Love & Hip Hop: Miami’s Amara La Negra has been the topic of conversation since episode one. The Miami-born Afro-Dominican singer is vocal about celebrating her African roots, afro-textured hair, and dark complexion, which has caused fellow castmates, media personalities, and viewers of the show to weigh in on her appearance and identity.
But Amara isn’t new to this. Her career spans nearly 15 years, beginning on Univision's Sábado Gigante as a precocious four-year-old, and the Spanish-language variety show's only black girl. She learned early on that her appearance meant she’d be treated differently, often being placed in the back and asked to relax her hair because it was “unmanageable” for the show’s hairstylist.
Now 27, she has signed a multi-album record deal with Fast Life Entertainment Worldwide and BMG and is currently working on a forthcoming EP. We recently caught up with Amara and discussed the lessons she's learned from her mother, her career ambitions, and why she’ll never neglect her roots as she crosses into the American market.
What has your life been like since the debut of Love & Hip Hop: Miami?
Honestly, it’s been amazing. I’ve been so blessed to be on Love & Hip Hop. I always thank Mona [Scott-Young] for giving me the opportunity of being able to promote myself as a person, my music and bring light to topics that are really important. It’s been a little hectic, but it’s been amazing. It really has.
Since the show debuted, your message and your presence have become widespread. As someone who identifies as a black Latina, there’s a lot of pride in the fact that you’ve championed this. Why do you feel it’s so important to be that voice for our community?
I think that the Afro-Latino community has been put aside for a very long time. As far as entertainment is concerned, it’s not that we’re not talented. It’s not that we’re not educated. They just don’t give us the same opportunities. For the most part, when you look at soap operas, novelas, movies, magazine covers, when it comes to branding [or] marketing of any product, they never use us at all and, if they do, it’s never in a positive light. It’s taken a lot for me to actually sit here and be able to feel confident enough to talk about it, but I just felt that it was time for somebody to say something.
Where would you say you get that confidence from?
I got it from my mama. My mom has been such an important part in my life and in my career. She made sure, which is such an important thing for young black women and little girls, to help [me] build that confidence. This world out here is very rough. It’s very tough. You have to take a lot of negative comments, a lot of bad looks, a lot of negativity period.
My mom always made sure that I knew that I was beautiful, that no matter what they say about you, you have to stay strong. Know that life out here is not going to be easy. Not everybody is going to like you. Not everybody is going to support you. Just to have someone to really build that confidence in you is really important, and my mom was there to make that happen. Not to mention that life itself teaches you lessons and little by little you have to learn on your own.
“If you can’t put it in your mouth, you shouldn’t put it on your skin.” — Amara La Negra
You’ve been giving us a little bit of your upcoming music through Instagram. People are hype! What can we expect from your first single?
My first single is called "Insecure." It’s definitely different from what people are used to hearing from me ‘cause they’re very used to hearing uptempo, very dance-y music, which definitely is still going to be the type of music I’m going to be projecting. With this song, I wanted to show a different side of Amara La Negra. My music is going to be as happy, as bubbly as I am. I’m just going to be very real to who I am.
Everything that I’m putting out right now is music that I’m 100% involved in, whether it’s writing [and] as far as production is concerned. I just wanted to do something different, but no matter what — and even though my music now is a little bit more Americanized — I still want it to represent me and to still have a Caribbean feel to it. I would never want to feel as if now that I’m working in the American market I’m going to neglect my Latino community, my roots, my culture, everything I’ve ever known and be this new person that only sings or talks in English. No, I’m always going to be real cha-cha like I am now.
Can we expect any features?
Most definitely. I’m currently working with a lot of different artists. We have features already with Sean Paul. In the works, we have with Becky G, with Pit [Pitbull], with Jason Derulo. Theron from Rock City and Supa Dups produced the song "Insecure." I have a lot of features coming up so far. I don’t know what other people may come along, but it would be awesome to be able to put out a full-blown album. For now, it’ll just be an EP, but a full-blown album with a whole bunch of amazing features — that would be pretty fun.
Is there an ideal person that you would love to work with?
I would love to do a collab with Cardi B. I truly admire her as a fellow Dominicana and Afro-Latina. I admire her struggles. I admire where she’s at, I admire her perseverance. I would love to be able to work with her one day. Not only her, but with Drake, Rihanna. The list can go on. Beyoncé! I like to dream high.
Switching gears to beauty, your look is amazing. What would you say is your beauty secret?
I think my personality is what really makes me beautiful. There’s a lot of physically attractive and beautiful women out there but it’s my aura, my demeanor, my spirit that shines.
Are there any products that you use that are like a staple for you, something you have to have?
I have to have coconut oil. I love coconut oil. I have to have my scrubs. I love scrubs. Whenever I’m home, I mean now I’m out here and I have a little bottle of scrub inside my toiletries bag. I love sugar scrubs with honey. Sometimes I use oatmeal. I just sit there in the shower and listen to music, and let it soak in my skin. I’m a big fan of natural, organic products. I think that everything we need in this world is from the earth. If you can’t put it in your mouth, you shouldn’t put it on your skin. Your skin absorbs anything you put on it. For the most part, I’m really big into just using natural products.
What’s next for Amara La Negra?
I’m working on my music now as we speak. Because I just got signed I’m in love with the concept that I’ve worked so hard for so many years and it finally came true to be signed to like a real label. I’m signed to a real major company. I’m working on my clothing line, ALN. Working on a shoe line.
Something that I’m very passionate about as well that I’ve always dreamt of having [is] dolls, like baby dolls for little girls. It may not be as soon as I would want it to be. It’s in my schedule to make some time to make that happen. I really do want to make dolls — maybe for Christmas this year —
that little girls can have. Dolls that are relatable to girls. They have different textures of hair, different shades, different body types, which to me I haven’t seen yet but I think it’s really important.
From a very early age, you have to let little girls know that you’re beautiful the way that you are whether you’re chunky, whether you’re tall, whether you’re skinny. Whatever the case may be, freckles whatever. I would love to be able to have a collection of dolls like that, so I’m working on that as well.