The Visionary’s Manifesto in association with Heart of Cool presents Nakia Ford a.k.a nikki4theppl a.k.a AnimalBae!
What happens when passion, character, vision, integrity, courage and strength collide? Well you become a force of nature and that is exactly how I would describe our next candidate for The Visionary’s Manifesto. A woman who took a chance encounter and turned it into a successful platform protecting both people and animals by creating a harmonious balance of global awareness. If this sounds like some superhero character then perhaps that’s exactly how HoC should describe her alter ego “AnimalBae!” A super heroine by day and by night, she operates under her own convictions and focuses her formidable energies towards making a positive impact through live demonstrations and wild fascination! Let’s now go behind the veil and experience this woman of vision and fortitude.
HoC: Who is Nakia Ford a.k.a AnimalBae and how did you get into animal rights activism?
NF: Well Nakia Ford is fitness, health, beauty and all things of that nature. I have been doing fitness on and off for at least seven years and decided to take it seriously around two years ago, entered my first bodybuilding competition last year and took first place. Health-wise I decided to do a vegan lifestyle maybe a year ago and I did it cold turkey because I’m an animal lover. Veganism extended to not only foods but also beauty products and the clothes that I chose to wear. The AnimalBae came when I reached out to PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) and they welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to go on tour to do the UniverSoul Circus that was touring in Atlanta. My introduction to PETA was a direct result of Grey “the vegan rapper” in which a video he posted went viral (full disclosure Grey is my boyfriend J) PETA reposted the video and although many other well known entities reposted it such as Russell Simmons and Jermaine Dupree, when PETA reposted I was super excited so we went to LA and met them at their offices and they loved Grey, I told them the things that I was interested in with regard to animal activism. So that’s the backstory of how I started with the Atlanta protest of the UniverSoul Circus and we went onto Charlotte, Greensboro and several more are scheduled before the summer ends.
HoC: How has health and fitness empowered your journey?
NF: I have always been involved in athletics through my years of schooling, I would say when I moved to Atlanta in 2005 I came across a lot of people who had personal trainers so I sought out my first trainer to help me maintain my form and to stay in shape, I never took it too seriously but the way it started to shape my life was defining because my mother passed away of breast cancer on April 22, 2013 and she was also involved in a fitness regiment of her own. I would often invite her to go with me to the gym and do spin classes. But once my mother passed it was a wake up call for me to really start looking after my mental and physical health. The competition factor came about due to a friend pushing me to compete in a bikini competition and I just said okay and committed myself to training five days a week for three months. I was doing intense training and I also met a young lady who I followed on Instagram for motivation. I approached her at the gym to compliment her on her bodybuilding and she offered to take me under her wing and train me. I didn’t have lots of additional money to pay her but she saw my potential and desire and took me on as a training partner. My body transformed, she took me to the next level and when the competition came we discussed a plan to at least try to place in the top three but to my surprise I won first place. In that moment I was excited, my friends were screaming for me but the best was when Grey handed me a lemon vanilla cupcake and I stuffed it in my mouth. I was so starving due to the intense diet associated with my training regiment. But the 5:00 am cardio and low caloric diet was totally worth it.
HoC: What type of young woman were you ten years ago?
NF: Ten years ago I was this young, vivacious, know it all living the fast life, going to the club and traveling with friends. I was finding my way and everyone called me a gypsy who just went with the flow. I’ve never done drugs and I didn’t drink, I was just a twenty-one year old with no serious relationships. The woman I’m becoming now and how I see myself ten years from now speaks to me being more consciously aware of my journey. Family has become so important with the loss of my mother, which shook me to my core and disrupted my whole world. My wants and needs have matured immensely and now I’m okay just doing things on an intimate and meaningful level with close friends and relatives. My mother was my go to for everything and we did a lot of things together, she was my closest confidant and friend.
HoC: What kind of responses did you get from the UniverSoul Circus and its patrons while doing the animal rights activism for PETA?
NF: The people that now me from family to friends have observed me posting videos and articles for animal rights on social media and they were very supportive because they knew how much I loved animals. But there were a couple of opinions against my movements. For instance I did a role where I was dressed in animal garb and locked in a huge cage. I got some negative responses from other African Americans that being in a cage was offensive because it somehow related to the treatment of blacks as slaves. It affected me because I am a black woman and I responded to the individual who made the statement that my focus was on the issue of animal rights and human rights. I was secure in the fact that my heart and mind were in the right place when I made my decision to protest in such a visual manner.
HoC: Who do you see as a mentor?
NF: My mother was my mentor. She was a nurse and in my opinion that takes a unique kind of individual. I watched my mother take people into her home when their families put them out and I would always question her about it because I was young and didn’t understand that the life we are given is not just about ourselves, that we must use our gifts no matter how small or large to help and encourage others. I learned these lessons from my mother who people to this day remember as being an angel full of compassion.
HoC: How has your significant other helped you in your journey of evolving into a woman of purpose?
NF: The man in my life is named Joseph but I call him Grey because he’s black and white (sincere laughter). Grey sees the good in everybody, he could get robbed by someone and still see the good in that person and as much as it may annoy me I can see the authentic nature of his intentions. He loves people and being with him has inspired me to reach my goals. He decided to transition from his job and pursue his dream because he wanted to not only live but to live in his purpose and be happy. That struck me as powerful because of his work ethic, positive focus and outlook on life. When I met him I was depressed because of the loss of my mother and I see Grey as a kind of youthful spirit who hasn’t been tainted by the world and someone who still believes that anything is possible. His light shines ever bright when I am stuck in a dark place and when I need him the most he is always there, Grey is my best friend and I love him.
HoC: What life lessons would you give to other young ladies who are trying to find their way?
NF: I would say to put yourself and your well being first especially when it comes to the peer and societal pressures of dating or forming a healthy relationship. I know from experience that you can lose yourself trying to do something that you are not ready for. Don’t rush the process. Live in your truth and purpose, I gained that knowledge while focusing on others before on my own self-care. The potential to move into a relationship will always present itself but you will always be responsible for knowing your own self-worth. When you lay your head down at night do so knowing that you made the best decisions for yourself because you deserve a beautiful life. Don’t get caught up in social media because most of it is fake, take care of your health and body because you only get one life and not many people are given second chances. I have watched too many young women go down a dark road and it is my sincere wish that those special young ladies succeed in all aspects of their meaningful lives.
To learn more about Nakia Ford a.k.a AnimalBae please follow her on Instagram at nikki4theppl.