If you don’t like the options offered in your industry, well create a project that suits yourself! That’s what actress Andrea Lewis did.
She made her debut as a young star in movies like “Down in the Delta” and “Livin’ for Love: The Natalie Cole Story,” before going on to star opposite Drake on the teen series “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” After that, Lewis decided instead of waiting on Hollywood to determine when she was ready for her leading lady role, she would launch her own.
The 29-year-old actress embraced the freedom that the digital landscape offered her and launched a hilarious web series called “Black Actress.”
The show is hybrid series – part documentary and part scripted – and showcases Lewis’ character, Kori Bailey’s dreadful acting career. As an ode to real working black actresses, she interviews the likes of Jenifer Lewis, Tatyana Ali, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Naturi Naughton, Amber Riley and others about their experiences as women of color in Hollywood.
AlwaysAList.com got a chance to chat with the Canadian-bred actress/producer about “Black Actress,” how the digital landscape has changed Hollywood and who she would play in a biopic.
How has digital content programming expanded the landscape for actors to be able to work?
Digital content is the new TV world for actors. The landscape has created a ton of work for new actors and veteran actors within the industry who are able to be apart of creative, unique and off-beat projects and play characters that were not always available to them. What I like best about digital content is that it is going against the same old format of the Hollywood machine. With digital content we have diverse casts, stories about the millennial voice, and new narratives that we haven’t seen on television and the creators are not afraid to take risks and neither are the actors. It’s a beautiful place to be.
For aspiring actors, what advice would you give them about using the digital world to hone their skill and develop an audience?
Social media is a great way to develop an audience for yourself by creating a brand and as well for networking. A large part of success as an actor is how well you’re able to network and create your own opportunities. With the power of social media you can connect with a lot of people and allow your peers and community to see what you’re doing on a regular basis. I always encourage other actors to be “shameless” on their social media. When it comes to your work and craft, don’t be afraid to promote yourself!
Have you ever used any real life encounters as inspiration for content you tackle in “Black Actress?”
All of the situations in “Black Actress” are inspired by my real life and the lives of my friends. I know very interesting people so naturally when I was developing the show, all of the characters were inspired by the characters that are in my real life. They say write what you know and as a writer that’s the only thing I know how to do.
You’ve had some really great guest stars on your series, who would you love to come on that hasn’t yet?
I’d love to have Loretta Divine or Diahann Carroll. I’ve worked with both of them and they are both amazing actresses and women. Not only are they legends in the business, but they’ve seen and done it all and I’d love to grace “Black Actress” fans with bit of their wisdom.
While race should never be referred to as a trend in Hollywood, are you optimistic that the current state of TV is creating an environment for other actors of color to work?
I’m often asked is the new state of black actresses and actors on TV just a trend and I truly hope not but when it comes to the Hollywood game, you can never be sure. Right now actors of color are hot and whether it’s a trend or not I think it’s great because it’s opening up opportunities for us in front of the camera. What I’d like to see is more opportunities open up for us behind the camera as well so that we can make sure that it’s not just a trend but a permanent and positive move for the future of TV and Film.
Would “Black Actress” work on traditional TV?
I completely believe “Black Actress” would work on traditional TV, especially after seeing the success of shows like “Black-ish” and “Fresh off The Boat” and even one of my favorite shows, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Our format is unique but our message is universal. The lead character is not just another black actress, she’s a twenty-something woman pursuing her dreams and battling her insecurities and everyone can relate to that, whether you’re a black actress or not, which is why the show has made such a great impact so far.
Is there a dream character of role that you would love to play? If so, tell me about it.
I have a lot of dream roles, but if I were to pick one I’d love to play Chaka Khan in her biopic, that would be a dream come true!
If you haven’t checked out “Black Actress,” watch the series at BlackActressSeries.com.