Updated: Jan 21
By Joi Bass
One thing that makes every individual unique is their ambition to be successful in life. Regardless of where they came from, adversities they face, they are able to use those challenges as motivation to make their mark on the world.
Former President Barack Obama once said, “Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to preserve it.” Well there is one person who is definitely making her mark on the world: Aria Brooks.
Ever since the age of six, Aria always knew she had a passion for the arts. From acting, singing to dancing, Aria learned to do it all from her parents. “My parents both have backgrounds in music. My dad played numerous musical instruments and my mom was a singer.” Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Aria and her two little sisters grew up in a musical household and Aria deems her mother as her true inspiration. “My mom has truly played a key role in my success. She has taught me everything that I know. She is my rock and my biggest support system and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for her.”
At the age of ten, Aria began her acting career, and now at 13 years old, has been featured in many amazing movies and TV series. One of those projects was Dolly Parton’s Netflix show Heartstrings. Aria tells me about how the opportunity came about and what the audition process was like. “I remember in the audition there was a scene where I had to cry and for the life of me I couldn’t make myself cry and I became super hard on myself.”
Aria also said that despite the minor set back, the producers who ran the audition were truly amazing. Eventually this led to Aria getting a call back and later on receiving the part. On the show Aria plays Nola and she tells me that she had an amazing experience working with the producers and co-stars Julianne Hough, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Delta Burke and Kathleen Turner. “It was amazing working with the cast. They were so sweet and I enjoyed being able to just watch them do what they do.” Aria said that working directly with the cast and crew helped motivate her to perfect her acting.
Of course I had to ask Aria if she met Dolly, and she gushed over what it was like to meet the musical legend. “The cast and I were in the middle of a cast read, and my mom leaned over to me and whispered, “That’s her, that’s Dolly Parton” and I was truly amazed. She was so kind and so sweet.”
While Aria got the opportunity to meet a musical legend, she also got a surprise opportunity to sing with Academy Award Winner, Jennifer Hudson. “The opportunity came about unexpectedly. I turned around and poof she was there. She complimented me on my singing voice and it was an excellent feeling being able to sing with one of my idols.” Aria said she remembers watching Dreamgirls and being absolutely blown away by Jennifer Hudson’s singing and classifies the singer as one of her musical influences.
After meeting two musical legends and landing numerous roles, Aria’s career reached a turning point when she landed her biggest role yet, in the reboot of the Nickelodeon show All That. “It is really fun working on the show. I not only get to be creative with different sketches, but I get to work with an amazing cast and crew.” Aria said that she also gets the opportunity to work with original cast members like Kel Mitchell and feels that it is an honor to be their mentee.
Unfortunately, this year things have changed drastically. Due to COVID-19, production for All That had to be suspended. Even though it is upsetting, not being able to go onto set every single day and see the cast, they still interact with fans on social media. Despite the pandemic, Aria was able to experience her first ever Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards after All That was nominated for Favorite TV Show. “This year was a little different. Due to COVID-19 the awards show was held virtually for the first time. Victoria Justice, who was the host, did an amazing job making everyone feel like they were experiencing the show in their own home.”
Aria said that while production is being suspended she is using this time to spend time with her family and work on her music. She actually has some upcoming music in the works!
Aria also got the opportunity to attend events like the ACTA Awards, Doolittle Premiere, and the Annual Skechers Pier to Friendship Walk.
During my conversation with Aria, I asked her about which one of her projects inspired her the most.“Harriet definitely inspired me the most. Of course I knew who Harriet Tubman was but I never knew the real reason why she went back to rescue the other slaves, and when I read the script, I started crying. She is truly one of my heroes.” Aria said that she believes Harriet is a truly important film during today’s times because it gives people the opportunity to learn about why Harriet Tubman went back to rescue the slaves, and gives people a chance to reflect.
Aria and I had an amazing discussion towards the end of our interview about the message Aria had for young girls who look like her, and the importance of being a role model. “Being the oldest of three siblings, I realize that my sisters really look up to me. They are watching my every move and I know that I have to set the example for them and other girls who look like me.”
Aria said that her message for young girls is to stay true to who you are and to embrace your uniqueness. “Always be yourself no matter what. Don’t try to be like everyone else because then you won’t be original and you won’t be unique. Don’t let people change you because while it may be hard, if you are comfortable in your own skin and who you are you will definitely go far.”
You can catch Aria Brooks on Nickelodeon’s All That on Saturday’s at 8:30 ET.
You can also follow Aria on Instagram @itsariabrooks
Photography by Stacey Bode; Tie-Dye Jacket & Romper: Rainbow
Joi Bass is an editorial writer who specializes in social justice, mental health advocacy, online safety and the well-being of our youth. You can follow her on Instagram.