Ari Afsar - Singer/Actor

Apartment - Cahuenga Pass, Los Angeles

Ari is one of those larger-than-life humans whose luminous beauty and bubbly presence is undeniable. She is relaxed, animated, and quick to laugh. We chatted at her apartment in Cahuenga Pass days before she packed up to move east to begin rehearsals for Chicago's Hamilton, in which is she stars as Eliza. Her apartment is breezy and open, lofted over the 101 freeway looking over the city where dreams are made. And, Ari's dreams are just beginning to come true.

What brought you to LA?
School brought me to LA. I went to UCLA. One thing that is... I actually didn't get into UCLA originally. So, I actually appealed and got in through the appeal process and finally got to go to the dream school that I wanted to go to.

How do you define yourself career wise?
Singer, songwriter, actress-- actor. (We don't need to gender; we can gender neutralize that.)

Have you ever been called a hipster?
No. Maybe by some friends. I don't know. If somebody calls me hipster, I have a lot of confidence then. Do some people have negative feelings towards hipster? Oh, that's funny. Yeah well I disagree, I think it's a confidence booster.

What does being a Millennial mean to you?
Technically it's being, what is it, 1994 to 1982? That's what it means to me, being born in this age. Millennials get a lot of flap, we're... We stereotypically must be satisfied instantaneously, instant gratification, all that stuff, but I think one of the things that Millennials don't necessarily get enough credit for is that we truly are hard workers, and we have high expectations and goals for ourselves. We set high goals and we know how to work hard for them. We can complain probably a little bit too much and that's where we get our bad rep from. I think that we're hard workers.

How do you feel connected to your generation?
A big part of this generation is technology taking over. There are positives and negatives that I fall victim to. In that way, I feel connected. I feel connected in the sense that I have high expectations and dreams and goals for myself. I knew since I was seven years old that I wanted to be singing for the rest of my life.

What do you like about living in the Cahuenga Pass Area?
There's not much to it, it's a few apartments. I lived in West LA before, and it's exponentially better living on this side of town - closer to shows and Hollywood, closer to stores in Studio City. I love it here.

What are some of your favorite shops or places in Cahuenga Pass/Studio City?
I spend a lot of time in Studio City. I love Aroma. That's super overrated though. Not in a bad way, it's just a lot of people like it, so I don't feel original saying it. I'm not hipster enough to find a cool place. What else do I like in Studio City? Pop Physique is great in Studio City. I used to be a Pop Physique instructor, shout out! And, I'm obsessed with Mercado! It's a really bomb Mexican place. You feel super fancy going there.

 
 

How do you get around the city?
Well having a car is always my alone time. Warming up, catching up with friends, etc. But moving to NY then CHI forces me to sell my car, so I'm super pumped about public transportation. It's different but more often than not, so much faster.

Do you see yourself staying in LA?
That's where I want to end up, for sure. The weather is just unbeatable

What have you been working on recently?
I am working on a couple projects. One of the biggest things being that I'm going to be playing Eliza in Hamilton in Chicago. Really, really excited! I am honored to be a part of such an amazing project that is providing opportunity for diverse individuals. There really hasn't been something so specific towards diversity, especially on Broadway. That's something to be a part of telling a story about our founding fathers in today's world, in the way that we speak and the way that we look. I am playing Hamilton's wife, Eliza. She really created an awesome legacy.
I'm also working on my EP, which has been a struggle, but I'm super excited with how it's been turning out. It's been two years working on it - finding my sound and message and voice and style. I finally feel like I've come to something. One success really can sometimes be a domino effect. The opportunities have really opened up a lot more. I finally see things that I didn't see before. I'm really excited.

What's your favorite thing in your closet?
My favorite thing in my closet... I go into phases. It's not something that I ever really wear, but I have my Miss America shoes. The designer took eight hours to stone each shoe. I just like looking in them in my closet. They are really pretty.

What does a typical Sunday look like for you? Or, rather, what did a typical Sunday look like for you?
About four months ago, I would have been teaching at Pop Physique in Studio City and then coming back and stuffing my face because I was starving, and I woke up too early that I forgot to eat breakfast. Then probably I would have a session; I'd be writing with somebody or creating on my own.

What's your favorite film?
I love sci-fi. I love The Matrix; I think it's mind blowing. I love that other sci-fi movie… (Thinks) Deception? Inception? Inception! Clearly, that's not my favorite of all favorites, but I just love that style. (Laughs) I love movies that make you think.

What's your favorite album?
Dude, that's hard. Album is a whole different thing than songs. This is cheesy, and it's not really an album that was a sung-through, thought-through album. I love Number One by The Beatles. It's their number ones, so it is a singles album. But, the reason I love it is because I grew up with my Dad listening to it all the time in the car. Every time we would be together in the car, we would always listen to it. My dad has no rhythm or no beat and all I can ever think of when I think of The Beatles is my Dad singing and clapping to a beat that doesn't make any sense.

Who's your favorite artist?
Celine Dion. I've been worshiping her since I was seven. She's a huge inspiration.

Where do you want to travel to?
I really want to go to Indonesia. I would love for that to be my honeymoon. No idea why. I've never been to India. My dad's never been to India. My dad's from Bangladesh, so I have to go to India with my dad, I really want that to happen.

What inspires you?
What inspires me? This feels like a really broad Miss America question. (Laughs) No, not in a bad way! But, shit, this is hard. What inspires me is... people. Their stories. I like to surround myself with people that inspire me.

If you had to invite somebody to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Dude, the first person that comes to mind even though I already used her as an example is Celine Dion. I'm clearly really obsessed with her. I admire her voice and technique and work ethic more than anyone in this entire world. She's the only person that makes me hysterically cry. I'm not a celebrity freak out person, but the two times that I've seen her, before I even am about to see her, I start bawling. I want to say someone that's more meaningful or impactful to the world, but that’s the truth.

 
 

What's your astrology sign and does astrology play a part in your life?
I'm a Libra. I think cusp Scorpio. I don't know; I'm not sure. Clearly, it doesn't play a big part of my life. (Laughs) It's a big part of my mom's life. The first time that I met my boyfriend, she had to know his astrology sign to see if we were compatible. I don't know what his sign is still!

What is your Myers-Briggs personality type?
ENTJ

What are your favorite qualities in a human?
Loyalty, trustworthiness (that kind of goes hand-in-hand with loyalty), easy-going, and being positive. Loyalty is a huge one for me.

What is your idea of happiness?
This is a little pessimistic: I don't think happiness is ever truly obtained. One can be happy, but I think that you're always striving for more whether that be more kids, more love, more in your career, a bigger house, bigger tangible items. I think that's human nature to always want more, but at the same time I am sure that there are also individuals that are truly content with certain ways that they live. I don't know. I think there's a part of everybody that consistently wants more. Because of that, we can never be satisfied.

What is your favorite color and flower?
Favorite color in life is purple. Favorite color I currently like to wear is blush pink. Like a nude pink. Flower? A rose. It's kind of boring, but I'm not sure. Or, a carnation because they get the job done, but they're cheap.

Do you have a motto?
It is what it is, so fake it till you make it.

For further Ari Afsar related discovery follow her @ariannaafsar.
Check out her website and her music.
See her in Chicago’s Hamilton this fall.

This portrait is part of our ongoing collaboration with Millennial Instinct.

Photography: Camille Cotteverte