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HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

03 August 2010, 16.02 | Posted in Accessories, Chicks with Kicks, Jewellery, Music, celebrity | 3 comments »

TanayaAsics3 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

High Snobette first featured Tanaya as the designer behind Lace earrings, and then she popped up more recently as the featured model for Married to the M.O.B.’s fall lookbook. Outside of our world, she’s appeared in a couple of very heavy hitting music videos–not so much as the double-D, jingling vixen but as that sexy vibe chick, who guys want to bed, yes, but also imagine being their forever Bonnie to their Clyde. Tanaya also did a hot-as-toast shoot modeling Asics (featured on this page), which her good friend Ronnie Fieg helped design. When we wrote about her here, definitely our readers were intrigued by her look—equal parts mysterious, street smart and sweet, she caused enough of a buzz for us to seek her out for an interview. She’s juggling a lot these days—accessory design, acting, modeling, but front and center at the moment is Lace, which recently landed in Nicki Minaj’s “Your Love” video.

HS: So what’s current in your life now? I know you have a lot going on.

Tenaya: Five minutes ago I just dropped off some Lace earrings for Nicki Minaj. Two friends of mine are styling her. She wore one of my pieces a few weeks ago in her “Your Love” video. I haven’t seen it yet, but I saw an interview with her on MTV and she was wearing it! That was so exciting.

More images after the flip, plus the rest of the interview, where we find out which of the industries Tanaya works in–fashion, music or modeling–is the most treacherous!

HS: That is so huge, Tanaya. That’s great. I know there have been some other celebrities, too.

Tenaya: Rosa Acosta, Alicia Keyes—she wore it on the cover of Giant. She was the first celebrity who wore it. For editorials, it’s going to be in Metro Park and Twill magazine, which comes out in August.

TanayaLace1 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

TanayaLace2 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

TanayaLace3 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

HS: And you also do some modeling.

Tenaya: I’ve been modeling for a while and now I’m taking acting classes, which I just started two weeks ago. I’m with Wilhemina, and at some point they started sending me on commercial castings for commercials and music videos, and for those you have to audition and talk, so I thought acting would be a better way to go. I’m 5’7”and that height works better with acting than modeling runway.

HS: When did you start modeling?

TanayaBW1 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

Tenaya: I’m from Minnesota and when I was young my mom got me in with some agencies. The first job I don’t really remember. I think it was something for K-Mart.

HS: Speaking of family, I know from previous exchanges that the tattoo on your back is in Russian, I’m assuming that’s in your background?

Tenaya:  My Mom is Russian, Native American and a few other things and my Dad is African American and Native American.

Tanaya1 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

Tanaya2 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!


HS: When you’re around Russian models can you feel that connection?

Tenaya: I definitely feel it when I’m around Russian women and models, I have a weird connection with them, even though I don’t speak Russian. They all tell me I should learn to speak Russian. I love their attitude.

HS: The Russian women in Brooklyn are my style icons. They have that white girl swagger I love. So who’s your favorite model?

Tenaya: I’ve always liked Selita Ebanks. I always wanted to walk the Victoria Secret runway. I remember waiting and waiting for the runway show. When it came on, I’d sit there and watch it with popcorn.

HS: Do you find the modeling industry is a lot tougher for women of color?

Tenaya: There will always be segregation. And it’s not always about color. Wilhemenia sends me on jobs, but not as many as the models who are taller than me.

HS: What jobs stand out for you?

Tanaya: I just did a commercial for Rapstar and I shot that with Anthony Mandler, who does all of Jay-Z’s and Rihanna’s video. That’ll be out on TV really soon. And then a music video by Miguel for the song called “All I Want Is You.” I had to act like a clone, an alien robot, and I had huge black contacts in my eyes and there were black lights everywhere and white lipstick. It was fun and interesting.

HS: J.Cole is in that video and there’s a huge amount of buzz surrounding him. Could you feel that hype on the set of the video?

Tanaya: No, I know J. Cole, I’ve met him and been around him on a few occasions and he has to be the most humble person I’ve ever met. Very quiet. No hype what so ever. He came right at the end of the video, did his thing and left. He’s awesome.

HS: How was the shoot for MOB’s fall lookbook?

Tenaya: It was good. I love Leah [McSweeney], she’s awesome. The clothes are amazing.

TanayaMOB1 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

TanayaMOB2 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

TanayaMOB3 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

TanayaMOB4 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

TanayaMOB5 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

HS: Is it different working under a woman’s direction?

Tenaya: In general on shoots, I zone out and don’t focus on what’s in the background, but it is true when you work with women, they know what looks best on a woman. Men know, but it’s not the same.

HS: You work in some industries that have a very tough reputation—fashion, music, modeling, which one would you say is the most treacherous?

Tenaya: I couldn’t really choose one. You have to be careful with all of them. With my jewelry line, there are a lot of people biting off my ideas so I can’t talk too much about what I’m doing next. In music, in certain videos they definitely think that if you’re in the video you’re open to doing whatever. A lot of girls go along with that mentality, which is part of why the artists think that. They’ll go on vacation with them wherever and as soon as they shoot the next video they find someone else. With modeling, there are a lot of drugs, a lot of girls do cocaine, they don’t eat and go on all these crazy diets and the agencies partially encourage that. They’ll say things like, “Do what you need to do to lose your weight.” And the agents will zero in on a few favorites and really push for them, but not really anyone else. I’ve seen a lot of models signed to a 2 or 3 year contract and it goes great for a while and then half way through the agent cuts you off and you’re stuck. Not to mention 21 is the age limit.

HS: So as a young attractive woman in New York, did you find yourself being bogged down by a lot of distractions when you first moved here?

Tenaya: When I first moved here I didn’t understand how fast paced everything was, but I figured out that you can’t pay attention to everyone and you can’t go out all the time. You have to focus. It’s really necessary that you stay focus and do what you need to do.

HS: What’s your main goal for the near term?

Tenaya: I couldn’t come up with one answer. I go with the flow. My answer is to be able to take care of my family and make sure everyone around me is happy. I want the Lace thing to become something big.

We do, too, Tanaya. Best to you and thanks for the interview!

TanayaAsics1 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

TanayaAsics2 HighSnobette Exclusive: Tanaya Henry Interview!

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» Lace By Tanaya Launches Rings!
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