Ester Dean acts in “Pitch Perfect” — and produces for Rihanna
In the Pitch Perfect movies, she plays the vocal powerhouse Cynthia Rose, but IRL, Ester Dean is an actress, producer, and songwriter trifecta.
Ester is credited for producing on Rihanna’s album “Loud,” on Katy Perry and FloRida tracks, and more. Coming from humble beginnings in Oklahoma, Ester hustled her way up to the top of the music industry and eventually broke into acting, doing voiceovers and landing a role in Pitch Perfect.
Ester talked to us about the highs and lows of filming Pitch Perfect and being a successful songwriter. Check out the interview below!
You’ve been writing songs for the world’s best pop artists for a really long time now. Who were some of your favorite artists to write for? Favorite songs you’ve written?
I don’t have one specific favorite artist to write for. Nicki Minaj, David Guetta, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. They all inspire me!
Your resume and accomplishments are never ending! What’s something your most proud of?
I am most proud of writing the song “Firework,” and singing a song I actually wrote in my first movie (“S&M” in Pitch Perfect). I treasure those moments.
What do you think is your secret to having accomplished a lifetime’s work by such a young age?
Setting goals and achieving them. Good work ethic is key! Working past the point of wanting to quit.
You’re from Oklahoma, and got a kick start in Georgia, how do you think your time in those cities prepped you for LA?
Growing up in Oklahoma allowed me to wish upon a star. Allowed me to dream. No one was there to tell me “no,” or that my dream was too big or far-fetched.
What are the best dynamics for a fire songwriting session?
Best dynamics for a fire session is creative freedom.
When you aren’t making music, what are you listening to?
I listen to songs I wrote, and I am constantly re-hearing them. I have years and years of songs that I go back and listen through.
Since you’ve basically done a little of everything in this industry, what would you say is your favorite, writing music or acting?
Both acting and songwriting give me a different excitement that I want to continue to experience. I love each for different reasons, so I wouldn’t want to separate from either. Both allow me to connect with people. Acting is my day job and music is my night job.
What are some things that are unique to your experience rising to success in music and being a woman of color?
What’s unique is that I carved my own lane. Regardless of my color there are not many songwriters, musicians, producers/actress that have come from being strictly a songwriter first.
Do you have any advice for creative people that feel like they struggle reaching their goals?
I think if someone is struggling, it’s because their goals lack clarity and they need to acknowledge the tiny victories and steps. It’s about appreciating small victories, because that shows you are moving towards something.
How did you get involved in Pitch Perfect?
I had the opportunity to connect with Michael Knobloch to create/ write music for Universal and he sent me in for an audition for a movie about singing—the rest is history.
Are you similar to the character you play? How so?
I am very like Cynthia Rose, personality-wise. I am balanced and have a feminine and masculine side, which I am quite comfortable exploring and sharing, just as Cynthia is.
What were the highs and lows of filming Pitch Perfect 3?
Highs: Always seeing the girls and celebrating all the holidays and birthdays together. Lows: Knowing that we have to go back to regular life after we have been shooting a movie together for 3 months.
What’s your favorite scene in the movie? Why?
My favorite scenes consist of the riff-offs. I love when we mash-up the songs and it’s a challenge learning them. It’s something the Pitch Perfect trilogy accomplishes well—yet people don’t realize how difficult riff-offs actually are to pull-off.
How do you balance out your career and personal life?
Balance comes from allowing myself to have a good time. l have fun and sometimes my personal life comes into the song. That’s fulfilling!
What can we expect from you in 2018?
You can expect more music on the radio and Ester Dean in movies, as well as my music collaboration with Afrojack. This is the year of celebration for me and I plan to be more visible and more hands on with the fans. I truly appreciate them cheering me on and now I want to cheer them on.
Photos by Jacqueline Kulla
Makeup by Champaine Ivy