Interviews

Exclusive: Imani Hakim on exploring the bold comic world of Season 3 of Mythic Quest on Apple TV+

Imani Hakim as Dana in a pastel shirt and matching tank top shares a fist bump with Rob McElhenney as Ian Grimm in a black long sleeve pull-over shirt in the Apple TV+ series, Mythic Quest Pic credit: Apple TV+
Imani Hakim as Dana and Rob McElhenney as Ian Grimm in the Apple TV+ series, Mythic Quest, Pic credit: Apple TV+

Imani Hakim loves being a trailblazer through the powerful, diverse, and dynamic characters she brings to life on the big and small screen.

Hakim, portraying the starring role of Dana opposite Rob McElhenney in Mythic Quest, is extremely excited for fans to watch Season 3. The bold comedy explores a fictional video game studio behind the popular online multiplayer game, Mythic Quest. The series follows a group of video game developers who are building worlds, molding heroes, and creating legends, but most of the hard-fought battles don’t occur in the game; they happen in the office.

In Season 3, as Ian and Poppy navigate the gaming world and their partnership at the newly formed GrimPop Studios, Dana is forced to play mediator to the constant bickering of her bosses. Back at Mythic Quest, David settles into his new role as the boss, where he truly finds himself in charge for the first time with Jo returning as his assistant — more loyal and militant than ever, and Carol attempts to figure out where she fits in after a new promotion. At Berkeley, Rachel struggles to balance her morals with capitalism, while a post-prison Brad tries to return to society as a reformed man. It is great to have the gang back together again.

On the movie front, Hakim recently portrayed Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas in Lifetime’s award-winning The Gabby Douglas Story. Hakim described her experience telling Gabby’s story as a privilege to portray someone so influential for many young women, including herself. 

She also recently starred in and co-produced the independent film Dinner Party, which successfully made rounds in the 2021 film festival circuit, including the 44th Asian American International Film Festival, Portland Film Festival, and several others.

Imani Hakim, as Dana in a pastel print shirt, sitting at a desk with a keyboard and mouse. She appears too be staring off into space with a smile on her face, in the Apple TV+ series, Mythic Quest Pic Credit Apple TV+
Imani Hakim in the Apple TV+ series, Mythic Quest. Pic credit: Apple TV+

Dinner Party, an award-winning film, centers around a group of childhood friends who get together for a reunion dinner with their significant others. They soon realize that they have changed just as much as the social climate of racism, sexism, and classism in today’s world.  

While working in front and behind the camera has kept Hakim busy over the years, she also prioritizes fitness and mental health through living an active lifestyle. 

Hakim is passionate about utilizing her social media platforms to advocate for body positivity, encouraging her followers to live a healthy lifestyle and break away from stereotypical societal body norms. 

Hakim also enthusiastically supports causes close to her heart, focusing on women’s rights, LGBTQI+, BIPOC, and AAPI communities. She has taken strides to further expand her spiritual side by focusing her attention on ways of letting go and staying present, including meditation, journaling, and taking social media breaks when necessary. 

As such, she is a firm believer in the importance of balance and taking time for yourself to show up as your best self.

Hakim’s character of Dana is a driven and studious video game tester, steadily proving herself in a male-dominated industry and finding her voice in her career. Since the series debuted in 2020 on Apple TV+ has been called “a successful, smart, and energetic comedy.”

“Season 3 is full of new pairings and, of course, more humor and more heart. Some of the early comments that people were laughing and crying again,” Hakim explains to Monsters and Critics. “I really hope people enjoy our show because I’m a huge fan of it.”

Monsters and Critics: Imani, what can we look forward to in Season 3 of Mythic Quest?

Imani Hakim: This season, all of the characters are starting over in a sense. They’ve all been uprooted from their original jobs or just scheduled programs in general. Brad is freshly out of prison, and Ian and Poppy have started their own new company. Dana has officially finished school and is now working directly with Ian and Poppy.

If you remember, in Season 2, where we left Dana, she really takes a leap of faith and goes to her bosses, and she’s like, “Look, I have this really cool idea,” and she shows them Grouchy Goat, and it’s not very good. And they don’t shy away from letting her know that her creation is not very good, but they see her, and they see her passion, so they take her under their wing.

