March 2013 I launched the indie go go campaign for my web series “Black Actress” and I was scared as hell! I kept thinking of a million different ways that I could try to avoid having to do this but at the end of the day my only solution for getting the funds was crowd funding, so I closed my eyes and did it.
It was hands down the 40 most vulnerable days of my life and a true test of how optimistic and positive I am as a person. Asking people for money is not easy whether they are strangers or friends, it takes a lot to remove your pride and admit that you need something from someone in order to help make an idea, or a dream a reality. And I had many days where I feared I wasn’t going to reach my goal. I questioned whether my idea was unique or interesting enough and I had to keep asking my self why was I doing this? As hard as it was I believed in my idea and I had to stick with it until it came to my life. In 40 days I learned to remove my doubt and to only see the finish line. When my campaign was over and I reached goal I was proud of myself for sticking with the scariest thing I’ve ever done and I was beyond grateful to know that everyone else believed in me enough to help me see my vision all the way through.
Now let’s rewind a bit to where, why and how “Black Actress” came to life. It was 2008 and I was filming a movie for Nickelodeon. I was having a great time filming in Vancouver, I was the only black girl on the set but it wasn’t anything new to me, I grew up that way. One day one of the actors was introducing everyone in the cast to his agent and he went around saying their names and what role they played and then he got to me and he said, “This is Andrea, she’s the urban one” …..”Blank Stare” what does that mean? I was so confused, I mean I understand that I’m the only black girl in this movie and more than likely I was cast because they needed a dose of color and this is their way of showing “diversity” but to be introduced to someone in that way? The urban one? Wow! I didn’t see myself that way.
And that’s when I had enough. Yes, I’m black but that’s not ALL that I am! I realized at that moment as an actress that I had more experiences as “the urban” one rather than just getting to play a girl, a normal girl in a story and I yearned to feel like that. I really wanted to create something that let people see that as women of color we are more than just a dose of brown on your screen or “the urban ones”. We are normal people, with hopes, dreams, funny stories, sad stories, and we see ourselves the same way you see your self.
That’s when the idea for “Black Actress” was sparked! I first brought it to my friend Maya Washington aka Shameless Maya and I spoke to her about it everyday but it wasn’t the right time for it because I didn’t quite know where to go with it or how to get it made. So I kept it in the back of my mind and told people every once in awhile when I felt comfortable sharing my creative ideas.
Fast forward to 2012 and I’m at an awesome panel in New York City where a bunch of black film makers including Issa Rae are discussing why they turned to the web and started creating content regardless of what the studios and networks said they could or couldn’t do. They were all successful in telling a new story for people of color and they all just did it! That was all I needed, I had this idea for years, kept having it replay in my head over and over but I just needed the courage to bring it to life and now was the time. After that panel I told a few people my idea, and everyone was immediately excited, they thought the concept was dope and wanted to see and hear more so I got to work.
The main theme I wanted to show in “Black Actress” was the diversity of women of color and that our stories are relatable to everyone. Especially people in the entertainment business, we’re all after the same thing and the struggle is the same for all of us.
Black women are diverse, we all have different hair types, complexions, bodies, and stories and it had been such a long time since I’d seen anything that really showed the true range, diversity and beauty of us. If there’s one thing I love seeing is a group of black women together, dark skin, light skin, brown skin, kinky hair, curly hair it doesn’t matter! When you show us with the essence of our true spirit which is strength and let us shine with our natural looks then you get to see a true sight of beauty. I wanted “Black Actress” to show this as much as possible and I really do hope then when women are watching it, at some point they see someone that looks like them.
Also I wanted to show our story is not so different and so “urban” in comparison to our peers. Every actor or entertainer I know whether, black or white, gay or straight, male or female has struggles! Has to work hard, doubts themselves, has at least one crazy friend, has a love hate relationship with elements of their career and the list goes on! We have more in common then people think and if we explore these stories I think the television and film world would be amazing and there wouldn’t have to be such a divide! I wanted Black Actress to show this as much as possible and to have universal themes that didn’t have to do with color and that at the end of the day there doesn’t have to be this box for Black Actresses to live in.
So fast forward to today, Tuesday Nov 5th 2013 and I’m here. Happy, excited, proud and grateful. So many people inspired me and helped me to make this show come to life and I hope to do the same for someone else. Thank you to everyone involved with Black Actress! It will be out on a weekly basis so enjoy the first episode at 4pm EST/ 7pm EST and let me know what you think! xo