GlossMagazineOnline (GMO): You’re very active in speaking out against domestic violence. How did you become involved in this issue?
Kendra: I became involved through pageants. In pageants, you have to have a cause to support. When thinking of what issue I wanted to take on, I didn’t want to be superficial. I wanted to make a difference in something I care about. I experienced domestic violence personally. Being someone who’s overcome that, I wanted to share that experience with others and let them know they can overcome too.
GMO: What would be your advice to a young person who is a victim of domestic violence?
Kendra: I would say the most important thing in overcoming a situation where there’s domestic violence or even emotional abuse is honing in on your support network. Many times the abuser will try to cut you off from the people who can help you, encourage you and want to see you out of that situation. The best thing is to get in contact with your family, friends and other positive people in your life. The more support you can get the better.
GMO: You’ll be hosting the International Hair Meetup Day in Indianapolis on May 18. Can you tell me about the event?
Kendra: I’m a part of a natural hair care group in Indianapolis. It’s really a gathering of ladies who are natural, share hair care tips and products they don’t like. In general, we have fun and healthy conversations about what to do with your hair when you’re natural.
The International Hair Meetup Day is a nationwide event. They’re going to have a product swap, talk to newly natural women on how to style their hair, product demonstrations and I’ll be emceeing! It’s going to be so much fun.
GMO: How did you become a natural hair advocate yourself?
Kendra: I haven’t always been natural. I remember growing up and wanting a perm SO bad. All of my role models had perms. I remember combing through people’s hair and thinking I wanted one, too. So, I started getting relaxers when I was only seven. I didn’t know anything about being natural until I went to college. There were a few girls who were natural and that kind of sparked my fire. I was very tired of the whole idea of ‘being black is beautiful,’ but no one really embracing it. So, one day I thought ‘what’s wrong with the way my hair grows out of my head?’ From there, I decided to let my perm grow out. Plus, being a broke college student I couldn’t afford to go back and forth to my hometown to get my hair done anyway.
GMO: What are some natural hair tips for those looking to make the transition?
Kendra: My tip is that if you haven’t seen your natural hair in a long time, don’t make any assumptions about what your hair is going to be like and what you’re going to be able to do with it. Girls who are newly natural are most tempted to go back to perming because they’re not sure how to deal with their hair. Just be warned, you’re going to have bad hair days. It’s going to be a process and learning lesson of your hair’s likes and dislikes. But have fun experimenting! It’s not a bad thing. I really like hair care blogs and YouTube videos. I think they really know what they’re talking about.
GMO: I also noticed that you’re looking to step into the Hollywood scene. How’s that going so far?
Kendra: Very well actually! I’m auditioning for many roles and most are with other black people who have the same goals as me. I have a role coming up that I’m really interested in about a black woman who’s going through some things similar to what I’ve experienced. Through my platform, I hope to have a short film out by January 2014.
GMO: You’ll be competing for the Miss Black USA title this August. How have you prepared for that?
Kendra: I’ve been making a lifestyle change. In the past, I was a junk food addict who loved fast food. I’ve always kind of been healthy, but I really kicked it up a notch and learned that preparation is key as far as fast food goes. I don’t have to rely on fast food and junk food anymore when I’m in a time crunch. The Miss Black USA organization is a part of The Heart Truth Campaign, so being involved with that has helped me live a healthier lifestyle and eat better.
GMO: What important message do you want to send to your audience?
Kendra: Domestic violence in the black community is a huge issue that’s often glossed over. I want people to know this is an issue that’s important and we need to address it. If not for ourselves, for our children. If we don’t talk about it now, our children will grow up to repeat our mistakes. The next generation is important because they’re the ones who will inherit the earth. We need to set an example and make a better world for them.