Interview: Amanda Seales Talks New HBO Series “Insecure”, truTV “Greatest Ever” & More

 

 

amandaseales

 

Comedian/actress/DJ Amanda Seales recently talked to Soul Savviness about the many projects she is apart of. She has a role in the upcoming HBO series Insecure. She is hosting a show called “Greatest Ever” on truTV. We also talk about her web series “Get Your Life”—Black Music Month, Prince, and many other things.

 

Interview by Q. Lynn Green – @qlynngreen

 


 

I absolutely love the ‘Get Your Life” web series. I know it’s based around some of your personal life story. What is your process with projects like that?

It’s basically.. Me, and my friends Steven Chew—we kind of throw around ideas. Like, overtime when things happen to me I will write them down in a notebook because.. crazy crap happens to me on a regular basis. To that I’m like, “You know what? We goin’ need to share this with the people.” So, I keep track of it then when it was time to start writing the show we kind of just went back to that, and now we’re preparing for Season 2.

That’s what I was going to ask, when was Season 2 happening. I was like this needs a Part II/Season 2 or something. Because, it’s just funny.

That’s dope.

Because I see web series all the time, I know that’s the trend now. But I don’t see many that’s really like unique and have quality. It just looks like they throw it together, and I think that’s why some of them don’t work because it looks like they are trying to be funny. It (Get Your Life) sounds/looks like it’s really written very well.

Oh.. Well thank you! We’re about to start a crowdfund/Indiegogo for the second season of Get Your Life. That’s going to begin on July 9th, and run for the month so we can raise the money to shoot the second season. I think a lot of people don’t understand that these things just don’t come out of no where. Like, there isn’t just people waiting around to work for free. I am also not rich. So, it’s not like I have disposable income to be like, “Let’s shoot a show!” Especially when it comes to projects for black women, you know? We don’t have a lot of outlets to where we’re getting to tell our stories. We have to tell them ourselves, so it really requires people coming and making it possible for those stories to get told. So, we are going to be doing the crowdfund to rally folks like yourself who want to see a second season (Get Your Life) to donate, you know? Even a dollar helps, because you want to be able to pay people for the work they do. We want to give you all something of quality, and we need money to do that.

 

“You have to really think ahead if you want

to do it right. If you want to do it semi-right,

just think semi-ahead.”


 

Right, and that was another question I had. Like you said, people really don’t understand—especially with black content creators how hard it is. For one, creating budget for whatever is they are creating a budget for. Do you worry about the budgeting for it, or do you just go by instinct?

I think it’s a bit of both. It’s like, if you know you don’t have the money to film an underwater fight sequence. Don’t create a show that involves underwater fight sequences. For me, when we were doing Get Your Life (first season) I was moving from New York to L.A. So, I had to write based on what I even had to time to shoot. I had to write based on what I could afford to shoot. So, when you seen an episode where we’re in one place the whole episode. That’s me trying to find a creative way to get it made with limited funds. So, you want to reach a point where there is no limits. Where the sky is the limit. And you’re like, “You know what, I want to do a scene where I’m in a hurricane”. Well, you know? We can do that. I mean, that’s what Game of Thrones really shows you as a creator. That there is an essential possibility where you can ride the dragon.

I ask those specific questions—because people see content on Youtube, or if they see it on a certain production they start demanding it. Like, I start demanding it. I have to be like, “Wait. It takes her a while to start production on that.” Because you get so amped, but I don’t think they realize how hard it is to start a project.

For instance, Get Your Life. First, we have to raise the money. Then, we have to write the episode. Then, it has to shoot. Then, it has to get edited. Then, it has to be marketed. Like, this doesn’t happen in two weeks. We’ve been planning this process since two months ago, for it to air in November. You have to really think ahead if you want to do it right. If you want to do it semi-right, just think semi-ahead. Which is exactly what we did the first season, and I learned my lesson.

Could you tell me about the HBO comedy series, Insecure that’s coming out, and your character on the show?

So, Insecure is going to premiere in October on HBO. It’s about Issa Rae, her best friend Molly , and their friends, and them dealing with each other. And their personal and professional lives. I wouldn’t say it’s a complete comedy, it’s more like a dramedy. It’s like serious with funny moments. I play one of Issa’s college home-girls. There’s four of us; Issa, Molly, Natasha, and my character Tiffany. And I’m kind of like stuck-up/bougie, but I still love my girls. And I’m the only in the crew who’s married. And I’m like joined at the hip with a husband. It’s been a really really just dope experience working with the whole crew, and the sistas. Especially, the men on the show have just been really like upstanding guys. Just in terms of their awareness—their politeness—their professionalism—and their talent, you know? I’ve worked with a lot of guys over time, but these brothas have been really top notch. And they have made the experience more fun for us ladies.

It’s interesting when I hear comedians in terms of acting— say that it’s harder to be funny than doing a drama. I always found it curious to why is that. Do you have room to improvise during the show?

Yeah, we do have room to improvise. Comedy is harder than drama, because being funny is something that is intrinsic. Drama is something that happens regardless if you’re dramatic or not. So, like not everybody has the ability to be funny, but everybody has drama. So, it’s also something to be said about rhythm. The same way not everybody can dance, comedy is about rhythm, and not everybody has rhythm. You know? You hope that when you get a part that the script will allow you to have your natural rhythm. And you know we’ve been able to have fun with the script, and really make the funny moments happen. Debbie Allen directed one of the episodes.

Oh, wow.

Yeah. That was an amazing experience. She’s hilarious—she let’s us shine—and have fun. But it’s really about when you’re doing comedy following your gut, and I think that’s a different place to go to then when you’re doing drama.

