BRANDEE J: We are so excited to have you as our September Cover Model! For the readers who do not know who you are, please tell them who is Akira?
MISS NO: What motivated you to start “Pretty Big Movement”?
AKIRA: What motivated me to start Pretty BIG Movement was simply out of the fuel of REJECTION. Majority of my adolescent years I was ashamed because of my aesthetic as well as my choice of vibrant hairstyles, colorful makeup and clothing. I was different and always walked to the beat of my own drum. I heard more no’s than receiving a yes. It wasn’t until I decided to create my own lane and create a platform for other girls & women like myself Pretty BIG Movement was birthed in 2008. That’s when people started to pay attention.
AKIRA: My response to those who’ve criticized my movement in regards to feeling like it promotes obesity and limiting ourselves to certain dance moves is in the most humble manner, check our receipts. PBM houses women of all shapes and sizes coupled with different ethnicities that are well versed in all genres of dance. Our weight has never hindered us from hitting jumps, barrel turns, leaps, cartwheels, splits, hitting a 6 o’clock leg extension and or a grande battement. PBM promotes self-love while being healthy. As Dancers were undermined because we’re not running up and down a basketball court but I’m here to remind my readers that dance is a SPORT.
AKIRA: I actually did not choreograph for Beyoncé or Lizzo. It’s important for me to be clear and transparent about working with those 2 amazing queens. I was a principal dancer featured in 2 of Beyoncé music videos “GREENLIGHT,” and “GET ME BODIED.” As for Lizzo we were both booked to debut in LANE BRYANT’s commercial campaign #THISBODY and more so recently I performed with Lizzo at the 2019 MTV Video music awards as a dancer and singer.
What I took away working with both women were to work hard, own who you are, confidence can lead you a long way and there is nothing to complain about. Get the job done because you were hired for a reason out of many who would kill to be in your position.
AKIRA: I haven’t experienced being in Hollywood but one thing I can attest to is your image speaks volumes. The way you show up mind, body and spirit determines how people will follow through if they want to work with you or not. People will sniff you out if they feel you are easy to manipulate. It’s super important to remain grounded and be true to who you are with slight adjustments as you level up in your career. This industry is filled with many narcissistic personalities and if your discernment is shaky you can get caught up in a hot mess. This all ties into self love ❤️ as cliche as it sounds.
MISS NO: What can we do more as an industry to advocate more women embracing their bodies and loving them without the pressure of the media?
AKIRA: What I think we need to do in the industry to advocate more women to embrace their bodies is to show women how to BECOME. Show more examples of women loving themselves without the pressure of the media. Annihilate seeking validation. The media don’t even know who they are or how to steer us as a people to the light to love ourselves. We’re taught to look a certain way to get ahead but I beg to differ. If we all looked the same this would be a boring world. It’s necessary we look within to see the beauty of our souls as opposed to the flesh.
I’m a firm believer beauty fades and over time our skin loses its elasticity as we age. Once that’s gone what does one have? It’s all about your character, how you treat people and aging gracefully from the inside out.
BRANDEE J: What are your views or thoughts about the current state of the curvy/plus size industry?
AKIRA: My thoughts on the current state of the curvy/plus size industry is I’m proud of how far we’ve come but we also have a lot of work to do. The beauty of it all is we’re being highlighted and spotlighted on so many levels than we were 10 years ago. Plus size fashion has evolved in catering to all shapes and sizes and with a more modern, edgy and colorful vibe which I love.
MISS NO: What is the one thing you would tell a young girl looking in the mirror who is having a hard time loving her kurves?
AKIRA: The one thing that I would tell a young girl looking in the mirror who is having a hard time loving her kurves is to be kind to yourself. You have so much life ahead of you to be proud of. Your weight/kurves do not define you. It’s apart of your makeup and God did not make no mistake when you were created in your mother’s womb. Own who you are first and everything else will fall into place.
BRANDEE J: September is our Fashion issue! Who are your favorite designers and why?
AKIRA: My favorite designers are Dapper Dan and Cameroonian designer Claude Lavie Kameni. I love Dapper Dan for his creativity. He’s a visionary when it comes to custom fashion and Claude because I enjoy how he aesthetically custom fits African print gowns to each person so eloquently as he is known for using bright fabrics to showcase his authenticity of patterns.
MISS NO: What do you want your legacy to be?
AKIRA: I want my legacy to be passed down to next generation of young girls to remember to really truly love themselves. PBM will be an imprint as a lifestyle to be who you are wherever you are. It’s to be known as a platform to tell your story through dance and perform your ass off like nobody’s watching. Know your worth. Never settled to fit in you are the IN.
BEHIND THE COVER
Cover Model: Akira Armstrong @prettybig5 @prettybigmovement
Photographer: Terrell Edmonds @pvstudioz
Makeup Artist: Jalisa Williams @beatbylise
Hair Stylist: Dietrich Williams @dietrich.williams
Fashion Designer: Rhonda Allen-Prescott @sewsewkool
Creative Director @onlymissno