Internationally, 2020 was a year of medical, social, political, racial, and economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic. More than 7,000 Louisianans died while 173,000 were unemployed and all 710,000 K-12 students and teachers were sent into virtual schooling. Within the struggles of the year, the America saw its own horrors and beauty. Moving into 2021, The Drum sought Louisianans who are not only people to watch but are people who work for the community, for the demands of nation building, and for the growth of others. They are People for 2021.
Chenese Lewis is a nemesis to fashion idealism. She’s a gorgeous full-figured, plus-size model who celebrates positive body image and health self-esteem. Through her modeling, podcasting, and event hosting, she promotes beauty and the plus-size fashion industry in a bold, compassionate way. Lewis is a person for the moment, a Person for 2021.
The Drum asked her about 2020 and her focus for 2021. “Despite all the obstacles 2020 presented, it wasn’t completely awful for me. I was extremely blessed to not have any illnesses or hardships in my immediate family. 2020 taught me that I could quickly pivot, adjust to the new normal, and still thrive in uncertain times,” said Lewis, who is a graduate of McKinley High School in Baton Rouge.
What has been the best thing to do during the pandemic? Watching YouTube tutorials or listening to podcasts and learning something new.
What advice would you give others? What keeps me moving forward during difficult times in life is believing the situation is not permanent, having the support of my family, and never losing hope.
This year I resolve to set up my home office which is being used for storage and start writing my book.
How will you impact others? By committing to more community service and collaborations. When I lived in Los Angeles, I served as president of the Hollywood chapter of the National Organization for Women, as well as a national spokesperson for several organizations, to help raise awareness for charitable causes and shed light on prominent issues. When I moved back home to Louisiana, my philanthropy was paused, but I’m already involved in a few things for 2021. Also, I would love to collaborate more with others locally. Because of my niche market, I usually collaborate with people and businesses out of state. Those who make a positive impact understand the power of relationships and the importance of building connections. I feel I have a lot of knowledge and resources that goes untapped here.
What can we look forward to? Look for more virtual events, social media campaigns, press interviews, and new episodes of my podcast, “The Chenese Lewis Show”.
What are your recent successes? I celebrated my 20th career anniversary in entertainment and the plus-size industry. I was featured in Forbes which dubbed me as “One Of The Original Plus-Size Influencers” and earlier this month I was named one of the Top 50 Entrepreneur Women to Watch in 2021 by Success Sisters Magazine. For the six consecutive years, I hosted the New Orleans Natural Hair Expo during the Essence Music Festival weekend. In 2019, I hosted the Bronner Brothers International Mid-Winter Beauty Show at the New Orleans Ernest M. Morial Convention Center, which is the largest multicultural beauty show in America with over 35,000 attendees. I was honored as the 2015 Fashion Icon by Baton Rouge Fashion Week for being a pioneer in my niche market in the fashion industry. My podcast, The Chenese Lewis Show, has been featured in the Podcast Business Journal, Podcast Magazine, and quoted in the 7 Tribune.
What’s your favorite quote? “I always knew I was destined for greatness” by Oprah Winfrey
What are you reading? Online media: websites, blogs, and social media pages
What’s on your playlist? ‘90s R&B
What are you watching? CNN