Andrea Lewis Premieres Webseries Tribute To Black Women, “Black Actress”
Earlier this year, Degrassi’s Andrea Lewis announced 2013 will be the year where not only will you know her name (again) but most importantly the work she produces. Thus her new web series, Black Actress, was born. The series takes the bull by the horns, revealing how black actresses try to perfect their craft in an industry that suffocates them. Produced by Lewis, Issa Rae and Tatyana Ali, Black Actress addresses black women walking the thin line of supporting their fellow “sistas” while remaining competitive.
Prior to the web series premiere, veteran actress Viola Davis shared with Oprah during OWN’s Next Chapter:
“We’re in crisis mode as black actresses. Not in the sheer number of roles that are offered, but in the quality of roles. When you only have two or three categories for black actresses, it’s a natural instinct. If you throw a piece of cheese into a room full of rats, they’re going to claw at each other.”
The first episode of Black Actress opens up with our childhood friend (in our head) Ali. Famously known for her role on The Fresh Prince as Ashley Banks, Ali shares how acting brought her out of a rut while attending Harvard University. As Ali unfolds her personal story, viewers are introduced to Kori Bailey, played by Lewis – a black actress trying to navigate her way back into an industry where she used to be the “it” girl. Viewers follow Bailey throughout her numerous auditions and even catch her during a bathroom pep talk running down a laundry list of why she will and can book every audition. Though some may not relate to her need to constantly repeat mantras of positive affirmations, the scenes from Black Actress left me feeling nostalgic.
I reminisced on weekends during my last year of junior high school, filled with auditions for performing arts high schools in New York City. My prospective concentration in high school would have been and eventually became vocal music. I spent endless hours rehearsing the song Edelweiss from The Sound Of Music only for my 13-year-old self to feel mildly insecure. Masses of pre-teen black vocalists usually showed up and out at auditions with “His Eyes Are On The Sparrow” or their Grand Concourse rendition of Alicia Keys “Fallin.” Just like Kori in Black Actress, I understand it is hard to comprehend if you will be chosen for a role when the time slot of your audition is saturated with sameness . The arts world will trip you up as you create your niche. The messages you receive from directors, whether it be drama, music or fine arts, often become blurred and you often wonder if the difference or the norm will set you a part.
Lewis’ webseries offers viewers an uncomfortable piece of honesty by shedding light on how uninterested people are about you during auditions. Or if they are interested, they too, become actors to throw you off your A-game. Like life, the demos you showcase for, will teach how to hone every moment as though you represent the final product you desire. Black Actress prepares its viewers for roles of a lifetime.
Watch the premiere of Black Actress below!