Meet Akira Armstrong the founder and CEO of Pretty Big Movement an organization that was birthed from Akira’s love for dance but has grown into a movement to showcase an aesthetic of women that have been overlooked and pushed aside in dance. In her own words, “Dance is not just a passion; dance is what saved her life and is an outlet to revive her spirit. In other words, dance is life.”
Akira credits the growth of her dance career to her ability to cultivate and maintain relationships. Akira has a background in makeup which helped to place her in a position to always make money for her brand. She worked as a makeup artist in a strip club for eight years. She was also able to become friends with various choreographers and others in the entertainment industry. It is these relationships that have opened doors for Akira to transition from doing makeup to dancing on a large stage.
In 2007, Akira was told about an audition for Beyoncé’s world tour. Akira did not get selected for the tour but she was cast in two music videos. From here Akira kept going and kept dancing. She went on to work with Jazmin Sullivan and Jennifer Hudson on Black Girls Rock, Big Freedia, Lizzo, and Salt & Pepa. She created a small dance group that created some local buzz. From this local buzz, Akira and her group appeared on America’s Got Talent season 10, and it has only been up from here.
Pretty Big Movement has expanded but Akira has no plans of slowing down. Her vision for the organization is to have chapters domestically and internationally and to continue to give a stage for women like Akira to share their passion for dance. As of now, Pretty Big Movement has ambassadors in Kenya and New Zealand.
Also in the works for Pretty Big Movement, is a movie deal with HBOMax. This is something that has been in the making for the last five years. Akira was contacted by The Great Big Story to produce a film about her story, as well as, the creation and growth of Pretty Big Movement. But due to the pandemic, the process was halted due to The Great Big Story shutting down.
Fast forward to November of 2020, the story landed on the desk of Christina Swanson and she became committed to getting Akira’s story told. From there, Akira met with David King of Get Lifted then with Tina Marbury who is now the director of the film. The only piece left was to secure a studio. There was an all-out bidding war between Searchlight, Lionsgate, and Warner Brothers. In the end, Akira and the team decided on Warner Brothers and the rest is history.
When she is not dancing, Akira can be found teaching at Alvin Ailey where she has been teaching fifth-grade dance since 2007. Since dance is such a major part of Akira’s professional and personal life, she finds it is imperative to indulge in self-care to keep from being burned out. In her words, “No one is going to take better care of you than you.”
In the current climate of society, big girls have come a popular trend and it is sometimes difficult to navigate the fake love of the society and really see those that support and love the movement. To not fall prey to the hype, Akira constantly reminds herself of the following mantras:
- This is her gift
- It is not who does it first but who does it for real
- Don’t shift for anyone
It is Akira’s goal to inspire anyone she comes in contact with by helping them to realize having faith is a must. Love yourself and put yourself first always. Finally, the dancer believes not everyone will like you or what you do but continue to do it anyway.
Akira can be found online at www.prettybigmovement.com
Jasmine is a native of Chicago and a graduate of Loyola University Chicago with a B.A. in Political Science. Jasmine started writing in 2018 as just a hobby. Since then it has grown into a passion. Jasmine considers herself to be a lifestyle and fashion blogger, a social medial manager, and a social media strategist. She can be found on Instagram at @jas_is_peculiaroyalty.