Selena Watkins

Selena2.refineryrevlon07101425586Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Selena Watkins wears so many hats in the biz — pro dancer, fitness instructor, print model, arts entrepreneur, and advocate for health and culture — that it’s incredible she even has the time to perform at the Barclays Center on the regular. Yep, howcasual of a part-time gig to be an official NBA Brooklyn Nets dancer.
Before she hopped on board as a Brooklynette, Watkins was the first Antiguan-American to nab the title of Miss Black U.S.A. It’s a role that has allowed her to spread her mission statement of fitness, positive body image, and the importance of embracing cultural identity. And, this year, Watkins is launching her message on an international level by way of Socanomics, a series of Caribbean dance and music workshops that she founded, as well as by being an ambassador for the 2014 International Roots Festival in The Gambia. Knowing Selena Watkins, she’s just getting warmed up.
Selena3.refineryrevlon07101425620Photographed by Ben Ritter.

When I feel most confident
“Dance empowers me because it’s the way I best express my emotions. Music takes me on a crazy mental journey. When you’re performing, your body becomes mechanical, but it is your soul that feels the joy of the movement.”

On mentoring young women of color
“I am an advocate for the I Love My Brown Skin campaign, which inspires young women of color to embrace their features, their skin, their hair, and everything that makes them who they are. This is necessary because we are often faced with media that does not celebrate us or our achievements.”

Don’t be afraid of your sexuality

“It is important to express strength and femininity, which also implies sensuality and sexuality, naturally. We are humans, and it is human nature to be sexual beings. Instead of being ashamed about it, I say embrace it. I fell in love with the performing arts because it allowed me to embrace every part of who I am. And, as artists, we need to be open-minded. I wish this same freedom for all females — artists or not.”

How I got started in pageants
“I had just finished working with Emmis Communications at 98.7 Kiss FM after they sold the station. I wasn’t sure about my next step for my career, and I always had a goal to compete in a pageant, for fun. But [once I started preparing], it developed me as a public speaker, along with my morals, values, talent, and level of fitness. [Competing in a pageant] builds you as a well-rounded person, and it helps you see life differently. It became more than a pageant to me.”


What it was like to win Miss Black U.S.A.
“It was amazing to represent my country. Often, as Black Americans, we are categorized into one large sector, but we all come from different places with different cultures, so it was great to share that side of who I am. As an Antiguan-American, I grew up in a West Indian and Caribbean household. The Caribbean is composed of so many international influences. The dancing and musical sounds of Socanomics (soul and calypso music) embodies that.”

Selena4.refineryrevlon07101425580Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Clover Canyon skirt, ADEAM top, Tibi heels, Jennifer Fisher cuff.
Photographed by Ben Ritter; Makeup by Katie Mellinger; Hair by Adam McClay; Styled by Laura Pritchard.

More from Entertainment

R29 Original Series