*Kyemah McEntyre became an Internet sensation when a photo of the African-print prom dress she designed went viral. Her talents afforded her an honor last Saturday (03-05-16) as one of BET’s “Next In Class.”
While on the red carpet, McEntyre modeled a custom canvas dress, featuring various images of black women. She designed the gown and then had it sewn by a local seamstress before she embellished it with acrylic paint, USA Today notes.
“I decided I was going to actually paint my inspiration, which is black women,” she said while twirling. “Ultimately, what’s the best way to give honor to us? And I’m a fine artist. I’m a fashion designer. I believe in black history. I believe in women’s history, and so what better way to just express that than by wearing this?”
The 18-year-old from East Orange, New Jersey, told MadameNoire last year that her hope is to inspire others to set trends instead of following them, a lesson she learned in middle school when she decided to go natural.
“At first it was difficult for me to be very comfortable in my natural state because a lot of people around me had not gone natural,” McEntyre told MadameNoire. “But I was always taught by my family that my own standard of beauty is what’s more important and you don’t have to be ashamed of your natural beauty. Also, I always just liked the look of a large Afro.”
Keymah was commissioned by “Power” actress Naturi Naughton to design a dress for her BET Awards 2015 appearance. The incoming Parsons freshman is cementing her brand’s unapologetic celebration of black women, which she says is inspired by the lack of black female representation in the media.
“I remember asking myself, ‘Why don’t I see these women?’ And I remember comparing myself to the women that I did see and I was like, ‘Well, why aren’t I beautiful? Why isn’t my kinky hair beautiful? Why aren’t my full lips beautiful?’ I think from that point on, that whatever I did, it was going to be me and not for anyone else. And then I mean, the artist in me, the rebellious youth in me also pushed it but ultimately, I think it came from me questioning, ‘Why aren’t I beautiful? Why can’t I be seen as beautiful?’”
The BET Honors airs March 14, 8 p.m/ET.
This is for always being labeled as, “ugly” or “angry”. Thank God, stereotypes are just opinions. – Kyemah McEntyre✊? pic.twitter.com/UXTLyVSF9f
— KYEMAH MCENTYRE (@KyeTheCreator) June 7, 2015
Entire Dress made out of Canvas. Tell me who else does this? A photo posted by Kyemah McEntyre (@mindofkye_) on