After viewing yet another Issa Rae production that I thoroughly enjoyed, I just had to reach out to the creator. Andrea Lewis raised over $20,000 to create Black Actress, the most recent web series to grace the YouTube channel of Issa Rae. Her co-producer, Brian Walker, was the first person to speak to Issa about Black Actress and she was immediately ready to be apart of it. I had one conversation with her explaining my vision, and that was that!”
Andrea went on to share, “all of Black Actress has been inspired from parts of my real life. Some of it has actually happened to me and some of it is from my friends, but all of it is real to some extent. Even the characters are inspired from people in my real life. For example the first episode opens with the lead character ‘Kori Bailey,’ in full Goth makeup, going for an audition. When I first added that to the script a few people thought it was unrealistic but in real life I went to an audition where the character was African American and required to come in full Goth makeup! Sounds ridiculous but that’s the acting world!”
The first episode began with dialogue from Tatyana Ali and Shameless Mya had a role in the show as well. Cameos are always a nice surprise! “All of the actors that I cast are experienced working actors who happen to be my friends. It was very important to me to have a great environment with professional, hardworking actors…and that’s what I had. There’s a bunch more cameos and I don’t want to give them all away but you’ll see my homegirl, Grammy award winner Melanie Fiona and the very handsome Tristan Wilds.”
When asked about her inspiration to write, Andrea called herself a storyteller. “I have a wild imagination and way too many ideas to keep to locked inside [myself]! I’m inspired by nearly everything. There’s always an interesting story that can come out of something simple, you just have to look for it.”
Obstacles come with every job, and making others see your vision that is still inside your head can be difficult. “I think my biggest hurdle was getting the funding,” shared Andrea. “I did crowd funding through Indiegogo. Asking people for money isn’t easy and convincing people to believe in your idea is just as hard. Once I got the full funding at the end of my campaign I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and after that there were no more hurdles.”
A former cast member of Degrassi: The Next Generation, I felt compelled to ask Andrea how she’s grown as a black actress since her beginning days on screen. “I was a teenage girl at that time, so I’ve matured a lot! I hadn’t found my voice yet while I was on Degrassi and I can barely watch myself on re-runs because I don’t know who that girl is. If there was anything I learned from my experience on that show it was overall professionalism while being on a set, respecting your peers, and the power of a good ensemble cast.”
I cannot say I recognize Andrea from Degrassi, as I’ve never seen it, but would easily pick her out of a crowd now! She’s gorgeous and her hair has many YouTube fans in awe (check the comments). I asked her to share a few tidbits for those loving her hair as much as I am!
FAVORITE STYLE: “When my hair isn’t acting right, or I’m just being lazy, I usually throw it up in a big messy bun with pretty scarf. A scarf will change every hairstyle and make it better!”
REGIMEN: “I wash my hair every 7-10 days and I do a deep treatment every week with Mixed Chicks’ deep conditioner and coconut oil. I detangle my hair with coconut oil and then put the deep conditioner on for 30 minutes and wash it out. I’m really big on coconut oil because it’s done wonders for my hair.”
THE EVOLUTION OF MY HAIR: “When I was a kid, my hair was fantastic because I didn’t know that it could be straightened with a flat iron (lol). I seriously think learning about a flat iron was a complete mistake for me. I went through a period as a teenager where I thought I looked better with straight hair and preferred to keep it that way. If I wore my hair curly it was usually in a ponytail slicked back with some crazy gel. I didn’t know how to wear it out and curly back then and they didn’t have many product options when I was a teenager. My hair has been through a lot because I used to dye it all the time. I’ve been every color, from brown, light brown, red, blonde, super blonde, and now back to black! I dyed my hair black this year and that was simply because I want to get it back to the same way it was when I was a kid. I’ve always had long hair and a lot of it but now I love my hair and appreciate it very much and I rarely straighten it!”
Andrea is about into more than acting. She’s passionate about writing and music as well. Growing up, she’d “mimic the Queen of Motown, Diana Ross, right down to her larger-than-life hairdo; and while other eight-year-olds in talent competitions trotted out songs from the Little Mermaid, Andrea belted out Whitney Houston ballads.” You can hear her last album and to stay up to date with the one she’s currently working on here.