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Ade Samuel On How She Hustled An Internship To Become A Top Celebrity Stylist

BOSS UP

Ade Samuel is already hard at work when I walk into the living room of Yara Shahidi's home.

She moves swiftly back and forth between two full clothing racks and the Black-ish star—barefoot in an oversized black coat and a khaki-colored cap, her assistant closely in tow waiting to buckle a shoe or tighten a belt at a moment's notice. Yara playfully poses as Ade snaps photos of her finished look for reference before moving on to the next visual.

“Yara and I met when I did the Essence cover," she says, referring to the first-ever “Black Girl Magic" issue that also celebrated fellow trailblazers Teyonah Parris and Johnetta "Netta" Elzie on three separate covers.

At 27 years old, Ade is doing the damn thing. She has snagged clients like Nicole Richie and Christina Aguilera to Alicia Keys and Marsha Ambrosius, just to name a few who've walked red carpets of award shows and graced sets of high-fashion magazine shoots donning her style visions.

When it comes to her clients, Ade is all about her business. While prepping Yara for the Radio Disney Awards, I watch her mind turn as she directs her assistant in straight boss mode. After a few minutes, she remembers that I'm still in the room and kindly asks if I've gotten everything that I needed and promises to meet up the following week before hustling back over to Yara to finish her morning session. I catch the hint and head towards the door, feeling a little Alice in Wonderland as I exit the world of the fashion queen and tumble back into my own.

Yara Shahidi style session

As a child, Ade undoubtedly knew that her place was in the fashion world. Born to Nigerian parents, where colorful garments with bold patterns and vast arrays of textures were a staple in the Samuel household, it's no surprise that she put pencil to paper drawing dresses and creating her own creative combinations.

“It's so funny because my family are not fashion-driven people," Ade says when we catch up a few days later. We're seated outside at a large round table at Aroma Coffee & Tea, one of her favorite food spots as confirmed by the cashier who gave her a knowing smile when we strolled up to the counter. “I honestly just had an innate feeling and love for it. When I would watch movies, I wouldn't be interested in the movie itself and what's happening, I'd just sit there like, 'Oh, shit, what are they wearing? How can I wear that to school?' I was a little girl, like six or seven, and I was like, I want to put this on.'"

“I honestly just had an innate feeling and love for [fashion]."

At Buffalo State University, she did a three-year program in Fashion, Merchandising and Textile Technology while picking up internships at fashion and beauty PR firm Tractenberg & Co. and W magazine. Working in editorial, she found that having a strong knowledge of high-fashion brands wasn't optional, it was a necessity. So she spent a semester abroad in Siena, Italy to understand the appeal of Italian-made designs. “I wanted to see how art influenced fashion and understand why art is so important to designers like Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino," says Ade. “It's because the art culture in Italy is insane, from the buildings, the architects, the painters."

After returning to the states, she interned at Teen Vogue while completing her formal education at the Fashion Institute of Technology and working as a manager at the South Street Seaport location for Express. At the end of her senior year, she was offered a position at the magazine as a fashion assistant, but it wasn't quite what she had in mind for her career path.

“I turned the job down at Teen Vogue because I wanted to be a stylist. Why would I take a position to be in the fashion closet when I wanted to be a stylist?" she says, biting into her egg, black bean and bacon breakfast burrito.

“I remember talking to James [Worthington DeMolet] and Karla Welch, and Karla telling me, 'You can always be a stylist. Working at a magazine is once in a lifetime. It's a great way to cultivate relationships. This is the way people are going to know who you are.' So I took their advice and ended up doing that; I went back to the magazine."

At Teen Vogue she slayed. So much so that she was promoted to Accessories Market Assistant Editor before a job with Kate Young for Season 2 of Fashion Star landed her in Hollywood styling for Nicole Richie, just shortly after leaving the magazine. But once the gig was up, the Bronx-native found herself on a flight back home.

Booking consistent jobs is one of the many challenges of being a stylist, and one that Ade doesn't take lightly. “There's always that fear as a stylist of will they book me again? So you always have to deliver. Every time it has to be something new, something fresh. It has to be something that makes people remember."

It's part of what drives her to go above and beyond to make her clients happy and to cultivate strong relationships with fellow stylists, brands and clientele. “You have to know your competition and you have to see what they're doing that's keeping them consistent in work. Think about what you can do in your niche and how to be an innovator with your clients. The reason why some stylists don't find consistent work is because they do the bare minimum. They do like, 'Okay, let me go call in clothes' or 'Let me go to the store and buy something and then put it on my client' when it's like you're costing them money now. A stylist like me or a bigger stylist has relationships. We don't need to go to Versace and shop. We can just get Versace in for you through our relationships with the PR company."

"Think about what you can do in your niche and how to be an innovator with your clients."

Three months after being back in New York, Ade received a referral of Nicole Richie to work as an assistant to Simone Harouche, stylist for stars such as Miley Cyrus and Christina Aguilera. Once again Ade packed her bags and headed for L.A.—and this time she wasn't coming back.

“I think it's all about showing people that you work hard without trying to show them you work hard," says Ade. "Sometimes I run into interns who are trying so hard to prove to me that they're doing work instead of just doing it."

