Yesterday afternoon Blac Chyna teased her 8.1 million Instagram followers with a cryptic photograph of her naked pregnant belly and the caption, “Elle.com 8pm EST. @elleusa.” So we all waited on baited breath until that time when her exclusive photo shoot and interview with Elle.com was released. I’m not sure the internet was broken but it was certainly dented.
The story, written by journalist Lola Ogunnaike, who has interviewed the likes of Michelle Obama and Beyoncé, is a profile of the 28-year-old Chyna, neé Angela White, who, until now, has been the subject of various memes and countless listicles but never actually talked to a mainstream magazine. It would seem that she has been itching to share her story because Chyna is characteristically extremely candid, just like she is on Snapchat, which is the only platform where we have ever heard her voice.
For reference, on her famous ex, Tyga, Chyna unabashedly tells Ogunnaike how much Tyga paid her to star in his “Rack City” video following up the revelation with, “He’s kinda cheap.” And reading this story was like a one-on-one meeting with Chyna that seemed long overdue. She detailed her past as a stripper, which has been largely reported but never in her words, and makes herself less mythical than the internet would have her seem.
When we spoke on the phone with her today, Lola said, “What made her uniquely interesting to me as a writer is that in many ways her story is, and this is going to sound crazy, but it is the embodiment of the American dream. I respect her hustle. For me it was bigger than a story about a stripper who landed a reality star.”
Lola’s sister, Nikki Ogunnaike, is the senior fashion editor at Elle.com and played a pivotal role in the whole story coming together. “We said, let’s shoot Chyna in a way that she’s never been seen before and that is beautifully stripped down with less makeup than ever before,” she said. Lola chimes in, “People like Chyna without all the artifice. It gave the reader the opportunity to see her genuine natural beauty.”
Nikki was quick to emphasize that though Chyna is an atypical subject for a mainstream fashion magazine like Elle, Elle is down with taking the risks and everyone from the site director, Leah Chernikoff, to Hearst Digital Media’s entertainment director Nojan Aminosharei had a hand in making this story a success.
What stands out to me is that Nikki and Lola got to work on this Chyna project together. Lola said, “People call us the Venus and Serena of the writing world.” Nikki followed up, “I think it’s important for women of color to speak to other women of color and I love to be able to have that opportunity on a site like Elle.com and it’s sort of like a Black girl magic moment. I’ve loved watching it come to fruition.”
You can read Elle.com’s Blac Chyna profile here. I’m sure you’ve already seen all of the photos on Instagram.