Ask A Gay Icon: Shamir Gets Career Advice From Mandy Moore

Shamir and Mandy Moore
Shamir: Shamir. Moore: Carter Smith.

Shamir and Mandy Moore

This Pride Month, Billboard connected queer artists with some of their musical heroes and biggest influences

How can you help LGBTQ people succeed in the music industry? One easy step: Share your networks and make introductions. So for Pride Month, Billboard is connecting queer artists with some of their musical heroes — who also happen to be major allies to the community — to get career advice.

Here, genre-bending phenom Shamir — who just released "On My Own," from his upcoming studio album, due this fall — gets a talk to remember from This Is Us star Moore, who released her first album in 11 years, Silver Landings, in March.

I’ve been getting into television and film myself and recently booked a few spots. As a musician who’s just as highly regarded as an actress, what advice can you give on how to be successful in both arenas without slacking on either of them?

Hell yes — I CAN’T WAIT to see you on the screen! Thanks for the compliment, but it really boils down to trusting your gut in most cases. Obviously you hold all of the cards when it comes to the creative-control aspect with your music, and that’s never really going to be the case with a film or television show because of the nature of collaboration and teamwork that makes that type of work function. “If there’s any doubt, don’t” is what I usually say with a project. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely become better at saying no or choosing how I spend my time more wisely. I think as long as you’re choosing a project for the right reason, you’re going to pour all of yourself into it and you can never go wrong.

Also, it’s important to prioritize and time-manage. Right now, you have new music out, and that’s where your head and heart are. Not to say you can’t handle both at the same time, but I have found that when I can shift back and forth on my own timeline, the work is better served. 

A major thing we have in common is that we're both marginalized artists who entered the industry as teens, which means we are often silenced or overlooked because of our identity or our old teen personas. What are some ways you've learned to make your voice heard and show authority without stepping on toes or creating a bad reputation for yourself?

Shamir, you are VERY kind to include me, but I definitely had privilege as a young, white woman in the music industry that wasn’t earned and probably hasn’t been afforded to artists like yourself — which speaks volumes about your hard-won success! It’s not to say that I didn’t have to fight to be heard and dig deep for people to recognize that I had different dimensions, but I don’t think I was necessarily successful at making my voice heard when I was younger. Maybe it was a product of the time or my environment, but I always assumed that if I kept my head down and stayed true to myself, I’d find a way to hang around. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been more comfortable speaking my truth and asserting my power to define my course.

What's something you would tell your younger self when you began your career, knowing what you know now?

Be patient and be prepared for the very natural ebb and flow of being a professional. It’s all part of the story — your narrative. Try to find ways to really own your story. Be present, celebrate the highs, and realize that the lower moments are essential to hold on to and use as an artist.

You've had a long and successful career. What do you think is the secret to longevity in entertainment?

Thank you! It’s probably the aspect of what I do that I’m most proud of. I think in my case it’s been a combo of good luck, being kind of BORING, surrounding myself with good people (family and those I get to work with) and being rooted in gratitude for getting to do what I love. 

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