"The work is going to show for itself."

I try to please who I'm working with and just make them feel comfortable and at peace. At the end of the day, styling and fashion is such a stressful industry that the assistant, intern or whoever you're working with should alleviate that. That's what I always try to do and that's my mentality about assisting and being a part of this space and energy of people when it comes to work. How can we alleviate each other's stress? How can we work with each other to make magic happen?"

Ade pauses to check her phone as I glance at mine. We're running late. “Let's head out," she says, taking a last swig of her latte.

I navigate the snake-like roads through Hollywood Hills, and park outside the home of Ade's client. Minutes later, Ade pulls up and heads inside, instructing her assistant to grab the garment bags before walking through the gate. After a few moments, she waves me inside the door of Big Sean's house.

“With Sean, he's street but then he's also high fashion," Ade says at she sets up the clothing rack for their styling session. “I love to do research based on the event that I get. When I look at a different red carpet or a different premiere, I usually do my research based on what people have worn in the past, then I develop and go from there."

Earlier, Ade confessed that Big Sean was one of the clients she really looked forward to working with. “Because I liked his style," she says matter-of-factly. “I'm someone who likes a challenge in myself; I've never had a male client, but I knew I was able to do it. Big Sean, to me, has his own personal swag and style that's so trendy but yet not trying. It's his innate style to dress the way he does."

Ade's first session with the Detroit rapper was for the Grammy Awards, where his white and black tux and black patent leather Giuseppe Zanotti loafers became one of the most talked about red carpet looks of the night. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ade revealed that she referenced Al Pacino's character Tony Montana in Scarface for the formal fit. “It's kind of having that balance and looking for people, looking at different movies, and things that inspire me to differentiate his style and not make it so trendy," she says before rushing out of the room for more clothes.

It may be connections that have gotten her on the sets of high-fashion magazines, on the style team for Beyoncé's “Formation" video and working with A-list clients. But it's her work ethic and consistent dedication to her craft that's helped Ade brand herself amongst the fashion elite.

She hopes to not only have her name whispered amongst her clients, but also on the lips of the everyday consumer with her own shoe line Ade Samuel Shoes. “Everything that I've been doing—having my full time jobs, being an intern, assistant and then being able to turn around and create a shoe line—is still a shocker, but I'm happy that it's all come together and it's been major."

Despite the accomplishments that pad her résumé, Ade still has one thing in common with many of her fellow peers. “I think I'm still learning what my purpose is as I grow every day. It's something that I don't think I'm going to know or understand until I kind of get older, because every day I'm still figuring things out. I can't really put my finger to it, but I never get to a place where I'm like my purpose is to be a stylist, because I'm into so many other things. I'm a designer. I'd like to be on television. I'd like to be on-air, but I love clothes and I know that I'm great in that. I'm confident in doing that. Can I do other things? Yes, but I have to understand that it takes time."

One thing's for sure, on the road to purpose, she won't be easing her foot off the gas pedal anytime soon. “Slow down? What is that?" she laughs. "No, I really don't slow down now. I'm happy when my clients are happy. The fact that I am able to style my client, and make them feel good and confident on the red carpet or on the runway…that allows me to be appreciative. The fact that I spoke my dream to existence, I feel appreciative about that."

For this boss chick, it's full speed ahead as she takes the fashion industry by storm. No brakes necessary.

Go behind the scenes with Ade as she styles Big Sean and Yara Shahidi below!

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

Mj Rodriguez has been giving us all of our lives since she emerged on our screens as the ever-so-fabbbulous Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista in Pose, in 2018. Since, she has captured the hearts of many all over the world, from LGBTQ advocates, to everyone in between. The beloved series officially came to a heart-wrenching end, after three seasons of tackling homelessness, sex work, the rejection that the trans community deals with on a daily basis and combined it with heart and dance to captivate millions around the world weekly.

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Sometimes, when things are a little "off" when it comes to our health, there are simple steps that we can take to get ourselves back on track. For instance, did you know that around 92 percent of Americans are considered to be vitamin or mineral deficient in some way? And since there are core nutrients that all of us need in order to function properly, it's important that we're aware of what certain deficiencies are directly linked to.

Today, that is the focus. Here are eight health-related issues that, oftentimes, if we'd just add more of a vitamin or mineral into our system, we will start to feel better in no time (technically a couple of weeks but you get my drift).

1. Muscle Cramping

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Something that happens randomly to me sometimes is I'll have a muscle that cramps up, seemingly out of nowhere. Then I'll snack on a banana and start to feel better. You know why? It's because bananas are high in potassium and potassium is a nutrient that our system needs in order for our muscles to easily contract. If you sweat a lot or don't have enough fluids in your system, you can become a high candidate for being potassium deficient. As far as how much your body requires on a daily basis, it's somewhere between 3,000-4,000 mg a day. Foods that are a good source of this mineral (that is also an electrolyte) include mushrooms, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and lentils.

2. Lip Cracking

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If your PMS is off the chain or you've been catching a lot of colds lately, it could be because you need some more Vitamin B6 in your life. However, a telling sign that this is almost definitely the case is if the corners of your lips are cracking or even if your tongue feels a bit swollen.

