Shelah Marie is an actress and online persona, but most important is her ability to inspire.
“I help people connect with who they are,” she says.
“I’m naturally an actress, a performer and an entertainer. I always have been. I pursued that professionally, but when you’re an actress, you don’t necessarily get that sense of success unless you’re on a show at the moment. It’s fleeting and fickle. I found this career path because of what acting was putting me through. As an actor, you’re rejected for a living, and I was not confident. You compare yourself to everyone. Being an entertainer is a particular kind of hell. Underneath everything, I was struggling through anxiety and depression. So now, I’m just sharing my experience.”
In addition to being an actress, she’s also toured independently, produced original work and served as a teaching artist in the performance world for many. But one of the most recent projects she’s partaken in is Curvy, Curly, Conscious.
“I started using the hashtag #CurvynCurly. I was insecure about my body because I’m naturally a bigger girl. People told me I looked perfect, but when I looked in the mirror, I just saw imperfection.”
By sharing her thoughts, it magnified a community of women who felt similarly to her.
“I became closer to Aisha Thalia and she had something similar in her bio, and we kind of combined those to connect with the women we were connecting with online, in person. I learned from the theater that nothing can replace the human connection you feel in person. It’s so powerful because you feel it. You see the labor, emotional and physical sacrifice.”
As a result of their combined hashtag, Curvy, Curly and Conscious is now a nationwide tour.
“It’s something I would encourage for all the women who are reading this to attend because it’s a self-love day party,” she says, “We want to incorporate the things we’re working for us online like self-care and self-love. We have replicated that experience in person. It’s a full day of self-love with an amazing lunch, activities, stretching, meditation, cupcakes and cocktails. Over 90 percent of what we do is female-owned and run. We’re engaging and serving women.”
You can partake in the summer tour when it hits Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles at CurvyCurlyConscious.com
Unwinding outside of work
“I have to meditate,” Shelah says, “I don’t meditate every day, and the days I don’t are noticeably different.”
Meditation helps her to create balance in her life.
“I have to say that’s something I’m focusing on this year is having a healthy balance with all of these things,” she says, “Dating Ace is almost like a part- or full-time job in itself. As someone in hip-hop who was discovered at 16, 17, there are ways where I’m creating structure for us on the daily.
“Sometimes I don’t spend enough time with friends, but I have to make it happen,” she says, “For me, my social life, my love life is also a part of my job and I treat it as such. I make time for my female friends through vacations, grabbing lunch, watching movies together, etc.”
And she treats self-care as a practice that can’t be skipped by doing little things every day — for her, it’s not only getting a massage once a month or going on vacation.
“I pursue my passions and put things into the world I’m proud of,” she says, “I put myself first (not all the time), but my self-care looks like following my passion and putting healthy things in my mind and body.”
But she says that it’s somewhat ironic that the things she does to treat herself are listen to Future, indulge in reality TV or drink Hennessy. People are sometimes surprised to learn that about her. But she’s not afraid of enjoying life and celebrating, whatever that looks like on an individual basis.
In the morning, Shelah forces herself to meditate immediately, otherwise, she’ll get sidetracked.
I always give thanks and start with gratitude,” she says, “Then what I do is based on how I’m feeling.”
Sometimes she’ll light incense, use a singing bowl and even cymbals. She meditates to her own Meditation Mixtape (Find it on iTunes, Tidal or Spotify), or she’ll use an app called Beyond, which uses binaural beats (Two beats going on at the same time). It takes it to another level.
Following her meditation session (using materials from @soulfulvibesco), she gets in some physical activity.
It helps with depression to release that serotonin,” she says, “It helps how you feel about yourself, which is 90 percent of the battle. Getting moving helps me. I work with a trainer sometimes, but when i don’t, I do 20 minutes of fasted cardio, then I’m able to go on with my day. If I don’t I have a squirrel brain. It helps me to center myself.”
After her physical activity, she has to drink coffee and tend to her new vertical garden.
“Taking care of that is one of my favorite things to do in the AM,” she says, “They grow so fast, I learn so much from my babies. I love to see how they’re doing because it reminds me about life and how you can’t rush things. It’s clear to see in plants what you can’t see in our lives. They always bring me joy”
Then she’ll wash her face with Bolden face wash and apply whipped shea butter from Donata skincare.
“I wear makeup almost every day,” she says, stating that Makeup Forever Ultra HD Foundation is her favorite because it looks like she’s not wearing foundation at all. She also loves Becca’s Champagne Pop Shimmering Skin Perfector because she lives in Miami, so it gives her a little shine. Her go-to look is natural and bronzey, and she’ll top it off with a little Marc Jacobs mascara.
Although she’s not a lipstick person, MAC’s Spite Lipglass is her go-to.
If her brain feels like she’s got 80 tabs open some days, Shelah’s instant solution is to have a five or 10-minute meditation session in the afternoon.
“It’s a good way to focus and handle anxiety,” she says, “A lot of our time is spent task switching. For me, that short break or burning some incense calms me. I also keep peppermint essential oil with me, warm it in my hands and smell it, and it helps me reset.”
At night, Shelah stretches and foam rolls to relieve some of the tension from her anxiety.
“I’ve been trying to not look at my phone so much before I go to bed because of the blue light it gives off, but I have also been telling myself I’ll have peaceful sleep before I go to bed.”
Repeating “I am so relaxed, I will wake up so refreshed. I’m so calm,” before doing her breathing exercises like during her meditation sessions has yielded positive results for her.
But overall, Shelah keeps one very important rule in mind to stay sane during the day.
“Don’t take things personally,” she says, “It changes my day-to-day because when you’re a woman and you’re a business owner and collaborate with others, there are ways you can take things personally. But I look at everything and say ‘Ok, that’s interesting.’ The more I make it a practice when something happens to not take it personally, get some distance, and to evaluate it from there, the better.”