[INTERVIEW] Tawana Blassingame Opens Up About Success of Full Figured Industry Awards, Spotlighting Plus Sized Professionals

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And the winner is… plus size fashion!

Who doesn’t love a red carpet event? And, of course, awards shows are the ultimate red carpet events, where the question is not only “Who are you wearing?” but also who the Oscars will go to!

Now, thanks to Tawana Blassingame and Philip Drew of Queen Size Magazine, there is a plus size awards show known as The Full Figured Industry Awards (also known as The FFIAs)! Debuting in November 2019, The FFIAs is a distinguished night of awards and honors given to those who strive for excellence every day in the plus size industry, shining the spotlight on plus size models, designers, event coordinators, bloggers, content creators, boutiques, etc, who are making their mark. 

We caught up with Tawana to get all the details about The Full Figured Industry Awards and much more. Read on to hear the inspiring journey that makes The FFIAs possible!

Parlé Magazine: What inspired you to start The Full Figured Industry Awards (FFIAs)?Tawana Blassingame: I was inspired by watching other award shows. It made me question where we, the full figured fashion industry, fit in. Why didn’t we have an award show that celebrated us?

Parlé Mag: What kind of challenges did you face when The FFIAs first started?
Tawana Blassingame: I think the show itself and the whole concept of it was very well received. But if I had to name one challenge, it would be naming the categories. There are so many talented professionals in this industry and we wanted to make sure we had categories that allowed as many people as possible to fit into. But, at the same time, we couldn’t have too many because no one is going to sit through a six hour show with 50 different categories.

FFIAs

Parlé Mag: How do you balance your responsibilities for The FFIAs and those as the Editor-in-Chief of Queen Size Magazine?
Tawana Blassingame: Balance? What’s that? LOL. But seriously, I schedule my responsibilities and stick to it. Otherwise, I would be all over the place. I am a mother of two, I have a 9-5 job working in healthcare HR, I run a monthly publication, I produce the awards show and I have to also take care of me. It’s a lot but I have learned to schedule and prioritize things.

Parlé Mag: You’ve always said that your right-hand man is photographer and Vice President of Queen Size Magazine, Philip Drew. How long have you worked together? What do you love most about your partnership?
Tawana Blassingame: Philip and I have worked together for about ten years now. He is an amazing businessman and friend. He is smart and is just as invested in the success of the brands as I am. What I love the most about our partnership is that he is not afraid to be honest with me. He forces me to consider all angles of my decisions and, more importantly, he holds me accountable. If I say I want to do something, he holds me to it.

Parlé Mag: What is the criteria for someone to be nominated for The FFIAs?
Tawana Blassingame: The criteria depends on the category; we have guidelines set for each one. People just need to read through them to make sure they qualify.

Parlé Mag: How are the winners chosen?
Tawana Blassingame: There is a two-step voting process. The public votes to determine who the final four nominees are. And then there is a private committee of industry professionals who votes on the final four to determine the winner from each category.

FFIAs Red Carpet

Parlé Mag: What were your top 3 favorite moments from this year’s event?
Tawana Blassingame: My top three would be the fashions; everyone looked so beautiful!  The speeches; I cried so much backstage listening to all the acceptance speeches. And, of course, the support. The industry really showed up to support the event, the nominees and honorees. It was beautiful to witness.

Parlé Mag: You looked absolutely stunning that night! Who was the designer for your dress? Who did your hair and makeup?
Tawana Blassingame: Thank you so much. I felt beautiful thanks to designer Robert E. Knight (https://www.instagram.com/robert_e_knight/). I had no idea what I wanted, but he knew exactly what I needed. My makeup artist was Schanica Pickens (https://www.instagram.com/schanicapickensbeauty/). When I reached out to her she already had another commitment that day but she squeezed me in and made it work. I love her because she always shows up for me and she delivers. I am not that into makeup and she knows it. When she does my makeup, my face still feels light. And, last but not least, Nathaniel Jaye (https://www.instagram.com/hairbynathaniel_jaye/) made me a custom wig. We had been talking about my hair for months. I am such a plain Jane but I allowed him to have his way. (Laughs). I trust him so when he said he was going to take me out of my comfort zone and make me look fabulous, I just said OK. They all made me feel like a Queen!

Parlé Mag: Are you still planning to make the categories non-gender specific next year? If so, what brought you to that decision? How do you think that will affect the event?
Tawana Blassingame: Going forward, yes, the categories will be non-gender specific. Times are different and gone are the days where people are wanting to live in a box. We just want to be respectful of people’s decisions on how they choose to identify.

Parlé Mag: What are three fun facts about you that most people wouldn’t know?
Tawana Blassingame: I am goofy as hell. I love corny dad jokes. I can’t sing or dance but I love doing both. (Laughs)

Parlé Mag: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Tawana Blassingame: I thank you for your support of The Full Figured Industry Awards.

Parlé Mag: How can people contact you and learn more about The FFIAs and Queen Size Magazine?
Tawana Blassingame: I am easy to reach. People can email me at theffias@gmail.com or queensizemagazine@gmail.com respectively. People can also follow us on social 

Queen Size Magazine on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/queensizemagazine/and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/QueenSizeMag). And The Full Figured Industry Awards on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thefullfiguredindustryawards/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/thefullfiguredindustryawards). 

 

People can also follow my personal journey under Tawana Blassingame on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/tawana.blassingame) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/tawanablassingame/) as well.

Hashtags: #theffias, #theusinplus, #thefullfiguredindustryawards, #plusawards

Images by Mel G Filmz

Main Image:  Tawana Blassingame

Image 2:  Phyllis Brasch Librach, head designer of plus line Sydney’s Closet and recipient of the 2022 FFIAs Lifetime Achievement Award: https://sydneyscloset.com/
Denise Caldwell, plus size style expert and recipient of the 2022 FFIAs Advocate Award: https://www.instagram.com/styleexpertdenise/
Mat Librach, COO of Sydney’s Closet

Image 3: (l to r) Leah Moore, plus size actress and motivational speaker: https://www.instagram.com/leah2all_leelee2some
Jacquie Brown-Hadnot, talk show host and author: https://instagram.com/jacquiehadnot
Madeline Jones, co-host of The FFIAs and Editor-in-Chief of Plus Model Magazine: https://www.instagram.com/plusmodelmag


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