Serayah is electrifying the entertainment world
As a successful singer, actress and dancer, who could embody the concept of electric youth more than Serayah?
The California native is a triple threat who’s been playing R&B star Tiana Brown on FOX’s Empire since 2015. And now, Serayah is about to create her own musical empire as she gears up to release her debut album “Addicted” (hopefully) next year. As an actress, singer, model, budding fashionista and Taylor Swift squad member, Serayah is ready to conquer the world.
We sat down with our new cover girl to talk about how she’s electrifying the entertainment world. And since this is our Youth Issue, of course we shot all the pics on a mobile device — the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, to be exact.
Dress by Missguided | Cover shot by Prince and Jacob and illustrated by Iscream Colour, all on Samsung Galaxy Note 8
You play Tiana on Empire. How do you feel like you’ve helped shape her as a character?
For me it was a lot of taking direction from the directors and producers and them to be a mogul super pop star, so I visualized different artists that embodied that like Beyoncé, Rihanna and Tina Turner. I thought of people who danced, performed and were overall pop sensations. That’s kind of how I put her together.
You’ve done a couple of films but Empire has been your main project. Do you have any upcoming projects in the film or TV realm?
I have a film in the works. Also I’m looking forward to doing some other projects hopefully in spring in the new year. I’m also releasing my music project and another video, but I’m keeping consistent in roles and music.
Tell me about your music project. Is it a full-length album? What will we see on it?
Yeah it is. You’ll basically see more R&B. I guess you haven’t really seen a lot of R&B from me on the show as far as sonically-speaking. It’s going to be a story about being addicted; whether it’s addicted to having fun or always being out or a relationship that’s not good for you. That’s why I’m calling the project Addicted because the past year or so when I was making the music I felt very vulnerable and extreme with my relationship with people in general, so I feel like it’s a story about my experiences like that.
How long have you been working on the record?
I’ve been recording the record for the past year and a half. I did work with Jazze Pha on “Driving Me” and had the pleasure of working with KES — he’s a writer signed to Roc Nation who’s a dope artist as well. I’m excited for people to hear me organically and not so much featured with bigger artists. It’ll be nice to have people see who Serayah is all about.
Do you have any collaborations with up-and-coming artists?
I do have a song on my project with an artist called Ohana Bam, who is signed to Atlantic Records. He does a lot of streaming and syncs. So he’s really dope and he’s on the project as well.
Is there a release date for the project yet?
I don’t have a specific date yet, but January is my goal.
Tiana is very stylish on Empire. How does style translate into your everyday life?
It’s kind of like my alter-ego because Serayah is very chill and I think I embody that all the time. But with performing, selling a record and playing a character on the show, I look forward to those times where we get to create big, spectacular moments.
With regards to style, which brands are your go-tos?
I love Moschino, Gucci and Jeremy Scott. Some other brands I love are Yves Saint Laurent. I love Tommy Hilfiger — he’s amazing. I also love designers that are more affordable like Missguided. I love to pair together high and low.
Do you have any career regrets or anything you wish you could do over?
No, because I don’t like to live in regret or think I could have done anything different with how I got Empire and how my life is in general. I’m very spiritual, so I don’t like to think about life like that.
You said you have some other projects next year, can you talk a little bit about them?
The film I’ll be doing is really, really cool. I can’t talk too much about it, but it’s kind of like “Mean Girls” meets “Baby Driver.” I’m really excited to be doing that. It’s going to be a different look for me, and I get to play alongside really cool people.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
For me, it was when I got the chance to meet Beyoncé and she acknowledged the work I had done thus far. She just told me, you’re amazing, keep up the good work, and always be you. For her to take the time to recognize who I was, a little girl on Empire, was really dope. It set an example for me: no matter how big you get or no matter who you are you want to acknowledge the next person that’s coming up.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
I see myself on billboards, getting a CoverGirl contract, in movies and touring the world. I see myself buying my mom and dad a house and doing things for my family that they never could do.
What do you hope happens for Tiana on Empire? What future do you want for her?
I really hope that she finds a stable situation, whether that’s with a different relationship or that’s with Hakeem [Lyon]. I want to see her to grow in a different way or maybe have a plot twist where she’s involved with another character in the show so she becomes a part of a scandal. Just something interesting for her we haven’t seen her do.
When did you know that you wanted to be in showbusiness?
I was eight years old and my grandmother took me to see Destiny’s Child perform, and I fell in love with the whole performance aspect of it and they way they made me feel. I wanted to make other people feel that way: full of warmth and inspiration. Ever since then I wanted to be on TV.
What kind of music inspired “Addicted”?
When I was younger my mother listened to 90s R&B, so a lot of that plays a part in how I listen to music. Also, my grandmother loves The Stylistics, The Temptations and Anita Baker. So I also have a bit of jazz and blues inside of me. A lot of music inspired the way I write and the way I think.
Who do you dream of collaborating with one day?
I would love to do a girl collaboration with a bunch of female artists, or if I had a Brandy and Monica moment with a lot of female artists that would be dope too. For features, I would love to work with Young Thug, Drake or Chris Brown. Producer-wise, I really want to work with Swizz Beatz and Jay-Z one day. If Jay-Z could just oversee a song, I’d be so happy. I want to do a “Lady Marmalade” moment. I would love to work with Missy Elliott.
Obviously we’re in tumultuous times both socially and politically. How do you want to use your platform to give back?
My mom has a non-profit called “Deserving Love.” I’m a chair-member on that with her. I’m working with her to really figure out where we can roll up our sleeves and help and get hands on with certain issues. I’m really passionate about that: being able to put awareness about helping others in any way you can.
Earrings: Melody Ehsani | Choker: Topshop | Rings: Cirari, Melody Ehsani | Top: TLZ L’FEMME | Pants: v| Belts: Vintage
Earrings: Reikolyn Jewelry | Necklace: Diane Von Furstenberg | Rings: Cirari, Melody Ehsani, Charles Albert | Top: Versus by Versace | Belt: Versace | Pants: Topshop | Boots: Harpers
Hair Piece: Reikolyn Jewelry | Necklace: Chanel, Harpers | Earrings: Dori Csengeri | Rings: Michael John, Cirari, Charles Albert, Melody Ehsani | Jacket: Vintage Dior | Top & Bottom: TLZ L’FEMME | Belts: Tory Burch & Vintage | Shoes: Miu Miu
Hairpiece: Chanel | Earrings: Gogo Philip | Necklace: Melody Ehsani | Dress: Missguided | Jacket: Michael Ngo | Belt: Vintage Dolce & Gabbana
Earrings: Reikolyn Jewelry | Rings: Michael John, Melody Ehsani, Vianna Brasil, Charles Albert | Top: TLZ L’FEMME | Belt: Vintage Versace | Pants: Moschino | Shoes: Missguided