As soon as I hopped off the plane in New York in 2011, immediately, folks were asking me where I was from. Of course, I said LA and I received responses like, "Nooo, you can't be from the states," "You look like you got something else going on in you."
They kept complimenting my complexion and wanted to see what my natural hair looked like just to guess where my black roots were from.
It was a slight culture shock coming here because there are so many different black people that come from different cultural backgrounds, countries, and islands.
In LA you're either Black, White, Mexican, Asian, or Persian.
Black people are all in one category, there is no real separation based on the culture.
In New York City it's totally different.
What I loved when I first arrived here was seeing more dark or brown complexion women on billboards and advertisements around the city rocking their natural hair. Now that was shocking because in LA, when I was coming up, you didn't see that too much unless it was a "Just For Me Kit" in the beauty supply store. In New York, I feel black women's features are more appreciated.
It was very interesting to see black folks argue or compare each other's cultures as if there's a competition. Honestly, we all originate from the motherland and I'm grateful that I had that appreciation down pack before moving here.
Seeing the diversity of black people in different advertisements took a big weight off of my shoulders and I didn't have to rock the long straight weave to feel more accepted in the industry, plus, there seem to be more opportunities for brown-skin girls like me.
Don't get it twisted, I've always been confident in myself where ever I lived, but there is something about New York that makes you feel free in being you.