Samantha Marie Ware on 'What/If' and debut single 'Westtown': 'I add humanity to any role I play'
In an exclusive interview with MEAWW, the actress and singer opens up about the “black experience” not rooted in anti-blackness.
You may know her as Jane in 'Glee' or Angela Archer in 'What/If', but Samantha Marie Ware has a charming persona of her own. Born and raised in Nebraska, she juggles between her passion for music and acting. She was all set for a music teaching stint but destiny had chalked out a different plan for her. Samantha chanced upon a pot luck and decided to give an audition for a theatre production of 'The Lion King'. She was soon cast as Nala and that's how her journey in showbiz began. Soon after, she landed a role in 'The Book of Mormon' on Broadway.
The 27-year-old is best known for her performance in 'The Book of Mormon National Production' where she portrayed the character of Nabulungi Hatimbi. Her guest recurring role as the smart and sassy Jane Hayward in the sixth season of 'Glee' earned her much popularity among TV viewers.
In an interview with MEAWW, Samantha opens up about her role in 'What/If' and a new single, 'Westtown,' that is all set to hit the charts. Going down memory lane, she recalls how it all began with Ryan Murphy's musical comedy-drama.
"'Glee' was a great intro to television. I’m grateful for the experience. Well, everyone’s got to start somewhere right? Every new job I have teaches me more about people than anything—how to navigate social engagements, hold your ground as an artist and as a woman."
Currently, Samantha can be seen in the role of Angela Archer, Todd Archer's wife, on the Netflix thriller series 'What/If' created by Mike Kelley. Overcome by several choices, she has to make some difficult decisions, which in turn, affect her future. Was it easy for her to relate to the character?
"Angela holds a little bit of future Sam in there somewhere, but I think if I knew her in real life we’d be good friends. I'm scandalous too," she playfully remarks. "I add humanity to any role I play, period." Shedding light on the challenging sequences where it took more effort to film than usual, she says, "I loved shooting bigger scenes with the entire cast. I love seeing others shine. Nothing was more difficult than being tousled around the woods in a nightgown and ugly crying in front of my opposite, Keith Powers."
Stepping into the world of music, she released her debut single 'Westtown' in August. Spilling the beans on what inspired her to write and sing it, she says, "The song, lyrically is about a platonic relationship between friends that has kinda been burning up a long fuse and eventually ends with a realization that all this weight of others problems could potentially kill us if we don’t let go."
Samantha donned many hats to get the music video she wanted. "I wrote the song, wrote the script for the visual, produced, directed, casted and even tackled wardrobe for a majority of the piece." Was it taxing to handle it all?
"I asked for help plenty of times but at some point in time you really just have to do it on your own. Virgo tendencies. Everything seems to work better that way anyhow," she says, adding, "Keeping busy satisfies me the most, whether it is writing my own independent project or being a part of a big production via Broadway, television or film. Often if I'm just idle for too long, I spiral into a web of thoughts on the need to be more significant."
What message does she hope her listeners get from the song? "The visuals swim in a metaphor of what it feels like to be here in Hollywood pretty much," she says. Highlighting that it is "one of the craziest simulations she has been a part", she adds, "As a Black woman out here, I feel there are many projections on what kind of artist I should be, how I should speak or even carry myself. The vignettes we see in the piece elude to classic eras of the diaspora. So, I technically put myself in a few boxes just to showcase that wherever you feel the need to place me, I’ve been there and I’ve done that. It’s an introduction of sorts. Another side of myself as an artist. Something I get to claim as my own."
It's not just glitz and glam that enthralls her! Samantha also stands up for young Black women with her campaign #SmartBrownGirl to burst the glass ceiling and help them define beauty on their own terms.
Talking about her future plans in that direction, she says, "I’ve now started to advocate in the direction of “black experiences” and reiterating that every Black person experiences a “black experience” as long as it’s not rooted in anti-blackness. Which is why I write. Because we all didn’t grow up in the south, Inglewood, California or Brooklyn. Some of us grew up in the middle of the country and were often the only black entity in certain spaces and yet still had to face adversities that decorated our places of trauma. And honestly, there is such a huge gap of untold Black experiences."