Historically, being a size 14 African-American woman hasn’t always been a recipe for supermodel superstardom. Fortunately, no one told the inimitable, stunning Precious Lee that.
Precious became the first black plus-size model to star in the storied Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2016. You may also recognize her from a long list of envelope-pushing Lane Bryant campaigns (#ImNoAngel, #PlusIsEqual and #ThisBody), or from the pages of American Vogue, yet another groundbreaking first. All this came after her former agent tried to convince her to change her name to make herself more marketable. It’s clear that living authentically and without compromise eventually pays dividends.
Shaneek Anderson, our own marketing project planner, got the chance to sit down with the Atlanta native on the set of our latest Elomi shoot, which couldn’t have been more apropos: The concept is about deciding who you want to be every morning when you head out the door. Precious caught us up on her life not only as a model but as a diversity advocate, aspiring actress and would-be lawyer. You know, in all her spare time.
Confession #1: Confidence must be cultivated.
I grew up in a very confident household. “Can’t” was like a curse word for me. It’s been instilled since I was a kid. I practice confidence every day. It’s not something you can just magically tell someone to do. You have to make the effort to actually do it, and you don’t feel it instantly; it takes time, which people forget. I think when they see someone super confident, they think she just woke up and today was the day she decided to feel that way, but it’s an everyday process. I think it’s really important that people know that confidence comes with effort—you can’t have one without the other.
Confession #2: I got it from my mama.
My mom is super duper confident, super feminine and super smart. I’ve always been fortunate to have a role model who is fabulous and loved fashion and makeup and the fun, outer things but always paired with the intellect and the heart. A lot of people, especially nowadays, separate these qualities, but it’s really important to have both. You can be beautiful and act unattractive. I think my mom incorporates it all.
Confession #3: I can imagine being a lawyer…
It’s funny, my sister is an attorney who is a model, and we literally switched roles. [After graduation, Precious was preparing to attend law school when she was discovered by a talent scout and moved to New York City.] She and I have conversations all the time where she talks to me as if she’s talking to a colleague, and I feel like I could make such a good litigator. I love to act like a lawyer.
Confession #4: …or an actress.
I’ve been studying film and acting a lot lately, but I don’t say I’m an actress yet because I respect the craft so much. That’s something I’m really passionate about that I’ll be getting more and more into.
Confession #5: You can’t wing it and rock it.
Before any shoot, I look at the call sheet, see who I’m working with and what I’ll be shooting, and I try to bring the vibe already. I feel like a lot of people forget to do their research, roll up on set and have no idea what’s going on. It’s important to prepare for what you’re going to be doing and come with that mindset.
Confession #6: Matching makes you feel put-together.
Match your bra and panties every day if you can. It’s so cute!
Confession #7: Music gets me in the right headspace.
I listen to everything. I’m listening to Future, Erika Badu, Tina Turner, Chaka Khan and Gucci Mane.
Confession #8: For inspiration, I go back to my all-time favorite movies.
I love Mahogany and What’s Love Got to Do With It.
Confession #9: Paris is always a good idea.
I hate to sound so cliché, but I really love Paris. I’ve been there three times by myself and every time I go, I have the best experiences—not having a plan, not having a schedule. I have met some of the most amazing people and eaten the most amazing food.
Confession #10: Make time for yourself.
I really enjoy traveling solo. Paris is just such a beautiful, romantic city that people automatically assume you have to go with someone else, but you know what? Solo romance is important, too.
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