Hello, Kings and Queens! Welcome back! I hope you guys have had a blessed and fulfilling week. This week on Heythats jaz, I would like to introduce to you a new segment called, "#NaturallyTalented." This segment will focus on natural beauties and their natural talents that they have been blessed with and I thought what better way to start the new segment than with Entertainer Andrea Lewis.
Many of you know her as Hazel Aden from Degrassi Seasons 1-5, but she is so much more. I chose her as my subject because she inspires me on a whole other level. Through her being one of my #UltimateHairCrushes to her entrepreneurism, she embodies talent, tenacity, valor and success.
Writing this article did a lot of great things for me personally and helped me realize what I am capable of. I hope you all enjoy the article as much as I did interviewing the lovely and bubbly Andrea Lewis.
*Editor's Notes: Thank you, Andrea, for your help and for being so kind. I pray that God blesses you in everything that you do.*
Entertainer Andrea Lewis is juggling a web series, writing three other shows and also filming a feature film under her self-made production company called “Jungle Wild,” leaving her happy to be busy, but with little time to spare.
The 29-year-old West Indian Canadian has just recently finished filming her second season of her web series she’s created and starred in called “Black Actress.”
“I always knew I’d be producing and writing since I was a little girl,” she said during a phone interview where she complained about the cold rainy weather in her Toronto hometown. “I always had lots of ideas. It just came naturally to me.”
The “Degrassi” veteran doesn’t only want to be labeled as just an actress, but an entertainer. “I act, sing, produce, create, I’m a YouTuber and blogger. I don’t want to be limited to just one or the other.”
“The women I looked up to did more than acting. I knew that, like them, I had to do more to share and recreate my story and the stories of others.” She vividly recalled an encounter she experienced in Vancouver while at a casting call.
“I was introduced as “urban,” which is just another word for being a person of color. That was an awkward moment for me and it made me feel very limited. One of my now good friends was also auditioning for a role with me and we laugh about it to this day.”
“At the time, I just wanted to be known as an actress who wanted to land the role at the casting call. I’m not the only one that has experienced this. I want to share the reliability of the experiences of other black women in the entertainment business.”
In January 2009, Lewis and her best friend, Shannon T. Boodram, started their own YouTube channel as well as a blog called, “Those Girls Are Wild,” where they “presented spoofs, controversial topics, impromptu rapping, great singing and, all-in-all, a steady stream of WILD ass content,” as they described it in the “About” description.
After a successful four years, the talented best friends decided that it was time to start new chapters in their lives for their careers. They released a farewell video on their channel in May 2013 presenting their personal YouTube channels.
“Words can't describe how we love each and every one of you for your continuous love and support of TGAW and our individual careers,” Lewis and Boodram expressed to their subscribers. “We've grown, we've learned and we're never gonna stop! TGAW was just the beginning please continue to follow us on our journeys.”
Lewis has had her personal YouTube channel, “AndreaLewisChannel,” since March 2013. With vlogging, which is short for video blogging, and many other different segments like “I Am Inspired By,” “Beauty,” “Inspirations & Motivation,” “Black Actress” and “Self Love Saturdays,” she describes her channel as a “showcase of her journey through love, life, career and art.”
“YouTube is a great way for you to show your work and talents because it’s such a huge medium, especially if you have a huge following.”
She’s a firm believer in sharing what she’s learned with others so she uses her YouTube channel as a medium to share what she’s learned and is continuing to learn through her walk of life.
After living in Canada all of her life, Lewis decided to move to New York City, which she said was “a matter of confidence.”
“I live a blessed life, but I’ve also experienced self-esteem issues, dealing with rejection and had my times of self doubt. I’ve experienced it all in the entertainment industry. Different experiences created my confidence, which helped me to make important decisions, like moving to New York.”
“This is genuinely my passion. I often think about what I’d be doing if I weren’t in entertainment and,” she said with a pause, “I think I’d be a chef. I love to cook and I love food and it has the same thought process with what I do.”
She tries to squeeze in a personal life. Throughout the year, she travels from NYC to LA to Canada for work, but tries to incorporate quality time with her family and friends.
“I try to make the most of my trip three days out of the week I’d be where ever I am,” said Lewis. “Four days out of the week, I’ll strictly dedicate to work. The other three days, I’ll spend two days with my mom and other family members and then a day with my friends.”
When asked about what her ideal Saturday consisted of, she replied with a laugh, “it would be a game night/ girls night with great food and a good game of Taboo.”
“It’s not easy to get together with everyone because all of us are out here hustlin’. We all understand that it’s grind time, but we all try to make time for one another.”
When Lewis travels to LA, she’s filming her independent film that is to be finished by Fall 2015.
“I’m so excited for this project under my production company, “Jungle Wild.” The topic is about the arts, self discovery, similar to “Black Actress,” and experiences that deal with following your dreams.”
Andrea Lewis’ plans right now and for the future are to release a short version or a trailer of the film on YouTube and enter a few festivals, which "Black Actress" was just recently named the "Official Selection" at the 2015 American Black Film Festival, to share what she has in store. She wants to continue to share her life’s lessons and to make a difference in the entertainment world.
“As a self-starter, I constantly try to preach to others about having a vision for yourself. Where do you see yourself in five to ten years? How do you picture yourself? Have a break down plan.”
“There are a lot of creative people of different ethnicities and backgrounds and you don’t see them,” Lewis said. “I am going to keep on developing and producing work with diversity.”