Naomie Harris reveals she nearly quit acting because of career burnout

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Hollie Richardson
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Naomi Harris

Actor Naomie Harris has given a rare interview, revealing that she very nearly quit acting because of career burnout. And many of us can totally relate to that. 

Oscar-nominated actor Naomie Harris is best known for her standout roles in 28 Days Later, Pirates of the Caribbean, Moonlight and Spectre. But, despite having what many people would consider a hugely successful and diverse career, Harris has revealed that she experienced career burnout. In fact, things got so bad that she very nearly quit acting.

As burnout was recently recognised as an official medical condition by World Health Organisation, a lot of people reading this will likely relate to what she said. 

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Speaking to The Guardian, Harris explained that she needed to take a break after making the critically-acclaimed 2016 film Moonlight, for which she received her first Oscar nomination. 

“I was completely burned out. I needed a break,” she said. “I was like ‘I don’t want to be an actress anymore.’ I was thinking of opening a nail salon with my friend.”

She then took a month-long retreat to India where she recovered by doing yoga and meditation. 

Of course, most people don’t have the privilege of being able to take such a break, but those overhanging thoughts about wanting to give it all up are totally relatable. 

Naomi Harris has given a rare interview about her new film Black and Blue.
Naomi Harris has given a rare interview.

Eight months later, following the sabbatical, Harris returned to acting after receiving the script for new film Black and Blue

The thriller explores police brutality against African Americans, as well as the role of body cameras in policing the police. Harris plays a new police officer who captures footage of colleagues executing drug deals on her bodycam. The movie takes place over one long night on the streets of New Orleans.

Speaking about the emotions involved in playing her character, she said: “I don’t actually like anger in everyday life. I’m very, very sensitive. 

“But I’ve done enough kind of self-development work to realise that actually anger is a really important emotion that needs expression. Because I bottle mine up, I find it really cathartic to just let rip. So on set I’m like ‘Yeah, give me that plank of wood. I’m going to bash him up.’ I let it all out.”

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Adding her voice to the Me Too movement, Harris also reavled that an actor once put his hand up her skirt during an audition. 

“What was so shocking about it was the casting director was there and the director, and of course no one said anything at all because he was – he is – such a huge star,” she said.

But she does think there has been a “massive shift”, adding: “Men know that they absolutely cannot get away with things now that they wouldn’t even have thought about before.”

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Harris is usually fiercely protective of her private life. In an interview with Woman magazine in 2017, she had a strong message for anyone who had asked her about plans to have a baby. 

“People ask, ‘So when are you going to have children?’ I think it’s a really odd thing because it’s such a personal decision,” she said.

“And you also don’t know what is happening in someone’s life.”

She added: “I find it bizarre, even with my friends, when they want me to have children. Why would you encourage anybody to have children unless it was their burning desire? You need to fully be committed to it.”

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It’s totally understandable if Harris doesn’t choose to share any more details about career burnout, because her words will no doubt already have reassured anyone going through the same thing. 

Images: Getty


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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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