At just 25 years-old, Achieng Agutu has become the go-to confidence guru and hype-woman for over six hundred thousand of her social media followers.

The self-proclaimed “Tantalizing Confidence Queen” doesn’t shy away from any opportunity to uplift her online community – regularly sharing inspirational and comedic monologues which serve as a guide for viewers on everything from redefining beauty standards, prioritizing self-care, and developing confidence from the inside out.

Achieng’s inspirational messages aren’t the only thing that captivates viewers – so does her exuberant style. The Kenyan native is always seen rocking outfits of vibrant colors and prints – which perfectly accentuates her vivacious personality. 

21Ninety recently sat down with Achieng to discuss how she was able to develop her fearless level of confidence, why representation is so important, as well as what’s next for the young content creator and so much more!

Jadriena Solomon: You were introduced to the entire world back in 2019 as a guest on The Ellen Degeneres Show. Where, not only did you win $50,000 as a part of Ellen’s Million Dollar May initiative, but you were also reunited with your family whom you hadn’t seen in two years. Watching that moment of you and your family reuniting on stage is extremely moving – so I wanted to start off by asking, how important is family in your life?

Achieng Agutu: It’s my backbone. They’re the most important people in my life. They’ve made me who I am today. They’ve been able to support me in ways that I just don’t think I’ve been able to be supported. They’ve loved me and accepted me in the way that I am, and the things that I do. And that’s just so important to me. Family could take so many different roles or different shapes in your life, so I definitely have my immediate family who you guys met on The Ellen Degeneres Show and they’re the most amazing people in the world; and now I’m currently residing in the states and I’ve made my own beautiful little family with my friends and my team. And then there’s also my community. I think my community always keeps me in check and they’re able to sort of uplift me and love me in a way that is just so magical. So it’s important.

JS: You were a guest on the Healthier Together podcast, and you mentioned that in Kenyan culture there’s pretty much four main occupations that signify success. You can either be a doctor, an engineer, nurse, or a lawyer. So I’m sure being the tantalizing confidence queen that you are, was a little surprising for your family. How did they react to seeing you be so bold and fearless on the internet? And amassing so much attention and recognition for your content?

AA: It was very scary for them. I think my parents didn’t see any reliability in the industry or career that I was going into – they were like, ‘Just be a doctor. They’ll always need doctors. Or be a lawyer, somebody always is doing something that needs a lawyer to help them. Or just be in an industry where there’s reliable money, there’s reliable support and there’s reliable jobs.’ And the thing is, I just didn’t fit into that traditional, mainstream career path. My brother is an engineer – he’s a full blown, big boy engineer doing his big boy things. And I’m happy for him that he’s doing that. But I think even from a really young age, my parents noticed that I was not the very traditional child or the person who was going to be like ‘Yeah, I want to be a nurse when I grow up.’

One time when I was in school, it was like a career day thing. And they asked me, ‘When you grow up, what do you want to be?’ And they even sent a note to my parents and they were like, ‘You should maybe tell her that that’s not realistic,’ because I said that I really wanted to be a queen. And look at where I’m at today – the Achieng Agutu. The Tantalizing Queen. [My parents] have just come to support me because they see that I’m happy. They see that I’m successful. They see that I’m just living the life that I’ve so badly wanted to live for a really long time. And most importantly, that I am living in my life’s purpose. And I think that’s what they’ve always wanted for all of us. [My life] hasn’t taken the traditional route, but I am doing it and killing it and really out here doing the dang thing so they’re happy, and I’m happy. 

JS: I love that. So ever since the world has been introduced to you, we’ve seen you as nothing less than confident. But was there ever a time, even as a little girl, where you had to work towards building that confidence? And how did you do it? Or was it always something that you naturally possessed?

AA: I think I’m still growing in my confidence journey. I think there’s still a higher self for me than this. And [developing confidence] came with intentionally deciding that the love from other people won’t come naturally. The motivation, the support, the encouragement won’t come. So, where will it come from? And it got to a point where I was so low. I hated myself so much. I literally did not even want to be seen. Like I would do anything to make myself small in situations. And then I just realized that that’s just not the way life should be. Like, I have one life, one tantalizing, sexy life, and there’s no way I’m going to waste it on hiding myself or cutting down myself so that other people can digest me.

When it got to that point, [I realized] that there has to be a turning point. There has to be a point of healing in all this madness and all this hatred and self-loathing. There has to be a sweet spot right in there where I can find self love, where I can find self confidence and where I can find growth. And it didn’t happen overnight. There’s still times and parts in my life where I don’t feel super confident. But it’s a growing, evolving, space of my life.

But it’s exciting! And just so fun to walk around life, knowing that you are that girl – like that you’re it. It’s so exciting. And there’s so many things in the world that are already really downing women, especially black women. So why should I do that to myself in my own space, in my own home?

