Samantha Newark - Jem and The Holograms
The 80s were filled with all that glittered, glowed and accentuated the tackier part of glamour. From perfectly coiffed pink hair to plastic fuchsia star earrings, Jem embodied the kick ass 80s rock star that most girls started teasing their hair for. With the look, the moves and the band to match, Jem fans everywhere should pay homage to the woman who gave glam a voice. Samantha Newark is who you hear when you listen to Jem's soft, sweet, seductive tone as she talks to her fellow Holograms and the infamously evil rival band, The Misfits.
I had the opportunity to talk to Actress and Singer Samantha Newark about the release of Jem and The Holograms: Season 3, Part 1, the television series that put her talent on the Hollywood map. Samantha had a lot to say about her adoration of Jem, her childhood dream of becoming a singer and how the golden-haired 80s goddess influenced her to "do what you love."
Jem and The Holograms was a huge hit in the 80s and remain popular today. How does it feel to be part of a major 80s icon?
Samantha Newark: It is so amazing! I am just blown away. I don't know if you've looked at my website, but my guest book is just bursting at the seams with people who just feel moved to write to me and thank me for being a part of their childhood. And thank me for being a part of their favorite show on earth. I'm just really, really astonished at the positive feedback that I'm getting from people. I think that it's a really positive show and maybe kind of a safe haven for some kids who maybe weren't happy at home. And also for the kids that were. It's pretty incredible. I'm pretty blessed.
That's great. Since so many kids idolized you as Jem, who would you say is your source of admiration?
SN: My source of admiration? Oh gosh…well, my mom is my biggest hero. I know that sounds cheesy, but she's just so supportive and amazing and just so full of love. So she's my first source of inspiration for sure. But artists in general, I mean, I'm just really inspired by people that just kind of lived out of the box and went for their dreams and actually achieved their dream. That's just hugely inspiring to me because there are so many artists that I can't pick one (laughs).
You've been dubbed "Little Miss Dynamite" by the media. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that nickname?
SN: Just cherished memories because I started singing when I was really young and got to tour all over Africa and play in some pretty amazing shows so it was like a family business as well. My career was a family focus and I just remember its so much fun. It's all positive memories and it just brings me back to the reason why I started singing in the first place: a genuine, complete love for singing so that's what it brings up for sure.
Jem's all about fashion, fame and doing what you love. How has her personality affected you?
SN: Jem, I think, gets teased by the process. They used to call me Pollyanna because the bad girls were really bad and Jem was very positive and 'do the right thing.' I think there's a lot of power in that. I think that she's a role model. I do believe in doing the right thing and being a good person and standing up for what you believe in. She's kind of a moral compass still. Just being a good person, I think, is very powerful in the world. I don't think you have to be bad or nasty to get ahead. I think you have to be kind. Kindness is wonderful.
And I think so many people forget that.
SN: I think they do and I think that we need to be reminded of that. And I think that's what strikes a cord. Why the show strikes a cord in people is because it's the truth, you know? And I think it just resonates very deeply with people.
Another icon of the 80s was Barbie. What do you think is a major difference between Barbie and Jem?
SN: I guess Barbie had her own show at some point, Barbie and The Rockers, which I didn't watch because they were responsible for Jem being bumped off the air because the Barbie dolls were selling better than the Jem dolls were. But, I played with Barbies until I was like 11-years-old.
Oh yeah, me too!
SN: (laughs) I was a big Barbie fan all throughout my childhood. I do have a love and connection to Barbies.
I was a big Jem fan and mixed them up and switched their outfits.
SN: Oh that's so cool! I remember the Jem dolls were bigger than the Barbie dolls and I think that was one of the things that didn't work because the show was a whole different huge success on its own. I think they did the TV show in order to market the dolls and the dolls weren't successful even though the show was. I think the Barbie dolls were a little bit smaller.
I remember that Jem's feet were really flat and Barbie's were really dainty.
SN: Yeah, they had little arched feet! Yeah, I know…strange things. They might want to rethink that if the doll ever comes out again.
Maybe! You've always done vocals for various shows like Transformers and Britney's Dance Beat. When will you go in front of the camera?
SN: Well I hope to with my music project that I'm doing. My dream is to just live on a tour bus and play all over the country and do television and music videos. I mean that's always been my first love and voiceovers was something that was really wonderful that happened along the way in my music endeavor. I was also pursuing acting stuff and then Jem happened so that was just kind of a little side thing that pushed me in that direction, kind of unexpectedly. I had done one public service announcement voice-over thing so my dad says often that I 'landed my butt in butter.' (laughs) I did voiceovers early and got a lead in the series so it was pretty incredible. I would love to be on TV and I did a lot of telethons and things like that growing up with music so I was really kind of used to being on TV. I would love it: everything that comes along with music and acting.
Currently you're in the process of recording an album with Mike K, who has worked with Elton John and Destiny's Child. What made you decide on a music career?
SN: What made me decide on music? I saw a kid sing when I was 7 and it was just kind of a crazy experience. I saw her perform and I knew that that's what I wanted to do. I absolutely knew that I was destined to do that. It was incredible. My parents bought me her record and I just memorized every song on it and started singing to it. And pretty soon, I think it was my uncle that was the first person to go, 'My goodness, she's really singing! She can sing!' And so I started. I think the first place I ever performed, besides at a silly talent show, we called them fates, but they were really swap meets. I got up on stage and sang over her record and it went really well. People were throwing money on the stage and I was like the 7-year-old. I was hooked.
SN: And I started singing in old people's homes and doing benefits for different things. My dad got some backup tracks with no vocals on them that I would sing over so yeah, it kind of just took off. It was really strange. I feel like it was meant to be because my dad happened to be somebody who was so supportive of me doing this and recognized my talent at a really young age and that in itself was incredible. I know a lot of performers have stories of, 'my parents didn't support me and wanted me to go to school and have a normal life,' but my dad completely took over as my manager and it went on from there. I feel really lucky.
So when will your album drop?
SN: I don't know. I have done three songs already with Mike K and we're doing another three in the next couple of weeks. I'm doing it independently so to do it right it's expensive. So, that's one of the issues, but I got interest from an independent label that's wants to hear some of my stuff. So, even though they're demos they're going to be good enough to put on a record. That's pretty much the way they have to be these days is radio ready. So I'm excited to see. I'm going to do it independently regardless, then if I get picked up by a label that would be the ideal situation.
Well that's great. I'm glad Jem is doing so well!
SN: Thank you!
And good luck with everything. Thanks so much for talking with me today.
SN: Oh my god Danielle, you're so welcome. It was nice to talk to you, too. And I just want to thank all the Jem fans out there for writing to me. It's just a really wonderful, warm and fuzzy feeling.
- Danielle Henbest