Serayah Wants You To Know Her Better

Photographed by Rowan Daly
Many know Serayah from her role on FOX network’s hit show Empire. But when she’s not turning heads as the vivacious Tiana Brown Lyon on the television screen, she’s in the studio nurturing a burgeoning music career of her own. 
In 2018, the 24-year-old recording artist dropped her debut EP, Addicted. And last month, she dropped the music video for her single “Mr. Lover.” Now she’s gearing up for the release of her forthcoming project, Ray, which she says is super personal.
“[Ray] is my nickname, I just wanted my fans to know the real me,” she tells R29Unbothered. “If anyone really knows me or is close to me — family, friends — they call me by my nickname, so that was my way of kind of like letting them in on the real Serayah.”
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Aside from recording new music in the studio — which she has moved to her home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic — she’s shooting music videos with her sister, carving out time to journal, and making an effort to preserve her peace.
“I have been listening to PARTYNEXTDOOR’s new album and also jazz music and doing things to stay positive,” she shares. “Nothing too crazy just because I feel like there’s so much news and so much information being thrown at us everyday. I just need to keep a clear head.”
We caught up with Serayah about her new music, self-care, and keeping your cool amid trying times.
R29Unbothered: Thank you so much for your time. I know everyone’s schedules have been weird because of everything going on, so we really appreciate you taking time out to talk with us and doing our Quarantine & Chill IG Live on Friday. We’re really excited.
Serayah: Yeah, I’m really excited, too! Thanks so much for the opportunity. I’m glad that things are still kind of rolling even though all this stuff is going on.
Your debut project came out in 2018 and you dropped your video for “Mr. Lover” last month. Can we expect a new album?
Yes! I put out some singles and I put out a mixtape on Soundcloud, but I’m finally gonna release a full project. So, I’m really excited. We don’t have a definite date, but June is definitely supposed to be the EP drop date. It’s just really cool because I’ve taken a lot of time to not rush the project..
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Judging by the title, it sounds like the creation process for your forthcoming EP was a very personal and intimate one. What was the writing experience like versus that of your mixtape?
For this, I took my time and I was able to just write down what was really going on in my life at the time. I had some really amazing writers and producers that helped me bring everything to life, and I was also finding my sound and what that means to me in music. It was a whole kind of growing process with these songs, so that’s another reason why I’m so excited for people to hear. It’s such a revelation for me and I know that they will love it, too.
Will you be performing any of your new material on Friday?
Yes, actually, I’m dropping a new song on Friday, so it worked out perfectly! The single, “Never Be The Same” featuring my sister Simyai, is going to be out on Friday, so I’m going to  perform that song. It’s going to be really fun. I’m editing this video that we did. We shot our own music video [laughs] at the house. Despite everything that’s been going on, we’ve just been trying to stay productive during quarantine and not letting it slow us down too much.
I was going to ask if quarantine has fueled your creativity at all. Have you been really inspired or have you been feeling more lowkey?
I’ve been super inspired and just taking walks and stuff like that. I moved my studio to my house, so I’ve been recording a lot, too. I might get another whole EP done with this going on.
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Do you have any plans for a joint project with Jacob Latimore? Because the ladies are loving “Caught Up.”
That’s amazing! I would love to do that, actually. I should tell him about that. It’s not in the works right now, but I think that’s a really good idea!
I know things have probably shifted in your schedule a lot due to present circumstances, but on the acting side, do you have any new roles we can expect to see you in?
Not yet. Everything has kind of been paused. I was auditioning a ton and everything just kind of all went on pause. So, we’ll see very soon what’s going on in that realm, but not as of yet.
What would be your dream role?
I definitely want to be an action character or a superhero.
That’s awesome. Who’s your favorite superhero?
Oh! I really love Spiderman, and I like Cat Woman, and I actually like Batman.
You mentioned taking walks and things like that. How else have you been practicing self-care during this time? A few of my girlfriends have been going hard on their skincare routines, some of them are cooking more. Is there anything else you’ve been doing now that you’ve got a lot of downtime?
Yeah, I’ve definitely been cooking, and meditating has been a big thing for me. Usually I have to make myself fit it into my day, but now I can meditate any time of the day. It’s great. Also, journaling and getting out new ideas, sitting with myself and seeing what else I’m interested in. I’m doing some content for YouTube as well. Just tons of stuff, trying to catch up and brainstorm and come up with new ideas. 
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Oh, I’m also reading! I’m reading Eckhart Tolle. I’m trying to finish A New Earth. I’m taking my time with this book for sure because there’s so much information, but I think one of the things that I love that’s been helping during quarantine is this quote: “Look at the lilies of the field.” It'sIt’’s like paying attention to the beauty around you and getting out of your mind, and when you go for a walk, being present with nature and everything like that. Just showing more gratitude during this time.
I love that. What’s it like managing your own YouTube channel while balancing your career?
It’s different. The consistency rate that you have to keep up with is really crazy, but it’s cool. I think I’ve gotten a lot better at editing my own stuff, so it’s growing and I think — well, I know that my fans love when I do YouTube videos so I try to stay as consistent as I can.
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