We know and love her as our favorite TV little cousin, Ashley. But former Fresh Prince star Tatyana Ali is a grown woman, and she's on the move to make sure we feel just as beautiful in our skin as she does. We caught up with the 35-year-old actress and singer to discuss her new partnership with My Black Is Beautiful to discuss her plans for helping women change their lives for the better using the power of social media communities.
EBONY: What exactly is the new Beauty in Action initiative is all about?
TA: Beauty in Action is a couple of things, and it's a little different from what My Black is Beautiful has done in the past. Last year, with the docu film, "Imagine the Future," the focus was on young women, confidence and self-esteem. This time we are focusing on women of all ages, and once again it's really geared around the My Black is Beautiful Facebook page, and creating a community where women affirm one another and define what beauty really means to them everyday of the initiative. I've been calling it a "30 day virtual retreat". Each day, a new video from the incredible transformational expert, Lisa Nichols, will be uploaded onto the Facebook page. This will help aid women in the process of transforming their lives for the better, one day at a time. Biblically, it says it takes 30 days to make or break a habit, which is why our call to action is 30 days (but we hope for it to continue beyond that). In 30 days, if we take these action steps, there will be some kind of transformation. It really hits to the core idea of what My Black is Beautiful is all about. The fact is that if you work on the inside, the world around you changes.
EBONY: Why was this initiative so important to you?
TA: I think it speaks to the alternative of what My Black is Beautiful is about. I've seen this work in my own life. I recently put out an EP on my birthday, which was at the end of January, called Hello. I haven't put out music in what, 15 years? But, when it came to it, I had a group of songs that I believed in, that where really authentic and expressed what I wanted to express in the way that I wanted to express it. I really had to step out on faith to do it. It's the first time, if you look at the cover, that I'm looking at myself. It's the first time that I'm really looking in the mirror and saying "Oh my gosh, I like what I see, and I'm ready to share everything about me." I have seen the power of that kind of transformation in my own life. After putting out the EP, things have just been folding creatively for me. I know the same thing is going to happen for all the women who take this challenge.
EBONY: What are some things supporters can do after the 30 days are over to keep the message strong?
TA: After the 30 days, there are going to be beauty ambassadors chosen in different cities. These women, whatever age they are, young or older women, are going to be selected based on their integrity, care for their community, and spiritual well being. They will be the future faces of the My Black is Beautiful brand. Those are images that will stay out there for a long time to come. The hope is to create a community in those 30 days, and you can already see it happening on the Facebook page. Women are already posting pictures, and other women are commenting on them. The hope is that this community will continue to grow as well. With that, we want whatever transformations achieved after these first 30 days to last. It's very specific. It can be transformation of your career, family life, or even in the work you do in the community. I feel it works if you take that time to focus on yourself, and how you feel and think about yourself. It could impact major changes.
EBONY: If you had to pick someone besides yourself that you think would be an amazing beauty ambassador, who do you think would be a good fit, and why?
TA: I think Lupita Nyong'o would be a great beauty ambassador right now. She, out of the gate, is a fashion icon and more! But, even more importantly, when she opens her mouth, she is a brilliant, beautiful woman. There are some people that aren't in entertainment who I would love to see as beauty ambassadors, and that's what I think the program is going to do. Like educators, teaching their kids they're incredibly gorgeous, and strong in the work they do. I'd love to see teachers being honored and appreciated for how beautiful they are.
EBONY: How can supporters keep the conversation going? Is it only going to be on Facebook or is there anything on Twitter or Instagram? Maybe a hashtag that they can follow?
TA: We are using #MBIB and #BIAJourney for our social media hashtags. The trick is to start a movement in our community, in our home, amongst the women that we know and share our time with, so that we all are constantly affirming each other—not just changing the dialogue.
EBONY: Okay, do you have anything else that you're working on that we can be on the lookout for soon?
TA: I'm working on music. I've been recording, and I'm going to be putting more music out. I just finished a film, November Rule, that will be out this year.
EBONY: Well we here at EBONY are for sure routing for you and wish you the best.
TA: Thanks so much!