Updated: Mar 8
As one of Philly Youth’s Influencers, actress Amajae Hardy (@AmajaeHardyJones) spoke to us this week about her ever-growing range of experience within the entertainment industry, her passion for motivational speaking, and her love for travel.
Amajae’s love for acting stems from her childhood love for Disney movies; by the time Amajae was five, she developed a habit of standing in front of the TV and “mimic[king] every Disney movie and Disney show that came across the screen”. As she grew older, this impersonation of characters naturally transformed into a desire to start acting herself. At age 13, Amajae landed her first lead role in a production of Annie, an experience that furthered her interest in acting.
However, Amajae’s interests include more than just acting -- recently, she’s created a social media platform, ‘Aspire to Inspire’, where she’s interviewed influential members of the entertainment industry, including Christopher A’mmanuel and Rayven Ferrell. When asked how interacting with these stars has impacted Amajae, she emphasized how admirable their persistence is. “Being able to hear about moments where they’ve auditioned and they didn’t get in, [whether] they felt discouraged, [or] they felt like their time wasn’t coming… being able to hear their journey and be able to relate in that sense, inspires me.” Speaking to the future of her ‘Aspire to Inspire’ platform, Amajae aims to continue to create a space where the actors she features are “able to express who they are”, and where listeners interested in the entertainment industry are fueled with the motivation to continue developing their craft.
Aside from speaking with industry professionals over social media, Amajae travelled to Park City, Utah in late January of this year to attend Sundance Film Festival alongside directors, filmmakers and producers. While speaking with Philly Youth, Amajae cited her encounter with director, writer and co-producer of the Oscar-winning short film ‘Hair Love’, Matthew A. Cherry, as one of the most inspiring moments of her experience at Sundance. “It was legendary to not only meet him and hear his advice, but to be surrounded by legendary people who are making impacts and major moves in the film and entertainment industry. Let alone, he’s an African-American male who received an Oscar for a film that he believed in so strongly… It was beautiful being able to talk to him.”
Separate from her acting and motivational speaking careers, Amajae touched on her love for travel and the educational opportunities she’s been met with while abroad. In 2018, Amajae travelled to Belize with Philly Youth. Describing her experience, she noted her appreciation for the natural landscapes she was exposed to, the friends she made, and the activities she participated in. “I was able to reflect on myself as a person. I was able to witness things that they don’t teach you in a class everyday… I was able to just learn from a group of people, [which] you can’t necessarily do in a classroom.” When asked about one of her most memorable travel experiences, Amajae mentioned her experience in Costa Rica in 2014. “My experience was legendary; I repeat memories of when I was there with my sister. The experience was truly breathtaking and memorable.” Looking towards the future, Amajae’s keeping her fingers crossed for her return to Costa Rica in 2021 alongside other members of Philly Youth.
When asked where Amajae sees herself in five years, she immediately responded with: “I’m so hopeful about what will come.” Listing a feature in a hit television show and a starring role in a feature film as two of her aspirations, Amajae aims to work alongside some of her favorite directors, such as Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, Deon Taylor, and Tyler Perry. However, her interests within entertainment don’t stop at acting. “I would also like to dabble into producing, directing, … and being a filmmaker, like those greats that I listed before.” She notes her intent to familiarize herself with sound engineering, cinematography, and lighting within the coming years as well. “Any and all things entertainment-wise, that’s my main goal.” Regarding her motivational speaking career, Amajae hopes to continue to “speak positively” to adults and adolescents or children alike. “There’s power in our voices and so much influence that can be made in our culture… I can use my platform and my voice for good.”
When asked how she balances her acting career, passion for motivational speaking, and her love for travel among her other interests, she cited her main purpose in life as a driving factor in accomplishing all she sets out to do. “I believe that when God gives you a passion and gives you so many things you want to do in this world, he’ll find a way for you to balance it all at once… It’s been my life’s purpose to assist others and to be a light.”