Before sitting down to chat with Teyana Taylor — recording artist, rapper, choreographer, model, dancer, Kanye-video show-stealer, NBA wife and mother to an adorable one-year-old daughter, Junie — I was a little nervous. I'm a fan not just of Taylor's work, but as a Clevelander and a Cavs fan, I'm also pretty in awe of her husband, Iman Shumpert, who both helped the team earn its 2016 Champion title and has excellent hair (which he recently cut off, but I digress).
I sat down with Taylor just a few weeks after her major New York Fashion Week run (she served show-stopping walks for The Blonds, Phillipp Plein and GCDS), at an event for beauty brand Kiss, for which she's a spokesperson. As a rotation of beauty editors filtered through to interview her, Taylor didn't put the party on hold; she and a group of friends sitting nearby took turns passing around a handle of Hennessy throughout the junket. I sat, ready to start quizzing her on beauty tips, and waited while she took a double shot and chased it with ginger ale. Just in case I didn't already know that she's approximately infinity times cooler than I'll ever be.
But then Taylor turned to me and gave me the first of two hugs during our interaction, confirming that being an impressive multi-hyphenate and all-around badass and being nice don't have to be mutually exclusive. Here's what she had to say about where she draws her beauty and style inspiration from, juggling her many (many) careers and feeling like she became an overnight supermodel.
How would you describe your approach to beauty, and who do you look to for inspiration for style and for beauty?
I look to my mom for style and beauty, when I tell you she has the most perfect skin, the most perfect cheekbones, the most perfect complexion. She just looks like chocolate milk, you know what I'm saying? She is everything. She loves water, she's really big on skin care and water and different things like that. And she's really where I get my style from – like, I was highly influenced by the '90s, but back then even growing up in the '90s, my mom was always on top of the latest and the greatest, always on point.
I loved your nod to Janet Jackson at the VMAs — she's clearly someone you like to channel. Is there anyone else?
I love Janet Jackson, I love Aaliyah, Total, SWV, the whole '90s era, period. Jada Pinkett, Nia Long, Michelle Williams.
I love hearing that you get a lot of inspiration from your mom. But now that you have a young daughter — who is so adorable, by the way — what are you hoping to pass on to her?
The style, the grace.
She seems like she's really already getting it.
She's already in it, she puts her own clothes together and everything, she's not even two years old yet, so she's like so busy.
Does she have an interest in beauty, too?
Yes, she knows how to use a Beautyblender! You know how babies might try to, like, wipe their face with a Beautyblender? She goes like this [mimes dabbing a Beautyblender carefully over her face], like she knows how to pat it on. She'll take the brush, and she'll dip it in eye shadow. She's like me, though, I'm an observer. I have to look, I have to watch people. You can't really tell me how to do it. I have to just watch. And that's exactly what she does. She'll watch, and then she'll do it the next time you'll see her.
So what other beauty products do you tend to always go for?
First and foremost, my Kiss Lashes. Have you ever seen a person that has their face full beat but they have no lashes? That's crazy. That's a waste of makeup — if you ain't got no damn lashes, that's a waste. And nails, because... it looks good with my wedding band and my engagement ring. I have stubby, short nails. Your jewelry don't take you seriously if you ain't got on some good nails.
What about skin care? You have the most amazing skin.
Thank you! Urban Skin Rx. They have everything — cleansing bar, oil, toner, firming cream. You've got to check 'em out. It's for all skin tones. It's really good. You've already got good skin, but you would love it.
So, ok, you killed it at the New York shows. Everyone was talking about it. Do you plan to step it up and keep doing even more runway, is that something you're really focusing on right now?
Yeah, it's just really about finding the balance at this point with becoming a model, quicker than I thought. I was like a supermodel overnight, I was like, whoa! And being a mommy and being a wife and being a singer, trying to get this album done, trying to get this album out, and just everything else that I'm doing. Designing, choreographing, I just started a production company called The Aunties, so we're directing videos, soon we'll be doing movies.
Wow. I don't know how you and your husband both do it — you each have, like, 20 different careers.
I know, oh my God. Thank God for FaceTime!
So on the subject of your husband, I have to ask — he's known for his amazing hair. Is there anything you two tend to share with each other, beauty-wise?
I give him all the beauty stuff for his hair. It's usually fun when he grows his hair out because I get to play with his hair, he's like my personal mannequin. But now he's cut his hair off, so now he just takes his durag off and just brushes his hair. Now he doesn't really need me anymore.
I know, I miss his longer hair! But he still looks good!
[Laughs] Thank you, thank you.
This interview has been edited and condensed.