JS: That’s such a powerful message coming from you and a perfect lead into my next question. A lot of people portray confidence on the internet, but the real question is, do they really mean it? I feel what makes people resonate with you so much is that they can tell that you truly embody confidence and you want to see it come out in others. And that’s so important today, especially if people don’t have a figure like that in their everyday lives – at least they can have that support through somebody like you, who they look up to on social media. Can you explain why it’s so important for people to be intentional about who they choose to follow on social media?

AA: I think not until maybe five years ago, did I actually make that change – I was following people who didn’t look like me, who didn’t talk like me, who didn’t have the same life experiences as me and I wanted to see myself in them so badly. But I would be following people like Kendall Jenner – Kendall Jenner is in a different tax bracket. She doesn’t have the same body [as me]. She doesn’t have the same lifestyle [as me]. She doesn’t have the same experiences as me. So how can I see myself in that person? 

It’s important to follow people that really represent you because then it just creates a more positive social media experience. The internet is already such a crazy place. It’s so crazy. And I think it’s important to find a sweet spot where you feel seen, where you feel loved, [and] where you feel appreciated. It takes some time, but I really recommend for anyone to go through your page or your feed and see – ‘Does this reflect who I am?’ Or maybe, ‘Does this reflect the person who I want to be?’ And if it doesn’t, then just switch it up and see how different you feel when you even log into your social media. The experience you have [and] the feelings that you have will be drastically different. Like it’s important. Representation is important.

JS: When we see you on social media, you truly are a hype woman and energy recharger for us all, but what are some things that you do offline to recharge and replenish yourself?

AA: One thing that I’ve started recently that I was very scared about doing is being active and working out. I think I just had such a negative experience with working out [since] it was always tied to: ‘Since you are so different,’ ‘Since you’re a little bit overweight, you need to work out to look better.’ But I think I’ve changed it to being: ‘I’m staying active to be healthy.’ I’m in the gym, shaking my ass, working my fitness – for fun, and for myself. Not for a specific goal. And that has helped me to really just decompress in the best way possible – because what I recently found out is when I’m off work, which work for me is social media, I sit down and then I go back on social media and I’m like scrolling on TikTok or I’m on Instagram, commenting under my friend’s post like ‘Yeah girl, I see you!’ And the thing is that there’s no work-life balance, which is weird.

So I needed to find an outlet [through] being active. I’ve started really seriously dancing. [And learned that] we store so much tension in our bodies, in our hips. So being in motion really [gets] that tension and trauma out of you. So that’s one way that I use to recharge.

And I’m really into journaling. I love writing down how I’m feeling at the moment. I think it also helps me process in a different way that sitting with my thoughts doesn’t. And the very one that is creme-de-la-creme and I advise everyone, every black woman to do, is therapy. I go to therapy twice a week and it is the best thing ever. It’s just changing the way I process my trauma. The way I process my feelings, my success, my enjoyment. So those are three things that I’m really loving right now, and are pouring into me so that I can pour back into the community that I love so dearly.

JS: You are indeed the undisputed, tantalizing, confidence queen. Even Gabrielle Union has said so herself – and if that isn’t a nod of confirmation then I don’t know what is – but what I want to know is, who are some of the women that you look up to as symbols of confidence?

AA: As apart from myself, I would say – I think it might sound cliche but – I think my mother is one of the strongest women I have really ever met. She’s been my day one since ‘96, homie since the womb. And she really embodies a sense of power, and a sense of immaculate energy that I’ve just never seen in anyone. Every single day, I just hope to be like her more and more. She has really come from nothing, to a point where she’s the most powerful woman that I know in my life today and probably will know for the rest of my life. So my mother, her name is Ann, and she is amazing. If you’re ever walking in Kenya and you see a sexy woman looking just like me, that’s my mommy.

I would say her, and somebody beyond my space would be Lupita Nyong’o. She’s a Kenyan actress and she has really trail blazed for East African girls in the diaspora. She was one of the very first people that I saw as somebody who represented me. And she has continued to walk around in her industry, in her space, with so much confidence and so much eloquence and elegance that it just shatters any sense of self-doubt that I’ve ever felt. The thing is that she’s also from my village. Her family is from the same village as me. So it’s even more like, ‘Oh my God! I really see you doing the thing. I really see myself in you.’ So I’d say those two women.

JS: You have over a half a million followers across all of your social media platforms. You’ve taken on New York Fashion Week. You’ve partnered with amazing brands like Beyonce’s Ivy Park. And you also have a master’s degree in business. There’s truly no space that you can’t take on. So the big question is what’s next for you?

AA: I have so many plans. I really want to expand “No Ordinary Noire” beyond a digital platform. I think it’s about time for something physical and tangible to happen, right? Like you can watch me and all those things – and I can be shouting at you like, ‘Get up!’ every day. But – I can’t spill too much – but in the maybe near future something tangible, something you can touch and see, [a location] maybe, and as well as a space where you can feel loved, where you can feel confident, where you can enjoy, where you can dance, and have a good time!

I think it’s about time for all those fun things to happen and for the community to grow beyond a digital space. So I’m feeling really excited about that.