Aliya Lewis - Kentucky Interview by Claire Plath Nomination by Jasmyne Lewis-Comba Photography by Paula Yates Photography Issue 36 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Aliya Jade Lewis is a name you should make note of now. She is going to be a superstar in the not so distant future! This young lady is an AP honor student, distinguished scholar, the captain of her high school tennis team, and a percussionist in the marching band. Aliya manages all of this while also working at the local Taco Bell and teaching tennis lessons to kids aged 5-12. Aliya also loves to sing and dreams of being a country music star like her hero, Dolly Parton. Aliya is a dedicated big sister and is always willing to take time out for her little brother. She has never met a stranger and has a beautiful, kind, and caring soul. Aliya is selfless, strong, and courageous, never fearing what the future holds for her.
Photography by Paula Yates Photography
What do you enjoy most about being captain of your high school’s tennis team, and what responsibilities does it come with? I have been playing tennis since I was four years old. I always looked up to the Captain of the varsity team and always wanted to be in that position myself. Last year, I got my wish. Being Captain is more than just a title. It means that I need to keep team morale high and cheering on my teammates. In tennis, it also means setting up practices and helping the newer players on our team make game progress. It also means setup for JV tennis, devising fun games so players learn fundamental skills through team play. Being Captain also means working out team problems because no team is without them and sometimes that means helping teammates find solutions to problems that are not on the court.
Tell me a little bit about how you are musically involved, including being a percussionist in your school’s marching band while also having a passion for singing. My family is very musically inclined. As a little girl, I would sing in my living room and pretend to be on stage for my Nonna all the time. As I got older, I started learning guitar, singing for small talent shows, and eventually joined my school band as a percussionist. In the last two years, I have started singing competitively and working to develop my personal style. There are a few famous singing drummers out there. Phil Collins, Ringo Starr, and Don Henley are just a few, so the idea of a singing drummer isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds. This year I am looking forward to our football and basketball seasons. I will either be leading the Raider Band from the percussion line in the National Anthem or belting it out as a vocalist all on my own. Either way, it is going to be a year to remember.
Photography by Paula Yates Photography
hat aspirations do you have for your future, including your dream of becoming a country music star? I love country music! Right now, I am working with a voice coach, via Zoom because of the CoVid-19 pandemic, to build my range and learn different breathing techniques. My next big goal is to audition for The Voice. Go Team Blake! My ultimate dream, and my mama’s dream for me too, is to be CMA’s Entertainer of the Year someday.
How have you managed being an AP honor student, having a job, while also devoting your time to extracurricular activities such as tennis and the marching band? It was really difficult at first. Making time to study was the hardest thing. On my breaks at work and on the bus to tennis matches or on the band bus, I would squeeze in a little bit of study time. Everyone else would be eating or sleeping while I am studying for my next big test. Mastering time management is the goal to success and I have definitely learned that skill by juggling school, work, and all of my extracurricular activities.
Can you tell me more about how you help teach lessons to younger kids in tennis and what you love most about it? I have kept all of my tennis rackets from when I was little. At one point, I noticed they were just collecting dust and taking up space. I decided to put those rackets back to work for other kids in my area. I started by asking for help from my own tennis coaches for advice and then just started building on my own experiences. At first, we just hit the ball. I don’t worry if the ball was in bounds, we just want that kid to make contact with the ball and the ball to make it over the net. That's how I started playing tennis and it seems to be working for this group as well.
Photography by Paula Yates Photography
In what ways has your kind and caring personality impacted the lives of others you meet? Mom tells me that I have a big heart. I guess that is really true. I want to make a positive impact on every single person that I make contact with in a day. If everyone took an extra 10 seconds to be nice to the stranger or to help out someone in need, our world would be a much kinder place. Plus, I’ve never met a stranger in my life! I think I could talk to absolutely anyone.
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever accomplished, and how did you do it? I think the hardest thing I have ever accomplished was singing on stage for the first time. I had never on in public before. I had never used a microphone. I put on my sparkly romper, walked onto the stage in front of 500 or so people, and gave it my all. You know what, I did ok. I didn’t win the competition but I conquered my fear. The next time I stood on stage, I was much more prepared and that time, I did win the competition.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? Always take time for your passions. School is so important but so many times we forget that other parts of our lives are also important. Take time to sing, play an instrument, run a mile, collect stamps. Whatever your great passion is, take time to do it. Becoming a well rounded individual is just as important as being an honor student.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans for the future? In five years I plan to be on my way to super stardom with a win from The Voice and a recording contract under my belt. Remember my name. I will be famous someday.
What is your favorite activity or pastime that wasn’t in your nomination? I really love to be outdoors with my family. We frequently visit Carter Caves State Park to camp or for the afternoon just to picnic and explore the caves and creeks. It is a beautiful place and I love spending time there. I have also recently added another sport to my resume. I am learning to golf! So far, it has been really fun!
Do you have a hidden talent? What is it? I do! I am a cosplay Cinderella! My family is full of Disney fanatics, so it was only natural that I would be as well. In my spare time, I dress up as Cinderella, and sometimes other princesses, and go to birthday parties or events for kids. I get to live out my princess fantasy and those little kids get a thrill from meeting a real, live, Disney Princess. It’s awesome!
3 Things on your bucket list My bucket list is quite long. I think the top three things would be: to meet Dolly Parton visit all the Disney Parks to play the high school state tennis tournament.
Who do you find inspiring? Dolly Parton is my idol. I would love to meet her someday. I love her music, her style, and her philosophy on life. She gives so much back to the community that made her great through programs like her Imagination Library, community donations and support after the 2016 Smoky Mountain Forest Fires, and so many other causes that she loves. I want to give back to my community in those same ways someday. I also love that she is a superstar despite coming from a very poor family in the Great Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee. That takes serious hard work and dedication to break those generational cycles of poverty. She is truly one amazing woman and I hope that someday I can tell her just how inspirational her story has been to me.
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? I am not afraid to be me. I am never afraid to put myself out there and show the world what I have to offer. It doesn’t necessarily always work out the way I want, but I will never look back on my life and wonder what might have been.
Anything else you’d like to tell us? Thanks for including me in Inspiring Teens! This has been a whole bunch of fun!
Aliya will be featured in issue 36 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!