Award-Winning Host, Model and Social Activist
A combination of deep compassion, true intelligence, striking beauty and a big mouth has helped award winning television host Ananda Lewis reach new heights. Her talents have garnered a wealth of achievements, yet she has only just begun! Ananda, Sanskrit for “bliss”, has been touching lives on and off screen since the age of 13.…
A combination of deep compassion, true intelligence, striking beauty and a big mouth has helped award winning television host Ananda Lewis reach new heights. Her talents have garnered a wealth of achievements, yet she has only just begun!
Ananda, Sanskrit for “bliss”, has been touching lives on and off screen since the age of 13. The San Diego, California native was a Head Start volunteer while a student at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. For nine years (4th through 12th grades) Ananda Lewis studied theater, vocal music, photography, and dance at the prestigious school that she credits with giving her the ability to maintain a free spirit and cultivate her confidence. “The teachers I had at SDSCPA and the supportive, nurturing environment of the campus in general are probably the #1 reason I am seeing success now,” she says. After graduating from high school, Ananda left San Diego to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.
While attending college in Washington, D.C., Ananda Lewis continued to evolve as a youth activist. “My college roommate, Dana Jones, introduced me to an intense, life-restructuring program for teenagers called ‘Youth at Risk’. During our sophomore year, we volunteered in the program for a year which included a 10-day camp retreat with 98 young people that changed their lives as well as mine.” During the summers of ’94 and ’95, Ananda Lewis worked for the Youth Leadership and Development Institute (YLDI) as a trainer in personal power, leadership skills, parenting and nutrition, conflict resolution and violence prevention. “I had 20 young-folk everyday for 3 months per summer. It was so intense to witness the impact of my work and it confirmed for me that being a teacher was what I came there for.” Ananda Lewis earned her degree (a BA in History) and graduated Cum Laude from Howard in 1995. Later that summer, she joined actor Malik Yoba to facilitate a youth conference in Belize, Central America. “It was my first real trip out of the U.S. and I saw that the problems of my generation were global, not local. I came back for my second summer at YLDI completely recharged and refocused on the empowerment of my people.”
At the end of the program that year, Ananda Lewis was facing some major life choices: joining Teach for America, moving back to San Diego, going back to college for a Masters Degree in education, or auditioning for a show on the Black Entertainment Television network (BET) called “Teen Summit”. The teenagers in her training room encouraged her to audition for Teen Summit So she mustered up some courage, fought back her dislike of the entertainment industry, auditioned …and GOT THE JOB AS HOST!!!
For three seasons Ananda Lewis served as Host of BET’s Teen Summit, one of the station’s top rated shows which reached 42 million household’s LIVE each week. Her gift for affecting the lives of young people beamed out at us through the screen and her natural and obviously genuine relationship with co-host DaJour, had a lot of us thinking they were siblings. “Everybody would ask if Dajour, was my brother. I guess in a way he was – through talking about our lives, families and how to improve ourselves and our show.” The teamwork obviously served them well. Teen Summit’s “It Takes a Village” show earned them a 1997 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Youth Series in large part because of Ananda Lewis’s interview with Hillary Rodham-Clinton. Teen Summit was also nominated for 1996 Cable Ace Award for its special on “homeless teens”. During the summer of 1997, Ananda Lewis faced another life-changing decision when an opportunity at another television network arose.
MTV had come knocking and Ananda was not sure about opening the door. “Up until that time I had been doing a show that meant great deal to not only me, but our viewers and the continued progress and healing of everyone it touched. I knew that I would not readily have access to doing a show like this again for a very long time and I had a real problem with that. For years it had been clear to me that I came to this planet to impact people’s lives, change things and help people heal by increasing their personal power and rejecting the lies we’ve all been taught since birth about ourselves and our potential. Yet I understood that in order to do that effectively, I would need the attention of the masses, not just my own people. I saw MTV not only as access to the masses, but also as an opportunity to be more of the woman I am and cultivate my ability to have fun, my social skills and whatever else the Creator had in store for me with this new opportunity.”
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
A Conversation With Ananda Lewis
1 HOUR OR LESS