Lydia is a recent Ivy League graduate who is passionate about using her voice to enact change in minority and female communities. Dubbed the "Intern Queen," she has worked 8+ internships in diverse industries, including Wall Street firms and the Obama White House, and is now bringing her career and lifestyle tips to you! Meet Lydia on Instagram @queen_of_anglin and Twitter @its_lit_dia.
9 Lessons I Learned After Working 9 Internships
Through the grace of God and 8 pt font on my resume, this summer, I have completed my 9th internship, *officially* bringing my intern career to a close.
Beginning my junior year of high school, I have clerked for a civil judge, interned at Shell Oil Company, Vinson & Elkins, the White House National Economic Council (under the Obama Administration), Goldman Sachs (3x), and campus internships through Cornell University and Jopwell.
What began as my childhood obsession with Michelle Obama and desire to gain early exposure to the legal field has led me down an incredibly insightful path and onto additional passions for business, public service, and now diverse forms of journalism.
Holding me up the whole way have been an unwavering coalition of mentors, sponsors, and family members, reaffirming the notion that "it takes a village." My first "real internship" was at age 16, clerking at the 164th Civil District Court under Judge Alexandra Smoots-Hogan – a black woman – and was secured through my uncle's outreach to his coworker's doctor's friend who then advocated for my pronounced interest in law, despite my age. Judge Smoots-Hogan took me under her wing and drilled into me the mantra that "there is a place for black women in politics and our voices matter." To this day, this internship represents so many foundational life lessons: sponsors and advocates matter, closed mouths don't get fed, always mentor and be mentored, and there is no substitute for hardwork.
9 internships later, these last few years have certainly been a journey – but it's just the beginning. As I promised Judge Smoots-Hogan, my success isn't defined by numbers but by impact. There is nothing I want more than to see hundreds and thousands of women of color break through glass ceilings and simultaneously reach back to pull more ladies up with them.
In a world where there are numerous obstacles and institutional inequities preventing women of color from access to life-changing resources and opportunities, we truly need to support each other and continually work to be the plug for opportunities.
"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity." – Viola Davis
While I do not think that it's necessary for every student to complete 9 internships – even 3 internships are a lot – all students looking to begin their careers should be open to pursuing their interests and considering new opportunities that continuously arise. My internships have been an advanced trial period, allowing me to explore a number of potential paths before permanently committing to one thing. This insight has helped me form a well-rounded perspective regarding where my passions truly lie, and several years later, I'm still discovering new things.
Here are 9 lessons that I learned after working 9 internships that you can apply to your professional journey.
1. You won't love every job, but you will learn a lot about yourself.
Learning what you don't like is just as insightful as learning what you do. During my internship at the court, I quickly learned that Law & Order was not an accurate depiction of the legal system. Criminal law scared the daylights out of me. Rather than call off law altogether, I began to gravitate more towards corporate crime and public policy. This revelation not only saved me time and *emotional trauma*, but led me down a path that would be integral in my future roles at the law firm and financial services.
2. There will be moments of self-doubt.
We're not invincible. You can have all the training, education, and support systems under the sun and still have an off day every once in a while. There were days when I was working at the White House where I would literally run to the bathroom, call my mom, and cry after receiving negative feedback on a project. The work was grueling and seemingly never-ending (and we were unpaid). In those off moments, the true lesson was found in how I pulled myself back together and reattempted a project rather than wallowing in the failure itself. As the old saying goes, "Many times what we perceive as an error is actually a gift."
3. Do your research.
So simple, and yet so important. You wouldn't a take a test without studying, so you shouldn't go into an interview or coffee chat without basic understanding of an opportunity you're interested in. The internet is a beautiful thing. It can be overwhelming, so take your time, but it is incredible how many programs, scholarships, and opportunities I have found from simple Google searches and even Twitter and Facebook posts. Always ensure that you are taking advantage of the information that you do have within your grasp.
4. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes.
