Andrea Lewis: In Her Own Lane
You may remember her as “Hazel Aden”, the girlfriend of a then unknown Drake’s character “Jimmy Brooks”, on the hit show Degrassi but Andrea Lewis is determined to make sure you know her for more than that. Daring and unique, Lewis is fighting for the place in Hollywood where women of color can be whoever and whatever they want…. take it or leave it.
“Women need more people to relate to, people that are just themselves, people that make you feel like it’s ok to be whoever you are”, says Lewis, “this generation of girls is like that, they don’t want to worry about the pressures of being overly sexy or whatever you’re “supposed” to be”. On this day, the surprisingly petite, Andrea Lewis, is the epitome of a woman after her own heart. Dressed in a denim skirt and simple top, Lewis is fresh and humble with a nice Canadian charm that makes her seem more like a friend than a brand in the making. With many years between her and Hazel Aden, she has turned her attention to making a name for herself both as an actress and as a singer.
On the heels of her sophomore album, 54321, Lewis is determined to open a new field in music before turning her focus to acting full time again. “My music is a halfway mark between Janelle Monae and Beyonce. It’s has a kind of quirk to it, it’s a little to the left but at the same time it has a pop feel, a lot of the stuff that people can simply relate to”, she says. Even with her commitment to a unique style and original sound, the road hasn’t been easy for the teen TV star turned adult up and coming entertainer. Like many of her peers she’s had to endure the harsh reality of a business that does not always make room for female artists of color, even with her amount of experience. “There are a bunch of strikes against me that people wouldn’t think are strikes”, Lewis explains, “I’m an actress, I’m a singer, I’m a BLACK actress, I’m from Canada—the opportunities are just not the same.” But Andrea has not taken to throwing herself a pity party over the industry’s stall in honoring her with the chance to really show her talents. She has instead buckled down by holding on to her passion and putting her faith in the art of patience “you can’t rush anything”, she insists.
Slow and steady. After her first studio release, Float Away, Lewis returned to the small screen in the TV Show Moccasin Flats before conquering the Nickelodeon Film, Spectacular! in 2009 but her new triumph comes with the release of her newest album, 54321. With over 100,000 downloads since its independent release on October 10,2010, 54321, has introduced listeners to an Andrea that she says embodies the truest her she’s ever been able to share with her fans. “I’ve worked on music for so long an only now am I starting to make something that I feel represents me as opposed to this is what someone wanted me to have.”, Lewis says. And listeners feel the authenticity as well. With fans popping up from all over, Lewis is already slated to hit the UK for a tour with her new music and is gearing up to shoot videos for new singles from the album, of which fans say her talent is best showcased. ”A lot of people have been surprised, that’s kind of what we wanted. Nobody really knew what to expect”, she says.
Knowing what to expect from a multitalented young woman who’s heart is in her art is something no one will be able to master. Andrea Lewis’ career has already spanned over 10 years and she shows no signs of slowing down. But perhaps the most beautiful thing about Andrea is that her desire to keep fighting for her dreams has so very little to do with her desire for the limelight. Her passion is to show others that their dreams are attainable and that the only limits we have are the ones we create for ourselves. “ I hope that I inspire someone to live out their own dreams especially for young black women because that’s exactly what people before me have done and in this industry it gets hard, we need more role models and people who are willing to break down those barriers, why not me?”
Our thoughts exactly.
Written by: Iman N. Milner
Photos by: Ashley B. Nguyen
Styling By: Seth Brundle
MUA: Sarah Bahlibi