…if I could inspire a movement , I think it would be to encourage everyone to actually SEE each other and be accepting of each other’s differences. For instance, we all look different. Our families look different. Some of us have mixed race families. Some have same sex parents. Some of us have single parents. Some of us have blended families. Some of us have broken families. Some of us have foster families. Some of us have differently abled members in our families. Some of us are immigrant families. Some of our families have various strong religious faiths while some of our families have none. But each of us have value. Each of our paths are unique. This is how we find us. I would call the movement “Finding Us” Everyone is included.
Lidya Jewett is an inspiring young actress who was bom in Ethiopia and adopted out of an orphanage at the age of 4. From an early age, Lidya showed early promise of having strong academics as she loved to read and learned English before she reached Kindergarten. Next to acting, education is very important to her as she is passionate about Science and Mathematics. In the beginning of her career, Lidya started doing print and commercial projects in Miami until her family moved to Los Angeles where she became bicoastal. Lidya had her big break as the role of “Gracie Walker” in the Nickelodeon series WITS Academy. From there, she starred in other ﬁlm and tv projects such as Grey’s Anatomy, Bunk’d, Black Panther, and Hidden Figures. Currently, Lidya plays the series regular role of “Sara” in the NBC’s hit Good Gir1s. In addition to acting, Lidya loves to sing and perform. She had her ﬁrst big performance where she sang live on stage at the Grove for the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettel Holiday event. Lidya also loves to give back to her community in any way she can. She is involved with helping the homeless through different organizations like the Los Angeles Mission and the Salvation Army For a young teen, she is also an amazing motivational speaker for other teens who want to pursue careers in acting and S.T.E.M.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Lidya! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Iwas born in Africa, in an area of Ethiopia on the Sudan border. I ended up in a couple orphanages and was adopted by my family when I was 4 years old. That is how I came to America.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
It’s pretty much my older sister’s doing. When I was 5, we would be stopped by strangers out in public and they would urge us to look into modeling. This was happening repeatedly and my sister said if one more person stopped us then we had to look into it. Sure enough, the next person was a waitress and she said I would be in commercials.So we looked into it. I started with print modeling and commercials in the Miami area. At the shoots, production crew would pull my mom aside and tell her she needed to direct me to “on camera” and doors began to open and that led me to my current manager and team here in Los Angeles.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
So I booked the role of Young Nakia in Marvel’s Black Panther. The director, Ryan Coogler, flew me out to meet with him during the month of November. I found out I booked the role during the holidays and was so excited. Pilot season then happened and I booked my current role of Sara Hill on Good Girls on NBC. The shooting of the Good Girls pilot and Black Panther not only overlapped but were on opposite sides of the country. So we essentially had to walk away from Black Panther. I was so sad. One day on the Good Girls pilot set my manager called to let me know it had been worked out for me to fly out to Atlanta on a Thursday, shoot on Friday and fly back on Saturday and pick back up with Good Girls on Monday. I have the best team and Good Girls production family and I also have the Marvel casting office and Ryan Coogler to thank for that.
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?
Oh yes! And it is on You Tube for all to see! When we were doing “behind the scenes” interviews for our first season of Good Girls and I said I was “determinated” when I should have said, “determined” English was not my first language and I guess it shows sometimes!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Currently, we are shooting our third season of Good Girls on NBC. My character, Sara Hill, is growing and entering adolescence so I am really enjoying bringing that part of her to the scenes. Also,
Recently, I spent 3 months shooting a film in Toronto called Feel The Beat for Netflix. We have an ensemble cast of girls, let by Sofia Carson, and I think the audience will be happy to see a lot of representation in the movie.
