Samantha Ware: “Not everyone will be kind”

Not to sound like a broken record but I swear the more I honor my authentic self by continuing to express my own truths, the more good I’m doing in this world. That means, dressing, speaking, dancing, etc. however I want to publicly as a black woman. Vulnerable but free. My focus right now is […]

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Not to sound like a broken record but I swear the more I honor my authentic self by continuing to express my own truths, the more good I’m doing in this world. That means, dressing, speaking, dancing, etc. however I want to publicly as a black woman. Vulnerable but free. My focus right now is getting Hollywood’s attention to simply pledge to do better. Reflect the world we all would like to see by ridding of the harmful social politics in this industry. There is so much violence and toxicity that is hardly ever spoken on and these things bleed into the work and personal lives of those within close proximity. Enough is enough.


As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Samantha Ware.

Multi-faceted singer and actress, Samantha Ware, best known for her breakout role as the smart and sassy ‘Jane Hayward’ in the final season of the 2x Golden Globe-winning series “Glee” and as the smart, driven doctor ‘Angela’ in Netflix’s “mega-hit thriller series “What/If,” now stars in CBS’ original legal drama series “All Rise” airing every Monday at 9/8c. Samantha is a huge proponent of advocating for social equality, race and gender. She is using her platform to continue to fight for the movement that supports young black women like herself in celebrating their ubiquity as females of color while defining beauty on their own terms and bursting the glass ceiling.

Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Ware’s passion for the arts started at a very young age thanks to her grandmother who saw something special in her. At the tender age of 8 years old, she was placed in a small role in “A Christmas Carol” and like many others, continued to grow in her church choir. Music became Ware’s pride and joy until she took a chance and auditioned for her high school play her junior year, which lead to participation in community theater. Soon after graduating high school, Ware attended college for a year studying to become a music teacher and minoring in journalism before taking a leap of faith and venturing to Chicago to audition for a role in The Lion King. Six months later, she received the part of Nala. Shortly after, she managed to land a role in The Book of Mormon on Broadway and The Book of Mormon National Tour as ‘Nabulungi Hatimbi’in which she garnered a Helen Hayes Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2014. Ware also performed in Hamilton in Chicago as ‘Peggy Schulyer/Maria Reynolds. In addition to being an accomplished theater actress, Ware has booked several guest recurring roles on television which include “Bull”, “NCIS: New Orleans”, “Chicago Med” and Netflix’s BARRY.

When she’s not in front of the camera, Ware can be found in the studio working on her music and staying fit.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

Having been incited by nature itself, my dreams evolved into tangible visions but only on the springboard of trauma as a dark-skinned girl in middle America. Rarely did I ever feel seen or heard until I had the command of an audience. That was the only chance anyone ever got to truly see the God in me. From the church choir to school musicals, community theatre, to a fourteen-hour train ride I had worked months on pizza hut tips to afford. I was sleeping on the hardwood floors of a friend’s apartment in Chicago, restless before the day that changed my life forever. A cold day in October at an open casting call for Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway. Six months later, I went on to book Nala. Landing the first stop in my career at 19 years old.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

To actually do the opposite and stick to their own creative paths. Tap in with what you love, the thing that fuels you into a race of your own. Success is objective. We function in a society that applauds political correctness and spins on the wheels of corporate politics. There are so many folks who already, think, eat, and engage in the same way. BE YOU!

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

Me. I’ve changed my life significantly. My everyday willingness to survive in a society/industry that wants nothing to do with me as conditioned my spiritual muscles. Every time I discover a new version of myself, I make space to honor my younger selves, giving them empathy that was never received through forgiveness and understanding of my own human-ness.

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

Not to sound like a broken record but I swear the more I honor my authentic self by continuing to express my own truths, the more good I’m doing in this world. That means, dressing, speaking, dancing, etc. however I want to publicly as a black woman. Vulnerable but free. My focus right now is getting Hollywood’s attention to simply pledge to do better. Reflect the world we all would like to see by ridding of the harmful social politics in this industry. There is so much violence and toxicity that is hardly ever spoken on and these things bleed into the work and personal lives of those within close proximity. Enough is enough.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

I’m a dark-skinned black woman and I want to be afforded the same opportunities as my white-passing colleagues.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

Every young girl and grown woman who looks like me.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

I don’t necessarily have faith in a government that has been neglectful for so long. The only way they can support the movement is by taking romanticism out of politics and begin to tell the truth. America is not exempt from being a bully.

Society needs to reflect on our habits that aide capitalism through consumerism of unnecessary and wasteful goods. Global Warming is real, Mother Earth is a living breathing entity. We are only guests on indigenous land. We should demand more from larger corporations. We are all sharing this environment. True democracy is led by the people.

