In the worlds of acting and music, Noah Urrea and Brianna Mazzola are two of the most promising rising-stars. Since appearing in Blake Shelton’s music video “Honey Bee” in 2011, Noah has appeared in a variety of television shows and movies. He made his film debut in A Madea’s Christmas in 2013 alongside Tyler Perry, Alicia Witt and Chad Michael Murray. His film and television credits include The Identical, for which he won the “Best Young Actor Award” at the Action on Film International Film Festival, Mr. Robinson, The Kicks and Sam and Cat. In addition to starring in a plethora of movies and television shows, Noah is also actively pursuing a career in music. He is currently working with one of Justin Timberlake’s producers, Rob Knox, and has performed at a number of venues around the country.
Brianna Mazzola’s career has followed a similar path. In addition to appearing in a variety of short films, including The Greys and Lived, she’s also starred in feature length films, including Another Assembly. She is currently in the process of filming the thriller Sable, which she identifies as her favorite role so far. More so, Brianna is becoming a growing name in the music industry. She won first place for Stars of Tomorrow at the Apollo Theater in New York City and is known for both her original music and her soulful covers of other songs.
Recently, Noah and Brianna collaborated on a cover of Tori Kelly’s “Unbreakable Smile,” which was voted Best Cover in Talk Nerdy With Us’ Cover Wars. In the following interview, I chatted with these incredible young talents about what inspired them to collaborate musically, their future projects and how they hope to inspire people through their art. Take a look!
What inspired each of you to go into acting?
Noah: My sister was the one that really inspired me, because she did theater, and I was like, “Dang, this is really cool.” I did theater for a bit and then I realized that I really wanted to do this professionally. So basically my sister inspired me to do acting.
Brianna: Yeah, it’s pretty much the same for me. I mean, I grew up in musical theater so that was how I was exposed to the craft and then I kinda wanted to take it to the next step and figured that film would be that next step, so I started pursuing it.
What has been your favorite role to play so far?
Noah: Bailey McCoy in A Madea Christmas, because I basically got to play the opposite of myself. Kinda like a shy guy, so it was really cool to get to play that role. And it was my first really big role in a movie so I enjoyed it. It was really awesome.
Brianna: For me, there’s been a lot of roles that I’ve enjoyed playing and I could probably choose my favorite one but I think one of my top would be my upcoming project that I’m working on, because the character is nothing like me and I really enjoy the challenge.
Would that be Sable that you’re talking about, the upcoming project?
Brianna: Yes, it would!
If you could play any role, what would it be and why?
Noah: I have no clue. Honestly, I love all types of roles and characters. I honestly have no clue.
Brianna: I think mine would probably have to be anything like a drama or a thriller, anything that is more of a serious, natural performance. That’s what I enjoy playing the most.
What if you could play any character in a television show or movie?
Brianna: I would totally pick something like Katniss or Tris, because I think it would be so much fun to get to do all the stunts.
Noah: I don’t have an answer to that question.
Which appeals to you more: acting or music? And why?
Noah: I love both of them equally, but if I had to choose one that I had to do for the rest of my life, it would be music, because I’m super passionate about it. There’s no other feeling like when you’re up on stage performing in front of a crowd. It’s just a phenomenal feeling. And acting, I also love it. Anything that involves performing, I like. But I like singing more, I guess. And it’s really cool to get to interact with your fans while you’re performing in front of an audience.
Brianna: I probably wouldn’t be able to pick, because they both go so hand-in-hand and they’re both ways to express myself, but if I had to pick one that I was known for, it would be singing. But I would still always want to do both, because I could just never choose.
What inspired you to collaborate musically?
Noah: We’re both big fans of Tori Kelly. So we were like, “Hey, let’s do a song!” Before that, I saw [Brianna] perform at this place and I was like “Wow, this girl is something else, like phenomenal! I really need to do a song with her, because obviously she’s quite amazing.” So, that’s my story.
Brianna: Well, we’ve always been in the same circle of people but we never officially met until that night that we both performed. We met and were like “Alright, we have to do something together”. Ever since then we’ve been working and trying to figure out a song that we can do. And like he said, we’re both huge fans of Tori Kelly. So we decided on “Unbreakable Smile” and that’s how it happened.
Would you say that your musical styles are the same or are they different?
Noah: We both do a type of R&B, kinda popish music but I guess we do have like—
Brianna: Yeah, they’re very similar but at the same time, you could definitely separate the two, but they’re both a version of R&B pop.
Why did you choose to cover “Unbreakable Smile” by Tori Kelly?
Noah: Definitely the vibe. And the lyrics are so uplifting too. There’s just something about that song that is really special to me.
Brianna: When you hear the song, it’s one of those songs that you want to dance to. You just want to groove to it, so I think that’s why we decided to do it.
Who are your musical idols?
Noah: For me, it’s for sure Justin Timberlake and Tori Kelly. They are my idols I guess you could say.
Brianna: Along with all the people he said, I would say Beyonce, Jessie J, Rihanna, Usher, they’re all awesome and great people to look up to.
What songs do you plan on covering next?
Noah: We don’t know yet!
Brianna: I don’t know! I try to stay current with songs.
Are there any plans to do an album together?
Brianna: I don’t know if we would do one together, but I’m sure we will make a single together.
Noah: Maybe in the future!
Brianna: Yeah, maybe in the future.
Are you both in the process of working on new albums?
Noah: I’m in the studio and recording some really cool songs. I can’t really say much about it, but I am in the studio recording new music.
Brianna: Yeah, I’m kinda on the same page. I have several big things up in the air but can’t talk about them just yet. But I can say that I am working on the movie Sable as well as new music. I don’t know what it’s going to end up as—maybe an album or an EP—but it will be something along those lines.
Both of you use YouTube as a medium to share your music. How do you think YouTube has affected the music industry?
Noah: Well, if you really think about it, people like me and Brianna, we can express our emotions through music and just post it and get feedback on what people like. It’s a way to get exposure and have fun while you’re doing it. Also, without YouTube, we wouldn’t have Justin Beiber because he was discovered through YouTube. Just to interact with your fans on YouTube is super cool too.
Brianna: YouTube has definitely helped artists have connections with their fans. It allows you to expose yourself. It gives every artist the chance to expose themselves, and to let out their music and get feedback on it and play off those vibes to see where their career can go. I think that’s how it’s impacted the music industry.
What is your favorite thing about performing live?
Noah: There is no way to explain the feeling of when you’re performing and interacting with your fans. When your fans are having fun, there’s no better feeling for me, because I know that I’m making them smile and I know that I’m making them dance. It’s just such a cool feeling to know that they’re having fun, and I hope that they know that I’m having a blast.
Brianna: When I’m off stage, I’m just Brianna! But when I’m performing, I’m a totally different person. I’m being 100% confident in everything that I do and I think that’s why I love it so much, because it give me the chance to express myself and do it wholeheartedly.
As actors and musicians, how do you hope to inspire people?
Noah: We hope to let people know to always be themselves, because that’s my thing. I’m myself. I don’t care what people think about me. I don’t know, I’m just myself and I like who I am, and I hope that other people can feel that way about themselves…To just be confident in their body.
Brianna: Yeah, I agree. I think that it helps us to inspire people to be themselves and to do what they want to do, whether it’s music or acting. It’s a way for them to watch and if they want to sing along, they can express themselves too. I feel like it’s a great way to help them stay true to themselves.