So, in Season 3, we pick up there where Dana’s the only employee at Grimpop, so she’s carrying a lot of weight on her shoulders. And it’s not necessarily living up to her expectations because her bosses are not the greatest mentors, but Dana does realize she still has a great thing going.

M&C: Can you relate to Dana in terms of the fact that she is always proving herself in a male-dominated industry?

Oh, absolutely. For me, it’s easy to identify with having to prove yourself over and over because, as a woman and as a black woman, there are just certain circumstances in that you might have to work a little bit harder because people aren’t willing to give you the opportunity because it might feel a bit foreign or different from the ways that they’re used to doing it.

In the industry that I’m in, it’s definitely been that way for the last 18 years since I got my start, and it continues to be that way. There’s a lot of rejection in this business, so there’s always this feeling of having to go, “Okay, not only am I going to prove it to you, but I’m also just showing up for myself over and over.”

M&C: What else do you appreciate about Dana?

Dana is very much all about this; she carries that attitude when she started as a game tester, which is the lowest-ranking employee in a video game development studio. They’re not making a lot of money, they don’t get a lot of quality time with their families, and they’re in this box of an office. But Dana has this attitude and this vision of herself where she’s like, “I might not have all the skill sets yet, but that doesn’t mean that I am incapable of gaining those things.” And her charm and her charisma also take her a long way too. So, it’s not just her talent, it’s her work ethic as well.

M&C: Before Mythic Quest, had you worked with creator-star Rob McElhenney before? Did you know his show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? How has your relationship with him evolved?

This is my first time working with Rob; I hadn’t worked with him before this. I had heard of It’s Always Sunny, but I hadn’t watched the show until Mythic Quest became an opportunity for me because I wanted to do my research and get to know more of their humor and their style of writing. The series, It’s Always Sunny is very, very different from Mythic Quest, but it wasn’t originally that way.

Mythic Quest was kind of similar; the first draft of the pilot was a little bit more similar to the style of It’s Always Sunny when it came to the humor of it. But as the casting process continued, this show really truly evolved. In working with Rob, that’s one thing that I love and I admire about him is that he’s so open to collaboration. Rob’s a great showrunner and a great leader, but he’s also open to being flexible with what makes the show better because of the people who are involved.

Dana was not written a specific type of racial background; she was just written as a young woman in this video game development studio. But obviously, casting a black woman changes her characteristics, which may change her personality a little bit, that may change just the overall background. And Rob was extremely open to receiving those notes and just conversations with me, just having really in-depth conversations about how she would operate in this space.

Rob McElhenney as Ian Grimm in a black, long sleeve pull over shirt, with hands raised in front of him, the Apple TV+ series, Mythic Quest Pic credit Apple TV+
Rob McElhenney as Ian Grimm in the Apple TV+ series, Mythic Quest. Pic credit: Apple TV+

M&C: Let’s talk about two of your other exciting recent projects, The Gabby Douglas Story first and then Dinner Party.

The Lifetime Channel did a biopic about Olympic gold medal champion Gabby Douglas, and I got to portray her leading up to the Olympics and worked directly with Regina King, who played my mom in the film. It was my first leading role after three years of not working, so it was a challenge physically, mentally, and emotionally, but it was so, so fulfilling, and I learned a lot about myself through playing this champion. 

M&C: And you produced the movie Dinner Party?

I did. I helped produce Dinner Party and also starred in it. Dinner Party is a feature film that my partner wrote and directed. Outside of my partner creating this story, something else that attracted me to Dinner Party is because it felt so raw and unapologetic, exploring layers of taboo subjects.

I feel that in this new generation, as millennials or Gen Z, we don’t really shy away from these topics, so we’re delving into these subject matters with a group of friends who haven’t seen each other in a while. And they get back together through a reunion over the course of a dinner party, and there are microaggressions, and sexual misconduct, and all these sore topics that are coming up, and we get to watch these friends just tackle them head on and see how much they’ve changed as much as the social climate has changed.

If you met your childhood friends today, would you still connect with them? Would they still be your friends? Because they might share a different point of view than you do. And I just love that story, and it was an acting challenge, and it was my first time producing. It was a tall mountain to climb but so creatively rewarding.

M&C: When you talk about other people, you’re talking about the naysayers and the people who kind of undermine us at every turn, no matter how well we are doing.

