While reality shows like “Love and Hip Hop” continue to dominate the television world, the digital planet can get ready for Andrea Lewis’s refreshing new comedy web series, “Black Actress,” which premiered on November 4th.
Produced by web series veteran, Issae Rae and Hollywood actress, Tatyana Ali, “Black Actress” is unquestionably the funniest web show we’ve seen since “Awkward Black Girl.” Capturing the daunting process of auditions, rejections, and Hollywood’s infamous typecasting, the series excels in delivering a fun and comedic tone to the grim obstacles black actresses face today. The web production will feature cameos from Tatyana Ali, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tristan Wilds, Melanie Fiona and a slew of Hollywood names.
Clutch caught up with Andrea while she hosted an intimate Brooklyn screening to premiere the first three episodes to her 12-part series. Read below to see what Andrea Lewis had to say about the message behind her web series and the struggles of being a black actress in Hollywood.
On casting and capturing diversity in Black Actress:
“It was very important for me to capture the diversity of black women from our hair, complexions and bodies. I love black women and I love the sight of a group of happy, confident black women together; it’s beauty at its best! Hollywood is always trying to put people into a box and brain wash us into thinking there’s only one kind of beauty or one type of black women. I wanted ‘Black Actress’ to show a wide range of black women and I tried my best to showcase us in all of our diversity.”
On the glass ceiling in Hollywood for black actors/actresses:
“There’s a ton of limitations for black actresses in Hollywood. We truly don’t have as many parts or opportunities, and most of the execs still see us as a “risk” when it comes to taking a chance and put us in a lead role. It’s changing slowly but surely with shows like ‘Scandal’ and ‘Sleepy Hollow’ having black female leads. But it’s still only one character in a show and [most of] the other characters are white. It’s very hard in this industry for people of color but despite the lack of opportunities most of the actors I meet are very optimistic that a big change is coming.”
On her worst audition experience:
“My worst audition was maybe 5 years ago in LA and I was going for apart that I knew I didn’t suit but my agent was sending me for anyway. It was for an older character and I’m always weary going for parts like that because I never look old enough to play late 20s much less a person in their 30s but I went anyway. I tried my best to dress the part but when I got there and seeing the other actresses in the waiting room I felt like I interpreted the character wrong and looked like a little kid, which was my first let down. When I actually got in the room to do my scene the casting director had me do the scene a few times but she was really unhappy with all of my takes and she finally said ‘This isn’t a Nickelodeon show, it’s an adult comedy-give me some grit.’ I was so thrown off, I think I just stood there silent for a minute. I just came off of ‘Degrassi,’ which is a Nickelodeon show and my confidence was seriously bruised! I was thinking I’ll never be able to transition out of kid stuff, I’m stuck in my comfort zone. That was definitely one of my worst experiences at an audition because I was so insecure.”
On the toughest role for black women to break into:
“All of them! LOL! Honestly there’s no one type of role that I think we have a hard time breaking into because all of them are hard for us to get. From the sexy girl, the hero, the girl next door, the villain you name it, it’s a fight to be able to convince someone to let us act it! But it’s changing slowly but surely, shows like ‘Orange is The New Black,’ ‘Scandal,’ ‘Sleepy Hollow,’ ‘Awkward Black Girl’ and hopefully with ‘Black Actress’ you’re seeing a big change and these roles won’t be so difficult for us anymore.”
The message behind “Black Actress”:
“I hope for other black actresses to want to share their own stories and to be able to laugh at some of the experiences that play out in the show. I also want people who are not black or women to watch the show and see that they can relate to it as well. At the end of the day, the show is really about pursuing your dreams and finding yourself amongst this crazy entertainment industry. And most importantly I want people to see young black women in a different light, having fun, being vulnerable and just living and with that I hope they see a bit of themselves.”
Watch the first episode of ‘Black Actress’ here.