UB Interviews: Actress/Singer Antonique Smith Speaks on New Music & Playing Faith Evans

Antonique Smith is most notably known for portraying Faith Evans in the film “NOTORIOUS“. Antonique has already captivated the world of film (NOTORIOUS, Abduction), television (Law & Order) and theater (RENT). She’s currently pursuing a music career and just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the release.

Antonique spoke to Tishelle of UrbanBridgez.com recently about her career, her famous role as Faith Evans in NOTORIOUS, doing Broadway, her new single “Speechless,” her Kickstarter campaign and much more!

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UrbanBridgez.com: You recently dropped Speechless, which is getting rave reviews. The video is coming soon what can we expect from it when it debuts?
Antonique Smith: Aww thank you! Well I have a teaser video out. We don’t have a treatment for the entire video just yet. We got the Kickstarter project going and depending on how well that does it kind of changes all of the things that I’m going to be able to do. As far as how much I can spend on the video and that type of stuff and what director I can use and things like that. So I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing with the full length video as of yet.

UrbanBridgez.com: Are you currently working on a mixtape or album and when are you planning to drop it?
Antonique Smith: I plan on dropping it around the first or second quarter of next year. Everything is really based on the Kickstarter program, because if I go past my goal that’s going to open up so many more doors of the things that I can do.

UrbanBridgez.com: Tell us about the Kickstarter Campaign?
Antonique Smith: It is a funding platform where my supporters, fans and friends can actually go and be apart of the actual process of completing and releasing my first album. The best way for me to do it. It allows me to control my sound and image because traditionally record labels after spending millions of dollars on you, are in control of how you sound and what you look like, just your whole persona and everything. So this way me and my supporters are in control of who I am and what I’m doing. It’s there way of saying we believe in Antonique and we want her the way she is! I think it’s the best way to do it, a grass-roots kind of thing.

UrbanBridgez.com: How is that going so far?
Antonique Smith: Good, it’s going really good. I’m still thinking that we’re going to get past the initial goal which is good because then the more support I have, the more I get. I’m going to do possibly a Christmas album and put it out this year and my first official single will come out in like January. Then followed by the album. How Kickstarter works is you can go and pledge to give awards, it’s like an investment and instead of getting money back they get the music. Every level get’s something like $1, you get the single, $5 you get the EP and for $10 you get the whole album. It goes all the way up to getting to come and see me in the studio or getting a voicemail from me or hanging out with me for a day to coming to premieres with me, hanging with me on movie sets. Those are all rewards people can get back from pledging to be apart of this whole process. I think it’s a really cool thing.

UrbanBridgez.com: How did you come up with that?
Antonique Smith: Actually I had heard about it from some friends of mine who were funding a movie. My manager had also funded a couple of people and was like you know what, I think this is a good idea. So we talked about it and jumped right in! We’ve been getting alot of feedback, people have been saying that it’s a really great idea. As an actress people are getting another me, me as Faith or whatever. I want my music to be me, I want them to get my heart and my passion. I think this is the best way for them to get that.

UrbanBridgez.com: That’s what’s up, I think it’s really a dope idea!
Antonique Smith: Thank you!

UrbanBridgez.com: What is the overall vibe of your music and influences behind it?
Antonique Smith: I like to call it Pop/Soul with a Hip Hop appeal to it. Whitney Houston is my biggest vocal influence, she’s from my hometown. When I heard her voice as a little girl I said that’s who I want to sound like. I literally learned how to sing by singing her music. That kind of vocalist is kind of the foundation of how I sing. I did sing in the Church, but I also grew up listening to artists like Mary J. Blige and Faith. I loved Hip Hop growing up and of course I grew up on Michael and Stevie Wonder and all of them. All of the greats that we got to listen to because of our parents. So a little bit of all that combined with today’s music is kind of a fusion of how I sing and what I like to listen to. Plus making it sound like it should be on the radio today.

UrbanBridgez.com: How did you get your start in the business?
Antonique Smith: Singing, my dad helped me make my first demo. I made my first demo when I was a teenager. Down in Philly with Jazzy Jeff and Dre & Vidal who are crazy hot right now. It was great, my first demo and it just kind of snowballed. I thought I was going to be singing first and somebody in the music industry introduced me to my first agent. That person got me my first acting job which was 100 Centre Street and I was a teenage drug addict and I would be on 100 Centre Street. Sidney Lumet said I was an amazing actress with a great career ahead of me, that kind of made me go oh okay! I always wanted to do both, but I had thought that you needed to sing first because it seemed like the transition from acting to singing wasn’t as successful as vice-versa. It’s been happening alot more lately which has given me a little more confidence that it could happen the opposite way. After that was RENT on Broadway and some TV shows and then NOTORIOUS. I think that changed my life the most. That’s how I got started and now I’m back to singing (laughs). I’ve been established now that people know who I am so it’s allowing me to go back now and do my music.

UrbanBridgez.com: You are an amazing actress and did great in NOTORIOUS as Faith.
Antonique Smith: Thank you!