From my first mentor, Judge Smoots-Hogan, to classmates and division managers, I have learned that mentors are everywhere. They won't always be women of color, or even women at all. In fact, some of my most influential mentors have been white men. The point is, most of us need someone in our corner guiding and supporting us, be it professionally or psychologically, and there is no make or model for what that assistance will look like. I have had ladies that I once mentored as freshmen go on to advocate and connect me with important opportunities. You never know when you are going to need a helping hand and what people say about you when you are not there can make a tremendous difference.
5. Your brand and reputation matter.
That being said, your reputation matters. As Oprah said in her British Vogue interview, no one is expecting you to have a brand all figured out as a young adult. However, being highly regarded as someone who is eager to learn, always ready to lend a helping hand, and/or consistently provides good quality work can "brand you" as a good investment, encouraging others to take a chance on you.
Related: 5 Effortless Ways to Boost Your Reputation at Work
Author, Lydia Anglin. Photo by Kelechi Mpamaugo.
6. Closed mouths don't get fed.
My philosophy for most of my career has been "the worst they can say is no." Aim high, and if you fall short, you will still be in a comfortable place. Particularly as students and young professionals, we have the ability to ask for help and seek out guidance from very established people, because in an ideal world, many would "like to help the younger generation." For an example, during one of my internships, I invited the global head of my department out to coffee, and to my surprise, he quickly responded and was very enthusiastic about meeting an intern. This privilege does lessen as we get older, and should be undertaken carefully, but definitely take advantage of it while you can.
7. Start small, but keep the big picture in mind.
For many of us, our first jobs are not glamorous. Before I interned at the court, I worked a retail job… and it was so difficult! However, I learned important customer service skills, patience, and the value of always presenting yourself as being willing to learn. Those same skills have applied to every internship and role I pursued since. Even Michelle Obama was once a 20-something.
Aim high and build upon integral professional values like persistence and hard work.
8. You have to put in the work – period.
While it's no secret that some have it easier than others, frustratingly so, there truly is no substitute for hard work. This does not mean work yourself to wits end – mental health and coalition building are very important – but the race will not run itself. Mentors, sponsors, and professional development programs serve as fuel along the way, but alone, they rarely are enough. It's your brand, your career, your future. Put in the work.
9. Reach forward and reach back.
As said by Maya Angelou, "I come as one but stand as ten thousand." Our successes extend so much further than ourselves. From Ruby Bridges to Katherine Johnson, someone once walked so you can run. As you open doors, remember to reach back and give the key to those who follow you.
Are You Keeping Your “Denial Length”? Here’s Why You Should Trim Your Hair
Cut it, cut it, cut it, cut it… yo split ends way too long you need to cut itttt.
Like many ladies, there were few things I used to hate more than cutting my hair. Prior to transitioning, I would spend what felt like all year growing my hair out 2-3 inches just to lose what little new growth I gained after my bi-annual trim. I would go back and forth with my hairstylist, asking her just to "dust the ends" or to "keep as much length as possible," but in reality, those ends needed to go. Period.
As DeeJa B mentions in her Instagram video, many of us are trying to keep our "denial length" – barely trimming our hair and keeping dead length because we are in "denial" that our ends are damaged and that trimming them will truly lead to healthier hair. You know who you are. Let those ends go, sis.
Per collaboration with Houston-based stylist and owner of Shay BeYOUty, Shayna Matthews, most ladies pursuing healthy hair should trim their ends every 4-6 weeks depending on heat and color damage, protective styling frequency, chemical treatment, natural hair product usage, thickness, and overall growth speed. Note: these trims do not need to be drastic, a snip here and a snip there. But split ends become progressively worse the longer you wait to trim them off. For some, lightly trimming your hair earlier on and more consistently can help you keep the length that would need to be all cut off by stalling your trim for 10+ months.
To combat damage, Shay recommends that "trims and treatments should go hand in hand. Often what is causing your ends to split is the overall lack of moisture and resulting dryness that comes from daily manipulation – especially if you're using chemicals and heat."
