Hi Naddyia, it’s awesome catching up with you. First of all, how has life been for you through the pandemic? 

Hey, Amber! It’s great catching up with you as well! So through the pandemic, it was really rocky at first, but rewarding in the end, so at the beginning of the year I was able to work within the Baltimore Public school system & when Covid-19 hit, I worked from home until June -but during that time I also entered into a freeform grown-ish styling competition. I didn’t win but it was fun to do! Then I began private tutoring a second grader during the remained of the school year until a few weeks ago when my student went into in-class learning for the next grade, then I started focusing on my writing mainly and my media content as a pastime. 

Give us a little background into your interests growing up. I know like me, you have a strong passion for music and fashion including many throwback vintage eras. Tell us about that: 

I’m an only child so growing up my mom put me in pageants at the age of three for social development and I could be around other kids my age. From there I did talent shows and parades until the age of eight and also took acting classes when I was 11, even though I froze on stage and forgot my lines! But as far as music goes, there was always something playing whether my mom was playing songs from the 70s and 80s while cleaning up, or my dad was playing 50s and 60s music in the car-or just hearing the radio in general, I was always surrounded by it! As a kid I didn’t like what other kids liked as much, I would like a young artist then go to a much older one so that kind of set me apart! I remember being a freshman in high school and I would hum Teena Marie’s “Square Biz” while taking a test and my teacher aid, said “How do you even know that song? You weren’t even born!” and I turned and said, “I know a lot of old songs!” I guess having older parents makes you mature a little faster than others. I enrolled in choir during high school as well from my freshman till my junior year. I wanted to sing like Mariah, so my mom had a mini boot camp for me in our basement, I would listen to her songs over and over again and one night at Applebees they had karaoke night I sang “Vision of Love” and I hit the whistle note. Everyone was clapping even my mom’s friends were shocked, so that was a fun night! 

When I was much much younger like around three or four my mom would play Toni Braxton videos while she’d do my hair and I knew every song, I used to love the “Breathe Again” video and ‘Seven Whole Days”. The old Hollywood films were my dad’s thing so when I was a kid we would watch Shirley Temple and I would sing the Animal Crackers song, He’s a huge Humphrey Bogart fan, so there were a lot of Humphrey and Lauren Bacall films. From my dad, I learned about Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth and Dorothy Dandridge. My mom would watch Grace Kelly films, Joan Crawford, Mae West, and Lena Horne. So naturally, I would watch them not realizing that nobody in my peer group as a kid, didn’t know any of those people. Therefore, I had no one really to communicate with, so I just went back to music. But with fashion In high school I made “styling folders” for my friends and it had all the outfits I cut out from different magazines and even a teacher had one, which helped her with shopping. I love the 40s style especially the Harlem Renaissance era when black people really dressed up all the time! Being around my elders really helped with that, as my grandmother and her friends have great style! So collecting vintage black magazines was kind of the next hobby, as well as books. As I’m an avid reader, right now I’m reading “Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion” by Tanisha C. Ford, it’s a really great read!

You and I met originally through our mutual love for Mariah Carey. When did you first start following her and what stood out with her the most, to you? 

Yes! I’ve always liked her music growing up! I remember when I made myself late to school to watch her performance on GMA in 2013, I lived for her “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel” album all through high school which was playing on my ipod at the time. My mom also played her Christmas album every year, but mainly 2016 was a rough year for me, so getting through that along with hearing Mariah’s Madison Square Garden version of “Make it Happen” almost every day, really solidified me as a fan of hers. And that you can’t have a “woe is me” type of attitude towards your life! The majority her songwriting skills sets her apart, as well as her ear for sound. She understands that music has depth and layers and that songwriting is a personal feeling. I think it’s a beautiful thing, that her songs all have personal meanings and stories behind them. She’s also extremely confident in her work ethic which I’m learning to be with my own personal work, as well. 

I understand you have been doing some blogging and writing as well. Tell us about that: 

My Tumblr was really the starting point of the blogging portion. I was fifteen when I created it and ten years later, I’m still active and then I ended up getting an actual blogger account a couple of years later. Writing was something I did in my spare time when I was much younger and making up stories in my notepad. So writing sort of happened organically when I went to college. I had a class project with someone in my class and we had to make up a story, and I came up with this crazy story that my professor ended up reading in front of the whole class. I was so embarrassed but I left it with a cliff hanger and then he said after class, he loved it and wanted to know more. So a day later my friend told me to join Wattpad and I started writing fictional stories on there and then an Instagram friend was starting a blog and asked me to be a music-fashion contributor, So from there, that’s what I have been doing as of late.

Naddiyia and Misty Copeland

What has been one of the biggest highlights for you so far in your life and also some of your biggest lessons? 

Honestly, my biggest lesson is not everyone is going to understand what your trying to do but you have to whole- heartedly believe in yourself to make things actually happen -and to really get out of my own head and way! Sometimes you have to kick your fears down and just do it! I’m still learning how to get out of my comfort zone, it’s scary but you never know what’s on the other side if you stay complacent. The biggest highlights so far have been my willingness to talk to anybody and everybody whether it be on Instagram or to just striking random conversations! That has somewhat got my name out there, and meeting some celebrities at the most random moments. I would say definitely meeting Misty Copeland a few weeks before she became titled as the first black principal dancer, and also messaging Eric Farrell (RIP) who did makeup for Aaliyah and Destiny’s Child -it was interesting to see his comments on certain pictures giving a background story about each look, and messaging Veronica Webb about her blog -and helping her find certain pictures she’d lost in a house fire a couple of years back. 

What’s Your Favorite Beauty Product at this moment?

Oh! My favorite lip combo is MAC chestnut lip liner with MAC cherish lipstick -and lip gloss by Aaliyah for MAC in Li Li’s Motor City LipGlass -it’s so natural with a hint of color. As far as perfume, I love Carolina Herrera Good Girl perfume as well.

What are your plans for the future? To be more involved in writing/blogging? 

In the future, I would love to open a school for young black girls about etiquette, sort of like a modern version of Grace Del Marco school for young women. I think it’s important to show that manners and how you carry yourself really does matter. Even if nobody in your home taught you, you can still learn from others what to do and what not to do. I think that’s very important! As far as my writing goes, I may just let it be a hobby, but if it takes me further then that’s cool as well! Then maybe doing costuming/designing for a TV show or even being an assistant of some sort just to get an idea of how post-production goes. I would love to collaborate with one of my favorite stage play writers David E. Talbert, he’s incredible and definitely the main reason as to why I write! I would also love to work with Mariah during a movie and would love to see her in director mode – even just being an extra or something! There’s a lot that I would love to do honestly.