Chenese Lewis is the epitome of a sophisticated woman entrepreneur and entertainer who has gained international attention as a highly sought-after keynote speaker, expert commentator, as well as a positive body image and self-esteem advocate.
At the top of this year, Ebony.com recognized Chenese’s ever-lasting impression on the plus size industry by naming her one of “The Top Six Plus Fashion Power Players in the Plus Industry” for her direct connection and extreme passion for the plus community.
Chenese made history by being the first woman crowned Miss Plus America in 2003 which helped give career momentum in the plus size market. Chenese has since worked with various plus-size brands in different capacities. She has modeled for the national chain Torrid and was the Coast-to-Coast Curves Spokesperson for Ashley Stewart. In addition, she is an in demand host for plus-size fashion shows and events. She has hosted large-scale fashion events during LA Fashion Week and she will travel abroad this summer to St. Croix to host the main event at FashionLinkVI Fashion Weekend. A guru in the plus industry, Chenese has appeared as an expert on Dr. Phil, Huffington Post Live, and quoted in USA Today. Ebony.com stated that Chenese is “integral in laying the foundation for plus size fashion!”
Chenese continues to make a splash in the mainstream market as well. In December 2012 she graced the cover of the UK anniversary issue of VICE Magazine, she has posed for the popular celebrity driven NOH8 Campaign and served as host for Baton Rouge Fashion Week. Chenese’s brand of self-love and confidence has also expanded to include natural hair, Chenese’s natural hair journey appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Mhe Magazine. In addition, Chenese is currently the face of Aida Cosmetics’ “Confidence and Glamour” campaign with new ads launching for Spring 2014.
Along with fashion, Chenese is also a trailblazer in the radio field. In 2008 she introduced PLUS Model Radio, the #1 podcast for plus-size women, which she served as host for five years, before renaming her podcast The Chenese Lewis Show. Her podcast features in-depth interviews for curvy women including up-close and personal conversations with a wide range of industry experts. Chenese was accepted to participate on Radio Row for the Essence Music Festival, the largest African-American music and culture event in the U.S. attracting an estimated 400,000 attendees.
As a philanthropist, Chenese served as the Immediate Past President of the National Organization for Women Hollywood Chapter. For six years Chenese produced the Hollywood NOW “Love Your Body Day”, an annual event where women of all sizes come together to celebrate a day of self-acceptance and to promote positive body image. The Mayor of West Hollywood as well as the city itself sponsored the event, which brought out celebrity hosts such as Kim Coles, Mia Tyler, Meghan McCain and Lisa Ann Walter. The 2010 Love Your Body Campaign, made International news and magnified Chenese’s role as a leading positive body image advocate when she posed nude with America’s Next Top Model cycle 10 winner, Whitney Thompson. Coverage was seen on E! News, Extra, People.com, National Examiner and many other entertainment news outlets worldwide.
Chenese has also been praised as an actress for her work as a cast member on B.E.T’s “Hell Date,” which was one of the most popular shows in BET history. The show allowed Chenese to showcase her impeccable improvisational and comedic skills, and kept millions tuning in weekly. Chenese also won rave reviews for her dramatic portrayal of Connie Williams, a larger-than-life professional baseball player in the NAACP Award-winning play “The Girls of Summer,” set in the 1940s.
Chenese is frequently booked for lectures at national workshops, seminars and universities around the country. The National Eating Disorder Association’s Teen Summit and University of California, Davis’ “Celebrate Your Body Week” benefited greatly from hearing her unique perspective. Chenese also served as a commencement speaker at The Art Institute of California in Hollywood.
The Louisiana native is the Chief Creative Officer for Chenese Lewis Productions, LLC, a media company she established in 2007. She is currently the Chair of the advisory board for the Miss Plus USA Organization.
Chenese genuinely embraces whom she is, inside and out, and it shows every time she steps into the spotlight. Chenese attributes her success by not conforming to society’s ideals of beauty, but rather showing by example that you can be beautiful and confident regardless of your size. Considered an icon within the plus size industry, Chenese shows no signs of stopping her ambitious efforts anytime soon.