The ‘Empire’ star loves the L.A. Clippers, T.D. Jakes — and can’t stop listening to Solange’s ‘A Seat At The Table’
Her presence is so fierce that she goes by one name: Serayah (last name McNeill, if you must). You know this real-life actor/singer/model because like the millions of other people this season, you’re still obsessed with FOX’s Empire, and she’s the girl who Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) should have wifed up, and made music with for life. Alas, he chose wrong last season, and Serayah — who plays the mononymous, Rihanna-esque Tiana — is thriving.
And then some.So what’s is your social media tribe?
I am more of a Snapper. I just feel like Snapchat is very personal and I can connect through real-life moments with my fans.
What Snapchat personality are you currently obsessed with?
I love Keke Palmer on Snapchat. I feel like she’s like the ultimate Snapchatter.
What’s your favorite throwback TV show?
Ooh, that’s hard. One of my favorites has to be the [Cosby Show] or The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Oh, my all-time favorite is Martin — it’s just hilarious. I feel like it’s timeless, too. I can watch the same episodes over and over and still laugh.
What’s the last show that you binge-watched?
The Night Of on HBO.
Who are you during NBA season?
Definitely more like the ‘let’s just watch on the couch!’ kind of person. I don’t take it too personal.
What sports team do you love?
The Clippers, because I’m from L.A., so I love the Clippers. But I also love the Chicago Bulls.
What’s the last podcast you listened to?
I listen to T.D. Jakes’ podcast a lot. He’s a pastor, so it’s a lot of spiritual gain, and learning about God.
What’s your favorite karaoke song to sing?
My Boo with Usher and Alicia Keys. I love to sing that with someone else. It’s just fun. And when you sing it with a friend, like it’s always really, really funny!
How do you find out about new music? How do you discover new artists?
I like to go to … Soundcloud. Stuff like that. Also Apple Music has a place where you can view newly released music, artists that are selling their music. A lot of different platforms.
Is there anyone that you have on repeat right now?
I’ve been listening to Solange’s new album. It’s amazing. I haven’t heard from her in a long time, so I didn’t know what to expect. But the visuals and the music are so creative. I love it.
What inspires you as a musician?
So many things inspire me … pop culture really inspires me, and what’s going on in the world.
How challenging is it to be a musician in real life, but also play one on TV?
It’s difficult only because I think that people won’t understand. I feel like I’ve had a great opportunity these past couple years, of introducing myself outside of Tiana. My fans are starting to understand a little more. The music is a tough one, but I am working on being in my own vibe when I create my own music.
What’s one thing you would love to see happen with Tiana on Empire that would be mind-blowing for you as an actor?
You know what? I can’t tell you because it’s not out yet. But … I’ve had the opportunity to dig a little further into my character this year. And it’s been sort of amazing because all of my hard work, and studying to be an actor, is letting me release that. We’re seeing more moments from her that really [reveal] how she really feels [about everything].
What’s an app that you’re in love with right now?
I’m in love with Uber Eats right now!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Bread! Right? No. Seriously, it’s so hard not to, it’s so hard not to. But literally if I could eat something with bread every day — all the carbs — I would have it every day if I could.
What do you do to keep in shape? Do you play any sports?
I’m trying to work out right now, like trying to get to the gym, but I feel like I’m such a slacker. But I do yoga a lot. For me, it’s a good workout and it’s a great stress reliever and I like to center my mind. But I also do a lot of cardio and self-resistance stuff. I don’t lift too many weights or stuff like that.
What’s your most frequently used emoji?
The crying laughing face.
What’s the last concert you went to?
How was that?
It was amazing, oh, my gosh! I have never really been to a rap concert … [and] I didn’t know what to expect because I’m like, ‘OK, you guys don’t dance or anything!’ You know me. I’m all about the performance and stuff like that. But it was so good. I was so entertained, and obviously, Drake’s songs go way back for me, so it was really cool how he had it set up. I really loved that concert.
How would you describe yourself musically?
I would definitely say I am more R&B/pop. But I feel like Tiana’s just really mainstream pop. Which is fine, but with my music that I create, I’m really into what I’m talking about. Obviously what Tiana talks about has to do with the show, it’s revolving around the storyline. So that’s the biggest difference.
What was the first concert you ever went to?
First concert I ever went to was a Destiny’s Child concert. I think it was, I think it was their third album. The one with Survivor on it.
Was that concert instrumental for you as an aspiring musician? Did that set you on a particular course?
It definitely did. I was just in awe, and I just remember — I was so young, too, but I just remember watching it and being so mesmerized by it. And the live energy of the band, the music, the performance. Her and them, their unity in what they were talking about and things like that. It was just amazing and I wanted to be that.