Teyana Taylor on her cameo in Kanye West's 'Fade' video, and loving her post-baby body
Teyana Taylor is having one heck of a year.
In fewer than 12 months, the 25-year-old embarked on a successful multi-city tour, got engaged to Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert and gave birth to the couple's first child, Iman "Junie" Tayla Shumpert, Jr.
She became the living embodiment of 'having it all' -- the theory developed and popularized in the early 1980s by former "Cosmopolitan" magazine editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown -- which proclaimed that the modern woman could balance career, sex, love and money with ease.
Yet, according to Teyana, that's not always a reality. Admittedly, she's a work in progress. "I feel like the world makes us woman feel like we have to be on a certain pedestal, and that's not the case at all."
During the MTV Video Music Awards, which aired on Aug. 28, Teyana delivered a brilliant "Flashdance"-inspired solo dance routine in Kanye West's 'Fade' video. To which the Harlem native notes, "I don't know why he randomly chose me as the lead, or what idea Kanye initially had in his head."
"We were all in the [recording] studio -- just talking, and he congratulated Iman on his [NBA] championship win, and we started planning from there," recalls Teyana, who is an artist on Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music record label.
"He said that he thinks my friendship with Iman and our love for one another is really dope. I think that was part of his overall vision. I went back into my recording room, and just 30 minutes later one of my [managers] called and was like 'Hey, Ye wants you to be in his video for "Fade."' Of course, I was all in."
That bond between Teyana and Iman was also projected in the visuals. One scene in particular transformed her into a lioness (feline face and all), posing alongside her fiancé and baby. "The image [from the video] showed a lioness protecting her family. There's definitely something strong and powerful about that as a whole," she adds.
Her fierce movements, bold choreography and overall badass-ness sent the social media world into a frenzy. And her svelte body became the main topic of conversation.
Everyone wanted to know how she achieved her chiseled physique, especially having given birth to baby Junie just eight months prior. Much to our surprise, Teyana openly admits she's not a fan of going the gym, or other traditional forms of working out. She also doesn't follow a strict diet at all. Instead, she uses one of her passions to keep her in shape.
"Dance is my form of exercise. That's literally all I do. There's no running. There's nothing special. Just dance. I really think that people underestimate [the art form] as a workout. And it's done my body good," she explains. "I toured until I was about four months pregnant. Probably almost halfway through my [gestation], I stopped dancing and took a break to have Junie."
She is also athletic by nature, adding, "I love sports. From streetball to football, we played it all growing up. And almost everyone in Harlem thinks they can play basketball."
Although Teyana was born with an athletic frame, it took her quite some time to be completely comfortable in her skin. When she arrived on the music scene in 2007, at just 16 years old (she was formerly signed to Pharrell Williams' Star Trak Entertainment group), she fashioned herself a "tomboy."
Oversized jeans, loose-fitting shirts and high-top sneakers were her wardrobe staples. She didn't want her sexuality to define her, but rather her talents.
Fast forward, nine years later, she's evolved into a woman who is self-aware and confident in her personal appearance. "It went from just always loving to wear Air Jordans, to knowing that I look good in a cut-off shirt," Teyana says with a giggle. "I became a mom, and as a person, I've changed a lot. I feel like I'm becoming a better me.
"I want to inspire other new mothers. However, I don't want them to feel like, 'I have to be on this treadmill for a whole hour to get this body,' based on what they see in the media."
On her quest to inspire sans pressure, she's also developing a dance workout DVD set (to be released by the close of 2016). "I just want the ladies to feel sexy."
Plus, the multi-talented performer has got a pipeline of projects in the works.
"I'll also be in Kanye's fashion show for New York Fashion Week, which is [scheduled for this Wednesday], and I'm releasing my third sneaker with Reebok on Oct. 7. I have a lot of little surprise projects coming up as well. I'm also going to the studio and working on my album in between. I'm really excited about that."
Additionally, Teyana was recently added as guest on VH1's "Hip Hop Squares" (think the modern-day version of "Hollywood Squares"), and has a recurring role on the network's scripted drama, "The Breaks," which explores the rap music industry circa early 1990s. Both premiere dates are tentative.
Lastly, she's a woman who's just living in the moment and enjoying it: "I'm excited about all the things that have evolved in my life. And I'm just thankful. I'm loving every minute of it."
Laureen Irat is also the founder/editor of BeyondTheW.com