Exclusive Interview with Actress/Singer Serayah

You probably know Serayah from Fox’s hit series Empire, which is airing its series finale on April 21. However, she’s also a singer and just released her new single “Never Be The Same” feat. SIMYAI that she wrote alongside LXRD Rossi. 

I got the chance to talk to Serayah about how she first got into making and performing music, her songwriting process, what it was like shooting the music video for “Never Be The Same”, what being on Empire means to her and so much more. Keep reading to see what she had to say!

Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.

I’ve always loved music and dancing. I guess you could say my parents and grandparents always playing good music rubbed off on me. I started writing gospel songs at 9, and getting involved in youth choirs and dance teams. I just had to sing or dance in any way I could. Watching Destiny’s Child, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Tina Turner and so many more performing growing up taught me importance of being a great female performer.

I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey to listeners with their music. So if you had to describe the music you create without using genre names, how would you describe it?

I would say it’s a diary of my thoughts and feelings and life circumstance. 

Kind of going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?

Anita Baker, Toni Braxton, Faith Evans, Janet Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and many more!

Let’s talk about your new single, “Never Be The Same”. What’s this song about? 

“Never Be The Same” is about not conforming to what other people want you to be. 

Something I’ve always been curious with songwriting is how topics come to mind. Did you know what you wanted to write about going into the song session that birthed ”Never Be The Same” or did it just come about organically once you were in the session?

Usually for me, songs come about when I’m in the studio just having a conversation about how I’m feeling at that time. So “Never Be The Same” was one of those moments where I was feeling like I wanted to escape the expectations of what I felt like people had for me. 

Was there any major changes to “Never Be The Same” that happened once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?

Actually, it happened very organically. Atl Jacob, one of the producers of “Never Be The Same”, came to the studio, played the track and me and LXRD Rossi began to write to it.

“Never Be The Same” features Simyai. How did that collaboration come about?

After a couple weeks after I cut the record, my team and I were thinking that there should be a rap feature on the song. My sister Simyai is a new rap artist on the rise and it was like an “a ha” moment, why not have her put a verse on it. Im glad we did because she complimented the rocked perfectly.

You also shot a music video for this song. What was that experience like?

It was LIT! Since most of the world is stuck in the house due to the quarantine rule, we wanted to make our viewer feel a since of relief, and have a good time while watching the video. We came up with several random shot setups using my house and my cousins car and I edited all the footage together. I really love how it came out! I say we did a pretty damn good job considering we had no music video professionals [laughs].

You’ve been on Empire since the beginning and the show is getting ready to air it’s series finale in a few weeks. What can we expect for Tiana in this last few episodes?

Tiana is always growing and elevating her in her career. I feel like this season you will see her mature and continue to find herself through standing up for causes bigger than music that matter to her. For example, there is a story line about her standing up for her “ProLife” outlook on childbirth. Very controversial, but that’s what amazing right? Reflecting real stories and real circumstance and forcing a different viewpoint that may not be the most popular one. 

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Now that production on Empire has wrapped for good, what has being on this show meant to you?

Changing TV standards forever. I am a part of a predominately Black mainstream TV show about the music industry. We started a new wave that was captivating and shining a light on wealthy successful black family. That narrative wasn’t really seen before. The glamour, fashion, REAL recorded music, huge performances – it really was amazing. I’m so glad to have been part of Empire and to pave a way for all young black, curly headed, singer/performers to steal the stage and make the world fall in love with them. I learned so much and grew tremendously. 

Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?

I have been nerding about this book called A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle its life changing. And there’s a podcast featuring Eckhart and Oprah breaking down each chapter! So safe to say, you can catch me somewhere in my house with my book, my headphones, and a highlighter! [laughs]

Make sure you follow Serayah on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Empire airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on FOX. 

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