Author: Joycelynn Okezie
Tijuana Agnew and Shani Hawes are two upcoming actresses based in Atlanta. The two young ladies star in forthcoming web series Blue Collar Hustle. CAQ got the opportunity to discuss the new series in detail as well as more about their lives.
Who is Tijuana Agnew?
Tijuana Agnew is a well-rounded entertainer. She is an actress, musician, and humanitarian.
In your opinion, why is it important to create content and express yourself?
Creating content and expressing yourself is something that I find important for each individual to have the outlet to become your alter ego.
Do you feel that your character in BCH will speak to young women?
I believe my character will empower young women to become all that she wants to become making no excuses.
Is there anyone or anything that motivates you daily?
Remembering the opportunities that my ancestors never had is a constant reminder for me to achieve all set goals.
What inspired you to begin your own company, Media Thang?
One of my best friends complained that she was having a rough time being cast due to her weight. I encouraged her to start her own production and before I knew it, I was participating in that production.
What about the city of Atlanta inspires you as a young creative?
Atlanta has a lot to offer talented individuals. There are casting calls and music opportunities weekly. I am most inspired by the endless opportunities.
How have you liked working on BCH so far and what do you hope viewers can gain from the show?
The opportunity to work on BCH is amazing! The cast, as well as production, are like family. I am excited to see how each character develops. I hope that the viewers will see that the struggles that we encounter in life, are meant to make us greater.
Who is Shani Hawes?
I’ve been acting in the Atlanta Metro area for the past couple years and loving it. I am extremely excited to be apart of this project. I was born in Grand Rapids Michigan and moved to Stone Mountain GA in 2002. I have been blessed with an amazing family and awesome friends who always love and support me. I’m very passionate about art in all forms and I believe that if you love what you are doing then you will be successful.
What is your favorite part of filming Blue Collar Hustle?
Being able to work with some of the most passionate, talented, creative people that I’ve ever met. I absolutely love that about this project just being around like-minded, creative people has been absolutely amazing we have the most hard-working dedicated cast and crew and I have enjoyed working with all of them.
As a creative do you have other aspirations outside of acting?
Acting is amazing, but singing is my first love. I still do a fair amount of singing in musicals and theater Productions. I get really excited about musicals because it gives me a chance to act and sing. Getting to do both things I love at the same time.
As a youth, when did you know acting was what you wanted to do?
When I saw Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got to Do With It. She became that character and she told the story so phenomenally, and telling stories is something that I was always interested in so seeing her in that role it was just such an amazing experience. I just thought that’s what I want to do I want to be able to tell people’s stories like that, and connect to people like that, and make them feel emotions like that.
Who in the entertainment field inspires you?
Taraji P Henson, Angela Bassett, Viola Davis and Gabrielle Union are all amazing and I look up to them as an actress and as an inspiration. However, my Paragon is Dorothy Dandridge. She helped break down so many barriers for black women in acting being the first African-American female to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress in a film. And for being the first black woman ever featured on the cover of Life magazine.
What were your first thoughts when Alonge brought you the Blue Collar Hustle script?
I read a lot of scripts however this script drew me in in a way that not many had done before. I liked the overall message of the show. I hadn’t read a script in a long time that reflected the everyday experience of young black upwardly mobile people in America, who have this need to create, and build, and innovate. This need to be and do and have something more than just the regular nine-to-five. Who need more in their life than just clocking in and doing TPS reports and clocking out. And I thought the writing was absolutely phenomenal.
What are a few stigmas on black women in film that you would like to change?
The main two stigmas about black women and film are the Jezebel and the Angry Black Woman. The Jezebel being a character that is just so overly sexualized that they can’t even be taken seriously, and the Angry Black Woman portraying that black women are loud and rude and angry all the time and they take out these frustrations on the men in their lives which is usually black men. Both of these stigmas give rise to the idea that black women cannot control themselves and that is simply untrue. But I do think as more up-and-coming writers such as Alonge, and producers like Roberto Cruz and directors like Geoffrey Henderson start to get their visions and projects out more this betrayal of the black woman will change.
What are some pointers you would give to actors just starting out?
For actors just starting out you’re going to hear ‘NO’ a lot. You’re going to hear a hundred no’s but all you need is that one yes so don’t stop. Persevere do not give up. Don’t believe the people who say that you can’t do it. If this is something that you really want and that you’re really passionate about. Keep on going, keep doing it, and always follow what you love.