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Interview: Miss Black USA 2017 And Ballerina Daphne Lee

Daphne Lee is Miss Black USA 2017 she is also a ballet dancer and Goodwill Ambassador to the Republic of Sierra Leone. She graduated with Honors from Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program in dance and is a recipient of the Denise Jefferson Scholarship.

Tamara: Tell us about yourself.
Daphne: My name is Daphne Lee and I am a full time ballet dancer with Collage Dance Collective in a Memphis TN. I am a graduate student at Hollins University as well as an ambassador to the Republic of Sierra Leone. 

Tamara: Did you always want to be a ballerina?
Daphne: I never wanted to dance professionally. I got into dance because my mother was a dancer and she was my teacher. Dance was more recreational but I ended up getting into Alvin Ailey/Fordham BFA program and ended up joining Alvin Aileys second company. I’ve toured over 60 cities in the USA and 7 countries. I am currently touring here in China with Collage Dance. 

Tamara:What inspired you to become Miss Black USA?
Daphne: Miss Black USA has many success stories. In 2010, I had the pleasure of meeting Osas Ighodaro-Ajibade, Miss Black USA 2010. The now successful Nollywood actress saw me perform and encouraged me to apply. Inspired by the organization’s mission to celebrate the unique talents, traits and beauty of women of color and award scholarship opportunities, I decided to apply. The rest is history.  

Tamara:What words of encouragement do you have for a little young girl who aspires to be a ballerina or Miss Black USA?
Daphne: My advice would be to know that practice and consistency is key. Continue to watch who you want to become and to never quit.
Tamara: How did you overcome stereotypes and barriers?
Daphne: Barriers are inevitable and I brush them off because I am focused on my goals. Obstacles are simply distractions from my journey yet I use them to fuel my inspiration. Plus I think of all the people who came before me who might have had it worse.
Tamara: Did you always have natural hair and why did you decide to go natural?
Daphne: For the most part I always switched up hairstyles. My hair was relaxed when I was younger and my mother warned me. But I eventually switched because the idea and reality of putting chemicals to change my hair texture felt unnatural. It’s almost similar to the idea of wanting to bleach skin; it’s no longer who I am. I appreciate the amazing hairstyles and inventions that black have attributed to hair yet there is something to be said when the hair is Natural and you have the diversity to wear it in many styles.

You can follow Daphne Lee on her website https://www.daphnemlee.com/

For more information on her role as Miss Black USA visit https://www.missblackusa.org/

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