Whether you are all natural or rocking a relaxer, Shay recommends that ladies are religious about their deep conditioning to replenish the moisture our hair desperately needs.
I, for one, can say that I've traditionally been pretty bad about keeping up with my trims – maybe 1 or 2 times a year. But I can now say that I have seen a noticeable progression in my hair health and length over the last year since working to keep my ends clipped and hair moisturized. After making excuses at my last few appointments, I promised myself that at my next visit, I would get a trim all the way up to the green line (as illustrated in the picture above) and not slide by with a trim only to the red or yellow line.
And this time around, I did. Although seeing my new growth was so satisfying, I knew that my dead ends had to go. Healthy hair is trimmed hair.
Are you waiting too long to trim your dead ends? Chances are that you might be. Check out the tips below for different hair textures and treatment levels in order to keep your hair trimmed and healthy.
Dyed hair is particularly fragile and the chemicals can be harsh, both on your ends and roots. When highlighting hair, it strips a layer off the hair strand, the lipid layer, which is responsible for lubricating the membrane, ultimately causing more porous hair, texture changes, and increased breakage and dryness if color is applied too frequently and without moisture replacement. To keep your hair from getting to the point of breakage, aim for a trim every 4-6 weeks and frequent conditioning treatments.
Relaxed & Chemical-Treated Hair
Like dyed hair, relaxed and chemical treated hair are also very fragile. To keep your hair from getting too damaged, which happens easily with relaxed hair, try to trim every 4-6 weeks depending on your hair texture and growth speed. If you are combining chemical treatments, like a relaxer and color, frequent moisturizing should be your top priority to avoid damage.
Natural Hair (with semi-frequent heat usage)
From blow-outs to silk presses, semi-frequent heat usage on your natural hair isn't inherently a bad thing but should always follow with the use of a good heat protectant (my favorite is Redken Smooth Lock Heat Glide!) Since heat can weaken the ends of our hair and cause dryness if heat is applied too frequently, it is recommended that ladies with natural hair also get more frequent trims and stay moisturized. Depending on your hair length, density, and growth speed, trims every 4-6 weeks might be a good option. If your hair grows more slowly, opt for every 2-3 months.
Natural Hair (without heat usage)
Trimming natural hair comes down to knowing your texture and overall hair growth speed. Some ladies will only gain 2 inches all year and it will be completely healthy, while others gain 4+ inches a year but are manipulating it a lot with a number of products and high-tension hairstyles. Even natural hair styling can be rough on your ends if you are constantly doing twist-outs, and some products are so thick that they can suffocate your hair. That being said, for some, trimming every 3-4 months may help maintain length and health, while for others, trimming every 1-2 months is a better option.
Whether you consistently rock braids or wigs, your hair underneath still needs a trim or it can get damaged despite the new growth. High tension styles like cornrows and weaves can be rough on your ends and edges, so don't put off your trims for too long. Like natural hair with less frequent heat usage, depending on your hair length, density, and growth speed, try to trim your hair every 4-8 weeks. If your hair grows more slowly, trim your hair every 2-3 months.
All images provided by Lydia Anglin; Featured image via Giphy
"Just drink water." There is nothing more irritating than scrolling down your Instagram feed, seeing all these women with naturally perfect skin – glowing in the sun with not a blemish in sight – and their magical advice to achieve clear skin is: drink water.
Well, I want to know what water these ladies are drinking because I have been drinking my water and have tried every natural skin regimen under the sun promoted by our favorite YouTubers with no success.
Since middle school, I have had mild to severe breakouts. Nothing too terrible, but enough to be noticable and impact my confidence when the increased discoloration and acne scarring began to become a topic of conversation. In high school, I went to see a dermatologist and was prescribed an acne medication, which virtually eradicated my breakouts; it was miracle. Using acne cream basically allowed me to forget I even had it.
Problem solved... Or so I thought.
