Teyana Taylor tells us what it means to be the first Black woman Maxim named 'Sexiest Woman Alive'

·3 min read
Maxim and MADE special. Celebrate Teyana Taylor at their Annual Maxim Hot 100 Event
Maxim and MADE special. Celebrate Teyana Taylor at their Annual Maxim Hot 100 Event MADE special. @bymadespecial
  • Teyana Taylor is the first Black woman to be named 'Sexiest Woman Alive' by Maxim.

  • Taylor told Insider that sexiness is about your charisma and how someone chooses to carry themself.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

History was made on June 7, when Maxim announced Teyana Taylor as the first Black "Sexiest Woman Alive" since the magazine's launch in 1995. A red carpet celebration of the star's new title occurred in Hollywood on July 13.

"I'm just honored to be the sexiest woman alive in some cargo pants and a wife-beater," Taylor, 30, told Insider of the accolade. "But as far as being the first Black sexiest woman? That should have been done a long time ago."

Harlem-born Taylor is known for her roles as a dancer-choreographer, singer-songwriter, actor-director, and fashion designer. She has worked behind the scenes and in front of the camera - crossing paths with industry giants such as Pharrell Williams and Kanye West.

The artist announced a new chapter in her career after dropping her most recent album in 2020 (enigmatically titled "The Album") saying that she'd be temporarily retiring from music. However, fans of the artist can look forward to seeing more of her in her upcoming series, "We Got Love Teyana and Iman," premiering on E! on August 18.

On Tuesday night, dressed in an all-black fishnet dress with a back cut-out, Taylor was celebrated for her latest honorific: "Sexiest Woman Alive" as the top of Maxim's "Hot 100" list.

The event was hosted by MADE Nightlife at The Highlight Room located on the 10th floor of the Dream Hotel. Chris Brown, Offset, the Clermont Twins, Jordan Clarkson, Stephen Jackson, Miles O'Neil, Kay Thompson, Quincy Combs, King Combs, JR Smith, Jordan Jackson, Shantel Jackson, Kaash Paige, Joseph "JoJo" Diaz, and more made appearances throughout the night.

Photography: Gilles Bensimon, Styling: Teyana Taylor and Julian Mack, Producer: Jessica Athanasiou, Makeup: Haley Love, Hair: Ky Johnson and Billions Wimberley, Nails: Tiffany Everett

Maxim, a nearly three-decade-old men's magazine, has been criticized in the past for both a glaring lack of diversity and for overt sexism. The HuffPost reported in 2013 that Maxim had the least diverse covers in comparison to other mainstream magazines. A 2003 Maxim feature detailed "How To Cure A Feminist" to their male audience, as discussed in a post written by Bitch Media.

Insider asked Taylor what other Black women deserved the title in previous years. Taylor went on to name Halle Berry and Nia Long. She said that prominent Black women in the nineties alone would have called for "the Sexiest Woman of the Day."

"All Black is beautiful," she added, "it wouldn't have mattered who else they put on that cover."

"I am, however, grateful that the time is here," she continued. "The girls are getting readjusted, you know? They know that this is going to be the new normal and that's the part that's exciting for me."

"Sexy" was the word of the evening: 20-year-old singer Kaash Paige defined sexiness as "walking in a room, having star power, and knowing how to talk. It's the aura that you give off."

Similarly, actress Shantel Jackson said that she "can't even explain" the litmus test for sexy: "It's just the aura that a woman can give off that can just exude 'sexy,' and it's not a race thing. It's not a hair thing. It's not a makeup thing. If you're sexy, you're sexy."

On the topic of sex appeal, Taylor said, "I think people hear 'sexy' and think that it's like just body and looks. And I kind of see that debate all the time. And for me, I think it's how you carry yourself. I think is your charisma - your strength. I think that a girl can have a pretty face and, and have a nasty heart. And I think that having an amazing heart is sexy. I think being strong is sexy."

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