As individuals, we can all take time to truly self-interrogate the ideals we were raised on under the conditions of survival, especially Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color. Dissecting what it means to be human and how something like the gender binary is more a tool for control than something that is often conflated with science. We have the books, we have the vocabulary and we have the capacity to change. If we really want it, we can have it.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.

Your trauma is not your fault. As a victim of physical/sexual abuse at a young age, I was unaware for the longest time that trauma literally changes your brain and how you interact day to day with others. Even those close to you. I am grateful for anti-depressants and therapy. These medicinal tools have changed my life significantly. Society is sick and so are the people. Normalize mental health and make therapy accessible for everyone!

You cannot control what others think, only how you feel. This one is still taking work but as long as you are not harming anyone. It doesn’t and will never matter what others think of you. At the end of the day, all that matters is how you feel about yourself.

You are worthy of love, respect and understanding. For so long I would blame myself for being mistreated in particular situations. I actually believed that I must have always been doing something wrong to deserve that energy. “Maybe I really am too much” once again, taking on the projections of others and their discomforts with their selves. Yet, we are all worthy of love and to be loved for our entire selves. I love being goofy, I love to laugh and tap into my child self. If you don’t like the tea I’m spilling, you don’t have to sip it honey!

Not everyone will be kind. And that’s just the facts. You could walk on water and there would still be someone in the audience to boo you off the stage.

Never be afraid to tell the truth, even in the face of false power. Because I began work so young, I wasn’t afforded the opportunity to grow into myself organically. I was stumbling publicly into the beginnings of young black womanhood alone. Most of my experiences at work were tainted by whiteness and its ability to make you feel two feet tall. I had so many jobs where I felt I was asking too much. I hadn’t had my first black hairdresser on set until very recently and let me tell you, the productions before then were good at guilt-tripping, alienating and threatening loss of roles over a simple inquiry that would let me feel safe. I now persist. Keep my foot on their neck. I don’t back down. I deserve to be treated like my equals. All white people are inherently racist and so many businesses and productions have thrived while being blanketed with such violent behavior towards POC. Enough.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement is already here. We just need to prioritize the right leaders who are invested in the well-being of their communities and not the size of their pockets. The houseless crisis is simply embarrassing at this point. Billionaires have too much power. Our education systems have failed many a student. Health care is a basic human right and yet it’s even expensive to die. I have a platform that can initiate hard conversations and discourse, but we’ve been having those for years through the lens of James Baldwin, Malcom X, Fred Hampton, Angela Davis, Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Nikki Giovanni… and many others whose influence was diminished by the same system that continues to put black people in harm’s way today. I want the movement to continue in homes, in relationships, in the workplace, etc. We all have a small part to play in dismantling the rusty gates of white supremacy. This is a team effort.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

I am deliberate
and afraid
of nothing.

Audre Lorde, A Land Where Other People Live (1973)

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. 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? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Yes. Right now there are a handful; Jenna Wortham, Naomi Campbell, Tracy Ellis Ross, RuPaul… But more than anything, I would love to have tea with Michaela Coel somewhere in London. She is a reflection of me in so many ways and a lot of her career parallels some of my own dreams. She is so unafraid to take up space; showcasing unconventional narratives, aligning with her authenticity, writing what she wants and playing the part. There’s bravery that comes with standing alone against these billion-dollar franchises. I don’t really have “idols” but I do honor those who are perpetually breaking down these well-rooted walls.

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!


About The Interviewer: Growing up in Canada, Edward Sylvan was an unlikely candidate to make a mark on the high-powered film industry based in Hollywood. But as CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc, (SEGI) Sylvan is among a select group of less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly-traded company. Now, deeply involved in the movie business, he is providing opportunities for people of color.

In 2020, he was appointed president of the Monaco International Film Festival, and was encouraged to take the festival in a new digital direction.

Raised in Toronto, he attended York University where he studied Economics and Political Science, then went to work in finance on Bay Street, (the city’s equivalent of Wall Street). After years of handling equities trading, film tax credits, options trading and mergers and acquisitions for the film, mining and technology industries, in 2008 he decided to reorient his career fully towards the entertainment business.

With the aim of helping Los Angeles filmmakers of color who were struggling to understand how to raise capital, Sylvan wanted to provide them with ways to finance their creative endeavors.

At Sycamore Entertainment he specializes in print and advertising financing, marketing, acquisition and worldwide distribution of quality feature-length motion pictures, and is concerned with acquiring, producing and promoting films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subject matter which will also include nonviolent storytelling.

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