Despite its success, deep down, I used to feel ashamed whenever someone would comment on how clear my skin was or ask for my "secret" and it was acne cream. It made me feel like I was cheating somehow, or that I wasn't trying hard enough to research and find a regimen that would give me clear skin without any medication. I had friends with nearly perfect skin and they didn't use acne cream, and thought, Why couldn't that be me? On YouTube, I found so many influencers broadcasting their successful transitions from acne medication, encouraging viewers to reject a life "enslaved to chemicals" to "free ourselves" and "take control over our health and futures."
So, I decided to do just that and go rogue.
Two years ago, I went on a quest to completely wean myself off of chemicals. I was so desperate to go all-natural in every way – my hair, diet, and skin – and was confident that if I put in the time and energy, I would have luscious curls, a snatched waist, and glowing skin. I got 1.5 out of the 3 right, but my abrupt transition off of acne medicine without consulting my doctor or selecting one particular skin care regimen nearly permanently damaged my skin.
I approached natural skin care the same way I approached my natural hair journey: I would hop from product to product, watch countless videos and mix methods, and somehow through process of elimination, I would determine what worked vs. what didn't. It was a disaster. Determined, I really tried to stick it out, telling myself that I just needed more time for my face to adjust, but my skin was super sensitive to all of the DIY mixers and elixirs I was cooking up and I began to develop severe hyperpigmentation and cystic acne – far worse than anything I experienced before my original medication.
Not only was I out there looking crazy and smelling like a pine cone from all the tea tree oil I was using to treat my breakouts, but my self-confidence was really taking a hit. I still look at *unedited* selfies from that period and cringe.
It was one evening before a school formal event that I reached my breaking point.
My face was so raw and tender from all of the scrubbing, face masks, and chemicals that applying makeup was not only painful but made me worry about the makeup further inflaming and breaking out my skin. Additionally, the thought of getting ready and going to this event without any makeup sent me into a panic. Everyone would see the discoloration, the bumps, I just couldn't to do that. So I decided, I wouldn't go. Later that evening, I watched on Snapchat as everyone was out at this event, enjoying themselves and living their best lives, while I sat in bed applying yet another face mask. Wistful, I scrolled back through my phone onto pictures of my skin before I stopped using my acne cream and it seemed like a different world. I was sick of smelling like a pine cone. I couldn't take it anymore. I decided to return to my acne medication.
Maybe, I'm a sellout. Maybe, I didn't wait long enough or went about transitioning the wrong way. Maybe, I don't care.
I don't have perfect skin and I'm OK with it.
Acne medication just happens to be a part of my narrative and it works for me. All I know is that I didn't look or feel the way I wanted to when I stopped using my acne cream, and I will pursue whatever regimen, chemicals or not, that make me look and feel beautiful. I wouldn't have stopped using my acne cream if I didn't feel shamed into pursuing natural regimens, and after consulting with my dermatologist this time around, I transitioned to a cream with increasingly lower chemical percentages and that can be used less frequently and eventually, not at all.
Chemicals and medications are not inherently bad or harmful if used correctly.
The primary prescription I personally use is Duac, a clindamycin benzoyl peroxide topical gel as a spot treatment. I started off at 10% strength and have been slowly decreasing the intensity over time. When money is tight, I opt for a dupe on Amazon that I have had good success with called Replenix. When I first returned to prescription acne treatments, I was using Duac and Tazorac, a retinoid, to basically remove my entire top layer of damaged skin and address my hyperpigmentation and acne scarring. But, I HATED it. Although it was technically successful, my skin peeled for weeks and was super raw and tender. I couldn't even wear foundation without looking diseased. As soon as I ran out of my dosage, I immediately stopped using it. Alternatively, I do chemical peels every 3-4 weeks to balance my complexion, my favorite being the Microdelivery Resurfacing Peel by Philosophy. For cleansers and moisturizers, I use Neutrogena Oil-Free cleanser every night or with a spin brush 2-3 times a week and Cetaphil face lotion – nothing fancy.
