Millennial, talented and drop dead beautiful, “Madame Jelli” is a force to be reckoned with. The Fifth Ward, Houston native and Westfield High School alumna is a multi-hyphenate; an up-and-comer blazing a trail and dominating in both the beauty and entertainment industries. The androgynous knock-out is reminiscent of a modern-day Grace Jones, but with her own uniqueness for the culture and generation.
We are proud to feature her for PRIDE MONTH!
BBN: How has this journey been as a young African American woman?
Madam Jelli: A struggle, honestly, because it is a difference being an African American woman, than a “masculine appearing” African American woman. While I’m blessed to have some people who accept me as I am, there are some who don’t.
BBN: How do you identify yourself?
Madam Jelli: I don’t get into the labels, I’m just a woman who likes women.
BBN: You are a very talented hairstylist and makeup artist. How did you get started?
Madam Jelli: I grew up as my mom’s assistant, and by the age of 11 or 12, I had my own station in my mom’s salon doing eyelashes and prepping her clients for washing, drying and dyeing hair. I did that up until I was about 15 years old.
BBN: You became very popular for a particular style, tell us about that.
Madam Jelli: I made a mistake on a hairstyle and it went viral. It was my second client and I put too much height in her bangs. I told her I could make it a little lower and she was like, “no,” it was fine and I posted it on my music page and it kind of went viral and that is how the “slut bang” was born. I did that hairstyle for almost three years straight and for all kinds of clients, including pastors’ wives, businesswomen – people you would not have even thought about. I feel like I gave almost half of the women in Houston the “slut bang.”
BBN: How did you get into the music industry?
Madam Jelli: I signed with a label when I was in the 8th grade. I wrote my first rap about the absence of my biological father, and I performed it at my 8th grade talent show and I got signed by Krunch Thyme Records right after that. So, while it wasn’t something I intentionally planned on getting into, I ended up falling in love with it and here we are today.
BBN: We are in love with your last video, “I Got B*#ches.” Can you tell us a little more about that?
Madam Jelli: It talks about being a madame and just being different versions of myself. And in the video I exemplify that – dressing up as four different personas of myself just to show that I am all of those women and I truly wear all of those hats.
BBN: What is the inspiration behind your music?
Madam Jelli: Just being from the South, particularly Texas, and speaking from the perspective of being an independent woman. I’m not a man, but I am exemplifying the same dominance in this world as a woman going about her business like a man would, that’s why I call myself a “madam,” or the “female version of a pimp.” I’m not pimping women – but I’m “pimpin’ the game.”
BBN: You have worked with a lot of “big names” or celebrities and influencers when it comes to both music and fashion and beauty, can you name a few?
For beauty and hair, I have worked on Brandy Norwood, Le’ Andria Johnson, Dreezy, 2 Chainz, The Sauce Twinz, Snootie Wild – who recently passed away, Trinidad James, Jhonni Blaze, Ghetto Barbie, Sky from “Black Ink Crew,” Sukihana and many others.
In music – Crunch Thyme Records, Grand Hustle and a lot of producers, many of which are household names.
For major networks and productions, I’ve worked with MTV’s Wild ‘N Out, VH1’s Love & Hip Hop and I was also a stylist on set at Tyler Perry Studios.
BBN: Who would you like to work or collab with one day?
Madam Jelli: Macy Gray, Missy Elliott, Drake and a few others. Those are big dreams of mine.
BBN: We heard you fund your own projects. Is this true?
Madam Jelli: Yes. I record myself and I engineer, mix and master my own music. I do completely everything except make the beats. I have my own studio, I bought my own equipment, I tape everything, I upload everything, I finance every video. It’s all me, 100 percent.
BBN: What do you say to anyone who is chasing their dreams?
Madam Jelli: Have tunnel vision. Starting out, I feel the biggest obstacle to overcome is the lack of support from the people that are around you. You have to look at it like – it is not the responsibility of the people who know you to support you, it is your responsibility to see your goal and vision through to the end. You don’t have to seek validation from anyone when you are on your path, trying to accomplish what you are trying to do.
BBN: You are definitely an original when it comes to your fashion, beauty and style. Frankly, how did you become so freaking fly?
Madam Jelli: My mama is fly. For real, for real. My grandmother is fly; so it is just honestly in my nature.
BBN: What would you like to say in honor of Pride Month?
Jelli: Be proud of who you are NO MATTER who you are.
Follow Madam Jelli on all social media platforms @Madam.jelli
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