19th October 2023
Interview: Amy Bell
Photographer: Jemima Marriot
Stylist: Harriet Nicolson
Make up: Amalie Russell using Bobbi Brown
Hair: Alex Price
Body Inclusivity Champion Trina Nicole is best known for founding the UK’s first plus-size dance class; The Curve Catwalk. She was shortlisted as 'Young Entrepreneur of the Year' by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and selected as 'One to Watch' by Forbes.
Trina uses her platform to amplify marginalised voices, championing diversity to bring about positive representation on and offline. It's this mission that Nike London has recognised and celebrated in announcing her as one of their ambassadors.
Her performance credits include Nao, Lizzo and even Beyonce. Additionally, she has fronted campaigns for leading brands including Gap, Clarks, British Vogue and most recently Simply Be.
Let's talk a bit about your upbringing, what it was like, and how you think it has defined you.
Growing up, I was a ball of energy, outgoing, and had a real passion for performing arts. However, I faced some tough challenges when it came to my self-esteem and how I perceived my body. I was constantly comparing myself to the other girls at school, which left me feeling like I didn't quite fit in. To compensate, I often relied on my personality to find my place and be part of different social circles.
My parents stressed the importance of independence for my sister, brother, and I. While this was valuable, it also meant that I sometimes missed out on the emotional support I really needed growing up as a teen. What's interesting is that I didn't realise back then how these experiences would shape me into being the ambitious, goal-oriented person I am today. I defiantly have a ‘I’ll do it myself’ type of attitude to life.
You pave the way for ‘Girl Boss’, what does Girl Boss mean to you, and how do you define success?
A "Girl Boss" to me is someone who is multifaceted. I picture an ambitious woman who's out there chasing her dreams and breaking barriers, but also someone who is not afraid to be vulnerable and put herself first when needed. She might not know it all, but she’s never afraid to do what it takes to find the answers she needs.
As for success, to me, it’s about finding fulfilment and happiness in the day to day. Waking up every day excited about what you're working on, feeling like you're making a positive impact on the world. For me, it’s also about growth, learning and finding peace.
You are so versatile from being a body positivity coach, dancer/model, digital creator, ambassador, and founder of your own business ‘The Curve Catwalk’, how do you even manage these products, and what does your day-to-day life look like?
I previously worked as a coordinator, which honed my multitasking skills. Surprisingly, I realised that I actually thrive when there's a bit of pressure, and I enjoy juggling multiple tasks. I tend to get bored easily, so having a variety of tasks to tackle is a big plus.
I can't say there's a typical day, but it's always organized chaos. I wake up excited for the unexpected, emails, and phone calls.
How did you first get into dancing? And later what made you find your passion for dancing again as an adult?
My passion for dance began at the Notting Hill Carnival, where I was immersed in the atmosphere and the celebration of body liberation through dance. However, around the age of 11, things took a different turn. This coincided with the onset of puberty and my first period, which brought about a significant dip in my self-esteem, particularly regarding my body image. I vividly recall wanting to hide and completely shrink myself, paired with my worries about the judgment of others, which led me to give up sports entirely.
It took my losing a loved one to the realisation that life really is short, and I was neglecting the activities I loved and delaying joy, so I decided to rekindle my passion for dance in that moment and reconnect with my body on the dance floor.
As a woman of colour and a woman with curves, how do you break the stereotypes and how do you overcome barriers within your career?
I contribute to dismantling stereotypes by confidently embracing my authentic self and taking up space. I once believed that I needed to take radical actions to effect change, but I've come to realise that there is no one else like me in the world. Therefore, simply existing and sharing my life experiences is a meaningful step towards challenging stereotypes.
Black women are not a monolith and representation matters. So, I choose to continuously share my personal journey and my authentic truths to actively contribute to shaping a more positive narrative.
You took over London with your Nike Campaign, what made you want to work with Nike, and have you always loved Nike growing up?
My friends always wore Nike sneakers in school, so I grew up familiar with the brand, but I couldn't afford a pair until I had my own money. In 2006, I saw a Nike dance battle ad featuring a black, plus-size woman called Kymberlee Jay and I was inspired to see someone who looked like me fronting a campaign for them. In 2019, Nike introduced plus-size mannequins to their London store, and I knew I wanted to work with a brand that was committed to representation in sports. Before I could pitch to them, they reached out to me, and I knew they were the right brand for me based on their advocacy for inclusivity.
How was Notting Hill Carnival and what does Notting Hill Carnival mean to you?
Notting Hill Carnival is a time for me to celebrate my culture and identity as a curvy, Black Caribbean woman. It's a day where I can feel free to be myself and express myself without judgment. I love the music, the food, the people, and the energy of the carnival.
Being in a body that looks like mine, I am not always represented in the media or in society as a whole. But at Notting Hill Carnival, I feel seen and celebrated. There are people of all shapes and sizes coming together to enjoy themselves, dancing in the streets.
However, there’s still progress to be made in challenging and dismantling beauty norms and stereotypes even within the carnival scene. Not everyone wants to wear skimpy costumes and not all mas bands have an inclusive size range. So, it was important for me this year to bring members of my community to the Carnival, spotlighting plus-size women in costume, in a celebratory way.
You were named Vogue's ‘Forces for Change’, how does that make you feel and how did you celebrate?
Being recognised as Vogue's Force for Change was an amazing honour. It felt good to know that my work was being seen and appreciated by larger platforms than my own. I have always been passionate about using my platform to make a difference and this just inspired me to continue to use my voice to speak out about the things that I cared about.
I screened the full length featured to my friends, family, and dance community, which felt so good to be able to celebrate with them in person.
What is next for you?
I recently created an instructor programme to train more people to teach at The Curve Catwalk. So, I'm excited to roll it out and expand my business with new regional classes.
I also have an exciting project coming up with Nike where I’ll be engaging more young girls in sports and helping them with their body confidence.