My story isn't an unwavering endorsement of acne medication. I still drink a lot of water, try not to touch my face with dirty hands, and limit my consumption of greasy foods, and honestly, in a perfect world, I wouldn't use chemicals at all. But, rather than feel ashamed and boxed into a corner regarding perceptions, I am here to say that everyone's experience is different and it's okay to do whatever works for you. Just ensure that you are properly informed and feel empowered in whatever decision you make.
So, if you are considering transitioning from acne medication, go for it. Just go about it correctly. If you want to embrace your skin as-is, go for it. Just know that your journey may not pan out the way you originally imagined and you are free to go about it however you want. And, if you want to continue using your prescription, I'm right here with you.
It's your skin, it's your life, it's your choice.
Featured image by Lydia Anglin
Issa Rae: "Don't Be Afraid To Be A B*tch"
Last week, Issa Rae sat down with The Late Show host, Stephen Colbert, to discuss adulting, the release of Insecure Season 3, and her Emmy nomination – yasss.
ATTENTION LADIES 🗣 @IssaRae has the key for you to succeed and it came straight from @shondarhimes @ava… https://t.co/AYFWRuqNqz— The Late Show (@The Late Show) 1533874024.0
Colbert asked the creative extraordinaire a question all of us that consider her career goals might be thinking: "Now that you're an established, award-winning actor in your own right, do people come up asking for advice from you?"
In response, Issa shared:
"I tend to be afraid of like upsetting people, and that, will get you nowhere... Especially, when you are trying to create a show. As a showrunner and being in the industry, just as a woman, once you're labeled 'difficult', your career is kind of over because then it's like everyone is like 'she's hard to work with, beware' and you don't get many chances to fail."
Her golden advice to counter and tune out all of that noise? Well, she gave a word passed down to her from Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Mara Brock Akiil, and Debbie Allen - some of Hollywood's most prominent black women who run the show behind the scenes:
"The advice from them is: Don't be afraid to be a bi**h. And, it's so true!"
Thank you, Issa, for setting the record straight.
If we're too reserved, we're standoffish. If we're too ambitious, we're bossy. If we're too opinionated, we're difficult or a b*tch. Trying to juggle and mitigate every stereotype about black women can keep us stagnant, afraid to move forward or backwards, and always prioritizing how others feel above our own needs.
Like Issa and her role models, we need to feel empowered in our decision to break free – from the self-doubt, from the criticism, from the fear. We are more than stereotypes and if being a boss woman means being a b*tch, then y'all better make sure that "B" is capitalized.
Related: 6 Business Rules for Alpha Women
In short, in a world that loves to stereotype black women and limit the heights that we can reach, put the haters on mute and don't be afraid to go for it. Your legacy depends on it.
Check out the full interview below.
Featured image by DFree / Shutterstock.com
The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Natural Hair
Once upon a time, there was a baby naturalista who used to sit in front of the mirror every night, with her arms held high for over 45 minutes, trying to complete the perfect twist out.
As she huffed and puffed, she wished for a fairy godmother who could end her misery and just grant her poppin' curls at the flick of a wand. But, this naturalista eventually came to her senses and realized: ain't nobody got time for that.
Like many ladies, my time is precious. In a perfect world, I could spend 30-45 minutes every night crafting the perfect twist out, but it just doesn't work that way. Dinner needs to be cooked. Errands need to be run. Assignments need to be completed. In my opinion, one of the hardest parts about the transitioning process is the "orientation period" when you become oriented with your new hair texture, learning which products work best for you and simply building your artillery of no-fail hairstyles. It's not glamorous, and quite frankly, it can be very time consuming and demoralizing.
