This month we had the pleasure of having the beautiful Ashanna Bri grace our “July HEAT ISSUE!” I also had the pleasure of sitting down with her for an exclusive interview!
OMG! I am so excited to have you on our cover for a second time! Seeing your growth over the years has been a great joy for me. Before we dive into everything, for those who do not know you, please tell our readers who is Ashanna Bri?
I am ecstatic to be back here Brandee “Kurvy” J ! We go all the way back, so it’s always an honor and pleasure when we reunite, thank you for having me! My name is Ashanna Bri, and I am an actress, model, host, and entertainer, but first and foremost I’m advocate for black women! I want to see black women, especially entrepreneurs, thriving and winning!
Deciding to become a curvy model is not an easy decision to make. What was the defining moment that made you decide to pursue your dreams?
You are so right, it’s not easy because It’s taking a huge leap of faith, and there is no guarantee reward, in fact, you put yourself in a very vulnerable position! But I honestly got tired of NOT seeing imaging of those like myself. I would yearn to see curvy beauties, in sports campaigns, in beauty, in fashion, in the acting world, and I could not find it. Now don’t get me wrong we had the beautiful Queen Latifah and Monique but I’m talking about being a 16, 17, 18 year old never seeing anyone around my age, or my look being represented anywhere. For a quick second I started to feel like maybe my worth wasn’t as valuable as others, quickly I remembered I was born to represent and if that door wasn’t opened I was ready to knock it down…I was terrified but representation was bigger than me, if was about all those other beautiful black girls, black teens, black women, black sisters, that had been overlooked and unvalued and I was ready to change that narrative!
Distractions and obstacles insert themselves when pursuing our dreams. What distractions and obstacles have you faced in your career that at one time almost made you give up?
That’s an amazing question, because life itself still has reoccurring obstacles to this day because it’s ever changing, but I will say a pivot moment where I almost gave up is when one of my modeling contracts was ending. Our agency had gone through so many changes, and through those changes I felt very neglected, mishandled, and unseen. And I found myself looking back to when I was working everyday with no breaks to maybe getting a casting once a month if the agent could give me the right time and address, and I just though to myself, “ I don’t want to be locked into another multi year contract”, so I had to make a choice, stay with a big agency with a big name where I was never seen, or take a leap of faith and walk away and see where I would land, and I indeed walked away and that itself was such a learning experience. I modeled freelance for a while and picked up fit modeling along the way, and now that’s become another assist to my growing skillset! But that decision to walk away opened up my world to so many new, great, amazing opportunities. I ended up signing with new agencies, working bicoastally, working for dream clients, and rebirthing myself! The woman I was suppose to be, was starting to flourish in the way that worked for me. Had I not walked away when I did, I can’t say I’d be where I am today, and today I feel blessed abundantly!
What is your truth (or essence) when everything else is stripped away?
My truth is, I was never born to be mediocre or to just get by. I was created to bring something essential to this world. I was born to thrive even through adversity and obstacles. I was born to shine, and not just to shine for myself, to shine, so I could pass the torch and shed light on other’s lights that have been dimmed by the world! I want to see the underdog win! I want to see those who are under appreciated, over looked, under estimated land on top, the bottom is crowded, the top is waiting for you!
How could you love yourself enough to ….forgive yourself, nourish yourself, move your body, feed your soul, live in the moment?
Right now, I am finding my balance in all of that through, deep mediation, sound baths, prayer, fitness, and soul affirmations. I use to over work myself to wits end, never taking the essential time to appreciate my achievements, but that’s what I’m working hard for, to celebrate and share with others. What is life if you can’t enjoy what you work hard for, so this year I’m taking little stay-cations and mini vacays because I haven’t had a true vacation since 2018 and I need one!
Lack of confidence is a battle for most women in their life. What gems were instilled in you by your parents, that helped build your confidence up?
Something essential that I keep with me that my parents passed down and now I’m passing it on to the world is, you were born great, Kings and Queens, it’s up to you to live up to your birth title, because no one can do YOU like YOU can. Don’t try to be someone else, be the best version of yourself as possible and watch yourself flourish!
Let us switch gears for a moment. We both have been in the plus-size industry for years and had to work harder than most. Do you feel, as a black curvy woman more is stack against us?
We have indeed, and it’s been a journey! I definitely feel like as a black curvy woman more is stacked against us because in life more is always stacked against BIPOC in general, but I remember that Mantra I shared with you, We are all born Kings and Queens, It’s up to you to live up to your birth title, so I don’t buy into the standards of others, I push my truth forward! I make sure my presence is felt. I grew up where odds were against me, too black, not black enough, you’re plus size so you don’t represent beauty, you can’t be sexy and educated, all these brackets and titles are engrained in us to control us, but in my true essence, I was never made to fit in, so I outwork, to defy the odds that are stacked against me.
Have you faced with any racism being on set, with a designer or at an event? If so, how did you handle it?
The indirect racism I have felt on set has been with the creative side, where I come on set and they’ve brought no makeup, hair products, or styling tools for my hair, leaving me completely distraught over my day. Not looking your best will cost you your job, reputation, and will earn you a discussion with your management. When the photos don’t look great it’s never because of the makeup artist or hair stylist it’s always on a model so when we can’t feel 100% it’s our livelihood. To elevate that strain, Now I just bring my own products of everything that I may or may not need to have my own back. To me that’s still a work in progress and I hope that that’s being assessed and addressed now, because I am seeing more BIPOC as creatives and/or non Bipoc artist that have the abilities to work on diverse models. We need that diversity all across the board so we can get more creative with imaging overall.
What more do you feel needs to be done for women of color in the plus size industry?
We need to see way more representation of what women of color look like, we need diversity in all facets, Complexion, features, ethnic origins, sizes, ages, etc. I want to see fashion houses using more Bipoc people in their campaigns, in their advertisements, in their storefronts, in their social media even when it’s not black history month, we need to see it! I also want to see more BIPOC on their creative teams, I want to come to set knowing that someone can professionally do my hair, makeup, and style me, I’m tried of being given a small rack with unflattering clothes, having to come hair and makeup ready because the glam team has no experience working with women of color. When you have talent of color, hire teams that can professionally deliver, BIPOC models time and time again take a hit for not looking their best in images but how can we when the creative teams don’t delivery and we end up with non color matched makeup and hair that gets no assessment, we just need equality and avenues that allow us to thrive so we can give different beautiful perspectives!
July is our HEAT issue! How is Ashanna Bri bringing this HEAT this summer!
Ashanna Bri is bringing nothing but luxury, glamour, goddess, and fierce energy!
Closing out, I want to say Thank you so much Brandee J and Luxe Kurves Magazine featuring me on this special HEAT addition! This is such a passionate project that I’m excited to share was an ALL BLACK FEMALE TEAM, Our Photographer Gianna, Makeup Artist Ashlyn, our Fashion Designer Melissa, and our Production Assistant Rae are all BLACK creative and it was an honor to represent! Absolutely humbled and grateful! Thank you!
We were so honored to have Ashanna on the cover and be able to sit down with her!! Make sure you stay up to date with Ashanna on her social media below!
Official Website – https://www.ashannabri.com/