First off, I really need to say this: Andrea Lewis is amazing. I’m not just saying that because I watched her back in the day on Degrassi (she acted alongside Drake – LUCKY!!), or because I am a total fangirl of her web series Black Actress, or because I’m crushing hard on her hair (seriously, her mass of curls are my everythang!). Andrea Lewis is amazing because she’s creative, funny, and wise beyond her years.
I first met Ms. Lewis at the networking event CreativeClassTO: The Boss Hood edition in late May. I, along with a packed crowd, sat with bated breath while she spoke about her journey in entertainment, the lessons she learned along the way, and what she felt being a Boss really is.
Moved by her presentation, I ran up to her after she answered the last question, and thanked her for her motivating words. From the corner of my eye I noticed that there was a bunch of people scrambling to talk to her, so I quickly made my move and asked if she would like to be featured on my blog. Without hesitation, she said, “Of course!”
Not sure if she noticed the look of surprise mixed with glee on my face, but I played it off cool, and asked for her contact info and kept it moving.
We met 5 days later at a trendy coffee house in downtown Toronto. BTW, her hair looked freaking flawless!
We had about an hour for the interview as Andrea had another meeting right after ours. In those precious 60 minutes, Andrea told me about her acting pursuits, as well explained how she was able to get her web series Black Actress off the ground by running a crowd funding campaign. Can you believe that she was able to raise $20, 000 in just 30 days? She’s a hustler,yo!
Wanna know more about this lil powerhouse? Read on.
Hometown: Pickering, Ontario
Currently reside: Brooklyn, New York
Fun Fact: Her bestie from Brampton, Ontario plays her best friend on Black Actress
Astrological Sign: Leo
Was it was necessary to move to the US to pursue your acting and singing dreams?
Yes, for me it was. I just wanted a little more than what Canada could offer me…to be quite honest. I think Canada is great, but we just don’t have the outlets…especially for a person of colour. In comparison to the US, there’s more outlets overall.
I just knew that I wanted a higher level of recognition and to do my work on a higher level, and the US was the only place I could do that.
How was it leaving Degrassi and pursuing other projects?
It was a great opportunity to be in a series in Canada and for it to be shown worldwide, but I never saw it as the last stop. I was too young to look at it like that. I finished the show when I was 20 years old and I moved to Los Angeles. I wasn’t going to be on the show for the rest of my life!
I’m an actress; it’s a next-step life. No job is permanent. You shouldn’t look at them as permanent.
What is the “Boss Hood” mentality?
I think “boss hood” is really taking control of your life. It’s not just about being a CEO at an office. It’s just saying and recognizing that everything in your life is ultimately up to you – the level of happiness….the person you’re with, even where you live. There are no outside factors controlling it. It’s all you! That’s what boss hood and being a boss is for me. Being confident and saying “I control this.”
I’ve been pursuing entertainment my entire life. All my friends are in entertainment, so I’ve seen the ups and downs of what this field can do to people –successful or not. Your mentality, your sense of desperation…that’s what I knew I wanted Kori Bailey [lead character] to represent. I knew with Kori I wanted to represent what I think people don’t talk about ……that you are pursuing something, but you’re completely unsure of how you’re going to get it and you have no idea how you’re going to do it.
Doing Black Actress, I wanted something that showed a woman of colour, being a person overall, just being an individual in the world. Not like she’s angry, “ghetto” or strong – or all the things you are accustomed to see black women be.
People always ask me if she’s me….she’s not me! But she is me in a place that I once was.
When we first started Black Actress, my co-producer Brian Walker and I were looking for distributors. We wrote a blurb about the show and I made the most basic visual for it. To me, it really didn’t represent the show, but I just needed something. I filmed it in my apartment in Brooklyn and called all my friends and shot a series of auditions with a series of actresses. They all had these different looks to represent black actresses.
Brian sent it to Issa. She at the time was looking for shows to put on her channel. She liked what I was doing and thought the comedy would suit her channel. She believed in the overall vision of the project.
I didn’t want people to compare it to Awkward Black Girl, if anything I wanted a union. So I thought, who better than Issa to be a part of it. She’s pretty much the queen of the web in terms of scripted series.
I love watching your motivational videos. What inspired “#SelfLove” Saturdays?
I was dealing with this one woman and she was very much, “Oh, I can’t take a picture right now, I look fat, I’m not dressed right…” We don’t realize how awkward that makes other people feel…when you’re not comfortable with yourself. That’s the boss element of your life; you control that. I saw beauty in her, but she didn’t.
#SelfLove Saturdays gave me an outlet to talk about something I was passionate and knew a lot about. I know what it’s like to be insecure and be really unsure of yourself, and I witnessed a lot amongst people.
I didn’t want to be “Ms. Harsh Teacher,” but at the same time, I want to give a realistic message on what it is to love yourself.
Do you have any other projects on the horizon?
Working on season 2 of Black Actress and I’m working on a couple of albums. The music was pretty popular in season 1 of Black Actress, so we’re trying to do something cool and have a soundtrack available. I’m also working on a couple of productions where I am the writer and director.
That was an incredibly fun interview. I love it when I am able to leave an interview feeling motivated and enlightened. I’m ecstatic to know that that there will be a season 2 of Black Actress, and I’m even happier to know that Andrea loves talking about hair as much as I do. You rock, girl!
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