Related: The Truth About Transitioning from Relaxed to Natural
Despite the highs and lows of the "orientation period", there are ways to make your life a lot easier and still achieve your desired look. While there are nuances for every curl pattern, here is the lazy girl's guide to natural hair, 5 ways to save your precious time and energy:
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Our hair needs a lot more moisture than our non-curly counterparts, and failure to keep our hair conditioned paves the road to breakage. When I had a relaxer, I'd probably dabble a few drops of hair oil on my scalp once a week and was good to go. If anything, I tried to limit usage of any oils or sheens that would make my relaxed hair look too weighed down. Now natural, I was shocked how much more I need to condition my hair, both in quantity and frequency, in order to achieve the shine and bounce needed for my hair to be healthy and malleable. I find styling 100% easier when my hair is well-conditioned (and a little damp). A lot of the frizziness and tangling I was encountering earlier in my transition process was the result of too little moisture, so now I am religious about leave-in conditioners and deep conditioning.
Tip: Invest in finding your go-to leave in conditioner. For the days I'm in a hurry, my personal favorite is, It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Conditioner, and the spray nozzle makes conditioning even faster.
Detangle in the Shower
Showers are a whole production in my household. Shaving and face masks aside, I have a whole detangling playlist created for my wash-days. The steam from the shower helps loosen your curls and open the pores in your scalp, allowing for products to be better absorbed. I typically part my hair into 4 sections with clips and then condition and detangle each section – the whole process complete by the time I'm done singing "Neighbors Know My Name" and "Rocket". Those extra 8-10 minutes in the shower save me an additional 20+ minutes while styling, especially if I'm doing a braid or twist out.
Tip: Detangle the ends of your hair first before working your way up to the roots. And, be gentle on your ends to avoid tearing or excess breakage.
KYP: Know Your Products!
This right here is the deal-breaker. My hair with and without products looks like two totally different curl patterns – two totally different people! Finding the products that work best for your hair takes time and it's important not to call off your entire natural hair journey because one product line doesn't work for you. I personally had a terrible experience using Cantu products and was convinced that the whole natural hair movement was a conspiracy created by beauty corporations to drain my bank account. Then, I found Shea Moisture, which went on to be my holy grail for the next year before I transitioned to As I Am products. The point is: products matter. Not only is styling easier with the right products, but they should help increase your overall hair health – which may even result in you "growing out of" and moving onto new products.
Tip: Watch YouTube videos with ladies who have similar textures to your curl pattern and then try the products that worked for them. Also, purchase "tester" hair products in smaller volumes, so you don't end up stuck with large quantities of a failed product.
Recycle Your Twist-Out
In the now *rare* occasions that I do complete a full twist-out, I will only twist and add products one time before "refreshing" it. This means, I will wear my hair down curly the first day and then continuously tie it up at night in a way that will let me repurpose my original effort without having to continuously restyle. At night, I will flip all of my hair up into a "pineapple" and then let my hair back down the next day. It's as easy as it sounds, and "refreshing" the next morning takes me 5 minutes tops. Usually, all of my curls are preserved from the night before allowing me to stretch my original twist out another 2-3 days before transitioning to buns and ponytails.
Tip: Do a really good twist out on the first day and use ample products to ensure that your curls stay defined later in the week.
When in Doubt, BUN or POOF!
I wear my natural hair in a bun so often that my coworkers are star-gazed when I actually wear my hair down for a change. Up or down, slicked or messy, buns make the world go round. Every natural girl will eventually find her no-fail hairstyle and it will become her security blanket. I love that I can slick my hair into a high bun in 60 seconds, tie my edges down for 5-10 minutes, and be out the door in seconds. More often than not, I'll style my bun or ponytail at night and just tie it down with a scarf and sleep in it. The next morning, there really isn't anything for me to do beyond getting dressed for work. It's quick, classy, and relatively effortless. For some, a poof functions the same way.
Tip: Find your quick style. Own it, live it, love it.
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Featured image by Lydia Anglin
The First Black Woman To Win Miss Universe Great Britain Talks Natural Hair, Pageantry & Purpose
It's 2018 and we are still encountering many "firsts" for women of color. First black woman to headline Coachella. First black woman to own a NASCAR team. First black woman to earn a PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT. First black woman to win the San Francisco mayoral election. The list goes on. One notable "first" took place earlier this month: Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers was crowned Miss Universe Great Britain – the first black woman to do so in over 66 years of the pageant's history.
