All American: Homecoming's Geffri Maya Previews What's Next for Simone

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Geffri Maya joined The CW's All American Season 2 as Simone Hicks, Jordan Baker's girlfriend. Since then, she's evolved into so much more – a teenage mom with aspiring dreams of playing tennis.

Now, Geffri Maya leads the spin-off All American: Homecoming, where Simone attends an HBCU, Bringston University. The series focuses on balancing college life with athletics and growing up independently.

TV Fanatic chatted with Geffri about leading her show, the challenges Simone faces, and the new relationships Simone forms.

Geffri Maya as Simone Hicks - All American: Homecoming

Hey Geffri. Thanks so much for chatting with me. How has the transition been going from part of an ensemble cast of All American to one of the leads on All American: Homecoming?

It's been a beautiful experience. I've been full of gratitude for close to a year because we shot the pilot in March of 2021, but we talked about it in December 2020. So, I've been sitting with this blessing for a while now, and to see it come to fruition it's an indescribable feeling, but I'm thankful and happy.

Will you be making more appearances on All American after the graduation episode, or will Jordan and others be guest starring on the spin-off?

Well, without giving anything away, we will have to wait and see. There are going to be some fantastic moments. Our showrunner did a tremendous job at creating a universe that's so very much so familiar. She plans to have crossovers and some people coming to visit some people going back home.

That'll be wonderful. I'm sure the fans will love that. Can you tease some of the things viewers will learn from this HBCU series? Will we see you all struggle with real-life experiences or more the sports drama?

Moving in - All American: Homecoming Season 1 Episode 1

Oh, I think it's a combination of both. Like the mothership show, All American: Homecoming will focus on collegiate life, And what that means to go from that to adulthood. But then it will also focus on that athletic lifestyle, where you have to be diligent, you have to be focused, and you have just to put your all into the game.

It's kind of like come hard or don't come at all situation when it comes to being back later. It explores what it is that athletics means to their campus. I think it's a nice blend of both.

That's good. And how will Simone deal with the roadblocks she keeps facing while balancing college life and her dream of playing tennis?

I think she has a fantastic foundation at Bringston University already. From the backdoor pilot, you see that her relationship with her aunt is solid. Her Aunt Amara is very unapologetic Black and unapologetically herself, which inspires Simone to persevere.

She builds terrific friendships with people like Damon, Keisha, Nate, and other characters, so her foundation is strong.

College life - All American: Homecoming

Yes, the series seems to build on the definition of family. Simone's relationship with her parents seems strained, but she seems to have created a new family per se.

Absolutely. A new family for the new her, it's safe to say.

What would you say about her relationship with her aunt and friends and the series premiere with the new family dinners?

It's just about the foundation. I think it's tribe. I think it's love. They support and encourage each other because life is not a walk through a field of daisies. You're going to have some ups, and you're going to have some downs.

You're going to have some days where you don't have the answer. The thing about college is that it teaches you how to navigate your relationships on a deeper level because you're going through experiences that you've never experienced before.

Simone & Aunt Amara - All American: Homecoming Season 1 Episode 2

It had a different magnitude and impact on your life and who you are today. I think the benefits of having her aunt, having her friends, and having those family dinners truly focus on the theme of family.

Are we going to see any more of your family appear on the series?

We get into the family aspect since Simone's Aunt Amara is also there. People will be coming to visit, but it's about the timing of it all. I think it will be fun to discover the who, the what, and how.

How have you mastered your tennis skills so well?

With tons of practice. I've been practicing since we filmed the pilot, so it'll be a year in March. You become diligent with practicing.

First Day on Campus - All American: Homecoming Season 1 Episode 1

You didn't play tennis before then?

I did not, but I was also a dancer, and dancing is just movement. So, the form, the foundation, and the technicality of it all are indeed like a dance. It's just looking at people's bodies and mimicking, and then learning how-to hit properly so you won't hurt your body.

It's also about honoring the sport since there is a right way to do this for it, and it's incredible what these women can do.

Where is the series shot since it shows such incredible college scenes?

It's set in Atlanta, but we actually shoot here in Los Angeles -- movie magic.

Simone is inspired - All American: Homecoming Season 1 Episode 2

Is the stuff they portray about Black excellence accurate to an HBCU?

I think it's accurate to the world. Black is excellent, but I think at an HBCU, there is this attachment to always excelling and always showcasing black excellence because due to our history, we always have to. We always have to be the fastest, the strongest, and the smartest.

We typically are amazing, but instead of the pressure that's put on us, it's just a gift.

I think it's about perspective, but Black excellence is everywhere and in everything we do. We're just highlighting in particular at an HBCU. I'm excited to celebrate that. It's a real place, so I'm excited for people to get to know it.

Connections Made - All American: Homecoming Season 1 Episode 1

You and Peyton Alex Smith already have such a natural connection. Is this going to stay a platonic friendship, or should Jordan be worried?

I don't think Jordan has anything to worry about. I think their relationship is strong enough to handle anything. Even if an inkling of doubt were to cross their mind, they'd know how to handle it because they're always friends first, and love always conquers all.

I also like the rivalry that Simone has built with Thea.

Absolutely. You have to have some frenemies in there.

Frenemies - All American: Homecoming

Are they going to stay competitors or rivals?

Their dynamic is interesting, but I think their dynamic is necessary, but they are strong where the other is weak. It’s a nice ying and yang. Everyone needs someone like that. You need someone you can learn from, so I hope they teach each other a lot.

That is true. They are fascinating, and you're right everybody needs a rival or a frenemy. So, what is your favorite part of the new series? And what are you most excited to share with your fans?

My favorite part of the series is that I'm playing tennis since it's something new for me, and it's something for me to master at some point.

I'm most excited for people to see stories that bring them joy.

New Family Dinners - All American: Homecoming Season 1 Episode 1

I also want them to see moments where black men and women can be reflected on screen and not remind us of our effort and pains but celebrate our legacy and joy and the contribution we continuously make to the world.

I'm enjoying it so far. I always liked All American. So I was excited to see the spin-off as well. And I think it will hit the fans in a different way, but also in a good way.

Oh, thank you. I'm so glad.

Thanks for chatting with us, Geffri.

All American: Homecoming Season 1 premieres Monday, February 21, 2022, on The CW.

Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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All American: Homecoming Quotes

Folks, you are looking at the new face of HBCU baseball. One day, his portrait will hang in these great halls, too.

Keena

Jordan: I can’t believe your parents aren’t coming to see you off.
Simone: I can.