Ink Tone Swep Images Ezequiel De La Rosa Looks Lassalle Hair Hadiiya Barbel Location EZ Studios, Manhattan
Your name literally means To Love The Black Girl, or a close translation. Why did you elect yourself as the unofficial spokesperson for Black Girl Magic? You represent black womem very well.
I believe that I was born with the spirit of a warrior. Always stood up for justice; against injustice. I wasn’t seeing entertainers being activists for the Afro-Latina community. Our voices weren’t loud enough, we weren’t being heard. And I think we’ve gotten comfortable with the titles and divisions they’ve given us, with the stereotypes and the many prejudices. I am representing us as self-defined people through my music and entertainment career.
On the island of Hispaniola, there is literally a fence dividing Haiti and the Dominican Republic. But really that division runs deeper, with the French colonizing Haiti and the Spanish colonizing The D.R. What factors allow that division to still exist today?
This is nothing new. It has happened throughout many, many years. I feel as though people are trying to stand their ground on their land and protect their values, their culture. Maybe to, like, preserve it and not have it occupied and changed by the other side of the island and their different ways of doing things. Also, it is important to note Haiti has unfortunately suffered natural disasters that have caused them to seek refuge in the D.R. and other places.
When you signed your multi-million dollar deal with BMG, it was after a less than ideal independent deal. You are also represented by UTA. There seems to be this growing sentiment that artists should go indie and avoid the major system. You have done both. What’s your take?
I was independent for a very long time. Then I signed to an independent label, and then after leaving that deal was indie again. Also, as an attractive woman in this industry your talent can get lost because, in this industry that is predominantly male, they make attempts to take advantage of you, take something from you, get over on you in one way or another. With the independent route you deal with less of this, I feel. Then, too, some artists are comfortable being online only without radio promotion, or maybe their music is not made for radio. At the end of the day it’s all about connections. I can say it’s been easier to say ‘I’m a BMG artist’ and doors automatically open versus having to fight so hard for it. There are pros and cons to both indie and major.
Your fan base spans the Latin Diaspora, from South American countries and the Caribbean to Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and your native Dominican Republic. Now your popularity has taken off here in the states and Europe as well. With your being the poster girl or spokeswoman for colorism and Afro-Latina culture, is that pressure?
I consider myself an urban artist. While I am an Afro-Latina, yes, I make music for the world not just one race. I feel pressure due only to my ambitions. That pressure I place upon myself, and I welcome and embrace that because it drives me.
Late last year you announced quite a few really big moves in development. Can you talk about these things, as well as any other new announcements you want to share?
In the beginning of this year I starred in my first film, Fall Girls, directed by Chris Stokes. That is my first time as a lead actress, and I loved it. I am also starring in the new film Man Issues. I will be competing on a new show in Espaniol that is the Spanish version of Dancing With The Stars.
This is the show where you donated to a women’s group, right?
Yes! Yes! So, through the show I was able to donate $15k to the Dominican Women’s Development Center. I then added another $25k of my own money, because I truly wanted to help. They’re doing a great job helping women conquer domestic violence… I am the new face of Skyy Vodka, and I’m partnering with a major cosmetic line. That will be announced soon. Let me see, what more (Laughs!)… My new show Girl Talk was picked up by a major network. That, too, will be announced soon. My EP Unstoppable just dropped recently, this is just a teaser of my full album that is coming this summer. I wrote a new children’s book called Amarita’s Way and it is doing very well. In addition to an English version there are also French and Spanish versions… This year, I was so proud to be honored as one of the 25 Most Powerful Latin Women of 2019 by People Espaniol. That honor is along with Jennifer Lopez, who has always been one of my idols. It was truly amazing to be listed alongside J-Lo.
For many entertainers, their music career was truly just a conduit to their larger career in entertainment. Queen Latifah and Will Smith are two that come to mind. With all you have going on outside of music, have you outgrown your rapping and singing career?
My dream is to be a legend before I die. I’m young, I’m working, and I believe in myself; believe I can achieve that life’s dream. My music, my entertaining, singing, acting, and dancing are part of my position as an activist who helps people create a clear path toward their goals. I want to help women raise funds to back their own businesses, I want to improve communities worldwide. Positively affecting the world while supporting change and progress is my overall goal.
Being attractive and sexy is powerful. But so is being intelligent, ambitious, and talented. You have ready access to both, clearly. Do you do deal with your sex appeal at times outshining your business mind and talent?
Yes, most definitely. People assume that because I am pretty and a sex symbol that I’m an airhead. I’m not, how could I be? I make so many important decisions and business moves each day, and I am hands on. I review and sign off on every matter pertaining to my career. I can twerk and shake my butt and be bubbly, that is a part of me as an entertainer and also just a girl who loves to have fun and enjoy myself. Behind that is an intellectual woman who walks with purpose and pride and loves people and has a strong business sense.
Miami is like the unofficial Latin capital of the US. Even Miami Fashion Week is largely represented by Latin designers and models. How has Miami grown and changed over the years, since your childhood there?
Truly and honestly, I don’t know if it’s changed that much. I love Miami, and I love the fact that Miami feels, to me, like an Americanized Caribbean island. I love the diversity with Cuban people, and Dominican, and Puerto Rican, and Jamaican, and people from Africa and South America. All of that beauty and diversity and art and culture blended with the US black urban culture. I love Miami, love home, I don’t think I will ever live somewhere else without always having a home there.
How would your childhood have been different if you’d had an Amara La Negra to idolize as a girl?
Oh my God! I think I would have been even more ambitious. Of even more importance, there would be more girls embracing the texture of their hair and loving the color of their skin, and believing they can achieve their goals, because I represent that belief. I really and truly believe that. But I also want people to know that I’m not perfect as a role model. I’m a young woman still learning and growing who makes mistakes, has errors in judgment, all of that.
At one point in your reality television career, a co-star on one episode told you that your afro wasn’t elegant. Well, guess what? Homegirl blew up now! You blew the phuk up! How elegant is the afro now?
Wow! Thank you! You know what, I feel so proud (takes a moment to reflect)…. People were so caught up with the hair and how much attention the retro style was getting that they weren’t reading between the lines of what I was really trying to say. La Negra was my way of making a statement. Saying La Negra is being rebellious. My hair doesn’t define me, I change hairstyles all the time. And no matter how I wear my hair I am still representing my ideals and goals, my culture and entertainment career. I want to be able to inspire women, not only the women who look like me, but all women. I want to stand for courage, and encouragement, and for being an artist and entertainer who inspired them while supporting all women in the world. If you wear an afro or extensions, short hair, straight hair, curly. I just want you to love it because you love it, not because it is your attempt to conform into some societal standard. Please don’t, please continue to live your freedom and eventually it will change society – convincing it to conform to you, to us all.