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Tell us your name and where you are from?
My name is Asha Noni Hadiyah aka “The Sassy Soul Rebel”. I was born and raised in Washington D.C., and I currently reside in Harlem, NY.
How long have you been natural?
Since the day I was born. I remember when I was little my hair was so thick that it would always break the blow dryer comb. Hairdressers would get so mad! I was super tender headed, and dreaded getting my hair done. My mother and father were very adamant about not putting any kind of perm or chemicals in my hair…not even a texturizer. Quite frankly, I never wanted one. I would get so turned off at how thin the hair on some of my friend’s heads would be because of perm damage at an early age. I have had a few hiccups a long the way in terms of breakage from excessive heat and permanent dye, but my hair always bounces back after letting it be for a while. Just because you’re natural does not mean your hair won’t get damaged.
Asha with her Mother
What do you do? Is there a resistance or compatibility with your hair in your field of work?
Right now I am just a 20 year old artist creating my own life as a singer, model, actress, and activist. I will be a student at Howard University soon as a Theatre Arts Major. When I first moved to New York in the summer of 2011 at 18, I was given a small role in a new Indie film called “Gimme the Loot”. It comes out in March 2013 at the IFC center downtown. I’m shooting an art film soon with an artist named Coby Kennedy. I do print modeling jobs and music videos from time to time…one was for a designer out of Brooklyn named Tennille McMillan for her Nakimuli Winter 2011-2012 launch. My sis Ngozi and I can also be seen looking silly in a music video directed by Vashtie called “Daddy Cool” lol. I also create my own jewelry when I feel inspired to do so.
I have not experienced a resistance in my field of work. My agent and casting directors have actually encouraged me to keep my hair wild and kinky for auditions.
Describe your hair.
What is your hair regimen?
My hair gets dry rather easily so I have to deep condition and get it trimmed every two to three weeks.
Getting it trimmed every three weeks. Hot oil treatments and deep conditioners. Believe it or not wearing a protective style such as a weave or braids has attributed to my length tremendously when I was in college, also, wearing it in a style that doesn’t expose the ends of your hair so often helps.
Bantu Knot Curls. I’ve also recently been wearing it in a style that looks like two balls on the top of my head..like Minnie Mouse or Princess Leia, lol.
What is your night time routine?
Your top three favorite products and why?
1. All Cantu Shea Butter Products! They all moisturize my hair extremely well and define curls.
2. Olive Oil Edge Control. I believe it’s not water or oil based and it has sealed my edges down better than any gel I’ve ever used.
Your best hair advice?
For all my natural girls: Let it breathe. Stay away from too much heat without using a protectant! It can really kill your hair, especially your edges. Keep it moisturized when you decide to dye or bleach your hair. Even without a perm or relaxer your hair is just as vulnerable to breakage and damage. Try to wear protective styles every now and then such as braids.
Ultimate hair crush?
What is the strangest comment, request or hair story?
Oh my goodness, this list can go on and on. I remember one time in college, I had a roommate who was from India and knew nothing about natural hair or black culture for that matter. I was telling her about a conditioning treatment called the Carmel treatment and she asked me if it worked on “Normal People” hair. I was so taken aback by her ignorance, but there are people out here who really don’t consider kinky hair as normal. It’s unbelievable.
It literally changes all the time. I become a different style character every month it seems but I guess some elements stay the same. If I had to though I would say eccentric, sassy, rebellious, and culturally inclusive.
Don’t be afraid of your beauty and power, especially as young women and women of color. Let it out and know that despite what people may think, you were created in God’s image and there is only one YOU. So do YOU well, express yourself whole heartedly, and let go of the fear of what others may think, this will hold you back, and I struggled with that for a while until I moved to New York City. Confidence and conviction is everything. If you like it and stand by your true fashion sense, then we love it!
I would just pray for them, and pray that they learn to love themselves as they are so that they can finally learn to love others who are bold and fearless enough to express their personal fashion style. Most people who do that are insecure and not confident in themselves so they generate that negativity on others. No matter how crazy it looks. I remember Swagger New York did and editorial on me and there were all kinds of negative comments on there about how I looked like a “bag lady” and how my outfit was “hideous and trying too hard” lol People are always going to be negative and judge. I would tell them to focus on bettering themselves and stop feeding of off negative energy. Let people be who they are and express themselves however they want. Stop feeding off of negativity…it does nothing for you.
