Being an actress of color isn’t a profession that comes with ease, nor an endless amount of opportunities for beginners, but that hasn’t stopped newcomer Andrea-Rachel, who recently landed a reoccurring role on Power. You may have seen her in Mack Wilds’ mini-series debuted on Tidal to promote his recent music, or the 2016 independent Drama, Ugly. We sat down for some girl talk to discuss Power, how she’s booked multiple lead projects, and being a West-Indian actress raised in the states.
Andrea-Rachel, whose been a working actress for 7 years, felt she was destined to entertain from the moment she was cast as the Ugly Duckling in her first Elementary school’s play, a role she wasn’t so happy about until she learned a valuable lesson: no role is insignificant. “I was infuriated about the role… I was young and [I thought] who wants to be the ugly duckling? My teacher thought it would be the most dynamic role for me, and indirectly it made me the star of the play, so I learned you never want to judge the character you’re supposed to play.” Although she started with traditional dance classes, she her love for musicals helped her transition into theater. When asked why she enjoyed it, Andrea stated, “Acting allows me to be everything and nothing at the same time.”
The actress didn’t always have her sights set on being on the screen, instead, she had high hopes of being a doctor, as she was always intrigued by the sciences and was majored in biology. The limited amount of space for actresses in Hollywood doesn’t scare her– no stranger to competition and determination, Andrea graduated a year early from high school all while pursuing acting. Her first project came in 2015 when she booked Law and Order, but it was her more independent projects that got the attention of networks like Starz and HBO.
On Being An Actress of Color
Tyeshea: What has impacted your journey as a woman of color in the industry?
Andrea: Just down to auditioning, I can’t help from refrain from being someone whose constantly in my head about my own look. Sometimes I’m not black enough, not white or Spanish enough, although they exist equally in me. It’s so hard for me to except that I may never be enough for those certain groups. My body type is more curvaceous, so as accepting as the industry has become, it still has its own limits. I would love to see the industry open those doors more. I want to see more curvy/full figured women in the spotlight. You see wonder woman with a perfect body, but it’s not there for plus [size] women in action. You can have too much hips, lips, or curves, which can be problematic in a regular role or genre like action.
Tyeshea: I understand what it means to be natural in a professional role. How does being natural affect the way you prepare for a role? Do you feel it typecast you?
Andrea: I don’t feel my hair typecast me for a role, but it comes with its own nuances that make me a bit irritated, because the curl pattern isn’t always the same. Sometimes its more kinkier, then other times its thin or extremely wavy. The acting world can demand for you to be super clean and consistent with your looks, and I want to embrace all different styles. On larger productions and sets, they don’t always have time to cater to your hair and understand how to tend to your hair, so it becomes frustrating when your own hair is being burned or products are being used on your hair that you don’t necessarily use.
Getting Cast on Power and working with HBO
Tyeshea: What is your role on power?
Andrea: The character’s name is Destiny and she makes things a little bit more interesting and you either going to love her or hate her.
Tyeshea: Does Destiny have any specific relationship to Ghost?
Andrea: You’re trying to get all the tea! I can’t tell you exactly, but watch as the show progresses.
Tyeshea: How has it been working with such an amazing ensemble? Were you intimidated by the vets?
Andrea: Not intimidated easily, the story is what may intimidate and her character. Being around other actors with an extensive background was empowering, everyone was approachable and cool. Didn’t get to work that much with Omari or Naturi and their actual characters, but very welcoming and warming. Naturi went around the room and introduced herself to everyone which was very warming. You see people being people and seeing all the little details.
Tyeshea: What led you to Stars & HBO networks and securing roles on multiple shows they produce?
Andrea: I felt like the universe was conspiring with me on certain things. Luckily it just panned out that I got cast in my role on the independent film Ugly, which was heavily supported by A.B.F.F., shout out to them. HBO just supported and believed in UGLY. I worked with so many other networks prior to, including short films that led me to getting the role on UGLY and HBO. Although the networks are big, they are close and I felt like my name was slowly popping up more for casting and I ended up getting an audition. HBO saw it and loved me, and I was able to book it. It was my first big role. There is no one sure way to get into it, it just happened and I felt prepared for the character. With Power, having the experience with HBO gave me a certain amount of credibility, and was the right place, time and moment. For that character, I understood what was happening with the scene. It felt more natural, honest, and genuine. I got the call 4 days later and I booked it. At the time, I didn’t know it was going to be recurring.
Tyeshea: How has it been working on smaller independent films in comparison to television shows?
Andrea: I think people forget the bigger the project, the more work and the more professional. With smaller projects, you have to grind it out and it’s about doing what makes the most sense for you and your artistry. It depends on who you are working with and how seriously they take their self and their work. Worked on some indi-projects that were so great and no big budget project can compare. Not about whether the project is big or small but about the work and being invested in it. It’s based off the people you’re working with and what’s going on.
Tyeshea: Do you have any words of advice for women of color that want to break into acting?
Andrea: There is no one path or one way. There is no one situation that will make it certain that you get what you want. Even for those that it seems like its overnight, it wasn’t. You must make the decision that you want it that bad. It can be time consuming, draining, lonely and you will have to sacrifice and want to change career paths, but you have to be stubborn to yourself and band through the brick wall. You have to hope at some point a chip will be created in order for you to break through that wall. You have to know that and trust that all the energy you’re putting into the atmosphere will bring it to fruition. I’ve had so many no’s and opportunities that completely dissolved. I’ve had things I’ve booked and got the character then found out the day before that I was no longer considered for the project and my role was given away, but looking back I saw that it wasn’t something that would highlight me. I just continue to keep being stubborn and go into the auditions any way to get where I need to go. Be stubborn, be stupid, be silly. It means don’t be afraid to ask questions, have fun and keep pounding away at those opportunities.