Absolutely. You can’t control the narrative that everybody is going to have their own opinion. And sometimes, that could feel hurtful or harmful, or it’s easy to second guess yourself because there are outside voices coming in. However, they aren’t in the thick of it with you, so they don’t really know the work that’s going into it. Or the blood, sweat, tears, pain, and sacrifices that go into getting and accomplishing these different things.

So yes, I have to turn down the volume on the naysayers and just be clear on the fact, Imani, you’re in the gym. You’re in the gym shooting the shots, and everybody else who has an opinion on my style or my approach to however I choose to live my life, it’s just their opinion, and it’s not factual. So I just have to keep my head on straight and keep my eye on the prize.

M&C: I know from personal experience there are naysayers out there who will put us down or diminish our dreams rather than support us.

That’s exactly it. I think you hit the nail on the head. I think it just really boils down to [the fact that] people project their own fears onto you. When I was first pursuing acting, my dad was one of the few people who were really standing very strong in my corner and being like, “Yeah, we’re going to go do this.”

Whereas other family members or teachers or friends are like, “Are you serious?” “You are going to go pursue acting?” “Do you know how hard that is?” “Do you know how impossible it is?” Just throwing out all these statistics and trying to convince us to not do it. I’m so happy that my dad had this unshakable belief in my ability because it set the foundation very strongly for me.

Ashly Burch as Rachel in a brown plaid flannel shirt and a black T-shirtand Imani Hakim as Dana in a pastel print shirt and matching tank top are looking to their left. Their attention apparently been drawn to the same subject, on the Apple TV+series Mythic Quest
Ashly Burch as Rachel and Imani Hakim as Dana on the Apple TV+ series Mythic Quest. Pic credit: Apple TV

M&C: Let’s talk about your priorities of fitness and mental health and what that means to you.

Yeah, so mental health and fitness go hand in hand for me. I feel that it’s just the utmost priority because, one, I’ve been in this industry since I was a kid, and as you know, there have been plenty of child actors who had a rough transition from child actor to adulthood. And there’s been so many scenarios where I could have easily taken a different path, but I’ve surrounded myself with such a great community of people, and a community of people who support mental health being number one.

I’m also very big on having mind and body connections, so I am active, whether it be yoga, Pilates, Lagree, or weight training, I think it’s very important for me to move my body and just be connected.

If we look at it from an acting standpoint as well, our body is so involved in what we do. Whether it be comedy or drama, your body’s unable to discern that you’re acting. So, I think it’s really important for me to exercise my instrument mentally and physically and also incorporate that into just a well-balanced, active lifestyle to keep me sane through just this rollercoaster of an industry and overall in my life.

M&C: Talk about the importance of balance and even maybe turning off your social media just to give yourself some quiet time and some breathing room.

Oh, that is so important to me. I feel a little repetitive sometimes when I say this but balance, it’s the word of the day every day for me. I am really big on deleting my social media apps off my phone monthly. Sometimes I’ll take a week out of the month and just delete it off my phone. Because even when I say I’m going to take a social media break, if the app is on my phone, then it’s very easy to scroll.

And it goes back to what we were saying earlier about getting wrapped up in comparison or the naysayers and the opinions of people who don’t even know you personally. So, in order for me to stay balanced and again stay connected and focused, I remove myself from my social media apps. Or sometimes I’ll just leave my phone in a different room.

Or I make it a priority that if I’m spending quality time with friends or family, I’ll put my phone down. And I’m not afraid to call out my friends too about it. If they’re spending a lot of time on their phone while we’re spending quality time together, I’m like, “Hey, I need you to be present right now.”

M&C: Why do you want my readers to watch Season 3? And if they haven’t seen Seasons 1 or 2, why should they start with that first?

What I love about Mythic Quest is, yes, it’s a workplace comedy, but it’s got a lot of heart to it as well, and these characters are characters that you hadn’t really seen before. One, it’s tapping into an industry, one of the most massive industries in the world, the video game industry, with a very diverse cast, and they bring so much humor and so much light to it. I’m just such a fan of our show.

Season 3 of Mythic Quest is streaming on Apple TV+ on November 11, with new episodes on Friday.

Seasons 1 and 2 of Mythic Quest are also available on Apple TV+.

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