Have you ever followed someone on Instagram with a magnetic zeal? Style blogger – and former actress, photographer and writer – Taye Hansberry is definitely one of those people for Charisse Kenion. Recently, Charisse spoke with LA-based Taye to talk about what it’s like to grow up in a family that can claim actress and writer Issa Rae and iconic author and activist Lorraine Hansberry as members.
It’s 8pm in the UK, and 12pm in Los Angeles, where Taye Hansberry lives. Making noise In the background of our long distance chat are Taye’s two adorable little dogs, Madison and Oliver – Taye rescued them a few years ago and they’re definitely a key fixture on her Instagram Stories. Taye shares so many other things via social media; she is 100 percent an IT girl and watching her attending just about anything, from film premieres to her regular hair appointments, can easily become addictive viewing. But Taye is more than just a pretty face with impeccable style; a former actress, writer and photographer, she also comes from an influential family, which of course, means I’m curious to know more about her heritage.
“Both of my parents grew up in Los Angeles. My mom came here from Chicago, when she was six years old, and my dad’s family is from New Orleans. I am Creole – Hansberry is actually my middle name, and my mothers’ family name. My actual last name (which I keep to myself) is French,” says Taye.
The reason I’m curious about Taye’s heritage is because we recently had a long discussion about her skincare regime, where she revealed that she’s actually allergic to sunscreen, which means she never wears SPF. Women of color wearing sunscreen is a huge bugbear of mine, so to learn Taye is allergic, and yet, so wrinkle-free? And living in LA? Well, I had to delve deeper.
Taye credits her ‘skin of steel’ to how she was raised – all organic, no sugars, all thanks to her mother’s diligence. Growing up in LA with constant exposure to the sun you would expect Taye’s skin to have some serious sun damage, but between her intense skincare regime – she uses glycolics and physical scrubs daily (that’s not for everybody, okay?) – and how she was raised, Taye says her skin is completely damage-free.
The other side of Taye’s heritage that cannot be ignored: the bursting creativity. Most of you probably know of Issa Rae (Taye’s cousin) and her hilarious show Insecure, but Taye comes from a long line of creatives. Her aunt Lorraine Hansberry was the first black woman to have a play performed on Broadway – her best-known play being A Raisin in The Sun – and she was also a staunch fighter against segregation, so much so, that the song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” by Nina Simone, was inspired by Lorraine after her untimely death at just 34 years old. To add to this, her grandfather is Vincent Tubbs, who not only edited both Ebony and Jet magazines but became the first black publicist at Warner Bros. I have to ask: does Taye ever feel pressure to perform, or live up to a certain expectation?
“Only very recently,” says Taye. “I have been listening to interviews of my aunt Lorraine lately – reading her works; she was just amazing. To actually be able to hear her speak has been a life-changing experience. I suggest to anyone who wants to know more about Lorraine to Google interviews of her and listen to her eloquent, passionate voice. My aunt was brilliant – absolutely brilliant!”
With an Instagram following of over 200k and various style accolades, Taye has already achieved so much in her life; I ask her if there’s something she’s looking forward to taking on when it comes to her career and lifestyle goals?
“It’s always so peculiar to me when people say that I have achieved so much. Because for me – and this might be a Gemini/Cancer quality or simply a DNA quality – I never feel as if I have done anything,” she says. “My goals moving forward: I would love to collab with both a makeup brand and a clothing and/or accessories brand. My dream is to one day be a guest co-host on The View – people always laugh when I say this but I am being so real! I watch it every single morning.”
I ask Taye, what’s the thing she’s most proud of?
“My ability to not be easily intimidated. My ambition and knowing my worth. I’m also seldom afraid to defend people who I feel are being treated badly. It’s likely that I’ve been called or labelled ‘a bitch’ by some because of how I am, but I’ll take that label and wear it proudly. With that being said, I always come from a place of kindness – standing up for yourself does not mean putting others down,” she says.
As Taye is an inspiration to many, I ask her: who is the woman that inspires her?
“There are so many women that I admire. I admire everyday women who are living their lives. Life for a woman can be trying; there are so many little nuances that we as women deal with on a daily basis – they can either break you or make you stronger.”
As someone who receives some hefty mail from beauty and accessories brands and all those unboxings appearing on her feed (Taye tells me that she only shares around 10 percent of what she actually receives, and of course, I’m instantly jealous!) – I have to ask, what’s the gift that she herself most likes to give?
“For women, it will always be beauty products; I feel like, no matter what, women – even those who don’t care much about beauty – appreciate receiving beauty products. I get so many products and I give them to the women in my life; it’s a small gesture that always seems to put a smile on their face. I’m still working on gifts for guys – I have no idea what men like; maybe that’s why I am so single?”
I believe it’s this hilarious honesty that has garnered Taye her social following, but I’m keen to know what she believes attracts them to her.
“I try to be super transparent in everything I do. I try to always be kind, relatable and authentic to myself. I am a real human; not always perfect, not always put together. I want my followers to see when I am perfect and imperfect – perfect being a relative term. There are for sure some things that I have not exposed yet – but all in due time,” she says. “I am always so grateful when someone follows me or approaches me in person to tell me they follow me. I started this journey back in 2010 and I am still in shock when people follow me. I don’t know that I will ever get completely used to it.”
Taye says she still remembers her very first blog post; it was about her mother. But today, nine years later, a visit to ByTaye will give you insights into her fashion, beauty, lifestyle and travel. In a few posts, it’s totally easy to see why people love her. For me, she’s a real influencer and I think she’s going to be actively using that influence for many years to come.
Follow Taye on Instagram @tayehansberry
All imagery courtesy of ByTaye.com.