Check out our interview with dancer, model, and actress Anais Lee who can be seen in Netflix’s series The Baby-Sitters Club where she plays the iconic character “Jessi Ramsey.”

“Jessi” made black history for being the first African-American character in The Baby-Sitters Club series, and became a role model for many fans of the books.

Anais landed the role of “Jessi” due to her many years of ballet dancing, which moved the producers and casting director to incorporate her skills into the show. Anais is extremely excited to continue her role as the revolutionary character, and is eager for fans to see more of “Jessi” in season two, premiering October 11!

Follow Anais @anaislee_

How was life like growing up mixed and embracing both of your cultures?

One of my favorite quotes is by Yara Shahidi about her experiences of being mixed and I think it describes my experience perfectly. “My parents have stressed the idea of creating your own path, and creating your own identity is part of that. That’s why embracing these two cultures is important to me. When you’re biracial, you can feel like you’re fully neither, not fully both, but I won’t strip away my heritage for anyone’s comfort.”

Did you enjoy growing up with your twin sister?

Growing up with a twin sister is like always having your best friend with you. I am never alone because Mirabelle is always right there next to me.

Do you have any other siblings?

I don’t have any other siblings besides Mirabelle and I’m thankful for that because with my and Mirabelle’s busy schedules, I don’t think my parents could handle any more kids! Any time anyone asks my parents if they want more kids they alway say, “Twins are more than enough.”

How did you get started into acting?

I got started in acting because I was a model and one day my agents just started sending me out for acting auditions. I eventually ended up liking acting more than modeling and even moved out to Los Angeles to pursue more acting opportunities.

Tell us about your work on “The Sun Is Also A Star?”

My parents told me I had an audition for a movie called “The Sun is Also a Star.” The role called for someone to play the younger version of Yara Shahidi. I was very excited because everyone told me how I looked a lot like her so I worked very hard on this audition. I did research on the film and found out the movie is a book too! I read the book and it gave me a lot of knowledge about my character and really helped me with my audition. When I was in the audition I said to myself “You can do this Anais, you’re going to do amazing” Saying that to myself motivated me for my audition. The Sun is Also a Star was such a fun project to work on and meeting Yara Shahidi was definitely one of my life accomplishments. Mirabelle and I are huge fans of Black-ish and Grown-ish so when I first met her it was surreal! . She’s one of my biggest inspirations and I was so star-struck meeting her. She is so nice and kind and amazing to work with

And about the success of the Netflix series “The Baby-Sitters Club?”

The Baby-Sitters Club is my favorite project I’ve ever worked on in my entire career. After three months of filming in Vancouver, the cast and crew really became a second family to me. I love my role and all of the fun scenes we got to film this season.

Tell us about your role as Jessi Ramsey?

Jessi is a very driven, goal-orientated person but she’s also very thoughtful and cares for her friends deeply. Jessi’s entire life is ballet and it takes up the majority of her time. She likes to be the best and is always running back and forth between her multiple weekly ballet classes, BSC meetings, babysitting, and school. Even though she’s very busy, she always tries to make time for the ones she loves.

What can we expect from your character in Season 2?

This season, Jessi starts a new ballet school. At her old school, she was always the best in her class, but now at this new school, she’s back to square one. We see Jessi struggling to accept herself and trying to accept the fact that she isn’t the top of her class anymore. I know a lot of people out there, including myself, always put pressure on themselves to be the best. I hope that viewers at home can see themselves in Jessi and as she finds confidence in herself again, and realizing that she doesn’t need to be #1, they can realize this as well.

How has getting this role changed your life?

The amount of support I’ve seen since Season 1 came out July last year has been more than amazing. Getting this role has also helped me as an actor. This is the first time I’ve worked as a series-regular on a project and I learned so much during the months of filming.

What is the best and worst part of being an actress?

The best part of being an actor is the acting itself. Acting is my passion and even if I’m just filming an audition with my acting coach, it’s always so much fun. I always say that the set is my “happy place” because I’m always at my happiness when I am on set filming. I wouldn’t say there is a “worst part” about acting, but the only thing that can get stressful is getting a lot of auditions to film with quick deadlines. Luckily, I have a pretty good memory so memorizing lines isn’t too difficult.

How do you prepare for a role?

I know a lot of actors have a long and intense process to prepare for a role, but recently, I have been trying to not stress myself out with auditions on top of school. I try to let the lines come naturally, with of course still sticking to the character. I try not to think about the way the lines come out.

Biggest influences growing up?

My biggest influence growing up was Natalie Portman. She’s so incredibly talented and smart as well. She studied at Harvard and won an Oscar. Growing up I always looked up to her and was inspired to be like her when I grew up.

What do you want fans to get from your life story so far?

One thing from my life story is that my sister Mirabelle and I have developed a love of reading. We read all of the time. I even wake up earlier than I should in the mornings just so I can have an hour to read outside. We are constantly buying new books from Amazon and making trips to Barnes and Nobles on the weekends to buy books from some of our favorite authors Brandy Colbert, Colleen Hoover and Emily Henry.

