Interviews
Antonique Smith, Conscious Talk
Antonique Smith Opens Up About Overcoming Infidelity, Maintaining A Career As Independent Artist
Before she ever released an album,  Antonique Smith was nominated for a Grammy for ‘Best Traditional R&B Performance.’ Since then, the actress/singer has seen a lot of success in her career, playing Faith Evans in Notorious amongst other things. But while success has been pretty consistent in her career, there are still challenges that come with being an independent artist. In an exclusive interview with the New Jersey native, we touch on the challenges Antonique Smith has had in previous relationships, how she was able to channel Faith Evans in Notorious and maintaining a career as an independent artist. Read the interview below.

 

TCT: You just dropped ‘All We Really Have Is Now’ a couple weeks ago. What are some things that you feel like are missing from your life that you would like to focus on more in the present? 

 

AS: You know…honestly, just the daily grind will make you not appreciate where you are right now. You start to compare yourself to other artists and other awards that you don’t have. Appreciating the sales you have. The nominations you have. Appreciating where you are right now. Sometimes we lose focus and start to project the future. Or to be afraid of being hurt in a relationship because you’ve been hurt. That there might be someone right in front you that you’re overlooking. All we really have is now. Somebody heard my song and said “I’m going to call my brother right now.” They felt that urgency to get it right. You just never know. That’s why you have to appreciate everything. This moment is the only thing we ever really have.
TCT: So your debut single “Hold Up Wait A Minute” was nominated for a Grammy before you even had an album. Can you take us through how you felt at the moment you first heard the news?

 

AS: The Grammy list comes out at 11am. So i’m on my phone refreshing it and all I can see is the year before’s nominations and I’m starting to panic. So, I started to see notifications pop up on my phone, so I go to Twitter. And I start to see Grammy, and nominations and I see congratulations. I started screaming and shaking. You pray for that moment. At that moment I just didn’t think that at all was possible.

 

TCT: What are some the challenges you’ve had as maintaining your career as an independent artist?
AS: Money. Major labels will spend millions of dollars on an artist, especially if they’re really trying to get you out there. If you’re independent, you’re hoping that people will believe in you. Even if you don’t have this big radio budget, or the budget to do it. It’s harder to get people to believe. It’s easier to just write a check. That’s what makes the indie grind a little harder.

 

TCT: You started off as a singer, but kind of fell into acting if I understand correctly. How have you been able to balance both being an actress and a singer?

 

AS: When we started with my music, we put acting on hold. At that point, it was more of a focus on music, but now that I’m established, Grammy nominated and the EP is out, we’re able to take a few months here to shoot great projects that speak towards my brand that work together with the music. Now we can multitask a little bit. An acting agent heard me sing, and started sending out acting jobs. It led me to where I am now.

 

TCT: If you scroll through some of your photos on Instagram, you mention the phrase Black Hollywood pretty often. What are your thoughts on the recent Oscars Awards and the lack of representation of Black people in the awards categories? 

 

AS:I don’t blame it all on the Oscars. I think it’s the demographic of the people. Hollywood in itself is where it really starts. We don’t get the same opportunities. We don’t get to tell the same stories. But there are other things that we can be doing. We have to come together and unite a bit more.We have to be more of a united front and have our own studios where we’re making our own content. Kinda like how Spielberg had his own Dreamworks. We need our own Dreamworks. George Lucas put up his own money up. It’s also Hollywood being a lot more diverse and not just giving us the token Black characters. #OScarsSoWhite created a moment that brought attention to something. That hopefully it won’t just be brushed under the rug.

 

TCT: You worked with Mark Harris last year on Stock Option. What was that experience like and how can the Black community help with these types of films?

 

AS: It doubled the viewership on TV One. For those type of things…supporting…watching. I had the best time shooting that movie. That was my most favorite movie shoot. We just had so much fun and we were in Atlanta. I had a ball. People treated me like a family. It was my first romantic comedy.

 

TCT: On your song “Take A Chance” you talk about falling in love and taking a chance in a relationship and overcoming your fears. What are some of the biggest things you’ve had to overcome in past relationships in order to make it work?

 

AS: Well, for me, fear comes from infidelity. I’ve been cheating on. The guy I was seeing was using my money to go see another woman. Instead of using it to do what he was doing to he was using it to see her. There was a vulnerability in life. You almost have to be open to being hurt in love. Bringing that wall down is scary, so that’s why ‘Take A Chance’ is such an important song. You have to let your guard down and elevate higher.

 

TCT: You’ve compared yourself as following similar career paths as Whitney Houston and Diana Ross, both having careers him in film and music. So two questions. 1) How have you maintained your true self despite what you might come across daily living the Hollywood lifestyle? 

 

AS: The love from my family and my manager. They’ve all loved on me through this journey. Cause it does get hard. There’s way more no’s and rejections than what they see. They only see the yes’s.

 

TCT:  Whitney and Diana are definitely legends that will be remembered forever. What do you think it will take for you to hopefully see a career of that magnitude?
AS: It’s really the opportunities that present itself. You can’t really lay that out there. You never know what that next meeting you walk into is going to create. What you can do is, make sure that you continue to make sure that you be great, hone your skills and put out great content and music.

 

TCT:There’s often this idea of women having to choose between raising a family and pursuing a career. As you start to get older (not that you’re old now lol) how does this influence the choices you might have to make in life? Or does it?

 

AS: Not so much. Obviously, once you hit a certain status financially it’s easier to do both. You just bring the family with you. When you shoot the movie the baby’s in the trailer. Cause most of the time on movies you’re in the trailer anyway. It’s not as hard anymore to raise a family and have a career. I look forward to it one day. I’ve definitely put it off for some time. My parents got married when they were 18. There was a time I thought that I would get married when I was 18. I always wanted that life, and I’ve always wanted this life. Right now, I’m not as established as I want to be.

 

TCT: So I have to ask you. What was it like playing Faith Evans in Notorious. I know that you had access to her memoirs as you were channeling her character. 

 

AS: She actually talked to me. We talked on the phone a lot. She was very open. She answered all the hard questions for me. The basis was that everybody knew her story very well. Everybody knew all her visuals. They knew her essence. Right now, especially, We didn’t have memes when Notorious came out. I just knew it was a possibility that fans were gonna love it or they were gonna hate it. I just researched. She wanted everybody to know how much Biggie and her loved each other. They had such a fast courtship that people didn’t know that. The director added some

 

TCT: Both as a singer and actress, you’ve worked with some pretty amazing people. From Angela Bassett to Larenz Tate. Tell me about some of your dream collaborations both as a singer and actress.

 

AS: I would love to work with on the music side, Pharrell, Timberland, Kendrick, J Cole, Drake, Kanye. On the acting side, I would love to work with Denzel, Leo Dicaprio. Mark Russello (he has a company called Water Defense.) We’re actually going to Flint this weekend to test this out. Hopefully one of those days I can get one of those roles in the Avengers.

 

TCT:What’s something about you that most fans or people in general probably don’t know?
AS: Most people probably don’t know, that my little sister is special needs. My little sister Antonia, she’ll be 25 this year. That’s probably something that the majority of people who aren’t following every post probably doesn’t know. She’s taught my family so much about love.

 

TCT: Musically, what can we expect from you next?

 

We’re going to double the album, for the full ‘Love Is Everything,’ and touring. Looking forward to seeing my fans. No release dates yet, but we’re thinking the album will be done by the fall.

 

TCT: Is there anything else you want us to know?

 

AS: I’m so excited to be shooting this show in April on Fox called ‘Shots Fired.’ Also, we’re in post-production for Deuces, a film I’m in with Meagan Good and Lala Anthony.