The Journey to Beautiful Interview Series is a celebration of influential and inspiring African women across the globe. Its aim is to teach every woman to define beauty on her own terms, to live purposefully, to accept what makes her truly unique, and to fall in love with all of who she is.
NAME: Erica Lasan
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN/HERITAGE: Nigeria
LOCATION: New Jersey, USA
WHY YOU HAVE TO KNOW HER: The question isn’t what Erica Lasan can do. The question is what can’t Erica Lasan do. Let me count the ways she has talent in every bone of her body. When she’s not creating INCREDIBLE, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces for her jewelry line, QuÉrica Jewelry by Erica Lasan, she’s a killer video host, who does the most relatable, fun interviews. [You can see her video and hosting reel via her YouTube channel, QuEricaTV. As if that wasn't enough, she's also a stellar writer and reporter who has interviewed huge names like Venus Williams and Russell Simmons. Still think she's not human? There's more! This. girl. can. singgggg. What makes her even more amazing than all the things she can do is that she has the sweetest, most free spirit in the world. Her heart is just as big as her many talents. Her mantra, "Live Rich" couldn't be a more perfect description of the way she lives her life. Let me be the one to tell you that you better remember her name because, one day soon, you'll say I told you so.
WHO DO YOU SAY YOU ARE?
I am an independent spirit, a lover of love (probably the most hopeFUL romantic you’ll ever meet), and the ultimate optimist. I’m a Nigerian-American, but also a world citizen who embraces the idea of difference and other cultures. I’m an enthusiast of creativity and the arts. I’m a sister, daughter, fiancée, and a friend.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PHYSICAL FEATURES?
My favorite physical features are my dark skin, my hair, my teeth, and my eyes. It took me a while to appreciate 3 out of 4 of those things. You can probably guess which! LOL
WHAT NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS DO YOU MOST LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?
The non-physical traits that I love most about myself are my personality and my ability to see the “sunny side to every situation”. I believe in positivity and its power and ability to impact the way we live out lives. I choose to be optimistic because nothing good EVER comes from dwelling on the negative. The more good energy you put out the more good energy and blessings you receive- and in all forms: through good friends, good family, and overall health and peace of mind.
I love the fact that I am driven by the idea of love and happiness, because without the idea of love (in all of its forms), we really wouldn't have anything to live for or work towards.
Personality-wise, I just like the fact that I am able to have conversations with people. I feel like you can learn a lot about yourself through the conversations you have with others.
I've come to realize that beauty shows itself in confidence. The more comfortable and confident I've become with myself, my physical attributes, my mind, my opinions, and way of thinking, the more people recognize my “beauty”— but I really feel like it’s not so much about realizing beauty as much as it is them realizing me: my confidence, individuality, and my unique character.
WHAT PHYSICAL AND NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS HAVE YOU MOST STRUGGLED TO ACCEPT? HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT STRUGGLE? HOW?
Funny enough, the physical traits I've struggled to accept are some of the ones mentioned above (as the ones I love most). Up until after graduating from college (around the age of 21), I never really appreciated the beauty of being a dark-skinned girl. Growing up, I was teased about my deep chocolate complexion and called all types of names— by other black girls! Crazy, I know! And it didn't help that I was first-generation American, with my parents being from Nigeria. That, in itself, brought on a whole other dimension to the teasing and name-calling. I guess I really started to embrace the beauty of the deep brown hue a little after I started dating my (now) fiancé, Nick, back in college. I’d never really been the one to chase after the attention and validation of males, but Nick always made a point to tell me how beautiful and sexy he thought I was—without me ever having to say or ask anything. At first, it was a little hard for me to hear it, because I’d never really looked at, or thought of myself as either of those things. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I didn't think I was ugly, but sexy??? C’mon! Lol. The more I've grown into myself, the more I've come to see myself the way he sees me, and apparently I guess others see it too. What’s funny, is that I've come to realize that beauty shows itself in confidence. The more comfortable and confident I've become with myself, my physical attributes, my mind, my opinions, and way of thinking, the more people recognize my “beauty”— but I really feel like it’s not so much about realizing beauty as much as it is them realizing me: my confidence, individuality, and my unique character.