My style inspiration comes from a few people and eras in pop culture, different cultures and places around the world, and my spirituality (recently). Different things that are worn and considered beautiful around the world in Japan, Tibet (rings), I wear bindis a lot to represent my spiritual eye or ‘third eye’ (it is said to help you see all that cannot be seen through physical eyes), tikkas/head pieces from India, I love henna and get it done frequently or do it myself. I wear red and white bracelets because of my spiritual association with Shango (Yoruba God of Thunder and Lightening). I draw from Chaka Khan sometimes, especially 1970’s Chaka when she was in Rufis. I love wearing Anakara fabrics from West African Countries. I am most inspired style wise by Fela Kuti’s “Queens”. I saw the musical “Fela!” when I was 17 about 3 years ago. I was immediately inspired and became almost obsessed with their strength and beauty! Their makeup and style was out of this world. If you know me, you know that I usually sport a row of four white dots on the right side of my face as a tribute to them. My style inspiration also comes from classic beauties such as Dorothy Dandridge, Donna Summer, and Elizabeth Taylor. I go through phases though. When I want to tone my eccentricity down, I often draw inspiration from Jody Watley, Janet Jackson from her Rhythm Nation Era, and the Fly Girls from In Living Color!
If you could name one person from the past whose closet you would love to raid, who would it be?
Lisa Turtle from “Saved By the Bell” She was super fly on that Show!
Favorite stores and places to shop for vintage or thrift?
Art Under Pressure in Washington D.C. is one of my favorite places to shop or even look around for vintage or thrift. It’s pretty dope! Not only do they have Vintage or thrift…but they have artwork, graffiti supplies, and unique pieces of jewelry from super talented local designers. Beacon’s Closet on 14th street is pretty cool too, you can spot some good finds here and there. Also Mila and Fire looks like a great place to shop for vintage or thrift. I haven’t gotten any pieces from them yet but rest a sure I will soon. The pieces they have are so adorable and unique!
Mila & Fire
Most embarrassing moment?
The first time I sang at Ashford and Simpson’s Sugar Bar on West 72nd Street for the open mic night. It was actually the first time I sang in front of a live audience alone and it was a full house! I decided to spontaneously go to challenge myself and face my fears. I had a lot of support from the band and they pushed me to sing “Betcha By Golly Wow” by the Stylistics. I got up there ready and tried to act calm and not nervous but when I saw Valerie Simpson in the front row looking dead at me…I almost blanked out, couldn’t hear myself singing, and my timing was so off. She eventually joined in with me along with two other singers so it was all good in the end lol.
Valerie Simpson of Asford & Simpson
What is your favorite life lesson?
Let go of what you love, if it’s yours it will come back… If it doesn’t it wasn’t meant to be.
The Alchemist! One of the most inspiring self help books I’ve ever read.
My current music playlist is full of Teena Marie, Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, the Exodus Album by Bob Marley and the Wailers, Brandy’s new album Two Eleven, M.I.A, SBTRKT, Atlantic Starr, Earth Wind and Fire, The Gap Band, Kim Burell and Fela Kuti & Africa 70!
Earth, Wind & Fire
Favorite restaurant and dish you would not want to live without?
My favorite restaurant is an Ethiopian Restaurant called Fasikas in Washington D.C. and a dish I could not live without would have to be Tofu Fried Rice from any Thai restaurant.
Do you have a blog/website?
For now I just have a blogspot, twitter and instagram
Blogspot: ashanonihadiyah.blogspot.com (to keep my friends and family updated on my journey and post about personal experiences/thoughts)
Continue to create from the heart and the outcome will be AMAZING! Believe in yourself and the world will believe and embrace you as well. Continue to be socially responsible in whatever you decide to take on in life. Continue to fight for justice and peace. Remember, No justice no Peace! Always stay informed on global issues. This is our world and we are responsible for the betterment of it. Allow yourself to be open minded enough to embrace and see the beauty in other cultures even if you don’t understand it. Do not be scared of your unique beauty and talent. Just share it without hesitation. Don’t let the negativity get to you. That is the challenge. Once you embrace your inner light, learn how to channel it responsibly to positively influence others. Women are more powerful than they realize. Stop questioning yourself and just DO! Trust yourself and don’t let anything get in the way of you realizing your ultimate purpose in life. We can all find enlightenment if desired J “If you want to be in control, you gotta get yourself in the know”-Janet Jackson’s The Knowledge
What makes you an Urban Bush Babe?
I am a Sassy Soul Rebel. My friends call me a “Sassy, Soulful, B****) for lack of better word lol, Sassy, because I’m full of attitude, Jazz, and energy. Soulful because I’m always expressing some type of deep emotion (I’m often described as an old soul), and rebellious because I’ve been known create my own life on my own terms. I’ve always resisted authority/confinement. I love and take care of my kinky mane. I love and embrace my inner and outer beauty as well as the unique beauty and style of all women of color! I will continue to encourage the journey of developing self-love and creative self-expression from people of all cultures and backgrounds through whatever I do!