A week later, Robinson said she was too in her head in that show, that she needed to remind herself to have fun. “It’s hard to stay in the moment for someone like me who is always thinking about the next 20 moves,” she said by phone.
Robinson had done a chunk of material about the difference between her 20s and 30s, including one bit about being more concerned with frivolous things earlier, like shaving body hair, which she did so much, she said, “that she didn’t read a book for 10 years.”
Now she’s an author and publisher who tries to read a book a week. “I miss that innocence a bit,” she said, explaining that she didn’t have to worry about her employees or brand back then. A few years later, her profile would grow thanks to a regular show with Jessica Williams called “2 Dope Queens” that moved from small rooms to HBO. In the years since, she said, their paths have diverged. “It’s one of those things where you meet for an amount of time and then you grow in different ways.”
A multitasker at heart, Robinson has juggled writing, performing and podcasting. She even recently joined Michelle Obama on her book tour, interviewing the former first lady, a major career turning point for Robinson, one that also provides the set piece closing out her new special.
An imprint that would let her champion writers of color had been a longstanding dream that Robinson pitched over the pandemic. She said her first book, the 2016 best seller “You Can’t Touch My Hair,” was rejected by every publisher except Plume (which now runs her imprint), and the reason she heard was that books by Black women don’t sell. That stuck with her. Following the September debut of “Please Don’t Sit,” Tiny Reparations has two releases set for the spring, both debut novels by authors of color: “What the Fireflies Knew,” by Kai Harris, a coming-of-age story, and “Portrait of a Thief,” by Grace Li, about an art heist. “I don’t want to read trauma all the time. That’s something I have been particular about,” Robinson said. “I really want hopeful stuff.”