Anais Lee Talks With TMI About Her Role In The Upcoming Film “The Sun is Also a Star”
You started your acting career at a very young age, what inspired you to pursue acting?
At first I started out as a model and I was sent out for a movie audition for the movie “Blood Ties”. I was only 5 years old and ended up booking the role with my twin sister, Mirabelle. Ever since then, I fell in love with acting and knew I was going to be an actor for the rest of my life.
You are currently traveling to promote the release of your upcoming film “The Sun is Also a Star”. Can you explain the process of how you got this role?
When I received the audition for Young Natasha, I knew the role was perfect for me because the description said to play the role of younger Yara Shahidi. A lot of people told me that I look a lot like her. I said to myself “You can do this Anais”. I did a lot of research and I found out the movie was based off the book “A Sun Is Also a Star” by author, Nicola Yoon. I read the book and loved it from the minute I read the first sentence. I went into the audition remembering everything I learned from the character in the book. I got a callback and then a hold and I was over the moon THRILLED when my agent said I booked the role.
Can you explain the character you portray and what the movie is about?
In the movie, I play Young Natasha. When Natasha was little, she and her father had an amazing relationship and they were always together. As Natasha gets older, she and her father’s relationship declines and she blames him for her family being under threat of deportation. My character shows the relationship Natasha and her dad had when she was little and first moved to New York. “The Sun is Also a Star” is a love story inspired by the New York Times best seller by author, Nicola Yoon. In the story, two people, Natasha and Daniel, are brought together at a pivotal crossroads in their lives. In a twist of fate, Natasha and Daniel realize they only of one day to be together before Natasha’s family is deported back to Jamaica. The movie looks through the lens of fate and asks us the question “Can you fall in love in a single day?”
What was your favorite part about being in “The Sun is Also a Star”?
My favorite part about being in “The Sun is Also a Star” was all of the amazing actors and the director I met and worked with! They were all amazing, talented, and super nice!
You have also guest starred on a bunch of popular tv shows. Did you have a favorite role you played? If so what was the role and why was it your favorite?
One of my favorite roles was when I worked on the TV show “The Following”. It was wonderful to work with amazing actors Kevin Bacon and Michael Ealy. I met new friends on set and this show was really fun to film. One of the days I filmed was on my birthday. The cast and crew sung happy birthday to me and it was so cool!
Are there any other acting projects in the works you can tell us about?
My sister, Mirabelle and I are working with Executive Producer Irene Dreayer, from the Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Sister Sister, on a very exciting project in development! We hope to tell you more about it soon.
You also started your dancing career at a very young age, what inspired you to pursue dancing?
My mom was a dancer when she was little so as soon as my sister and I were old enough (2 years old), we started ballet classes. I have trained in many styles of dance including: ballet, hip-hop, jazz, acrobatics, and contemporary. My sister and I are on pointe right now and we love dancing! My favorite style is definitely hip-hop.
Did you always know you wanted to be an actress and dancer when you were older?
Yes! When I filmed my first movie “Blood Ties” at 5 years old I knew I wanted to be an actor. I’ve been dancing since I was 2 years old so dancing is such a big part of my life. Many commercial and television opportunities I have received such as “Lip Sync Battle Shorties” came about because I am a dancer.
How would you describe your dancing style?
When I dance, whether it is hip-hop, pointe, jazz or contemporary, I like to have fun. I try to always incorporate gracefulness, fun and energy in all styles of dance I do.
Are there any actors or dancers that you look up to right now?
I really look up to Yara Shahidi because she’s talented, beautiful, smart, and kind. She’s was so amazing to work with and I hope I can work with her again.
Have you ever been starstruck by anyone you’ve met so far?
Definitely when I met Charles Melton and Yara Shahidi. I love “Riverdale” and “Black-ish” so it was surreal meeting them in real life.
What goals have you set out for yourself in your career and in your personal life?
A goal that I have set for myself in my career is to book a series-regular role in a great television show. For my personal life, it has been a dream since I was little, to go to Oxford University!
What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment in your career so far?
My biggest accomplishment is every role I have booked because I think every role is a success and one step closer to that big role of a lifetime.
Overall, how has this whole acting and dancing career experience been for you?
This whole experience has been amazing. I’m so glad an thankful I got into this business!
Do you have any advice for anyone trying to make it as a actor or dancer?
The key advice I have for any young actor, model, dancer, singer, or whatever you might do: never give up and everything happens for a reason. Always try your best at every opportunity that comes your way because you can’t say you did it unless you try. Also, if something doesn’t go your way, like you didn’t win the role you wanted, just know that everything happens for a reason. There is a reason this didn’t happen for you and you will do something bigger and better.
You have also created a huge social media presence for yourself. Why do you think social media is so important for teen actors today?
I think it is important because it gets your name out into the world. This industry has changed a lot since I first started. As a young actor today, for some opportunities, it can come down to who can bring an audience with them to the project. I think the key thing is to have talent but having a social media presence can help too.
How do you want your relationship to be with your fans?
I love all of my fans! I have met some fans while walking down the street or at the airport. I wish that I could tour around the world to meet every one of them!
What social media platform do you use most to stay connected to your fans?
I use Instagram the most and I love to thank my fans when they comment on my posts. My twin sister, Mirabelle and I love answering questions and going live.
Does your fan base have a name?
Yes! Our fan base is called the Miranaistors (pronounced mir-uh-nay-tors). It is a cross between Mirabelle and Anais. Our fans are so loyal and kind we love all of them so much!
What was the craziest fan encounter you have had?
Once my sister and I were getting off a plane and we had just landed from a flight from LA to Philadelphia. As we were walking, a fan asked for a picture. I was so tired because I just got off a plane so at first I didn’t know it was a fan! She had first said “excuse me” and Mirabelle and I thought she wanted us to move out of the way. So we ran up to our parents because we were trying to get out of the way! Afterwards, she came up to us again and asked for a picture. I had felt so silly! It was great, we ended up taking a picture with her and talked with her.
Do you have any other talents other than singing and dancing?
I love to do gymnastics/tumbling and a lot of people don’t know that I edit videos too! I like to edit YouTube videos that Mirabelle and I film and try to post often even though we are very busy.
Do you have any last things you want to tell your fans?
Never give up – no matter how hard things are. As long as you keep trying again and again one day you will succeed. Even if you get 100 ”no’s” all it takes is one yes!