This year’s awards will highlight the exemplary contributions of “Women Leading the Change,” including: politician Stacey Abrams, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, health advocate Dr. Ala Stanford, alchemist Rosalind Brewer, CEO Kim Ford, reparations ambassador Robin Rue Simmons and a special tribute to the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.
We spoke to Campbell, ahead of the premiere, to get the scoop on the show, the fashions we can expect from her and her co-host, what it was like sharing the stage with Da Brat and working with Urban One founder Cathy Hughes.
HelloBeautiful: What are you going to bring to Urban One Honors fashion-wise?
Erica Campbell: I got an original piece from my friend, Al Johnson, who was born and raised LA by way of Atlanta and now I think Dallas. I saw this picture and I sent it to him and he picked the fabric and he made it happen! The outfit looks like a party. I’m super excited about that. And then something nice and sleek, I love supporting African and African-American designers. Keirra Sheard’s line — Eleven60 — there’s a simple black dress that I was able to wear. I starved myself real good *Laughs* So I look real cute in it. I didn’t want to overdo it cause I wanted it to be more about the show and just really honoring these amazing women. They’re honoring amazing African-American women. And I think it’s so important because so many of us do the work and feel unseen. Urban One does a great job of seeing us and elevating and celebrating us.
HB: Tell us more about this LBD from Kierra Sheard’s line Eleven60…
EC: I love her and all that she’s doing. I’ve had this dress for a while and I couldn’t fit it for many years. And I was like, I’m getting in this doggone dress so I got it in with my trainer and I was able to fit it.
HB: What did you love about your co-host’s fashion?
EC: He gave us African attire. He gave us a Kaftan and it was absolutely amazing. He’s so fun. And he is crazy and he plays no games. He knows what he’s doing, and he will let you know that he knows what he’s doing. And I always enjoy that. We always have a good time together.
HB: What’s your before performance ritual?
EC: It’s different depending on where I lack. Sometimes I don’t know if I’ll have enough energy or, if I’ve been busy, I have to center myself. So I usually pray for God’s strength, his peace, his wisdom and his love. And help me to remember that it’s about Him and not me, because if I make this performance about me, then he gets no glory. I don’t go into it with, ‘Will they like me or what will they think?’ I just want God to shine. I’m a vessel.
HB: How excited were you to see Jazmine Sullivan, Da Brat and the other ladies hit the stage?
EC: I love all the ladies — Le’Andria Johnson and Avery Sunshine. We did a collabo at the end, which is super, super fun. I think that people are really going to enjoy each and every performance. So it’s literally me, Avery, Le’Andria Johnson and Da Brat altogether. That’s an interesting combo, but I think it’s going to blow people away. I think that’s what Urban One always does. It brings us all together. Faith is a deep an important part of the African-American community, but so is hip-hop. So you have a gospel and you have urban and you have all of us mixed together. It’s an amazing song to close it out. I won’t give it away.
HB: Urban One Honors is near and dear to Cathy Hughes, what was it like working with the founder on this production?
EC: She don’t play no games. It’s prerecorded. So there were a few performances that had to happen again because she wanted more and it’s her show so it is what it is! She was very clear on how she wanted you to look and be and what she wanted you to bring to the performance. And I’m not mad at that at all. There is this new kind of way of existing where you’re kind of there, but not there. Like people don’t dress up anymore. It’s like they don’t care anymore. And you know, she’s from the old school, so she don’t play that. So you could feel it in the production and you gonna feel it. Yeah. Ms. Cathy don’t play that.
‘Urban One Honors’ premieres May 16 on TV One or CLEO TV.