No stranger to the film and television industries, Andrea Lewis (Degrassi: The Next Generation) understands the trials, forced archetypes, and difficulties Black actresses face in Hollywood. Using her experience and looking to start a true conversation for the struggles creatives of color face, she has started her own production company and taken the reigns at forming her own creative projects. Partnering up with Issa Rae (“Awkward Black Girl” web series) and Tatyana Ali, Andrea ushers in a new dynamic web series “Black Actress”. The mockumentary style series follows “Kori Bailey” as she navigates through auditions and relationships to find her big break. Starring Lewis herself, the series also features appearances from Tristan Wilds and Melanie Fiona and features commentary from co-producer Tatyana Ali, Naturi Naughton, Reagan Gomez, Essence Atkins and Jenifer Lewis. We were fortunate enough to speak with Andrea about the upcoming project:
You’ve had success with television and film, what made you decide to tackle your own production company and your own projects?
Having my own production has always been my dream. I’m so inspired by other actresses like Reese Witherspoon & Drew Barrymore who have their own production companies and create their own work all the time. I always knew I would eventually start my own, but I just didn’t know when and I’m glad I finally got the balls to do it!
What message do you want to send with “Black Actress”? Is it at all autobiographical?
The message I want people to take from Black Actress is that the journey is the same for all of us. No matter what your color or gender is, we all just want to live our dreams. But the opportunities are not always there for women of color and it can effect you in more ways than one.
The series is indirectly autobiographical lol. I have experienced many of the situations that the lead character, “Kori Bailey” goes through and I was once in a similar place to her in my life. Kori is in what I like to call “the desperate” time of your journey in the entertainment world, she feels very lost, she is pursuing her dreams but doesn’t realize that her lack of success is coming from herself.
It was soooo exciting! I honestly had my dream week while filming “Black Actress”. We filmed in Brooklyn, which is one of my favorite places to be and I was surrounded by creative, positive people who were bringing my words to life! I can’t describe how truly grateful I felt and confident that I was doing something right!
What advice could you give anyone else looking to create their own production projects or web series, what was the hardest challenge you faced?
My advice is to just do it! The biggest challenge I’ve faced has just been dealing with my own doubt. Once I got past it and really believed in myself and what I want to do, it became easy for me because my vision is clear.
What are some of the challenges Black actresses face in the industry that the web series looks to address?
The interesting thing about “Black Actress” is that the story is told through the eyes of a black actress but I think the experiences that she goes through are things that every actor or dream chaser goes through. The episodes deal a lot with confidence, being your own worst enemy, comparing your success to your peers and the always traumatizing world of auditions. These are issues that all actors face but what makes it unique to black women is the testimonials from other black actresses in every episode sharing their stories and their own similar experiences to what “Kori” is going through as an actress.
What is a life lesson you’ve learned from happy hour?
Haha! First off I love happy hour! Anytime I can get together with my friends and get drinks and food for a cheap price then you’ve cooked up the ingredients for an amazing time! But truly what I’ve learned from happy hour is my value for having the right people in my corner and just how important it is to your overall success. As much as I like drinks and food, I won’t do it with just anyone! Keep your circle small and keep it positive!
Slated to premiere on Issa Rae’s YouTube Channel (Youtube.com/IssaRae) on November 5th, be sure to check out “Black Actress”. For now enjoy the trailer of the web series below!