A movement that I would want to inspire is to start casting more diverse people in shows! I think that shows should show every race, ethnicity, shade, size, gender, and so much more! I feel that people need to feel represented and young kids should be able to see themselves in characters. We need to show all different types of people so we can stop telling people that they need to “look a certain way” because everyone is beautiful! I feel that it is improving a lot already and I can’t wait to see more.
As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anais Lee — Actress.
Anais was born on January 9, 2007 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She began her career at three years old as a print model and has appeared in numerous advertisements for major retailers and fashion brands in the United States and Europe.
Anais entered acting at five years old when she was chosen to share the role of “Janie” in the crime thriller Blood Ties that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Since then, she has appeared in co-starring television roles on The Blacklist, Madam Secretary, VEEP, The Following, Mozart in the Jungle, Happy. In the film, she played “Young Natasha” in The Sun Is Also a Star. Anais also performed skits with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and with Tracy Morgan on NBC’s “Red Nose Day.”
Anais is an avid commercial actor where she was the face for numerous Nickelodeon promos and national television commercials. Anais is professionally trained in ballet, jazz and hip-hop and for the past five years she has danced down the runway for New York Fashion Week in the Rookie USA show for Nike, Converse, Hurley and Levi’s. Along with her twin sister, Mirabelle, she performed on Nickelodeon’s Lip Sync Battle Shorties and won the “Iced Out Mic”. Together, they are the lead dancers in the Nickelodeon promo “Shimmer and Shine” and danced in Debbie Allen’s musicals “Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” and “Brothers of the Knight”. She also performed on the Sesame Street float with Hamilton star, Leslie Odom, Jr. in the 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Currently, Anais stars in the anticipated Netflix series The Babysitters Club as “Jessi Ramsey”.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Basically my entire life I have been in the entertainment industry. I started dancing when I was 2, modeling when I was 3, and acting when I was 5. For as long as I can remember I’ve been dancing around the house and performing scenes for my parents. I was very fortunate to have parents who supported my career and even though at first, they knew nothing about acting or modeling, they took the time to learn about it and have always been by my side along the way.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was three years old, I was in the park with my babysitter when a photographer came up to my sister and I and asked us if we would like to model for his clothing line. After my parents figured out that it wasn’t a scam, we decided to do the photoshoot because everyone had been asking us if we were models. After the photoshoot, my parents sent our pictures to agents in our area and they responded with a yes! A few years later, we got an audition for a movie and we decided to do it. We ended up booking the role and we fell in love with acting. After many more years of doing auditions in Philadelphia and New York, my parents decided to move my sister and me out to LA because they knew it was better for our career and they were right! I’ve been introduced to so many more opportunities and I’m so thankful for this entire journey.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The most interesting story from my career is probably how we moved out to California. My sister, Mirabelle, and I had been flying back and forth from Philadelphia to LA every weekend for a few months for the Debbie Allen Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. After seeing LA, we loved it so much and we knew that there were more opportunities out there. My parents decided that we would spend 3 months in LA for the pilot season but what we didn’t know is that LA’s pilot season never ends! The plan was that we were always going to come back to Philadelphia but plans changed later that year. After being in PA for part of the summer, I noticed how there were not nearly as many auditions as there was in LA. My parents made the decision that we would move out to LA permanently and enrolled us in a school in LA. At first, Mirabelle and I were upset because we would have to leave our entire lives behind but now we have realized that that was one of the best decisions my parents have ever made! We love LA so much.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you first started your career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was filing my first ever movie, Blood Ties, I was five years old. My parents had always taught me to never cut off adults in conversations. I had a line where I had to cut off an adult and I couldn’t do it! Since this was also my first role, I didn’t have that much experience and neither did my parents. When I didn’t say my line the director would say “Say your line Anais” and my parents still playfully make fun of me about it to this day. Thankfully, I have learned from that and I always say my lines at the right time now. My parents also learned to rehearse lines with me more before filming.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am working on some exciting projects right now but sadly I cannot say anything about it just yet. But I am so excited for when I can tell everyone about it!
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I think that it is so important for diversity in the entertainment business. People need to feel represented! I think that everyone should be able to watch a show or movie and be able to see themselves as a character. When I was growing up, I never really saw anyone that looked like me. I am so happy that things are changing and I can be a role model for young girls. Another reason I feel like there should be more representation in shows is that you can show the character’s experiences that they’ve had to bring awareness to important matters. Young girls should also have a character that they can look up to. They should be able to look up to a good character that people can look up to that isn’t built upon false stereotypes.
What do you love most about working in television?
What I love most about working in television is all of the cool new people I get to meet. I can learn so much from them and I always meet the best people on set.
If you could work with another TV actor you never worked with before, who would it be and why?
I would like to work with Natalie Portman. She is so inspirational and someone who I look up to. She is super talented, smart, and I’ve always wanted to work with her.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
The five things I wish someone told me are to never give up, things take time, every role isn’t for you, everyone’s experience is different, and be yourself. I learned these things along the way but there were times where I didn’t know these things I would wonder why I wasn’t booking roles. I had to learn that I’m not going to get every role, things take time and that’s okay!
Which tips would you recommend to aspiring actors in your industry to help them to thrive?
When people ask for advice on acting, I always tell them that everyone’s experience is different. Some people could book their first huge role within a year of starting and for some people, it could take many years and both of these are completely okay!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amounts of good to the most amounts of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A movement that I would want to inspire is to start casting more diverse people in shows! I think that shows should show every race, ethnicity, shade, size, gender, and so much more! I feel that people need to feel represented and young kids should be able to see themselves in characters. We need to show all different types of people so we can stop showing people that they need to “look a certain way” because everyone is beautiful! I feel that it is improving a lot already and I can’t wait to see more.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
A person that helped me achieve success is my mom! I like to call her my “momager” because she is like my manager but she’s also my mom! Even though when I first started, she knew nothing about the industry, she still took her time to learn more about it and she is the reason I am here today. She has taken risks for me like moving out to LA and they have all been to further my career. I am so thankful to have her in my life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A life lesson that my mom always gives me is to always work hard and stay positive. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room but as long as you work the hardest you will succeed. If you put your mind to something and stay positive you will be rewarded with success.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Megan Markle. She is such an inspiration to me and she’s also a mixed-race actor like me and she is now royalty! She always helps people and she’s very charitable so I would love to sit down and talk to her about all of her experiences.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow me on Instagram which is @anaismirabelle and on TikTok which is also @anaismirabelle