Because my life is so busy, I have learned to carve out time and space for myself. Every night after dinner I go outside and read or relax for several hours. Where I live it is very hot in the summer months, but the weather in the evening and at night is perfect. There have been countless times where I’ve been locked outside and had to call my Dad to let me back in because I stayed outside too late! Even as I talk to you all, I am sitting outside in my favorite chair while listening to music.

What has been your favorite project you’ve been a part of and why?

My favorite project I’ve ever been a part of is definitely playing Jessi Ramsey on The Baby-Sitters Club. All of the BSC girls are my best friends and when I was filming I was so excited for another new day to start. The BSC meetings were my favorite scenes to film because Claudia’s room always has the best snacks and it had scenes with all of us in it.

What’s your advice for the newer actresses?

The advice I will always give is to never give up. And while I know that sounds cliche, it’s absolutely true. Everyone’s path is different and some people could land their big role with their first audition and for others it could take fifteen years. This time difference doesn’t mean that one is a better actor than the other, it just means that that person found the role that was perfect for them faster. It’s completely normal to not succeed immediately and I think, just trying in the first place is succeeding in itself. Everyone’s path is different. If you give up, you’ll never know what you could be missing.

What would you say are the greatest lessons you learned so far in this business?

The best lesson I learned was actually from my mom. She always tells me that everything happens for a reason in this business. Even though you may not understand it immediately, in the future you will. There have been so many times where I’ve gotten so close to what I thought was an amazing opportunity but in the end, a “no” ended it all. At the time, I never understood why it happened, but now looking back a few years later, I realize that by that door closing, it made me available for other more amazing opportunities.

How would your best friend describe you?

After texting my best friend, she said she would describe me as outgoing, genuine, and loving.

If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?

I asked for my mom’s help on his question and she said the book would be titled “Driven”. She says that I am a very driven person with everything that I do. I hope that this is true and if it is I definitely get my drive from my mom. She is, for sure, the most hardworking person I know.

Talk about your activism, and how you’ve been using your voice to push for change?

Most of my life I have been donating to various charities but last year, I went out to protest for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the many victims of police brutality. This was during the height of the pandemic and I hadn’t been out of the house for months. Although I was afraid to go outside because of the high number of COVID-19 cases, it was so important to speak up and use my voice for change. Every person counts when you are trying to stand for justice.

What’s next for Anais Lee in 2021?

Next for me in 2021 that I have planned so far is just to finish this semester in school and keep all of my A’s. This business is really unpredictable so hopefully I will be planning to film or filming a project but only time will tell!

Do you have any goals at this point of your career? If so, what?

A goal for my career at this moment is to either star in a movie or to star in a series alongside my sister. I’ve always wanted to be in a project with my sister so hopefully, we will be able to do that one day!

What is your own definition of happiness?

My definition of happiness is when you’re excited to wake up everyday and start a new day. Happiness is when you are smiling for no reason or when you are singing and dancing when no one else is around.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would meet with Princess Diana. She was such a kind soul that was taken away from us too soon. My mother was a huge fan of Princess Diana and if I got to meet her I would definitely bring my mom along with me.

Do you support any charity?

The charity that I have been supporting for years and have been donating to has been the Black Cotton Foundation. The Black Cotton Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring unforgettable experiences and assistance to disadvantaged children in Newark, NJ.

Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?

In five years, I see myself in college, hopefully at Oxford University. For my career, I still want to be acting even when I’m in school. I will always continue to make time for acting because I love it so much.

Favorite song? Why?

I have a lot of favorite songs so usually I just play a playlist on Spotify. But some of my favorites are “Lover” by Taylor Swift, “Blind” by ROLE MODEL, “Drew Barrymore” by SZA, “Boardwalk” by Lindsay Liebro, and “Astronomy” by Conan Gray. It’s so hard to choose a favorite and my favorite songs change very often.

What do you think of Social Media?

I have mixed emotions about social media. I think that on one hand it can be positive because it provides a way to keep in contact with long distance friends, create fun content that you enjoy, and can help spread important information fast. But on the other hand, young children or teenagers can compare themselves to other people even if the photos are photoshopped and the person in the picture is ten years older than them. Social media also gives many people around the world access to look into your life which can lead to cyberbullying. I think that social media does have some positives about it, but there are definitely some negatives about it as well.

Where can we follow you on social media?

You can follow my personal Instagram at @anaislee_ and my account with my sister at @anaismirabelle . You can also follow me on TikTok which is @anaismirabelle

FAST QUESTIONS:

Book: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover, and November 9 by Colleen Hoover.

Quote: “Glamour is about feeling good in your own skin.” – Zoe Saldana

Movie: Black Swan

Tv Series: Sister, Sister

Favorite Food: Chicken

Travel Destination: Bora Bora

Sports Team: I actually don’t follow sports that much!

 


 

CREDITS:

Photo by: @antwonmaxwellphotography

Styling by: @otheezystyledit

Hair by: @doll.religion

Makeup by @martinlanechristopher