Being able to relate to others is important. You grow up watching entertainment that one day you hope you can be a part of. You never once think about your background or gender or race and how that’s going to be a hindrance for you. All you have are your dreams, like everyone else, and the passion to achieve them. Some start from the bottom and some start in between…but that shouldn’t be the division between people. That right there makes you want to prove that we can do so much more to better our communities and our people. We can show how much more we are capable of doing. I know I’m Latina and I also know I was born in the United States. A country that tells you to dream big but you also can’t forget where you came from and how much harder you have to work to make it come true.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Andujar.
Born & raised in Manhattan, Stephanie Andujar aka StephA began performing at the age of 12. While growing up in the Chelsea Housing Projects, Stephanie’s parents put her into an after school program that would change the course of her life… Starring in Television and Film including: ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Blue Bloods,’ ‘Law & Order:SVU’, the Academy Award winning film ‘Precious’, ‘Marjorie Prime’, …While embarking on her acting career, Stephanie also obtained her Business Degree at Pace University in New York City. In 2016 Stephanie Andujar formed Andujar Productions with her family and has since produced & starred in a comedy series “StephA: One Woman Show,” along with Musical Performances with songs ‘Me Encanta,’ One Big Dream,’ and her most recent single ‘Thinkin’ Bout You.’ Stephanie’s authenticity shines with each performance given.)
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
StephA: Thank you for having me! You can say I’m a rare breed as I was born and raised in Manhattan. Growing up in the city that never sleeps is something I’m proud to talk to about. My father was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and my mom is Boricua too but she was born in Chelsea, Manhattan. This city raised me along with my family and made us New York tough (LoL). I was born in Saint Vincents Hospital in the Village, but a Condo stands there now, I think. My parents moved to Harlem in the late 80’s and then we went back to Chelsea in ’96. There, we moved in with my Abuelo and Abuela (Grandparents) in the NYC Housing Projects. Even though when people hear of projects, they think it’s a sketchy area but it was a roof over our heads and a place to call home for a time. If anything, it made me stronger and to always strive for more.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
StephA: When I was about 11, my mom put me into an after school program that was offering dance, acting and singing…which was rare because it was free and that was a good thing (LoL). It also kept me off the streets and that was my parents concern. So, that’s where I got to learn about myself that I was pretty good at performing. From there my drama and dance teacher, Derrick Tyes, helped me perfect a couple of monologues to audition for performing arts schools. Thanks to him I was accepted into Talent Unlimited High School…and the rest is history.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
StephA: I dealt with certain industry folks that would tell me certain things to try and break me down when I needed them to help big me up. It just added more fuel to my passion to keep going because everyone wants to get to some level in their career but for me it’s always been about my performance and making my fans feel something with whatever I do. I realized not only should I have a thick skin in this business but all I can do is my best and leave it in Gods hands. So, thank you to those who tried to break me…It only kept me “together” (LoL).
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
StephA: I think the funniest thing was I kept bringing some of my theater experience into auditions. I remember being really expressive because that’s how you have to be on stage. I’d been doing theater for so long, when I had to transition to film & television it was a bit awkward (lol). I love films, so I kept watching the best and started picking up on things. That’s how I tweaked my technique so to speak (lol).
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
StephA: I just made another song called ‘Thinkin’ Bout You.’ It’s a beautiful little love song and with the way things are going right now…I said…love is the answer. I got this beat from produce named “Chibi” and just started writing. I sat at our studio chair and mic for days and kept singing what came to my heart and mind. After I laid down all the lyrics, my brother, Hector Jr, mixed it. The Music Video for ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’ is up on our Youtube Channel too, which I directed & edited…because I do that too (LoL). I even got daring by dressing as the iconic “Birth of Venus” from the Botticelli painting…you gotta see it (LoL). I even got my mom to help me film a few scenes, where I’m strutting my ballet skills.
We created Andujar Productions Music so we can keep putting content out in the world. Just like we did with our other song ‘One Big Dream.’ That one is really reflective of where our country is right now. God Bless America, for real…
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?
StephA: Being able to relate to others is important. You grow up watching entertainment that one day you hope you can be a part of. You never once think about your background or gender or race and how that’s going to be a hindrance for you. All you have are your dreams, like everyone else, and the passion to achieve them. Some start from the bottom and some start in between…but that shouldn’t be the division between people. That right there makes you want to prove that we can do so much more to better our communities and our people. We can show how much more we are capable of doing. I know I’m Latina and I also know I was born in the United States. A country that tells you to dream big but you also can’t forget where you came from and how much harder you have to work to make it come true.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
StephA: Be strong minded…not just thick skinned. Don’t worry too much. Think outside the box. Have fun and Enjoy the ride.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
StephA: Take your time. I think pressure tends to get to a lot of people but you have to go with your instincts too. All you can do is your best and know that there is only one you. My mom tells me that all the time. (LoL)
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
StephA: In my last interview I said “Love is the Answer” Movement…I still stand by that (LoL).
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?
StephA: My mom, my sister and my brother…I know it’s supposed to be a particular person but those 3 particular family members have been so important in helping me navigate my career. My pops up above is always guiding me too…so I’m grateful for all them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
StephA: Believe in yourself. I taught myself pointe…I didn’t think I would ever learn or had the strength to do it. I got a pair of ballet shoes and decided to try. I already had some dance technique so said why not…I believed in myself that I could do it. With everything I do in my profession…I always believe I can and I will.
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, especially if we tag them. 🙂
StephA: That’s a hard one…there’s so many people who are amazing…Can you just tag someone cool who’d be happy to have me crash their breakfast or lunch? (LoL)
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
StephA: Thank YOU…means a lot.