By Cassandra Lane
Angela Lewis has been widely praised for bringing the complex “Aunt Louie” character to life on FX’s hit crime drama “Snowfall,” created by the late legendary filmmaker John Singleton. The drama series explores the complex dynamics of the crack cocaine epidemic in 1980s Los Angeles.
In this spotlight, we learn how Lewis, a Detroit native now living in L.A., balances her acting career with parenting her toddler daughter, Brooklyn.
You play a complex character on ‘Snowfall.’ What has that experience been like, and how do you prepare for the role?
It is every actor’s expectation and dream to play complex characters. If a character is not layered, we do everything we possibly can to create more layers. So, I’m thrilled that Louie is complicated! It’s both scary and satisfying to have to navigate the complex waters of her psyche. I prepare by thoroughly understanding the scene, the episode, the stakes within both, and Louie’s personal stakes. I play around with how she feels about things, and what would happen if things didn’t go the way she plans. I just do my best to get my imagination running on all cylinders.
Tell us about your move to L.A. to pursue your acting career while having a young baby.
Well, everything in divine, perfect order! I got married, and my husband [actor J. Mallory Cree] was adamant about moving to L.A., and I was curious. So, we made the move a part of the wedding plan. We moved in 2014. Snowfall came in 2016, and the baby came in 2019. Other than the move, I hadn’t planned anything. I set my intentions and dreamed, and lived life according to those dreams, but the timing was more perfect than I ever could have planned.
Your family nurtured your creative talents from a young age. How did this help you pursue your dreams professionally?
Having had my family nurture my talents from a young age has allowed me to feel deeply supported, and that is huge. Actors get told “no” so much that if you don’t have built-in support and/or self-confidence, the business can do real damage to your self-esteem. Having my family have my back this whole time has been life-saving.
What is your daughter like, and how would you describe your and your husband’s parenting style?
My daughter is amazing! She blows me away every single day. She’s a communicator. She’s been very clear with her needs and wants. She’s not fully talking yet, but If she’s whining too much, and I ask her to use her words, she will immediately find a way to be very clear with what she’s trying to convey.
My husband and I really resonate with the whole brain child/no drama discipline approach, mixed in with some Montessori play/learning. I’m really wanting my daughter to be an independent thinker, fully aware of self and her connection to the earth and humanity. We want to nurture her creativity and what innately pours out of her.
Our job is to illuminate her options and help her to stay out of harm’s way as best we can. We love her deeply and want to honor and respect her autonomy. While she still wants to hold hands, I will bask gluttonously in her affection. When she’s ready to let go, I will cry my tears, open my arms (and my eyes…Mama is always watching) and believe with everything I got that she will always find her way back to me.
How insights did you gain on your journey into motherhood?
There is what I had planned for my birth, and what actually happened. I had planned a sacred and serene natural water birth at a birthing center to welcome my baby girl to the world. She, instead, opted for action and adventure at the hospital! I want all expectant moms (especially those who are Black and Brown) to know that they have more options than they think, and that the key is education and access to resources. Get a doula. Your doula can help ask questions you maybe hadn’t thought of. Your doula can help advocate for you, especially in the hospital system. There are resources out there. Whatever you want, whatever you need, whatever you’re dreaming up, look more into it.
I wish I knew that birth is the wild wild west. You can plan all you want, and you absolutely should, but at the end of the day, your baby will come how they want to come into the world.
I want everyone to know that expectant moms who are Black and Brown, and their babies, are dying in their birthing rooms and in postpartum. It doesn’t have to be this way. Black and Brown expectant moms are unheard and their lives are undervalued. Join me in making sure these moms have access to education, advocacy and resources. Black Lives Matter.