Antonique Smith may be most known for portraying one of music’s biggest names in R&B but these days she’s out to make a name for herself. From her most notable roles as Faith Evans in Notorious and as the leading lady in the Broadway musical Rent, to smaller parts in movies like Abduction, Smith has caught the attention of many who are waiting to see what the rising star does next. JETmag.com caught up with Smith to learn about her journey to the top, her budding singing career and her upcoming projects. She also spoke on what it was like working with director Victoria Mahoney on the latest film she co-starred in, Yelling to the Sky, her relationship with Faith since Notorious, and gave her thoughts on transitioning from actress to a musician.
Antonique Smith and Zoe Kravitz in “Yelling to the Sky”. Photo Credits: Kirsten Johnson & Andre Lamberston
Victoria Mahoney is an actor turned director. What was it like working with her on Yelling to the Sky being that she used to act herself?
Her vision was so clear. She was so full of information. Not all the time do you talk to the director and they have so much information on your character. She had so much info about “Ola”. That helps the actors. It’s their vision, it’s their baby. You want to make them happy. You want to give them what they’ve envisioned. So it helps that you have someone who can be clear with what they want and you’ll be more confident that you can give them what they want.
Why should people see Yelling to the Sky?
It has a sense of realness to it. I think even if you don’t have all the circumstances, you still identify with something in the movie. Whether it was how you were treated growing up, by your parents. Whether it was how you struggled with people and how they treated you at school. Whether it was you just had a longing for acceptance. Whether you were bullied. It’s just so many different story lines in this movie… there’s so many different facets of it, that everybody can take something away from it. It shows the necessity and the beauty of forgiveness. That’s a big part of the movie.
We’re right around the date that Biggie passed a way so, going back to your role in Notorious, what was Faith’s reaction to your portrayal of her? Was she impressed?
Faith said “You the B****!”. She was very happy! Her and her family…everybody was happy. We became good friends after that. What was not in the script when I first got the role, was the wedding scene and a couple other things. Me and Faith had talked and she was like “We were in love and I want the movie to show that”. So I went to George, I told him what she said and he added the wedding scene. I think she just appreciated that those things happened.
You’ve played an R&B singer in a movie, but a lot of people don’t know you really are a singer yourself. How did that start?
It started when I was a little girl. Whitney Houston…that was it. I heard that voice and I was like “Whoa! I wanna sound like that!”. I had never even had a desire to sing until I heard that voice. I would imitate her and that’s how I learned to sing. I got my practice in church. I would do every school play, every church play. I would just try to do my singing and acting anywhere I could. When I was young, I would make people listen to me sing.
How do you feel about musicians becoming actors or vice versa?
I actually thought I needed to be a singer first because it seemed like it was easier to be a singer and transition into acting than it was for actors to transition into singing. Up until people like J.Lo and Jamie Foxx. They changed the rules. Jamie Foxx played Ray Charles, so we were able to see him as a singer. Same thing with J.Lo. After she played Selena, we could see her as a singer. I feel lucky enough to build my acting career but in a way that people are also able to see me as a singer. So now people can see me as both. I’ve always seen myself as like a young Barbara Streisand, young Diana Ross, young Whitney Houston. People who did both… movies, musicals, albums all of it. So, Notorious set that up for me.
How would you describe your sound?
I don’t necessarily consider myself an R&B artist. I call it pop-soul with a hip-hop appeal. It’s a fusion of pop, soul and hip-hop. I think people are gonna be pleasantly surprised. We’ve got a track with Dr.Dre and we’re in the process of deciding which single to go with and when. It’ll be this year for sure.
When can we expect to see you on the big screen again?
I’m reading scripts for movies. I’m real selective. I’ve been blessed enough to not repeat myself or play the same character over and over again. Everything’s been a challenge. Notorious and Abduction couldn’t be more different. And so is Yelling to the Sky. In Rent I was a drug addict, exotic dancer with HIV. They’re all just so different, I’ve been a little spoiled and now I’m kind of picky as to what I want to do next. I’m also checking out TV to see what shows might work for me. It has to work with my music career too. I have to have the flexibility of being able to record, tour, and promote.
Keep up with Antonique on her website antonique.com
as well as on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube .
Facebook: Antonique Smith
Youtube: Antonique Smith