Miss Universe Great Britain: Dee-Ann Kentish Rogers. Photo by Teresa Brooks.
Recently, Dee-Ann chatted with xoNecole to discuss her journey to pageantry, original aspirations to become an Olympic athlete, competing with natural hair, advice to her younger self, and everything in between. All hail the queen!
"I hope that my win will translate into a significant increase in the number of black woman entering Miss Universe Great Britain," Dee-Ann said, regarding her new crown. "My win says to them and woman of other ethnic background: Be bold, be courageous there is space for you in pageantry. Step into it and own it."
Long before Dee-Ann aspired to compete in Miss Universe Great Britain pageant, she had her sight set on a different competition: the Olympics.
"I was born in Antigua and spent most of my childhood running barefoot and climbing trees on Anguilla's beautiful shores. My mom was the soccer/volleyball/track/debate team mom and spent her time shuttling me from one extra curricular activity to another. I spent the vast majority of my time training to become an Olympic athlete for Great Britain and my determination allowed me to compete in the Commonwealth Games on two occasions and the World University Games three times as a heptathlete. Unfortunately, a knee injury at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland ended that dream prematurely."
Rather than let this devastating career blow keep her down, she found a new outlet for her competitiveness and a platform that would let her shine: pageantry.
"I looked for something else to channel my competitive energy into and in came pageantry on a shining white horse. My first attempt at pageantry was the Miss Anguilla pageant in 2017. After I won that crown, I caught the pageant bug and immediately began searching for another pageant."
Photo by Kev Wise.
Through her reign, Dee-Ann hopes to bring attention to a number of women's rights issues, including: fighting against female genital mutilation, ending acid attacks in India, supporting The Black Mambas, an all-female Anti-Poaching Unit, and providing programs for homeless women in Wales through the charity, A-Sisterhood.
Following in the footsteps of Miss Jamaica 2017, Davina Bennett, and taking another massive win for representation, Dee-Ann will compete with her natural hair and become the first Miss Universe contestant to compete with dreadlocks.
"I grew up with my natural afro frequently combed into two cornrows. My mother never allowed me to straighten my hair, even when I begged her. It was one of those decisions you become grateful for later on in life. As a student athlete, sometimes caring for my hair took up time I did not think I had. After researching dreadlocks, I decided it was something I wanted to do. I could trace my life journey through the knots in my hair. I made the decision not to change my dreads for the pageant because I felt it was important for young women to understand that they don't need to change themselves through enhancements in order to belong. Miss Universe has been edging close to crowning a natural hair woman."
"I could trace my life journey through the knots in my hair."
Photo by Zuri Wilkes.
Dee-Ann credits a lot of her success up to this point to the support and guidance of the strong black women in her family.
"My drive [is] to make the matriarch of my family - my late grandmother proud. For her, happiness came from seeing her children and grandchildren living their fullest lives. She grew up poor, working with her hands all her life but her ironclad determination allowed her to see her children succeed. As a fruit of her labour, I want to achieve everything she never got the chance to."
"My drive is to make my late grandmother proud."
Dee-Ann hopes her win will be a call to action for women of color to fearlessly pursue their dreams and to be more than a face in underrepresented spaces, but to be endearing and unwavering in their ambitions. "Do not to be afraid to reinvent your dreams. Life won't always pan out exactly as we plan but it always shifts course for a reason. Setbacks happen. Have the determination to stay focused and you will overcome."
6 Fun Facts About Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers:
- Favorite food? OXTAIL!
- Favorite song? "All the Stars" by SZA and Kendrick Lamar
- Favorite hair product?June Milnrow Jamaican Black Castor Oil Edge Freeze Gel (life saving!!!)
- Favorite hobby? Salsa dancing
- One place you want to travel? Cuba
- The thing you can't live without? Honestly, it's probably my phone (I can feel my mother's disapproving glance from here).