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Jayda Cheaves is without a doubt one of the biggest social media and beauty influencers in the game right now. No matter if it’s style, hair, or lifestyle, she definitely has it and has no plans of stopping anytime soon. We recently caught up with the starlet to talk about her beauty and influence and how she plans to continue doing things her way.

After arriving outside of Jue Lan Club in New York City, I walked into the restaurant wondering where everyone would be seated. To the left at the tables and to the right at the bar were no sign of Jayda and her team, but a woman approached me suddenly as though my aimless wandering gave it away.

“Are you here for Phreshy?,” she asked me, referring to Jayda’s publicist Derrian Perry. I nodded and followed the woman up the narrow staircase into a dimly lit upper floor with a small private dining room. I walked in and locked eyes with Phreshy, a colleague of mine in the industry with whom I’ve been connected to since starting my journey in entertainment, who was sitting next to Jayda. I walked over, gave my salutations, and found myself three chairs removed from Jayda with her friend and creative director sitting between us.

Though I arrived at the scheduled 6:30 PM EST dinner time, they wasted no time getting started with chicken satay and shrimp dumplings for appetizers. I wasn’t too sure if there was going to be the interview first or allow the famed influencer to get a few plates of food in her system, but I was riding with the vibe. “Do you want to switch seats?,” Jayda asked me from across the large circular table, signaling for me to sit next to her instead to potentially do the interview right then and there. 

I reluctantly agreed, but not because I was nervous, but because I knew that Jayda wasn’t in full form yet. I wanted to get a full scope of who she was with her friends and loved ones without the pressure of having to perform in a 20-minute interview. I wanted it to feel organic, not transactional.

Lemon drop martini with azul tequila was her drink of choice, and an espresso martini was mine. I felt the energy returning to my body from the caffeinated spirit beverage, but Jayda noted that the vibe was still missing something. She was in town to celebrate the launch of her Grind Pretty magazine cover, but why was the energy so lifeless on such a joyous occasion? While the music waved in and out of hip-hop and R&B top 100 hits including my personal fave 24KGldn’s “Mood,” the mood in the room was still faded and bothersome. After a tequila shot, a few rounds of drinks, and some food in our bellies, the vibe in the room came to life.

Conversations ebbed and flowed between whether Spirit or Frontier were worse airlines to the controversy of church trauma and dating outside of your race. This was the Jayda I was looking forward to. As she opened up to the small circle at the table about her views on childhood trauma projecting into romantic partnerships, soundbathing, and being authentic during her interview with Angela Yee’s Lip Service, I got to truly listen to and observe how Jayda Cheaves thinks, speaks, and acts without the pressures of the cameras or social media commentary.

While we’ve seen her on BET’s The Impact, being able to meet her and spend the evening with her and her friends was an experience. As I ultimately shadowed the Gen-Z social media mogul around my own city for nearly five hours, I recognized her more and more as a mother, a woman, a hustler, and a human being. 

With her red bottoms kicked up in her sprinter van on her way back to her temporary hotel accommodations, Jayda and I were able to sit down during a rocky ride for a smooth conversation about who the real Jayda Cheaves is.

HelloBeautiful: How’s your mental health right now?

Jayda Cheaves: “My mental health right now is good, but I’m sleepy, getting a little tired, winding down. But I’m going to go turn up because I only have one more day in New York, so let’s turn up.”

HB: All night, people have been asking you about when you realized you had influence, but in your opinion, what’s the difference between influence and popularity?

Jayda: “Influence is the impact that you’re leaving on people. A lot of people have popularity, a lot of followers, but they can’t make a post and say, ‘Go eat at this restaurant,’ and people are actually going to go, so that’s the difference. Actually pulling people in is influence, that impact you leave is influence, and popularity is just the notoriety you get. It’s a big difference, actually.”

HB: To you, what’s the definition of an influencer, and how have you seen it evolved over time through the generations?

Jayda: “The definition of an influencer to me is just someone who doesn’t try. They’re authentically themselves, and they’re leaving an impact on people whether they know it or not. It’s a lot of people that don’t have as much popularity, but they have influence just off of them putting that shit on, really getting dressed, getting fly, but they’re able to leave the same mark somebody with millions of followers leave. I feel like that’s what a true influencer is. If I could look at you and say, ‘Oh, shoot. She look good. I’m going to try that,’ that’s the definition of an influencer to me. I feel like it’s changed so much over the course of time because everybody is trying to be one. Honestly, everything is not for everybody. When you try to be an influencer, it’s not really going to hit the same as a person who’s just authentically being herself.”

HB: When it comes to your style and the way that you dress, obviously you put on. When you think back, who are some of the Black women that really put on for you in fashion and beauty when you were growing up?

Jayda: “Lil’ Kim – that’s my biggest fashion inspo. She was just carefree, she didn’t care what nobody said. She was taking risks, and I feel like that’s what fashion is about. That’s what society needs: somebody who’s going to just step out and make trends, [and] be different.”

HB: Looking back, how would you say that your personal style and aesthetic has evolved?

Jayda: “For real, I feel like it’s the same. I just got more money now to make it look better. Because a lot of people still don’t like how I dress now. I get dressed for me, and if I like it, I’m going to wear it. I don’t care what nobody say. I feel like I was always the same person. I would take risks back in high school, or before certain things were even cool. I was the one trying or wearing them first. I wouldn’t say my style changed as much from what it is now. I just would say I wear more expensive clothes.”

HB: I have to ask you since you’re in my city – what do you love about New York fashion, and what do you love about Atlanta Fashion?

Jayda: “I don’t love anything about Atlanta fashion. Let’s start there, but I love in New York, if I would’ve had this outfit on in Atlanta, people would be like, ‘What the fuck is she wearing?,’ but the taste here is different. In New York, I got so many compliments when I was outside taking pictures. Everybody was like, ‘Oh my God. You look so bombed,’ but in Atlanta, they don’t really understand because everybody is on the same wave in Atlanta.

I feel like in New York, people [are] just really putting it on and just trying things, being creative, and letting that show through their outfits. In Atlanta, everybody look the same. JThat’s why, when I come to New York, I just have fun with my fashion. Stuff that I know I can’t wear in Atlanta, I’ll just wear it here. New York, you can put on whatever you want and it’s going to work.”

HB: You always say that you were the popular girl in high school, but what’s a fashion trend from your high school days that you wish you would not have participated in?

Jayda: “We used to get bandanas and tie them. You tie two bandanas in the back and then you tie them around in a big ass bow. I feel like that shit is so goofy, but looking back, it’s cute to me. It was just one of those things when y’’all look a mess, but it’s one of those quirky things.”

HB: Do you ever feel pressure from societal norms to keep up your image as an “it girl”?

Jayda: “I do not care. I genuinely do not care. I don’t even classify myself as an IT girl. I’m literally just strictly doing what makes me happy, and other people happen to like it.”

HB: When do you feel the most beautiful?

Jayda: “I feel the most beautiful when I don’t have on no makeup, and I got my natural hair or braids or a leave out. Just a natural sew in, no makeup. That’s when I feel my prettiest: when I don’t have on any makeup.”

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The Real Jayda Wayda: Jayda Cheaves Talks Influence, Popularity, And Her Definition of Beauty  was originally published on hellobeautiful.com