As far as my hair, well that had always been a struggle for me to accept as well. I NEVER wore my natural hair out [but it wasn't] until my senior year of high school that I had a relaxer. At 17, I got my first relaxer for Senior Prom. Prior to my Senior Prom, I really just thought of my hair as my hair. There really wasn’t much I could do with it, and I felt like I couldn’t really manage to wear it out naturally, so I always had it braided. When it wasn’t braided, I continued to relax it throughout college. After graduation (at the age of 22) I’d been experimenting with different haircuts, and they kept getting shorter and shorter. One random day, I decided I wanted to see what I would look like without any hair at all— so I cut it all off. I carried the low-cut Caesar look for a little over 2 years. It was a hit! So liberating, classy, and easy to manage. For once I didn’t have to fiddle with or be defined by my hair. And everyone I came across seemed to love it too. Once I started to think about growing my hair out, again I began to struggle with the idea of how I would take care of it and style it. I started to miss the low-cost low-maintenance of my boy cut, a couple of months after I started to let it grow, and I never knew what to do with it until something magical happened… YOUTUBE! My best friend Sheryl introduced me to the world of YouTube and Natural Hair tutorials— and my world was forever changed. The women on these pages had LONG, THICK, HEALTHY hair. They embraced it and loved it, and in return, their hair loved them back. I’d never seen such big healthy Afros be manipulated into soft beautiful bouncy curls (and without the use of heat!), and I’d never seen so many black girls with such long hair. I was hooked. Since then thanks to the teachings of Naptural85 and other YouTube Naturalistas, I’ve taken to wearing my natural Afro out nine months out of the year and I love it! I wear my hair as an accessory and an extension to my style and personality, and with a little over 2.5 years my hair is already past my shoulders. The only time I really braid my hair now, it when I need a break from doing it, or when I’m going on vacation. ;o)
HOW HAS YOUR FATHER INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF?
My father has influenced the way I see myself by teaching me that I am capable of doing anything, and by teaching me to know my worth, hold myself in high regard, and never allow myself to be taken advantage of. My father is an entrepreneur. He left his corporate job while I was in high school to pursue his dream of publishing his own magazine, EXCELLENCE MAGAZINE. That took courage, ambition, a lot of spunk, ideas, and the resistance to settle for the ordinary. I admire him for that. I think that’s probably where I get a part of my entrepreneurial spirit. I don’t ever want to look back on life and say I wasted my life working for someone else doing something I didn’t believe in or love. I want to create and inspire others, while being inspired by others and my father has always influenced me by encouraging me to work towards those things that make me happiest.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST FEARS?
Some of my greatest fears are of failure—or the fear of failure keeping me from at least trying to pursue the things that I want most. As mentioned above, working a 9-5 for someone else and doing something that I don’t enjoy or believe in solely for a pay check. The loss of any of my closest loved ones. Getting older, or dying without having my dreams being realized. I guess mainly, not leaving some kind legacy.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST JOYS?
My greatest joys are free, and I have them in abundance: LOVE, family, friends, health, the ability to communicate, move and think for myself, and the promise of the future. With all of these things, you have the base to attain anything and everything else you would want from life. I NEVER take for granted how blessed I am to have my circle. I am a very very blessed girl.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS?
My greatest accomplishment so far, I think, would have to be the fact that I haven’t given up yet. Lol. I’m nowhere near where I want to be and, sometimes, it gets so hard to try to create your own lane and go against the grain, that all you want to do is give up. And with some of the life changes that I have had in the past year, the fact that I am still trying and still smiling is an accomplishment in itself.
Outside of this, I would say teaming up with some of the people and companies that I have in the past year, doing different Street fairs and Festivals like AfroPunk – that was pretty huge for me. Continuing to create and actually sell my jewelry, growing QuÉricaTV— putting together my 4 web-shows and developing some for other magazines and another online network (I don’t want to say which yet, but stay tuned for that!).
If I’m being completely honest, I would say that every accomplishment, thus far, has been my greatest accomplishment because each one gives way to another, and every single one of them matters. Now, when I get my own talk show… then well, we’ll call that a SUPER special greatest accomplishment! LOL
WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL?
In private. I feel most beautiful laying next to my guy.
…Or when a complete stranger pays me a random compliment. That’ll put a smile on anyone’s face! :)
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR OWN VERSION OF “BEAUTIFUL”?
I would define my own version of “beautiful” as being confident in anything and everything that you are—all of the traits and characteristics that make you, you. Essentially, I would say living in your own truth, being happy, and sharing your light and happiness with others. And being kind to others as well; you can be a beautiful person with an ugly personality—and that trumps all.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY BEAUTFIUL, AS YOU’VE DEFINED IT?
Happiness! As long as you are happy—happy with yourself, who you are, the people you surround yourself with, and you recognize all of your blessings, you will stay beautiful. Happiness encompasses confidence, blessings, kindness, and anything else you can think of— it can be contagious and spreads like wildfire.
WHICH “BEAUTIFUL” WOMEN INSPIRE YOU MOST?
My mom Henrietta; my sisters, Beverly and Christine. My mentors: Aracelly Diaz, Harriette Cole, Dani Stahl, Betty Irabor. My friends: Sheryl Gauntlett, Loraimy Rodriguez, Sunnie Bridges, Kendra Strouf, Katie King, Ashley Johnson, Joy Adaeze, Shana Teel, the editor/creator of this blog, Chioma Obii-Obioha…
Seriously, the list could go on forever. Basically, all the people (women and men alike) that I call true friends. Their “beauty” drives and inspires me everyday!
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