Familiarize yourself with the women changing our perception of sex work and hip-hop.
In this day and age, celebrities have become more open about their past careers as exotic dancers. Whether the strip club helped them build their image or they did it as a side-hustle, they are nonetheless less afraid to talk about it.
From Cardi B, who has worked hard to change the stigma surrounding sex workers, to Amber Rose, who speaks of her time as a stripper quite fondly, it is agreed that these women have come a long way. Some of them have serious talent hiding behind the stigma of their pole dancing careers. Some have even learned to become amazing entrepreneurs and demand respect in spite of the stigma weighing them down, to some extent. Here are some of the leading women who are changing the narrative for the better.
Businesswoman, model, and actress, Amber Rose is far from shy; She openly talks about women's rights and her past as a sex worker. In her early years, she described stripping as the best time of her life. Amber told fans tuned into her online radio show Loveline, that she is not ashamed of her past. "If you keep your head up, stay off drugs, go in there," she explained. "You make your money, it's an honest living, it truly is."
However, she has blossomed into one of the most highly sought after models and public speakers. Her career started off with her appearance in a few music videos. She was then spotted by Kanye West and the pair began dating. After their split, Amber remained in the public eye and developed her own fan base. She is now commonly viewed as a sex positive-feminist icon, lending her voice to many hotly debated issues, and her name to the transnational SlutWalk movement. As an actress, she has appeared in several movies including School Dance and Sister Code. She even scored her own television show The Amber Rose Show, and is objectively a great mother to her son Sebastian.
One of the more notable strippers turned entrepreneurs is indeed Blac Chyna. She is the queen of "securing the bag" and making a name for herself from within the strip club. It all started at King of Diamonds in Miami where Blac Chyna was noticed by Drake. Drake then mentioned her in "Miss Me," with the following nod of approval: "Call up King of Diamonds and tell Chyna it’ll be worth the flight."
Chyna then parlayed the buzz into some work in music videos. By 2014, she had launched her own makeup brand Lashed by Blac Chyna, and had gained quite a following on social media as a result. These days, Blac Chyna is working on another makeup line, while remaining in the public eye in spite of her conflict with the Kardashians.
From Basketball Wives, to work as model, actress and fashion designer, Draya is never one to speak on her past, although she never denied working as a stripper. Draya danced, on and off, for years in clubs “when she needed something,” as she once told Wendy Williams in a 2011 interview. Since then, Draya has come along way, appearing on Basketball Wives: LA from 2011 to 2016.
When Draya finally made a name for herself outside of reality TV, it was through her million dollar swimwear line Mint Swim, which she started in 2011. In 2013, she followed up her initial success in the garments industry with her second clothing line, Fine Ass Girls. She has appeared in many movies including The Perfect Match,True to the Game and Til’ Death Do Us Part. These days, she is continuing her acting career, running her personal business, all while assuming the responsibilities of a mom, wife, and most important to this discussion, a self-made millionaire.
Popular stripper/Instagram model turned entrepreneur Lira Galore is not letting her past define her. She started stripping at the age of 18, explaining to XXL magazine, that her goal was to make some quick money and leave. "I had a goal: to make a certain amount of money and then get out. When I reached that goal, I was done,” she explained.
After stripping, she began modeling and investing into her own career. While people may know that she is engaged to Rick Ross, she put all the attention and fame to good use, modeling for numerous clothing lines. She even recently started her own hair product for women called LaidByLira.
Rapper and reality star Jhonni Blaze also made her mark as a stripper, eventually landing TV spot on Love and Hip Hop: NY and more recently on Growing Up Hip Hop: ATL. Jhonni is quite talented. Her voice is amazing and she is a pro on the keys. As her fame grows, Jhonni never forgets to mention her time spent as a stripper but is hopeful she can one day overcome the label. Jhonni Blaze is represented by Debra Antney, the mother of Wacka Flocka Flame.
We couldn’t make a list of strippers turned entrepreneurs without Cardi B. Cardi took us on her journey through social media as she rose to fame from her humble beginnings as an NYC stripper to her history-making career as a rapper. She won the hearts of her fans by making funny Instagram videos. Soon after gaining her loyal fans, she started a rap career and subsequently appeared on Love and Hip Hop: NY. When she was done with Love and Hip Hop, she continued putting out mixtapes for her budding fan base. She swept the charts with "Bodak Yellow." and the rest is history.
Cardi is a paragon for women wanting to make it out the hood, while remaining true to themselves. She actively speaks on "colorism" and the potential dangers of the strip club as a workplace. She is never shy about her past and that is one of the reasons why many people appreciate her, for being true to herself. To this day, Cardi continues to sweep the charts and make music that people love while opening doors for other young women who hope to follow in her footsteps.