Amara La Negra is unstoppable. The singer and Love and Hip Hop: Miami star has her hand in a little bit of everything these days. She’s writing children’s books, starring in the Latin version of Dancing With the Stars (premiering on January 6 on Univision), and being made the face of Skyy Vodka‘s newest “Proudly American” campaign. The 28-year-old, who was once told that her look might hold her back, is doing it all, including getting to serve individuality, which she does best, as part of the premium vodka giant’s ad series. To celebrate this opportunity, we talked with Amara about why the campaign is near and dear to her heart. We also picked her brain about her #CleanYourMansHouse critics, where her future lies with LHHM, and because we just have to know, the secret to maintaining her signature ‘fro.
MadameNoire: As someone who embraces their individuality in the face of people who have so much to say about the way you look, you’re a perfect fit for Skyy‘s new campaign. Is that what drew you to it?
Amara La Negra: I’ve been a fan of Skyy Vodka for forever. When this opportunity came along, I thought it would be a great opportunity. One, mainly because I liked the message of the new campaign that Skyy Vodka has. You know I’m all about representation. I am proudly Latina, but at the same time I’m a proud American. I was born here and in Miami and as a Caribbean person coming to America, you know, seeking out the American dream, this is a land where anything is possible as long as you’re willing to work and put in the work and the effort. The possibilities are endless. So I was just really excited to be able to partner up with them.
Nice. Nice. And why would you say their campaign about the different ways in which one can be proudly American is so important in the political climate that we have right now?
The marketing campaign that they have, I think it’s so positive really, because like I always say, representation is key, and representation in my community specifically. It doesn’t matter what part of the world you come from. Once you’re here, I think we’re all proud Americans. Like a melting pot. You can come from any part of the world, and once you get here, we become one.
I know your fans are looking forward to to the campaign, and I know they’re also looking forward to this upcoming second season of Love and Hip Hop Miami. The show introduced you to a larger audience, and one of the things that kind of was the draw was the fact that you spoke so openly about representation, specifically about colorism and ignorance about the ability to be a Afro-Latino in our culture. But that became the focus of discussion surrounding you for a while. Do you ever kind of regret taking on that mantle or are you proud to be the face of such a conversation?
I am extremely proud to have the opportunity to use my art, my style, my charisma, my personality, etc, to talk about it. To have these amazing platforms where not only I can showcase my artistry, but I can also be vocal about real issues that are happening in my community and all around the world. I would never, ever regret starting a conversation that needed to be had. It was a topic that has been in the shadows for so long. And I am always willing to uplift and motivate those who feel like they don’t have a voice, so I feel very proud of myself for being able to start that conversation. The questions sometimes can get very repetitive, but I’d rather know that I am bringing awareness and I’m educating than to just have a world full of ignorance.
You are one of the biggest stars to come from the Love and Hip Hop franchise overall. Those who do gain a lot of fame tend to do a season or two and then they move on to focus solely on their music. Do you see yourself being on the series for much longer?
Honestly, I don’t know. I hate the drama, the pettiness and everything else, but I do enjoy being part of the Love and Hip Hop franchise. We have become a family. But I do understand that at some point, eventually, I might have to just let it go. But a dream of mine would be if I can have my own spin-off. That would be fantastic! Put it into the universe [laughs].
Yeah! We gotta we gotta put that out there for Mona [Scott Young] to do something about. Also, with blowing up and becoming this big name in the mainstream comes a lot of attention and criticism, sometimes over things that are just done and said in good fun or opinions you have. What did you think of people who had so much to say about the post you shared where you were talking about how a man’s house is a reflection of the woman that he’s with?
I feel that people can be so judgmental and everybody is so ready to point fingers, but at the same time, I guess some forget that even though I was born in the United States, I still come from a Latina background. The culture and the way that my mother was raised, from the Caribbean, their mindset may be different from the people that are here in the United States, or maybe someone in Europe, etc. She was raised a certain way, which was instilled in me. I never said that the man doesn’t have to put in his effort and do his part. I just talked about what I believe a woman should do, which is the reason why many years ago, relationships used to last longer in my eyes. I feel that somewhat with this new generation, we have lost a little bit of the morals and the things that we used to carry before. Women, yes, they still work and take care of the children, but they should also make sure to maintain a nice, neat, household, and it’s not just for the man but for yourself as well. Some people took it the wrong way, to which I would never take my statement back because I stand by what I believe in. You can still have a pretty face, a nice body, be well-educated and know how to clean, know how to cook, know how to take care of yourself. You should be able to be well-rounded. A lot of the new generation, all they really truly care about is what’s the latest trends, what’s happening on social media with celebrities. They’re forgetting the true essence of the importance of what a full, well-rounded woman is.
I did want to ask you too, what was the inspiration behind creating your children’s book series, Amarita’s Way? I love that you’re offering it in Spanish and English.
And now we’re working on the French version as well. There is so much confusion about the fact that there is such a thing as Black people who come from a Latin community. There’s a lot of ignorance on the topic. However, I do believe that you need to start with the children. My mom, when I was very young, always made sure that I knew that I was a queen, that I was beautiful, that I was smart. She was always there, you know, making sure that I was confident. And me realizing that, I thought that it would be a great opportunity when they offered me the book deal to do a children’s book where I can tell little girls as well, learn to embrace who you are, flaws and all. That’s what makes you beautiful. Learn to love and embrace your melanin, the texture of your hair. We’re not all born to look the same. That’s really what I wanted to be able to encourage and tell my little girls. I pray that some big network hears me out because I’m putting it out there: I would love to be able to have the cartoons of Amarita’s Way, because my dream is to go Dora the Explorer with it.
That’s a really great idea! We’re speaking all types of things into existence here. And as far as your album, what can people expect from it and when should they expect it?
They could expect it in the month of January. We still don’t have a date. I wanted to launch it with Love and Hip Hop, but I don’t know exactly when it’s going to come out and it’s actually an EP. It’s called Unstoppable because I feel that no matter how many controversies or how many things God has put in my path, I’ve always figured out a way to come out of it. I always figure out a way to lift myself up. So I feel that I am unstoppable.
I did this EP with amazing producers from LA, New York, Atlanta, Dominican Republic, Miami. We worked a long time doing a whole bunch of songs the label thought would be a good look for my first EP. My first album will be out in summer and I’m just in love with the process. The first single for my EP is called “Understanding.” It will be available for download and everything, streaming and everything else, January 2, along with Love And Hip Hop: Miami as well.
Nice. Lastly, I do want to ask you, because I know readers want to know, what’s the trick to a perfect ‘fro for you? What’s your regimen, particularly at night?
It’s not that hard, really. It’s just part of my genetics. At the same time I’ve admitted and I’ve been vocal about it as well, that I use extensions as well to make sure that my afro is perfectly rounded, even though it’s hard to have a perfect afro 24/7. But braids are always helpful. And then, you know, my mom likes to use a lot of natural products: avocado, rosemary, rose water, cinnamon oil, coconut oil is really good for the growth and straightening the hair. I mean there’s many natural things that you can use and do that will naturally help the growth and the way that your hair looks.
Amara’s Skyy Vodka “Proudly American” campaign is launching 12/17. Check out Season 2 of Love and Hip Hop: Miami when it premieres January 2 at 8 p.m. EST on VH1. Amarita’s Way is available on Amazon.