The Beauty of Rebellion: Tae Heckard
by: iman n. milner
Lashontae “Tae” Heckard is beautiful. And not beautiful in that generic store bought way. She has the kind of beauty that radiates from the inside out when she smiles. She has the kind of beauty that silences a room and gives no one permission to breath until she speaks. There’s an ease in her beauty that gives everyone around her the freedom to be unapologetically genuine…because everything about her says she’d appreciate that more than being fawned over. In fact, Lashontae spends most of her time deflecting compliments on her aesthetics and devotes her energy to showing us that it’s what in her spirit that keeps her flawless.
“I just want to make people laugh”, she said as she slid into the makeup chair, “I want people to feel good when they’re around me”. And spending our day with Lashontae Heckard was nothing less than time well spent. We talked about everything from her desire for children to how she broke into the industry…and yes, we asked about “Caveman”.
How would you describe Tae Heckard at this time in your life?
I’m an evolving Black woman. It’s important to me to recognize my transitions and learn from them. I continue to grow as a person, as a woman, as a Black woman, as a friend, as a daughter and as a future wife. If I’m not evolving, I’m stagnant. If I’m stagnant, I’m not living the way I should be.
Tell me about your childhood. You were a military kid, correct?
Yeah. I was born in Korea. My mother abandoned me but I was found by my father and raised in Louisiana and Texas. When we moved to Germany, I got into theater really heavy. I loved it immediately. I was the biggest tomboy. I was always clowning with my friends and playing sports so this whole “being sexy” thing never feels quite right. (laughs) It was instilled in me from a very young age that looks weren’t everything and that’s why I’m still not all about my outer appearance.
So how did you find your way into videos?
I was on vacation and a casting director came up to me and asked me if I wanted to go to an audition. I was still in the military at the time and I was like “for what?”. He was fast talking me and honestly I got a little offended because I had no idea what he was talking about but I ended up saying yes and did my first video that way. It happened to be Brandy’s Full Moon video which was directed by Chris Robinson. I’m a happy go lucky person, I talk to everyone and I brought that to the set with me. Chris told me I was hilarious and he wanted me to be in his first film whenever he did it. All the other videos came from networking, honestly. I never auditioned in the beginning, it was all word of mouth because people enjoyed working with me. It’s all about good intentions, good energy and personality. I never wanted to be seen. I just knew that I had to do what I had to do so that I could ultimately do what I wanted to do which was act. But anyone who knows me personally would say that I’ve been the same person since that first video. That consistency is what makes people continually work with me. It’s why I wasn’t just “that girl from those videos” and then you never saw me again. I’ve stayed me.
What would you say are the misconceptions about your part of the industry?
There are no misconceptions because for some people it’s a reality. The biggest issue is that people don’t take responsibility for what we condone in front of the masses. We have to lose the facades and just be real about it all. Don’t make it seem like this 24 hour glamourous life when it’s not. It’s the same as any job. If it’s a nine-to-five blue collar, you’ll still have women who dress sexy to solicit attention from their boss or for a promotion. It’s no different except you see us on TV. All those things that women do happens in the military, in an office building—everywhere. Women need to be taught and men need to be taught. Women have to learn how to demand respect and men have to learn how to give it. A lot of men in the public eye give off this idea that’s like “look what I have. You need to be with me but you’re going to have to look like this“. And these beautiful young Black girls conform to that. They eat up the lies. You don’t see educated women being name dropped in songs or glamourized on TV. You don’t see being a CEO applauded. It’s just “you’re a boss bitch” if you have on a pair of expensive shoes. A man taking you on an expensive vacation is being a “boss”? That’s crazy. Anybody who I come across who wants that lifestyle, I have to question. When girls tell me they want to do what I do, I want to know “why?”. Because you see that I get attention? The question is what do you want to be known for? I’m good at what I do but I was good at school too. I was good in the military. I was going to be Tae whether some man thought I was cute or not.
So what’s your opinion on the standard of beauty? Many people would say that you fit the mold of what’s considered attractive to the masses.
I get that. But I hate when it’s “she’s beautiful because she’s mixed” or “her hair is beautiful because it’s long and this texture”. My younger sister is so gorgeous and has the best curls–but she’s super brown. People wouldn’t assume that she’s mixed with anything, does that mean she’s less beautiful than me? Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and I’ve always thought like that. I have family members lighter than me with blonde hair and darker than me. I didn’t learn to differentiate my skin color from others until middle school and I was devastated. A lot of times, I don’t wear my hair down because I don’t want young girls to think that’s all that guys like. I’ll put it in a bun or hide it under a hat just to show that it doesn’t take anything away from me. You don’t have to wear heels, you don’t have to expose your body. If you want to rock a bald head and sneakers everyday…do that. Make it work for you. You define your beauty.
How would you describe your personal style?
My look is based on how I feel on any given day. I don’t like to match because I’m a natural rebel. If I’m having a bad day, the first person who should make me feel better is me, so I’ll wear something ridiculous just to see people’s reaction. I’ll put on green lipstick and walk around Rodeo Drive just to watch people stare so I can laugh.
We have to ask about Caveman. You’ve chosen to keep him anonymous. Why?
I don’t mind people speculating on who he could be. I’m not secretive. It’s not like we don’t go out or that you can’t see us, I’m just private. If you see us out you can assume whatever you want, if you never see us you can just keep guessing. Usually I do it for fun just to get people worked up, so I’ll show parts of him or blur out his face. Am I really going to show him? No. Have we been in highly public places together? Yes. But I’m not an attention seeker. If you happen to see us then you happen to see us.
After having been through past relationships what makes this one so special?
I get to put my foot down and be me. One thing women often do is beg. “If you love me” or “you have to show me…”, it’s a demand or a bargain. It should be natural. As much as it may hurt sometimes, you’ve got to let a person be exactly who they are and if you can’t do that and still love them…you need to be done with that relationship. At the end of the day you’re not going to be happy if they’re doing things just to appease you, you’re going to want them to do it automatically. That’s how we are as women. It shouldn’t take you threatening to leave or find someone else. You shouldn’t have to hold threats over a man’s head in order for him to love you the way you deserve. When a couple comes together and they really mesh, there’s a give and take without it being ordered. I have that. I’ve put aside my ego, my past and my fears—he’s done the same. You have to do a complete cleanse and you have to be an adult about what you feel and about what the other person feels. I can look at the person I’m with now and see him being a father to my children. I can see building a life with him. In the past, I was concerned about us “looking good” together.
Do you have any regrets? In love or otherwise?
I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do. I’m all about trying on different hats to see if they fit. If it doesn’t fit, I take it off and I don’t try that again. No regrets. Even in bad situations, I’ve learned something.
What do you hope will be said about you in your absence?
I want people to say that I made them smile. I want them to say that I was a good person. I don’t have no ill intent towards anyone in my heart. I don’t want to know your business but I do want to see you happy. I want to do everything to make you happy, if it’s in my power. That’s important to me. I want people to know that and feel that from me.
What does living a life on the EDGE mean to you?
This whole life is on edge, isn’t it? Every day that you wake up, every decision that you make—you’re able to change the outcome of your day and maybe even your life. It’s all cumulative.
Photography: Brittany Roughton
MUA: Sydney Milan
Stylist: Seth Brundle
Hair: Jazmayne Chatman
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