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 love this question! 1. Diversity is so important because it is a true reflection of our society. The reality is if we kids grow up watching shows that primarily show one race as the primary cast… the family, the doctor, the mayor, the postman, the teacher, etc, I think a generation of viewers begins to believe that those occupations are not available or achievable to them because they have not witnessed it even through the screen and that becomes normal. That is not our society so it should never be normal. 2. Everyone should be able to watch a show or see a film and recognize themselves or an aspect of themselves on the screen. I think what this does is validates not only who that person is but also what they might be going through… they might share the same struggle or challenge and it is important for them to know that they are not alone. 3. Our diverse paths provide us with diverse knowledge so what that means is everyone has something different to contribute. Everyone has value.
What do you love most about working in television?
Definitely the people! I am a people person. Meeting new people and doing life with them honestly brings out the best part of me.
If you could work with another TV actor you never worked with before, who would it be and why?
Asante Black. When I watched When They See Us, I was so moved by his performance. When an actor can put all of themselves into a scene emotionally and is able to move me in that emotion also, I think that connection would also be so real face to face. He seems so grounded and natural and I admire that.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Well I was young when I started so let me do this as if I am talking to that little girl:
1. In the commercial casting process, “tell us your name, how old you are, and spin around” is just part of it. Don’t roll your eyes at them and don’t expect them to ask more than that. It’s just how they roll…
2. There are some commercial/print clients that only “book a look” and that is their business model but does not define you or your talent.
3. Historical roles call for antique props and wardrobe. Be careful! In Hidden Figures when I played young Katherine Coleman, I wore very old, antique leather shoes. As I was getting dressed, I snapped the buckle right off the shoe. It was so fragile and just came right off in my hand. Costumes fixed it and then my scene was kicking a pine cone down a dirt road. The pine cone scuffed and scratched those antique shoes so bad. I’m sure they were never the same.
4. You will meet some of the best friends you will ever have. On The Darkest Minds, I was on set in Atlanta for 5 weeks with my now best friend, Miya Cech. We did school together, shopped together, and even celebrated Easter at the hotel and had an Easter Egg hunt in the hallways. A few years later we are still super close.
5. Not everything is going to go your way. Except it is. Because as my Good Girls TV Dad, Reno Wilson says, “if it is FOR you , it is FOR you. And if it is FOR you, it cannot be UNFOR you.” So everything works out the way it is supposed to.
Which tips would you recommend to aspiring actors in your industry to help them to thrive?
I know it is cliche, but simply do not give up. There is only one you and that you has unique talents and values to bring to a project that no one else has. You have to keep believing in yourself even if you feel like no one else does.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
This is an important question because I think we all can play a part in a movement that changes our societies for the better. Obviously, education is a main focus of mine but if I could inspire a movement , I think it would be to encourage everyone to actually SEE each other and be accepting of each other’s differences. For instance, we all look different. Our families look different. Some of us have mixed race families. Some have same sex parents. Some of us have single parents. Some of us have blended families. Some of us have broken families. Some of us have foster families. Some of us have differently abled members in our families. Some of us are immigrant families. Some of our families have various strong religious faiths while some of our families have none. But each of us have value. Each of our paths are unique. This is how we find us. I would call the movement “Finding Us” Everyone is included.
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?
Without a doubt, I would say my Mom has been my biggest cheerleader and gives the best guidance. I am usually told I seem very mature for my age, but I am just turning 13 and appreciate having an open space with my mom to share my feelings. She gives me that safe space and I believe her when she tells me things like, “Lidya… I don’t even care if you don’t this role… I care more about you understanding this connection for the character and what they are going through… that will help YOU in life… whether you get this part or not.”
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room” This means you always want to have an accurate view of who you are and where you are and push yourself to be a better a better you. So you may need to change locations, or people around you. And you do this so you can push yourself to be more so you can do more and give more.
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?
Oh, that is hard! There are so many. I would have to say Ellen DeGeneres. I just think Ellen is the whole package. She is such an example of grace and kindness and inspiration and giving. Her heart is so evident. She has been open about how difficult parts of her life have been and yet she is such a light. You cannot help but see the goodness and love she shares and honestly makes our world a better place. And she inspires me to do the same, especially when it comes to helping others.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Actually all of my social media handles are the same: @lidyajewett (Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok and Facebook)