Radio personality and plus-size model Chenese Lewis

chenese lewis

Chenese Lewis is a sought-after keynote speaker, expert commentator and a positive body image and self-esteem advocate who made history by being the first woman crowned Miss Plus America in 2003.

The Baton Rouge, La. native and chief creative officer for Chenese Lewis Productions, LLC, a media company established in 2007, is hosting Curves and Swerves Fashion Show 2013 on Saturday, Aug. 17 at Pips on LaBrea Restaurant located at 1356 S. La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles.

Here, she discusses her career and inspiration.

How did you arrive at this career choice? Was it a deliberate decision or a gradual and natural evolution?
Originally, I had plans to attend law school and become a judge; however, in the summer of 2000 I was bitten by the plus modeling bug. I heard a commercial on the radio for an open call specifically for plus size models; prior to hearing that commercial I didn’t know there was such a thing. That first open call sparked my interest but after being scammed a couple of times I decided to research the plus industry. I found I didn’t have the stats to be an agency represented model, but looked for other opportunities to gain exposure, which I executed effectively. I took my career into my own hands and eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue my career full time.

What separates you from others in your field? What is unique to the experience that you create?
I think what separates me is that my brand is extremely diverse. Besides having a grasp on one niche market such as the plus size industry, I work to expand into other areas such as eating disorders, natural hair and philanthropy. What makes me unique is the ability to connect and be an influencer in various industries and communities.

For those considering entering this arena, what skill sets do you recommend mastering? What traits are most conducive to success?
I think in any field, doing your research is the most important. You need to know what trends are popular, what are the industry standards, what tools do you need in order to get started and maintain a successful career. I think the traits most conducive to success are persistence and determination.

How do you map out your goals? How do you measure your success?
I map out my goals by setting personal goals that challenge me and give me long-term vision and short-term motivation. I try to organize my time and resources so that I can make the very most of my life and take pride in the achievement of those goals. I do not compare myself to others, so I measure my success by how I’m progressing closer to my ultimate dream.

What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
I don’t repeat affirmations to myself because I don’t think negatively about myself or my abilities. Although it’s not a technique I incorporate into my life, I think they are great.

What role does technology play in your daily life? How do you utilize it?
The Internet is my biggest tool in helping me build my career. We live in a time where you literally have access to the entire world at your fingertips. I use the Internet daily to research, promote, and network! My home office is always open … literally!

Please define your personal brand.
The Chenese Lewis brand is empowerment, promoting diversity in fashion and entertainment, building confidence and self-esteem in women, with fashion and beauty mixed in, sprinkled with Southern charm!

What does it take to be iconic? In your estimation, who has achieved that status?
To be iconic I think you have to have name recognition, tremendous success, massive media attention, and colossal influence in your field of expertise on an international scale. Someone I would consider iconic is Oprah, and I would love to follow in her footsteps. I had the honor of being awarded a Curvy Icon Award in 2011 which I am extremely proud of and working towards one day being considered iconic on a global scale.

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