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Meet Azriél Crews of Share The Salt

Today we’d like to introduce you to Azriél Crews.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was a shy child, but I always loved performing. I started out dancing when I was in elementary school: I was too afraid to sing in the talent show, so me and my friends performed a dance instead and that’s when I got bit by the bug. I continued to dance and sing, and I fell in love with acting around middle school.

I attended Maranatha High School in Pasadena, and my drama teacher at the time (shoutout to Jeff Martinez!) encouraged me to go out for leading roles after hearing me sing. I got to play several lead roles in high school musicals and plays, which led me to pursue a degree in theater at Azusa Pacific University. After two years of training there, I decided to go for my bigger dream which was to move New York. I auditioned for NYU Tisch Drama and got into the musical theater studio, the New Studio on Broadway. I went through several years of amazing but rigorous training there (shoutout to Kent Gash and the faculty!) and eventually graduated with my BFA in Musical Theater in 2015.

Ever since, I have been working and pursuing a career as a performer/writer… To bring my story full circle, my latest and biggest role is on Katy Keene on the CW: I play Cricket, a shy but talented singer who gets discovered by Josie McCoy who recruits her to join the iconic band Josie And The Pussycats!

I am currently still performing, pursuing a career in screenwriting, and a co-founder of an e-magazine and digital platform entitled Share The Salt (IG: @sharethesalt) that seeks to uplift people of color in all kinds of creative fields.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a very bumpy road and continues to be. Anyone who is pursuing a career in entertainment or the arts will tell you that there is no roadmap. I have faced many challenges that have ultimately served to make me stronger and more open-minded.

In 2013, I spent time in an eating disorder recovery program, Reasons EDC based in Pasadena. Through that experience, I began a journey of self-love and worked to unlearn harmful behaviors. I also credit that experience as the catalyst for my fervent embrace of intersectional feminism, which is a huge part of the work I do in this industry. I am incredibly blessed to say that I have not yet been asked to lose weight or change my body for a role. This is in part due to the industry’s more recent embrace of all bodies, and I hope to continue that legacy with the roles I play as a plus-sized Black woman.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a performer and creator. For me, that often comes in the form of acting/singing/writing for TV, film and theater. But being an artist takes many forms. My personal goal is to create art that changes people’s lives. I want to make people feel the way I feel after I engage with a powerful piece of art. I also hope to inspire others to do the same.

Share The Salt is a magazine and community founded by women of color. My good friend and copywriter/brand strategist Lindsey Yoo, approached me last year with the idea of creating a community to inspire creative people of color. At the time, I was seeking her advice on how to break into the editorial world, so it felt kismet. Lindsey brought me together with our other co-founder Jensin Okunishi to create Share The Salt. Our name came from a few sources of inspiration. For his inaugural address as President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela declared, “Let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all”—a powerful and inspiring promise of equity at such a crucial moment in history. In our creative pursuits, we’re ultimately guided by those words.

We also drew inspiration from a Romanian proverb: “Before you make a friend, eat a bushel of salt with him.” It sounds strange—a bushel of salt, really?—but it just means that people become close friends by sharing experiences and (well-seasoned) meals together. The accumulation of these moments leads, over time, to the sharing of tons of salt. And that sharing of experiences is how you ultimately build up intimacy and community. That’s what we’re doing with Share The Salt: building an intimate space and community for creatives of color.

I also recently launched my own podcast, Azriél As It Gets, where I share important but fun conversations with people I love. I hope to discuss everything from relationships, to religion, to the current political climate. The podcast will be a space to have nuanced meaningful conversation and to share from personal experience, in an effort to continue to evolve and grow.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Integrity. At the end of my life, I want to be able to say that I was my most authentic self and that I did my best to maintain artistic and personal integrity in everything I do. This is surprisingly difficult to achieve in a field like entertainment, but that is exactly what I hope to change.

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