Despite what several publications implied following the release of Kanye West’s new music video at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards, entertainer Teyana Taylor has had a public presence for years.
On the heels of her lauded participation in the rapper’s new visual for “Fade,” the 25-year-old singer, actress, model, mother, and fiancee of Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Iman Shumpert, spoke to Vogue and expressed how this latest bit of attention is shaking her personal world up a bit.
“I was so nervous [about “Fade”] because it was really a do-or-die moment,” Taylor explained. “It’s emotional [to me], because I’ve been in the industry for so long, and I’ve never understood why certain things weren’t happening. Now, I feel like my story, everything that I’ve been through, makes this moment so much more special. Though it took so long for this to happen, I don’t feel like it could’ve happened at a better time.”
The debut of “Fade” at the VMAs completes a full circle, of sorts, of Teyana’s Hollywood journey up to this point. Initially appearing on an episode of the now-defunct My Super Sweet 16 in 2007, she was already well on her way to fame at that time due to being signed to Pharrell Williams’ Star Trek Entertainment imprint earlier that year.
Her first official single, a banger of an introduction entitled, “Google Me,” dropped one year afterward and brought her minimal chart success, but didn’t create enough buzz to help release a full album on the label. She eventually departed Star Trek and signed with GOOD Music — Kanye West’s label — in 2012.
Before releasing her first official album with GOOD Music (VII in 2014), she dropped two mix tapes, collaborated with West on several of his releases, including the title track of his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy LP, and became the breakout star of Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family in 2010, where she played Sabrina, a “baby mama” from hell.
She also would go on to become a real-life mother, too, with the birth of her daughter, Junie, in early 2016.
“She might be the coolest baby on Earth,” Taylor relayed to Vogue. “A couple months back at the [NBA] playoffs, I took a picture of her and Jay Z. And she’s looking [at him] like, ‘You know, you Hov, but I’m Junie.'”
As fearless as Junie may be, the same cannot be said for Teyana, who admitted that the steamy shower scene between herself and Junie’s father in “Fade” brought her a bit of trepidation about the overall nudity aspect. Interestingly, it was both the bond between mother and daughter, and artist and protege that allowed her to make peace with showing off her body in such an intimate, vulnerable way.
“After having Junie, I learned that if she can put her trust in me, I have to learn to put my trust in others,” she admitted. “I trusted Kanye 100 percent.”
It probably also helped that her scene partner was none other than her fiance, Iman (Junie also momentarily appears during the video’s climax).
“What makes it even doper is that he didn’t put me in a position where I was with a male model or male actor,” she continued. “There was trust and comfort and protection because I knew I was with a person that I’m already becoming one with.”
Before that happens, however, Teyana Taylor has got quite a few things planned. For starters, she wants to properly assist others with getting a similar body to the sculpted one she obtained, postpartum. You might be surprised to learn that her abs didn’t come from crunches.
“I would really be lying to you if I told you that I worked out,” she admitted. “All I do is dance. I think dancing, as far as fitness, is very underrated. Whether that’s Zumba, tap dancing, or ballet, you have to realize that this is an actual workout. Sometime this year, I want to make a DVD. For real.”
She also wants to work on the follow-up to her last album, and continue her acting career.
“I’m actually trying to drop a new record in about two days [from now],” Taylor expressed. “[The “Fade”] video [came as] such a surprise for me. [Now], I’m sitting here, trying to rearrange everything [I want to do]!”
[Photo via Johnny Nunez/Stringer/Getty Images]