UrbanBridgez.com: How did that role come about?
Antonique Smith: I fought for it! I mean they were looking really hard everywhere, I don’t think they left no stone unturned. They wanted to find the right people with the essence of Biggie and the characters, I mean they looked everywhere. It was more than the normal movie looks, alot of times movies cast and look for just the normal people that you see in every other movie, all the time. They went further than that. It gave me a really great opportunity, I had been on Broadway so I was known in that world and that helped because they had the confidence that I pull off the role. But shoot I fought for that role, I was up against all of the regulars that you see in other movies. The Lauren London’s to Jurnee Smolett’s and I had to really fight because they’re all great. I was really blessed. George Tillman told me he knew I was Faith Evans when during the chemistry test which is the last audition…they had a girl playing Lil Kim, not Naturi but another girl. Naturi was there but she wasn’t playing Kim then and they wanted to see everybody’s chemistry like me and Jamal and whoever would be Kim. So me and the girl playing Kim was asked to improve a scene where I come up to her and confront her. I come up to her where she works and confront her about sleeping with my husband. She said something and it got heated and she put her hand in my face, like she was about to pop off or something. I pushed her or something, but it got crazy and a real feeling of something about to go down because I pushed her and she went flying because she was little. I was like oh my god, I sort of broke character because I was in the moment but the push was real. So George was like that is when he knew, it was fun actually (laughs).

UrbanBridgez.com: What was the best part about filming NOTORIOUS?
Antonique Smith: Just the experience of being apart of the legacy. I was young watching all of that stuff happen and I was a fan of everybody, Faith, Biggie, Puff, Kim, I loved Tupac. I mean I was a super fan of all of their music! So to be living their life story out was just a crazy experience. It was a big budget movie, so I got to experience what that whole thing was about. I had never done anything like that before. So it was a great learning experience. I don’t know what else to say about it, it was just incredible! Ms. Wallace was on the set everyday, again just incredible!

UrbanBridgez.com: Are you still recognized as Faith now that NOTORIOUS is over?
Antonique Smith: I am totally recognized as Faith, my name isn’t Antonique it’s the girl who played Faith Evans. That’s what I get told in the streets, oh my god, you’re the girl that played Faith Evans. But with the beauty of my music I think in no time, people are going to be calling me Antonique and not Faith anymore. Although it’s been a blessing because she’s amazing. So all of it was a blessing to lead up to what I’m doing now.

UrbanBridgez.com: You’ve also did RENT on Broadway with some incredible reviews, as Mimi was it harder to become that character given the history of the role?
Antonique Smith: Thank you! You know, I like when I’m building a character to first try to find similarities between me and the character. There is always some no matter how bad the person is, or crazy the character is, there is always a similarity. Because all humans, we all share the same kind of emotions. We all feel it, no matter what language, race or whatever it’s just universal. So I try to find the universal connection that me and the character have, and Mimi was vulnerable. She was kinda prideful, because she wanted you to think she had it all together. At the same time she was really broken inside and trying to hide it. I can identify with that, wanting people to think that things are a little bit better than they are. Also being in need of love and in need of help. I’ve never done drugs or had AIDS but just the other human qualities about what she was going through that’s the stuff I connected with. The stuff I didn’t identify with I just dig in to try to understand by putting yourself in their shoes. Like what would I feel like if this was me, so that helped me connect.

UrbanBridgez.com: What are some of your long term goals in the industry?
Antonique Smith: I just really want to do more of what I’ve been doing just on a larger scale. I’ve been blessed to do what I’ve done and I use to do it for free for my family in the living room (laughs). I use to make people sit down and watch me sing or watch me do puppet shows. I’m doing more of what I use to do and blessed to be able to pay a few bills with it. I just believe that God has given me these gifts to be able to sing and act. I don’t know where it comes from or how I do it. He pretty much answered a prayer because I was a little girl just wanting to do it and have that gift. So it’s my job to share it and I want to share it with the whole world. I want to make the whole world feel things. That’s my goal, so on a larger scale more movies, put out my music and just touch the world. That’s my future goals!

UrbanBridgez.com: You’ve already worked with some of the best in the industry.
Antonique Smith: Yes!

UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some people in TV, film and music you would love to work with if given the opportunity?
Antonique Smith: In the film industry, I love, love me some Denzel Washington. That’s a good question because now I have to think, there are so many people that I really love. Meryl Streep is my favorite actress, I feel like Angelina Jolie is who I want to have a career like. As far as me and her we also both have the lips going on (both laugh).

UrbanBridgez.com: I was going to say that too (both laugh)!
Antonique Smith: So I kind of look at her like that. I love Ryan Gosling. As far as TV, I am loving Scandal! I would love to be on Scandal. Southland as well. With Directors there are so many I would love to work with, I’ve been blessed to work with George Tillman and John Singleton. I did a short film with F. Gary Gray that nobody has ever seen, he’s a friend of mine. On the music side, I would love to work with Tricky and The-Dream, I think that from the amazing stuff that they’ve done, I think with my voice they could put together something amazing. This is a tough one, I’m bad at making list right on the spot. I’ve gotten to the point where I can list my favorite films and songs but… (laughs). Naming who I want to work with is kind of throwing me for a loop.

UrbanBridgez.com: Is there anything else you want to share and leave with your fans?
Antonique Smith: I do have a movie coming out at the end of the year called Yelling to The Sky with Gabby Sidibe and Zoe Kravitz. I’m just grateful, that’s what I want to leave with everybody. For all of the experiences that I’ve had and the doors that have opened. With the things I’ve been able to do and I’m really excited and looking forward to the future and other things I’m going to be able to do. Music I know is going to happen, I don’t know what movie roles are going to come up you just never know or what TV shows I might end up on. I’m just excited about whatever is to come and I’m going to always do my best and give 100% With everything I do, I put my heart and passion into it. And hopefully people will feel things because my whole goal in life is to touch people. Join me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (antoniquesmith) and Kickstarter! I’m going to be giving exclusives, so come and go on the ride with me!

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