In our interview section this week we bring you an exclusive interview with a multi-talented artist Hana Ni. Born Hanani Christian Joy in the late 90’s, Hana Ni hails from Columbus, Ohio.
Hana Ni began publicly performing, singing, acting and dancing at age 3. Hana Ni was the youngest contestant on Season 10 of American Idol in 2011. She participated up through Hollywood Week and made it to the top 40 out of 125,000 people who auditioned across the country.
Hana Ni has also been in television commercials, radio commercials, numerous print ads,
television shows and films. In addition to singing, performing and acting, Hana Ni is a songwriter. She has written over 800 songs. In 2013, Hana Ni competed and was crowned Miss Columbus Teen 2013 and Miss T.E.E.N. Ohio 2013.
She is majoring in business and psychology and has been on Dean’s List for three years. Eventually she plans to get her MBA and her PhD in business. At 19, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams in acting and singing.
Currently she is doing a lot of projects related to singing and acting. Here is our recent interview with her.
Twist Online : First of all tell us about the start of your professional career?
Hana Ni : I have been singing since I was 3 years old and started performing nationally at 8 years old. I started acting when I was 8 as well. My entire childhood, I traveled from city to city performing and working on sets. I’ve opened up for Ginuwine, Mila J, Yolanda Adams, Shelia Ray Charles, Calvin Richardson, Tisha Campbell and more. I was also the youngest contestant on Season 10 of American Idol and made it to the top 40 out of 125,000 contestants. I’ve also been featured on Showtime at the Apollo as a “Kid Star of Tomorrow”, BET 106&Park, the BET Experience at the BET Awards, on Modern Family and on Criminal Minds as a guest star. I’ve been in a few feature films and have produced my own as well.
Twist Online : You started very young. Who or what inspired you to get into entertainment industry?
Hana Ni : I have been singing for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a household with music playing all of the time, particularly Jazz standards, Motown, Classic Rock, and 80’s-90’s R&B. Singers like Billie Holiday and Teena Marie inspired me to start singing while Judy Garland sparked my interest in acting.
Twist Online : Tell us about your recent projects?
Hana Ni : I just released my first major album on February 24th! I’ve been working on this specific project for almost 3 years now, so I’m over the moon to finally share it. I’ve also released several new music videos, the latest being my “Marco Polo” music video. My “Marco Polo” music video is probably my favorite of the music videos that I’ve done so far. I produced, directed and edited this project, so it’s really dear to me. If you’ve seen my “Artificial Intelligence” and “Bees Like Honey” music videos, you may catch that they tie into each other. I have an entire visual on the way that will connect all of the music videos for this project together. It’s going to be one big story.
Twist Online : What attracts you more, performing on stage or working in studios?
Hana Ni : Definitely performing on stage! I love working in the studio as well, but there’s something about live performances that give me so much life. Feeling the audience’s energy and feeding off of that is so amazing. I started in theatre, so the stage is my comfort zone and my home. I’ve always said that I feel so much more comfortable performing in front of thousands of people than I do in front of one person.
Twist Online : Acting, singing, dancing, modeling, how do you manage all that?
Hana Ni : It’s a juggling act for sure! Honestly, I’ve been on the gas pedal my entire life, going from pageants, to performances, to shoots and then coming home to finish an essay. I think I’m just used to it all and I love what I do so much that it doesn’t feel like work.
Twist Online : You wrote around 800 songs in 2013. It seems you love writing songs?
Hana Ni : I definitely do! I started writing at a very young age. When I was 6, I was sure that I was going to be a doctor by day, singer and actress in the afternoon and poet by night. I started writing poetry in elementary school, which turned into novels, films and songwriting in middle school. My songs now are just my diary. They may not all be from specific events that have happened in my life (a lot are), but they all come from someone’s story. I love people watching and observing other people’s behaviors. I try to empathize with that and put myself into their shoes. I believe everything has to come from truth.
Twist Online : What’s your favorite music genre?
Hana Ni : I honestly don’t have a favorite genre! I believe a great song is a great song, no matter what the label on it is! However, a lot of my influences come from Jazz, Soul, R&B and Rock.
Twist Online : What’s the biggest achievement in your career so far?
Hana Ni : My greatest achievement, as far as acting, would probably be when I was cast as a guest star on my favorite TV show, “Criminal Minds”! Musically, I’d say that my biggest achievement was performing on “Showtime At The Apollo” as a featured “Kid Star of Tomorrow” in Harlem, NY! The Apollo stage is one of the most legendary stages in the world. My grandparents grew up going to the Apollo and watching artists that are now icons grace that stage. Over 60 years later, they got to watch me do the same. I was even featured on a later “Best of the Apollo” episode!
Twist Online : You also launched your production company. What was the inspiration behind that?
Hana Ni : As a young actress and singer, I always wanted to step into other realms of both industries. I always told myself that it was something that I would pursue further in the future. However, my boyfriend and I realized that we had this interest in common and decided to pursue it together. When you’re young and trying to do something that people your age aren’t doing, it can seem a little “too big” to do now, but I’ve come to find that there is no point in waiting. I’m so glad that we went ahead and launched our production company, as we have already written and produced several feature length films!
Twist Online : Are you active on social media? What’s the best way to follow you online?
Hana Ni : Yes! I’m pretty active on Instagram and Youtube! You can find me on Instagram @sheishanani and on Youtube by searching “Hana Ni”. You can also follow “Hana Ni” on Twitter and Facebook.