You have another project coming up on truTV, Greatest Ever—it’s supposed to come out July 5th. I read that it’s supposed to be a pop culture-comedy countdown show. It kind of sounds similar to what you’ve done already with Til This Week. Does that make it easier when you get projects like this— to show your natural ability on camera to go in on these topics?

Yeah, I would say so. I’m at a point now where I’m trying to expand, and do stuff that let’s me spread my wings a little bit more. This has been a great project to get my feet wet with truTV, and also just to kind of bring me back into the fold with TV audiences. I haven’t really been on TV consistently in the past two years, so it’s nice to come back to a TV space. And I’m doing so in a place that people are used to seeing me in, you know? Being able to have the HBO show to go along with that has been such a cool balance. But yeah, truTV has just been great to work with. They’ve really been supportive, and really are trying to expand their content to include different voices. I think that is something that is really commendable.

I think it’s a wave now of people doing so many titles. With Issa Rae’s “Awkward Black Girl”, everybody (mainstream) started paying attention to content online as well as with Vine creators. They have a real ability to draw audiences. Do you feel like it’s at a point now where you have to do multiple things to survive in the industry?

Yeah. I think that people do it in different ways, you know? Like, Issa did get Awkward Black Girl, and then it blew up. Then, she kind of did a number of things that are like attached to (ABG). She wrote a book, and then she was touring colleges, and then she got the show Insecure that’s based around (ABG). I think that’s one way to do it. For me, I like my hands in a bunch of different things all at once. I just try a bunch of different things that are all in the same tone. It’s all going to have my Amanda tone of comedy. If you’re not trying to do more than one thing right now. I feel like’s a lot harder for you to get attraction because there is just so many people doing the same thing. And you know, what makes you different?

Is it about balance or consistency with getting a project out?

It’s both. Because, then you have to decide what are you really going to put your full energy in. I have a lot of different stuff kind of going but in terms of my own personal projects. I’ve decided to put all of my energy into Get Your Life, and Smart, Funny, & Black. And Smart, Funny, & Black is like a live game show about black popular culture. I’m definitely looking to expand that for television as well. So, those are like two main things that I’m focusing on. You just have to decide what your priorities are. A lot of times, if you just open up your consciousness that will get excited for you. I mean, if you’re like my home-girl Candice Thompson she’s like, “If you meditate, it will come to you.” She’s a comedy homie of mine that’s been trying to get me on this meditation thing. Eventually, I’ll get there.

 

 

“I feel like we are in an era now where we are

losing such greats, that we don’t have

replacements for.”


 

It’s Black Music Month, and I can’t do it without talking about Prince. What was the first song you remember from Prince?

I mean, I’ve been hearing Prince all of my life. When I was a gymnast, my floor music was Prince’s “Batdance”. So, I’ve been ’bout that Prince life. (laughs) So, yeah. I’ve definitely been a huge Prince fan. I feel like we are in an era now where we are losing such greats, that we don’t have replacements for. And it’s kind of like, frightening. Because, as much as I love Bryson Tiller he is no Prince. As much as I appreciate Bruno Mars, like these musicians are not even in the same conversations as these artists. And it’s not because they’re older, or because they were more famous. It’s literally because they were forced to do more. We live in an era where the way music gets made is not the same, and it’s lessened the standard.

Exactly. What was that one Prince album that did it for you?

I’m cliché. Because Purple Rain is my Prince album. I’m also a sucker for songs that everyone can sing along with. When you have a whole room of people singing “Purple Rain”, it’s just so moving.

Right. It’s just that thing about Prince. I think when you really look at Prince, he really had it all figured out. I think his emphasis on being a musician first, and artist second made it easy to figure him out. He could put all these genres together, (Blues, Gospel, R&B, Rock etc.) and made it sound good. Like, I listen to “Erotic City” and it feels like a gospel song. (laughs) I don’t know why. I don’t know why it feels like a spiritual experience when you hear a Prince song. “Purple Rain” could be a gospel or country song to me. Not just the music, but the melody he’s singing in sounds like a gospel song.

I hear you. I think that’s what Prince evokes an emotion out of you. What you’re speaking to is his ability to touch a spiritual part of you, because of his depth into his music. We’re going to miss that, we lost a treasure.

What is that one song you hear that takes you back to your childhood?

Oh, without question So So Def Bass All-Stars’ “My Boo”. Now, because of the “Running Man Challenge” I’m hearing it all the damn time now.

(laughs) Yeah, it’s on the Billboards. I don’t know specifically where it’s at on there, but it was like in the Top 20 a while ago. That’s crazy.

That is crazy.

Since you’re a DJ, and it is cookout/summer time. What songs do you play when you’re getting ready to play a DJ gig?

I mean, I really like to get folks crunk with the joints that are classics. So, a lot of Bad Boy. You know, a lot of Snoop and (Dr.) Dre. Some OutKast, and a lot of Cash Money, Master P, and Wu-Tang. Them joints that in the 90’s and 2000’s that were the songs when we were coming of age, and finding our identitiesLosing our innocence.

(laughs) What defines soul music to you?

What defines soul music to me? Soul music, I would say is music that speaks more than lyrics. It’s music that affects you deeper than just rhythmically.


 

To keep up with all the latest of this young mogul, head on ever to Amanda Seales websiteInsecure premieres on HBO in the fall of October 2016. The show, Greatest Ever premieres on truTV July 5th.

 

“Get Your Life” Season 1

HBO Series: Insecure (trailer)