Gleveen McBeth wants everyone to know black is beautiful
You’ve seen her across your explore page on the Insta as @afro.vogue, but we’re going a little bit past the photo slayage to talk to the girl behind the account.
Gleveen McBeth exudes Black Girl Magic. It’s pretty hard not to miss those coily locs, but besides killer hair tips, she also talked with us about how to maintain a “normal” life as a model/influencer and what she hopes to do with her platform to help women of color slay.
Where are you from? Tell me a little about your adolescent years.
Jamaica, a stunning small island in the Caribbean, is where I was born. However, I grew up in Riverside, California. Riverside is a thriving suburban city in California where I was given access to small opportunities to be creative. It was in this city that I published my first poem, had my first modeling gig, and penned some of my favorite songs.
How did you get into modeling?
I was a musical theatre major in college and had heard about an open call through a friend who was signed to an agency and decided it would be fun to meet with an agent since I loved various forms of creative outlet and spent many times in front of the camera. A week later, I landed a contract and left the theatre world behind.
How do you like being a model? Any pros and/or cons?
Modeling can be a great form of expression and allow you to use a bigger platform than you’d originally have to fuel awareness on issues you are passionate about. Subsequently that huge platform can be damaging to ones’ self esteem because you are exposed to internet trolls, cyber bullying, and the constant comparison between other models and yourself.
Looking back on where you started, did you ever think you’d be here?
Oh my goodness, no! It’s so exhilarating to see how hard work has been paying off though. I remember being 15 years old and dreaming of these days and begging my father to accompany me on shoots hours away because I wanted to create. I was so determined as a kid, I’m glad something came out of it.
What are your short term and long term goals as a model, as well as influencer?
My short term goal is to use my knowledge of the industry to help other young women thrive at their craft. As a long term goal, I would love to start a nonprofit organization seeking to help women suffering from various mental illnesses.
With having such a large presence and following on social media, is it hard to maintain a “normal life?”
I am lucky to have a support system that keeps me constantly grounded so I don’t take this lifestyle for granted. There are many times that I will go out in public and be instantly recognized, but I look on these instances as a reminder that I’m working hard and graciously treasure the moment.
Over the past few years, more and more social, economic, and political issues within the black community have finally been brought to light, yet not much justice has been served. What steps do you feel could be taken to better these circumstances?
I believe one of the most important first steps is realizing that when an issue affects any group, it affects the entire country. Many people go through their daily lives with a privileged perspective, ignoring issues that don’t affect them directly. They don’t speak out on injustices or bat an eyelash on plaguing issues simply because they are not suffering from these problems. If we start to become allies and speak out on behalf of one another in solidarity, I infer that we will start to see changes for the better.
What is your stance on #BlackLivesMatter?
With the current political climate in this country, it is saddening that a hashtag is needed to remind us that black lives matter. I am happy that this digital age has fueled a movement celebrating the importance of black lives and our magnanimous contributions to society.
You are such an inspirational figure for young women around the globe, especially women of color. How do you plan to use your platforms to represent black women in America?
Thank you for the compliment! I am flattered to represent such a strong, ambitious, dynamic group of women. I was birthed by an incredible black woman, Davreen McBeth, who taught me the importance of self love and I hope to serve as a reminder for black women across the globe that black is strong, beautiful and resilient.
What would be the best advice that you would pass on to young women around the world?
Advice that has helped me throughout the years is to “never change who you are to please someone else.”
Do you believe that social media plays a negative or positive role in mental health stability?
I have a neutral stance on the role of social media in mental health stability. I believe social media can provide access to support groups whose purpose is to help you cope with your mental illness, but can also heighten mental health issues when exposed to internet trolls and when placed in a position of constant comparisons of those who you think are “living” more than you are.
Where/who do you draw inspiration from for your style?
I would definitely say I am constantly inspired to the styles of Rihanna and Barbie. Rihanna’s eclectic, bold style paired with Barbie’s girly colorful style are a match made in heaven for me.
What are your go-to beauty products this summer?
Any advice or secret tips for girls with kinky/coily hair?
Cowash! I recently learned that the best way to retain moisture for hair with tight coils is by cowashing. Do not use shampoo unless absolutely necessary. It strips your beautiful coils of moisture and causes breakage!
How do you maintain your body year around?
I dance a lot! I am still working on maintaining a pristine diet, but in the meantime I find myself dancing a lot which helps keep my figure trim.
If you could have a theme song, what would it be?
“He wasn’t man enough for me” by Toni Braxton
Instagram story or Snapchat?
What are three weird facts about you?
I was a multiple award-winning spelling bee champion, I have never had a boyfriend and I had my first kiss at age 22.
What do you have in store for the rest of 2017?
I am currently working on some exciting creative projects including music and a fashion blog, so stay tuned!