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Lion Babe in concert

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When you’re child of a famous parent, it can be difficult to find yourself outside of their shadow. At the same time, as a viewing public, we have a vested interest in what children of celebrities end up doing. Are they just like their mama or daddy? Did they take a wrong turn? Are they what they thought they would be? The pressure can be immense.

But Vanessa Williams’ daughter, Jillian Hervey has done a decent job of carving out her own path.

On a recent episode of New York Times bestselling author Denene Millner’s podcast, Speakeasy with Denene,  Jillian shared how she was able to establish her own identity and get over her hesitancy following her mother’s path into the music industry and even spoke about the significance behind her signature hair.

See what she had to say below.

Jillian: Originally as a child I definitely wanted to create my own path. Dance was really my first love and passion and that already was something that I knew my mom did but she did it not as intensely. It wasn’t her main practice. So, in my eyes, that was a lane already that was separate from her. I still think  I have a resistance to show business, the business end of things because I think it taints the creativity sometimes. But I understood that where I come from and what I’ve been surrounded by—I’ve seen my family members close and distant, navigate the creative industry in all the different ways. There’s people who are makeup artists, producers and music teachers so I think I had a lot of ground to cover and learn from in that way and I knew that I would be supported in the arts. I think I just gravitated towards it because it was really around me and I knew that I wasn’t going to be forced into being a shadow or another version of my mom or being compared to her. I think those pressures were self-inflicted. But when I did start to share my music, and just explain that this was something that I wanted to do, my parents were super supportive of it.

Hervey shared about the journey getting over the fear of what people might say about her art. Eventually, she developed her confidence and settled into her voice. And then came her look, most notably the large, curly, beautiful hair she dons on stage and in the music videos with her group Lion Babe.

Jillian: My hair is a extension of my artistry and how I express my Blackness, my womanhood and my imagination. I would say that the actual hair, the birth of this whole thing really stemmed off of “Treat Me Like Fire.”


We made that song. We had the name. I don’ t think we were thinking about imaging or any branding or any of that. We were just thinking we have one song, we should probably make a music video for it. I had had some ideas about what I wanted the look to be. My family’s always called me a wild child. I always wanted my hair to be big and crazy. For a time, it did become, for me, a frustration. Cuz I felt, ‘I’m more than my hair. I want people to listen to the music.’

And for me, now, it’s just so much fun. It’s my identity. It’s me just exploring me as a Black woman and for visuals and shows I love to create magic and do things that are not kind of of this world and push the limits a little bit. “

You can listen to the full Denene Millner podcast, here.

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