I told each person to choose a location that they felt most comfortable at. Utopia Francois chose a bar: Kermit’s Treme Mother In Law Lounge. At first glance, one might think it’s a bar; however, from the moment I walked in the establishment I realized it was so much more. “I grew up in here,” she told me shyly with a smile. “Tope!!!” a random bar-goer yells. One man she referred to as her Uncle stated, “Are you excited about your 16th birthday?” Utopia nodded yes. She was having her 16th birthday, complete with a second line band, the following weekend. I was offered a drink twice, all before noon. Everyone in there seemed to know each other well. I was told by a patron that this is a low-key celebrity spot in New Orleans owned by jazz legend Kermit Ruffins. “We’re leaving our house now, don’t worry: we only live seven minutes away from Kermit’s.” An hour and seven minutes I met the oh-so-vibrant Nicole Francois and her daughter, Utopia.
Nicole walked in with an effervescence that immediately drew me to her personality. “So sorry we’re late!” she apologized as she placed down her bag and began taking out makeup, beautiful jewelry. She looked up and me and smiled, “I’m going to do a quick paint job on my nails.” I begin shooting her daughter, Utopia, who is more quiet and reserved than her mother. It wasn’t until I asked Utopia to second line for me, when we met for the video portion of the interview a few days later, that her vibrant personality came out.
One thing that really stood out to me from meeting both Nicole and Utopia was the relationship that they have with each other. Nicole is a very caring mother than would easily be defined as “the cool mom.” She is encouraging and uplifting to Utopia, bragging about her daughter, “She’s quite talented,” she murmured to me while adjusting her hair. Utopia laughed, seemingly blushing because of her mom’s compliments.
Get to know more about Utopia below in her exclusive interview for Hello Beautiful.