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Alika Ray on Beauty, Energy and the Everyday Extraordinary

After a quick snapchat session, Alika and I sat down to discuss what beauty really means. She fluffed her bouncy spiral curls, and the smiley full time model perched in a flowing chiffon boho dress decked with lace and embroidery. “Alright Diane, give it to me,” she said with sass.  Exclamations of “Barbara!” and giggles erupted from the ‘audience’ – the rest of our Charlotte based office team.

We’re at Shine Salon in the Elizabeth district of Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s a converted mid-century house with the original wood floors, expansive windows, and ample space for video production and a full crew of stylists, marketing people and extraordinary women.

“Hey Alika, good morning,” I start out in familiar tone. We know each other well. Alika rocked the show tour with us last season. Rocked. It. She’s such a #girlboss we named a curl after her.

“Hiii,” she laughs. We’ve been joking around all morning, so it’s an odd transition to be “lights, camera, action” now.

“Ok so just tell us about yourself – your name, where you’re from, profession..”

Alika: My name is Alika Ray. And I am a model, an actress, and I live in Dallas, Texas.

B&P: What does your typical day look like?

Alika: I think what I love about my job the most is that there really is not a typical day. Everything is always changing – from my auditions to all my photoshoots. Everything is different. I have some consistent things throughout the week – I teach girls, ages 8 through 17, modeling classes. So that’s something I like to look forward to.

B&P: That’s awesome.

We’re interrupted by the camera crew requesting a pause for makeup touch-up. “Too much shine?” she asks. She knows the drill. Ana Vergara, one of our stylists and another interviewee, pops in to powder Alika’s nose.

B&P: Can you tell us a little more about teaching modeling classes and what’s important about that? What do the girls take away from it?

Alika: I love teaching these girls. They find so much joy and they give me so much life. They’re learning the ins and outs of the modeling industry so they’re learning everything from on-set etiquette to walking the runway; but more importantly, I am just teaching them all about self-love. Because that’s where I believe beauty comes from – it all really comes from the inside. And those are such important characteristics of beauty to me, when you are kind; and you have empathy; and you have selflessness; and you’re full of love… that’s what makes you beautiful.

Her response gives me chills. I look down at my page of notes to get back on track…

“Can you describe your beauty routine?”

Alika: So my beauty routine begins and ends with eating right and drinking lots and lots of water. I think when you put super foods in your body you just naturally feel good and you look good and that is very important. I also am a really big product junkie so having gotten my esthetician license a couple years ago my cupboard is full of beauty products. I’m always trying everything.

B&P: Obviously you have beautiful and awesome curls, but what do you do with your hair to get this gorgeous natural look?

Alika: My hair is naturally curly and I’m so excited because growing up I never really had any access to natural hair care to embrace my curls. And I think there’s an amazing movement right now with everybody wanting people to embrace their curls and their natural texture. So I get excited when I go to the store and there’s just a whole area of products catering to that. I condition my hair – a lot of people actually think that naturally curly is so easy but there’s a lot of care that goes into it. You have to make sure it’s really conditioned well, so a leave in-conditioner and a curl cream, diffuser. Those are the essentials.

B&P: OK, what is your favorite thing about yourself?

She laughs a little.

“Tough question,” I smile back knowingly.

Alika: This is a tough question… but I would say my favorite thing about myself is my energy. And this is something that I love to tell my kids that I teach. Just to show up everyday…

Someone drops something in the kitchen. As the crew and I are discussing where the background noise is coming from, Alika gets bored and leans up to the microphone hovering just outside of the frame, serenading us with a falsetto version of Adele’s ”Hello.” We end up trying this question three times. A siren goes wailing past on take #2. On the third failed attempt, Alika jokingly begins to storm off in a dramatic huff of ruffles and curls, and we all erupt with laughter. She gracefully sits back down on the stool in the center of the room. “Let’s move on to a different question!” she says clasping her hands under her chin and smiling.

B&P: Ok we’ll come back to that. Here’s a fun one. Who’s the most beautiful person you know and why?

Alika: So being in the modeling industry, of course you meet a ton of beautiful people and I honestly don’t have just one particular person that I find the most beautiful. I keep going back to the kids that I teach because their energy is so beautiful. I find beauty in every single person, I really try to.

B&P: That’s beautiful! (I have chills again.) Alright, so going off of that, how would you define the everyday extraordinary?

She pauses. We’re asking the tough questions today.

B&P: You spoke to this a little bit, about finding beauty in everybody.

Alika: I think that the everyday extraordinary- anyone can tap into that. If you wake up and you choose to be positive and you choose to be kind and smile, somedays it’s really hard but if you can do that… If you opened up your eyes in the morning, then it’s an extraordinary day.

B&P: What is your favorite thing about yourself?

Alika: My favorite thing about myself is energy. I try to bring a lot of energy everywhere I go and I try to leave it. And that’s something that I’m telling my students too; whether you show up on set or in life, just try to leave a trail of magic wherever you go.

I think at this point we would all like to be one of her students for a day.

B&P: What one word best describes you?
Alika: One word that best describes me would be ALIVE.

B&P: And last one. What does beauty mean to you?

Alika: It all comes from the inside. Beauty means those characteristics that I think are so important – just as a human being. Kindness and empathy. That’s the basis. That’s my religion. That’s life.

If you love Alika’s perspective on what beauty really means, check out the footage of her interview.

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