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Pasazz.net interviews the first woman ever crowned Miss Plus America.
Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Chenese Lewis is a rising star in the plus size modelling scene. Whilst busy keeping up with modelling, acting and promoting the Love Your Body! Wristband project, which she is a spokesperson of, Chenese took some time out to speak to Pasazz.net about life, work and ice-cream!
Pasazz: What is the fondest childhood memory you have?
Chenese: I had a wonderful childhood! Being the only child I got more then enough love, attention, and affection. My fondest memories were when the entire family got together for dinner. We ate, laughed and enjoyed each others company the entire evening, I still enjoy those moments today.
Pasazz: Obviously you are a rising star in the plus size modelling scene. Tell us, how did your career start?
Chenese: I found out that there was such a thing as a plus size model in 2000. A modelling convention came to my hometown, looking specifically for plus size models. They were running advertisements on the radio and two of my close friends heard it and thought of me. They both called and encouraged me to try out; one had even written down the number for me! I was so flattered that my friends thought I could be a model. I went to the tryout, got chosen to go on the convention and went, which I now know was a waste of my money, but still taught me a lot about the plus industry and I’ve been pursuing it ever since.
Pasazz: Were there ever any goofy moments in your modelling career so far?
Chenese: So far I don’t think I’ve had any really goofy moments in my career. But I’ve probably made a whole lot of goofy jokes on photo shoots!
Pasazz: You are also an actress; what brings about this passion?
Chenese: I always took theatre classes in high school and college, even before I thought about pursuing it professionally, so the passion was always there. I decided to pursue acting professionally the same time I decided to pursue modelling.
Pasazz: Modelling and acting. Which would you choose if you were only given one career choice… and why?
Chenese: That’s a hard one! I love being in front of the camera and it’s always refreshing to see a company using an image of a real plus size woman. I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I see the final results. But I also would like to see a better portrayal of plus size women on television and in the media, I would love to be a role model on television for young women. If I had to choose, I would pick modelling because photo shoots move faster and are more exciting to me, being on the set of a movie/television show there is a lot of down time and sitting around being bored.
Pasazz: What does it mean to you, being the first woman to hold the Miss Plus America title?
Chenese: There are very few venues that plus size women are celebrated, appreciated, and considered beautiful. I feel absolutely honored to be a part of an organization that has such a positive impact on so many women. Being the first woman ever crowned Miss Plus America was an amazing accomplishment and a wonderful experience that I will never forget. As the pageant continues to grow it brings me great satisfaction to say I was the first and set the standard of excellence for others to follow.
Pasazz: You are also the first woman to hold the Miss Plus America Ambassador title and the Miss Plus America Lifetime title. How do you make use of these titles to aid in your community efforts?
Chenese: I make appearances at events such as parades, fashion shows, workshops, pageants, speaking engagements, and charity events. I also promote through media venues such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and internet; through interviews and writing articles about my platform, which is “Positive Body Image”. Being a titleholder is a job! The Miss Plus America pageant gives you an avenue that opens doors for you to do your community service. It’s not about you and who you are; it’s about helping other people. That’s the power of MPA.
Pasazz: You have recently been appointed spokesperson for the Love Your Body! Wristband project. Tell us more about this initiative; what is its purpose and aim?
Chenese: The Love Your Body Wristbands are an excellent tool for someone that has daily struggles with their body. The message will provide the daily affirmation needed to move forth in a positive direction. In addition to the powerful message that the wristbands are conveying, they are also raising money for some very important organizations. One dollar from each wristband sale goes to an organization that promotes size acceptance, positive body image, or health at every size. This gives me another venue to continue the work that I already do.
Pasazz: Do you have any plans for the future?
Chenese: I have high goals set for myself in the future, but my ultimate goals are to make a difference, be happy and successful.
Pasazz: What is your message for plus size teenagers and young women today who are distressed about their size?
Chenese: My advice would be to have confidence in your self. Remember, you do not have to justify your size to anyone. You will never be able to please everyone regardless of how you look! Never let society place limits on you. Who says you have to be a size 2 to be considered beautiful?! I want you all to understand that being healthy and happy does not necessarily mean being thin. No matter what size you are, if you don’t love yourself you will never be happy.
Pasazz: And finally… chocolate, strawberry or vanilla ice-cream?
Chenese: Vanilla! Bluebell ice-cream in homemade vanilla to be exact!