Tell us a little about your book Dying to Be DIVA.
KECIA: “My memoir Dying to Be D.I.V.A was me literally deciding to just say “forget what everyone else thinks and just tell YOUR truth!” It took me several years to write my book and I knew that it couldn’t just be one book so I turned it into a memoir series. The first installment, which is out now, is me bringing individuals into the broken foundation that sailed me into poor decision making. My goal was to be very transparent and show that we can’t always blame others for things we go through because sometimes our foundation may be broken. It taps into my issues with mental health, low self-esteem, and me being diagnosed with AIDS in college.”
When you created My Fab Red Life, what did you want people to learn through the organization?
KECIA: ” Honestly, the brand “MyFabRedLife” aside from “I Am Kecia J” is a lifestyle! People often think that because I was diagnosed with AIDS that life stopped. That conclusion is actually false! Life for me actually began because, I now had to put me and my health first. I could no longer take things for granted! “MyFabRedLife” is a way of life. An empowerment brand that shows other women that no matter what blemish you have had occur during your lifetime, it shouldn’t stop you from living the most fabulous life ever! For me, I am living the best RED life possible and want to inspire others to do the same, through hearing my truth of living out loud!”
As a woman living with AIDS, how does it affect you and the people you love?
KECIA: “To be honest, living with AIDS affects the people I love in a major way and it took a minute for me to adjust to that. Once being diagnosed and after deciding to tell my lived ones, I noticed they would take it really hard. It was hard for me to except that part of it because I couldn’t understand why they were so hurt by my diagnosis. I would think “if anyone should be hurt it should be me and I’m not so get over it!” Until I realized I was being insensitive to the fact that people love me and if I hurt they hurt. So, it definitely has been a process with my loved ones dealing with it, but the more confident and educated I have become over the years, the more at peace they have become!”
It’s pretty cool that you’re Walgreens HIV/AIDS Initiative! How did that project get started?
KECIA: “I actually was going to meet a friend for dinner and she wanted me to meet her at a casting in Beverly Hills. I started not to go, and really just wanted something to eat, lol, but I ended up walking in and the casting director convinced me to do it. I was the last person in the building and I walked it shared my story! They were blown away. The next day they called me back and the rest was magic!
It’s exciting to know that Walgreens created such an amazing initiative geared toward HIV/AIDS! I was honored that they chose me. When I was first diagnosed, Walgreens was the pharmacy who provided my medications through Legacy Clinic, so it was perfect that I was able to connect with them on this amazing project!”
Kecia J, Author of Dying to be DIVA
What are some of the misconceptions about HIV/AIDS that the typical person doesn’t know?
KECIA: “There are many misconceptions that plague society when it comes to a person living with HIV/AIDS. One of which is that I tend to breakdown the most, is just because you are positive, doesn’t mean you can’t find love! I have been blessed to have an amazing life that has been filled with both good and not so great relationships, but the ones that didn’t work out that had NOTHING to do with my virus. Being in love and conquering self love doesn’t end just because of a positive diagnosis!”
Starting an worldly organization is dedication and hard work. Did you receive the support you wanted or was it rocky at first?
KECIA: “Starting an organization is definitely hard work, but I have always believed that anything worth having will never come easy! In the beginning I did feel like I was in a road alone in my journey of start-up, but I felt it helped me build myself to where I am today when it comes to handling my business and forming an organization. I always tell people who want to start an organization that, “in the beginning, nobody will see the vision but YOU!” Now, after countless hard work, my support system has grown stronger because those around me now truly understand the vision and my dedication to the cause!”
What other projects do you have in affect for 2017-2018?
KECIA: “There are a few projects that I am super excited about that I have coming up! I am doing a tour now to seven cities titled, “Sisterhood, SelfLove & Sangrias”. It’s a series that helps women tap into who they really are, so that they can go and at all aspects of life. I also am prepping for World AIDS Day as this year I will be taking over West Africa during the month of December with education and empowerment! I am definitely very excited about that!
My main project that we have been working on for about two years, is Kecia Kares Resource Center Mobile Unit! That is my baby right now, lol! My goal with later this year, it to giveback and provide a mobile resource within low/income neighborhoods across the country and let them know why resources are available to the according to zip code! It will cover a wide range of issues such as: homelessness, domestic violence, hiv/aids and health & wellness.
There is honestly much in store, which a few projects I can’t discuss contractually, but it will definitely be an amazing few months ahead!”
What advice do you have for people living with HIV/AIDS who may be ashamed to express to others?
KECIA: “I would love to express to those who are confined within shame to understand that healing is a process and that being in “shame” is a choice. Replace the pick of “shame” and replace that with “YOU”. Choose YOU for once instead of that shame and watch how that healing will start to take place. Peace will come over you naturally. Then, expressing yourself will come easier and you will see a shift happen. Trust the process and understand that there is greatness with you!”
What about people who are scared to find out their status?
KECIA: “Those that are afraid must understand that choosing to not get tested is like, “attending you own unnecessary funeral”. The longer you wait, the longer you are choosing to remain in the “unknown”. Why be in the dark, when you can shed light on your life by simply, taking the test! Understand that even with a positive diagnosis, there is life after!”
What do you like to do in your spare time? How do you unwind?
KECIA: “What is spare time, lol? I really do try the best I can to get some “ME” time in. During those times, I love to hike up Runyon Canyon, workout and anything that involves sweating lol! I then feel like I have accomplished something! Even in my spare time, I am on a business call, so right now “business” is my spare time!”
What is next for My Fab Red Life?
KECIA: “EVERYTHING! I have so much coming up next that I am really exciting to see what shift God is about to make because it is a big one coming! I wake up everyday on the same mission, and that is to inspire and empower as many as I can through my truths!”