words by Kat Thompson
photography by Bobby Kim
Nikia Phoenix completely stunned me when I met her—her look is unparalleled, her eyes soft and kind, the splash of freckles across her face alluring. But to fixate only on her external beauty is to do an enormous disservice to the model, blogger, influencer, and content creator, whose sharp mind and warm heart had me lost in thought mid-interview, in awe of her wisdom. Nikia is the founder behind Black Girl Beautiful, a beauty and shopping event catered to women of color. “Products specifically geared toward African American and multicultural women are often relegated to their own section is the beauty aisle. We are left out of the mainstream conversation about beauty… I figured why not start one for the most powerful demographic in the country, black women,” she blogged on her own platform, NikiaPhoenix.com. She is a champion and activist for women and people of color, penning personal essays about self-love, cultural appropriation, and so much more. “I don’t think that anybody’s gotten the full picture of what’s going to happen, what my biggest accomplishment will actually be. But, to keep it simple, I think so far my biggest accomplishment is inspiring people,” she shared with Jennifer in an entirely feel-good moment. Meet Nikia Phoenix.
What is your name, age, and title?
My name is Nikia Phoenix, I am 36 years old, and I guess my occupation right now is dreamer, doer, creator.
What about you surprises people the most?
I think people are most surprised about how down to earth I really am. I’m not a diva—I can be, but that takes way too much energy. I think people are surprised that I’m actually as chill as I appear to be online.
Why do you think that is?
I think that, a lot of times when you see people in real life, your expectations are so great and when you meet them, you’re like, This is not the person I thought it was going to be. I think that people still have a pretty good feeling about me when they meet me.
What to you is the most challenging or infuriating thing about working in your industry?
The most infuriating thing about working as a model and a content creator is that no matter how many walls we knock down, somebody builds more back up. We still have these ridiculous—how should I put this. It’s like we’re supposed to be in boxes. We can either be this or be that, but we can’t be a hybrid of both. So I get very frustrated that people don’t expect for a model to have a brain, they don’t expect for a content creator to have business sense. That frustrates the shit out of me.
What is your go-to cure for a bad day?
I have two. It’s like a combo. So, dance myself clean. Put on some music, turn off the lights, just blast it and dance really hard, eyes closed, room’s dark and cold, until I get sweaty and burn off all the bullshit of the day. My other thing I do is snuggle with my cat and drink a glass of red wine… it’s the best.
What empowers you?
Other people’s energy, actually. I definitely feed off of energy, whether it’s positive energy, negative energy. I give out what somebody gives to me. Energy empowers me. Just to see the reaction on someone’s face when they’re happy about something, even if it’s a small victory. Just to see the excitement; that empowers me. It reminds me that I’m still doing this for a reason.
How do you want to make the world a better place?
I want people to actually look at themselves in the mirror and actually be happy with the person that they see, be happy with that reflection. I want people to know that they don’t have to fit into these boxes that I spoke about earlier, these stereotypes. They can be whoever the freak they want to be. As long as they’re actually authentic to themselves and they’re not messing with anyone else’s energy, then they’re good. They’re fine. I want people to know that you can be you and that’s totally cool.
What is your death row meal?
Oh, snap! My death row meal… We’re going to start with shrimp and grits and then, this is going to sound interesting, but move into pizza. But with like, a thick Chicago style pizza. Finish it off with black eyed peas and collared greens.
But wait! This is hard. We’re just going to do a standard chocolate ice cream.
That’s a pretty solid set.
Yeah! I like it. Lots of carbs, you get some different flavors in there. Why not? [laughs].
What is the one perfect word to describe you?
It depends on who you ask…
I’m asking you!
Then it depends on the day. One perfect word to describe me… brilliant.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your lifetime?
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my lifetime is to just be me. It’s that easy, it’s that simple. When I tried to go for what everyone else was telling me to do, everyone else’s expectations, I fumbled. I was trying to make things work that were not supposed to work for me anyway. When I just said, “Fuck it” and started being me, man, the world opened up.
What is the accomplishment you’re most proud of?
Man, I think that it’s still on its way. I can see that I’m on my journey, I’m on this crazy trip, and I see bits and pieces of what is happening. But I don’t think that anybody’s gotten the full picture of what’s going to happen, what my biggest accomplishment will actually be. But, to keep it simple, I think so far my biggest accomplishment is inspiring people.
You can now buy the "Berry" Girlfriend hoodie that Nikia wears HERE.