and would love to join in the future? If so, what is it, and why?
ALIYAH: I absolutely love all Hallmark Christmas movies! The Christmas spirit motivates a joyful and kind heart within me like no other. And I loooooove love. I would be absolutely blessed to do a Hallmark Christmas film! And my mother would be so proud.
GLITTER: How do you stay motivated when it comes to any goals you have?
ALIYAH: I make sure that I reevaluate what’s important to me regularly. Goals change as we evolve! I also make sure I have a support system to remind me of my goals when it looks like I’m slacking. My mother knows my heart’s deepest desires. She always reminds me of what’s important.
GLITTER: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received, and who was it from?
ALIYAH: “God doesn’t give you anything that you can’t handle.” My mommy taught me that. And I remember every time the day feels a little heavier than I’d like it to.
GLITTER: What do you hope fans that look up to you learn?
ALIYAH: There are rewards in the difficult things. And you know what’s best for you better than anyone else does. Trust yourself. And then execute.
GLITTER: Favorite beauty product?
ALIYAH: My eye creams! Skincare is so important but especially my under eye needs a loooot of help. I always make sure to use an eye cream and a serum daily/nightly.
GLITTER: Favorite dessert?
ALIYAH: I absolutely adore crème brûlée. It’s my go-to dessert! My favorite is the pumpkin crème brûlée at The Palm restaurant!
GLITTER: One thing you can never leave the house without?
ALIYAH: I always, always have lip gloss and a bottle of water on me. I drink water all day, every day. And I never feel like I need to wear makeup as long as I have my lipgloss.
GLITTER: What have days in quarantine been like for you?
ALIYAH: I eat a lot of pasta. It’s critical for me to continue to support my local restaurants and all local business in general. We have to keep these places alive so that we can enjoy them to their fullest capacity when everything is back to normal.
GLITTER: Have you learned anything about yourself during this time?
ALIYAH: I learned that I do not like having idle hands! I love being busy, and I prefer to constantly be on the move. I miss connecting with new people. I absolutely live for sharing stories, exchanging witty banter, and just being a part of new adventures with new people.
GLITTER: How do you use social media to connect with your fans? Have you ever had a fan tell you something that stuck with you?
ALIYAH: I love to use social media to share behind the scenes content with my fans. The projects I work on have strong fan bases, so it’s important for me to connect with them, show them interesting aspects of the show or film they wouldn’t normally see, and let them know that these projects would not be possible without them. Sometimes fans have questions about certain aspects of the projects. It’s important to me to keep that dialogue open. I learn so much from hearing their perspectives and how their own experiences shaped the way they were affected by the show or film. These conversations are what I live for.
GLITTER: First place you want to travel to after everything is back to normal?
ALIYAH: I think of Italy every day! The culture, the food, the scenery, the art! The second things are back to normal; I’m booking my flight!
GLITTER: Glitter has a celebrity #SelfLoveCampaign. What does self-love mean to you?
ALIYAH: Self-love, for me, is taking care of my mind and my body. I’m selective about the content I allow in my eyes and ears. I’m selective about the company I keep. Pampering has always been a necessity for me. I love getting my nails done; I love a good massage. And I love supporting my favorite local eateries whenever I can. I love food!
GLITTER: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects?
ALIYAH: I am currently spending my time on the other side of the camera working on writing and producing a feature film that I am so excited for everyone to see in fall 2021.
GLITTER: What is the best social media platform for fans to find you on and keep up with all things Aliyah?
ALIYAH: I am on all social media platforms @aliyahroyale!