After binge-watching my new favorite series, Harlem on Amazon Prime, I fell in love instantly with the cast. Like many women, I could definitely relate in some shape or form. Actress Shoniqua Shandai, who plays Angie, reminded me of my college BFF.

Her character is a vivacious, outspoken, fashionable, bold, a risk-taker, who is chasing her dreams fearlessly. Harlem is such a great place to travel and when you watch this series you feel like you are a part of this phenomenal group of female friends.

Travel Noire had the pleasure of interviewing Shoniqua Shandai, where she talked about her top 5 must-have items while traveling and more.

Travel Noire: When you have time for yourself, where are your favorite destinations to travel?

Shoniqua Shandai: Somewhere near the water. As far as the Indian Ocean from the beaches of Kenya, as close as an hour’s drive staycation along the coast of San Diego or as small as the swamps of New Orleans. Put me near a body of water and I have peace. Also places where black people can be Black unapologetically. I like going on vacations in environments I feel safe and can inhabit without explanation, and that’s usually where my people who like me are.

Photo by: Kenya Jr. Photography

TN: What are your top 5 must-have items that you pack while traveling?

Shoniqua Shandai: My journal and Bible are a must-have. I have literally sacrificed room for socks and undies in order to bring my bible and notebook. I can purchase socks, but I have to document how all the new sights have resonated with me and what God is relaying to me in the environment. The purpose of travel is to be enriched, to grow, and the word of God and my notebook have always been instrumental in my journey.

Claritin because my allergies can get unpredictable, and I am irritable when I’m itchy. Body oil because I must stay moisturized, but I’m not trying to spend my vacation prepping in the bathroom. Oil me down and let’s go. And my ring light because they as say in entertainment, ‘if you want to book a job, book a flight,’ so I keep mine with me in case an opportunity pops up that can’t wait until I get back. 

TN: Do you prefer solo trips or girls’ trip?

Shoniqua Shandai: I’m an in ‘betweener.’ I prefer 2-3 travel partners at the most. I like my vacations pretty jam packed and intense and not everyone is up for it, but I’ve got my girls who are down for the “I need a vacation, after my vacation” vibes. And we usually do plan a little relaxing island excursion at the tail end.

TN: Any travel plans for 2022? If so, where are you hoping to go?

Shoniqua Shandai: I’m going to Italy for a wedding, Dubai for Christmas, and I’m trying to squeeze in Nigeria for my birthday. I’ve been wanting to go on a homegoing tour. I did an ancestry test and found I’m originally from Cameroon and Nigeria, so I would love to turn 33 back home. I haven’t honestly begun planning any of these trips yet. So if anyone has any hotel, shopping or dining recommendations, hit me up. I also have to get near a body of water at some point this year, preferably from a coast in Africa. 

Photo by Maltresa Neely

TN: Your character Angie is so needed on TV. Would you say that your character and your real life are similar?

Shoniqua Shandai: Absolutely, I immediately recognized myself in Angie’s career and financial struggles. I’ve been the out of work actress sleeping on a friend’s couch. I’ve felt the anxiety from the uncertainty that surrounds an artistic lifestyle. I’ve wondered if my dream would ever happen. 

TN: What’s next for you?

Shoniqua Shandai: Music! I’m currently working on my debut music video for my single “Something About You”. The video is directed by none other than the incomparable Meagan Good. I’m so excited to explore music and have it be in collaboration with a human being I so greatly admire.