Ester Dean is blowing up. Her name may not be the most familiar in the spotlight but behind-the-scenes, she is one of the music industry’s top song writers. Having written some of the biggest smash hits for the likes of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé and Keri Hilson just to name a few. This past month, she made her feature live film debut in the musical comedy Pitch Perfect. So, has Ester caught the acting bug?

“I have caught that bug and I want to venture into anything and everything creative about acting,” Ester tells me in our exclusive chat. “I’d like to become the Will Smith of movies.” When talking about the Pitch Perfect experience itself, she shares, “it was a very new experience and I learned a lot. It was trying because it came at a time that I was also writing songs and going off to venture into new areas. So it was a little scary but it all worked out in the end.” It’s great to see Ester finally take her step into the spotlight, especially from an Oklahoma native who wanted to be a chef.

Ester grew up in a musical family but legitimately wanted to pursue her passion for the kitchen, despite her family continually trying to persuade her otherwise. Thankfully, she listened. “I’m super happy I decided to do something I was really passionate about yet I love the kitchen and I still want to open up a restaurant,” she tells me. When asked her what her favorite dish was to make, “my choice is easy, fast soul food.” What I love about Ester is that not only can she cook up some mean eats but she can also cook up a sweet hook. I asked her, what makes a hit song?

“A tangible hook with a catchy, relatable subject makes a song a hit. It’s something that the world can feel.” I have to agree. The songs that really stick with us and on the charts seem to have all of those elements. Just ask Ester. Some of her tracks have lingered on the charts for quite a while. Ester is known to have quite a unique writing style. Sometimes, she’ll just go into the studio and start singing. Sometimes, it’s words, sometimes it’s not. When she gets goosebumps from a phrase or a hook, she knows she’s hit the sweet spot. I thought I would ask Ester what her favorite tracks were that she hadn’t written, she kept it in the pop genre family.

“My favorite song[s] written by someone else [are] “Payphone” by Maroon 5 and “Last Friday Night” by Katy Perry. And when it comes to artists she’d love to write with in the future? She opts for punk/pop queen, P!nk and one of Canada’s most famous exports, Celine Dion. Aside from writing for others, Ester is also about to release her first, solo album. We’ve already heard what Ester is capable of on her own which makes me excited for what her debut has to offer. Titled Story Never Told, Ester tells me, “since I write a little bit of everything I feel like the best way to come is out of the box and not inside, and being a songwriter and being able to write in different genres. I just want to make an album of every music. Just like the radio is, Top 40 is filled with different music and styles.” The lead-off, I Can’t Make You Love Me really showcases Ester’s raspy vocals and ability to make an old classic her own.

There is no word yet on when this album will drop but I personally cannot wait to give it a spin. When a hit songwriter releases an album, you know it’s gonna be solid. To keep up with Ester and all of her shenanigans, check out the following links.