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Grace Byers is widely known for playing Anika Calhoun on Empire, but did you know that she also published not one, but two children’s books? PureWow sat down for an exclusive chat with the multi-hyphenate star.

grace byers actress
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1. She plays Anika Calhoun on 'Empire'

You probably recognize Byers from Empire, where she plays Anika Calhoun. The actress confirmed that she’s always been drawn toward the industry, so it’s no wonder she’s a natural in front of the camera. “The arts helped me move through some tough times. Feeling so different, art embraced me as I was—encouraging me to bring my uniqueness to the craft,” she told PureWow. “I loved it all; singing, playing piano, painting, dancing and acting. I will forever be grateful to art for that.”

grace byers author
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2. She's an author

Byers recently published a brand-new children’s book, I Believe I Can, which is a follow-up to her first publication, I Am Enough. She revealed that it was inspired by the tremendous success of the first novel.

“The overwhelming public response towards I Am Enough was truly moving, as families and professionals alike expressed how impactful these uplifting affirmations were on the children in their lives,” she explained. “I Believe I Can supports this foundation and reinforces the idea of positively empowering our young ones while celebrating their innate abilities.”

Byers also confirmed that you don’t need to read I Am Enough before I Believe I Can. “They don’t [need to], but I have found that most do!” she said. “I think it may be because both books walk so hand-in-hand in their poetry, rhythm and trajectory. They do make a beautiful pair.”

grace byers i believe i can
Courtesy of HarperCollins

3. She partnered with Keturah Bobo to bring the stories to life

Byers is a firm believer that the pictures are just as important as words. So, she partnered with best-selling illustrator Keturah Bobo, who helped create her vision.

“I truly enjoy Keturah Bobo’s work on the illustrations of both I Am Enough and I Believe I Can,” Byers said. “Our process both times was 1) write the book, 2) establish the pictures. In our case, the imagery is meant to enliven the words even more—bringing freedom and flexibility to what they could mean and beyond.”

grace byers childrens book
Manny Carabel/Getty Images

4. She's writing a third book

Since three is always a charm, Byers confirmed that she’s in the process of writing another children’s book. “What I can tell you is that this will be more of a story, as opposed to affirmations, but the goal is the same: to uplift and inspire,” she said.

grace byers short hair
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5. She's working on a new series with 'Girls Trip' director Tracy Oliver

Byers shared exclusive details about the untitled series, which already sounds like a hit. “This is a heartfelt comedy following four black women—best friends since their college days at NYU—as they navigate relationships, sex and pursuing their dreams in Harlem,” she said. “This will be such a fun one and we are having a complete blast filming it (paused for now but will resume post-quarantine)!”

grace byers empire
FOX Image Collection/Getty Images

6. Her secret to managing a work-life balance is setting small goals

While discussing her quarantine routine, Byers revealed that she’s able to get more done when she sets small goals for herself to achieve. “Instead of a complete routine daily, I set goals to meet throughout the day in my own time: do one positive thing for myself mentally, spiritually and physically, while continuing to work. If I can do one of each of these things daily, then it’s a great day,” she explained.

We’re totally stealing this idea.

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