The main thing to keep in mind with this point is if you're noticing indications that you could stand to have more Vitamin B6, there's a pretty good chance that your system has gotten close to totally running out. And just how much does your body need of this vitamin on the daily? About 1.3 mg. Up it up to 1.5 mg if you're over the age of 50.

Foods that are loaded with Vitamin B6 are peanuts, poultry, oats, avocados and pistachios.

3. Brittle Nails

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If it seems like no matter how much pampering you do to your nails, they are brittle and breaking, that could be an indication that you are low in iron and/or Vitamin C. The reality is that just our periods alone can make us vulnerable to having lower iron levels. And just how much should you be getting into your system? A lot of healthcare professionals recommend somewhere around 14.8 mg each day. As far as the Vitamin C goes, not only can you have brittle nails when you're not getting enough of it, this is a nutrient that makes it easier for your body to absorb iron too. 75 mg per day of it is recommended (120 mg each day if you're pregnant or are breastfeeding). Foods that are high in iron include beef, dark leafy greens, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and broccoli. Foods that are a good source of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers, potatoes, berries and Brussel sprouts.

4. Allergy Symptoms

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If you've got allergy symptoms that are driving you totally up the wall or you're someone who deals with asthma or eczema, these things can be so much worse for you if you are low in omega-3. Long story short, they're fatty acids that pretty much every part of our body needs from our skin and hair to our reproductive system and our heart. Matter of fact, I actually read once that if you tend to have an excessive amount of earwax, that can also be a heads up that omega-3 is lacking. As far as how much is good for you, 1.1 grams daily is enough. And as far as foods that have omega-3 in them, those would be walnuts, spinach, salmon, chia seeds and eggs.

5. Weakness

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Magnesium is both a mineral as well as an electrolyte that helps to regulate muscle and nerve functions and keep your blood sugar in balance. Well, when you don't have enough magnesium in you, it can cause you to experience extreme amounts of fatigue and weakness. A part of the reason why is because magnesium is what helps to keep your potassium levels where they should be. So, when your potassium levels are low, your muscles will not perform with as much strength as they should. Somewhere around 315 mg each day is what your system requires. Foods that are loaded with magnesium include whole grains, pumpkin seeds, halibut, bananas and dark chocolate.

6. Hair Loss

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One of the main things that all of us need in order for our hair to flourish is zinc. It's a mineral that assists with hair tissue growth and repair, fights dandruff and, it also helps your scalp to produce the sebum that it needs for your hair follicles to remain healthy. That's why it makes a lot of sense that if you're low in zinc, you could possibly suffer from some hair loss or, the very least, hair breakage. What can keep your tresses in good condition is if you consume around 8 mg of zinc daily. Foods that are high in it include Greek yogurt, cashews, black beans, sesame seeds and kale.

7. Sleepiness

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OK, if you're out here getting less than six hours a night on a consistent basis, that's probably not an indication that you are lacking a nutrient; what that probably means is you are sleep deprived.

However, if it seems like no matter how much sleep you get at night and/or naps you take during the day, you are still sleepy as all get out, what that could be telling you is that you are low in Vitamin B12. I can personally attest to this because I was sleepy a lot (and I get no less than six hours a night and sometimes a nap) until I started taking a B12 supplement. When you're low in this vitamin, it can trigger sleepiness or even sleeplessness because it plays a significant role in maintaining your energy levels.

It's kinda crazy that a lot of us are Vitamin B12 deficient when most of us only need .002 mg a day of it. Anyway, foods that are a good source of this nutrient include liver, fortified cereals, shellfish, nutritional yeast and milk alternatives (like almond or oat milk).

8. Food Cravings

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Last fall, I wrote an article about signs that you've got a sugar addiction going on (you can check it out here). One indication is if you're constantly wanting to eat sweets all of the time. Well, along these same lines, if you're experiencing food cravings, that too could mean that you've not some nutrient deficiencies happening. Sweets typically mean that you can stand to have more magnesium or tryptophan. Fatty foods mean you need more calcium. Red meat, caffeine or the desire to chew ice means you're low in iron. Salt is oftentimes connected to dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance.

Wanting to eat bread all of the time could also mean that you could use a tryptophan boost (because you are looking for something to make you feel better and bread is a comfort food. Tryptophan helps to produce the feel-good hormone serotonin so that you don't want bread as much). Foods that are high in tryptophan include tuna, cheese, turkey, milk and apples.

While I certainly wasn't able to tackle all of the nutrient deficient-related issues that exist, take this as a bit of an intro cheat sheet. Again, if you are currently experiencing any of these issues, try getting more vitamins and minerals into your system. You might be surprised just how big of an impact...a little bit of tweaking can make.

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As the sun shines and the weather heats up, we're inching closer to a breakout summer like no other. With most of us excited to be outdoors with our loved ones, it's time to get into the looks we've been mentally preparing for the past year and a half sitting at home. While I've gotten accustomed to the basic black and heather grey combinations from the loungewear overload we experienced, those dark days are finally over and I'm ready to brighten up my summer wardrobe.

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