Chick Chat: Off the Court with Monique Billings
MEET MONIQUE BILLINGS. ATLANTA DREAM. POSITIVITY SLANGER. BALLER BABE. HARDWOOD HUSTLER. WEST SIDE REPPIN’.
Within our CNK Chick Chat Series, it has always been important to connect the dots through 'Chickspiration'. Whether it be found through our passion for sneakHERs, style, or business - there is always a common thread that serves as a motivational tool for our audience (and ourselves) to learn from the next boss babe. We find it just as important to highlight women working in the world of sports, which just like sneakers, has historically been a male-dominated space.
As you may know, sports plays an integral role in community building and creating a lane for women to show their talents while making a living doing so. Many sneakers were birthed from sports, and they continue to hold hands through innovation, creativity, and functionality. WNBA star, Monique Billings, is very familiar with both worlds, and continues to exude her message of BE YOURSELF.
Monique not only shows us how to get buckets on the court, but she proves that you can be just as strong off the hardwood. She carries a confident positivity around with her and isn't afraid to speak on the importance of authenticity and not fitting in anyone's box.
Check out our interview with Monique below as she dishes on being a professional basketball player, getting comfortable in your own skin, and what her favorite pair of sneakHERs is right now.
BEING MONIQUE BILLINGS… IN CLIFF NOTES.
I am a So-Cal girl, from the LA area (by way of a city called Corona). I went to UCLA for college and played basketball there for four years. Now, I am in my second year in the WNBA playing for the Atlanta Dream. I am currently in training camp, trying to kick butt out here. It can be a struggle, but it’s going really good and I’m excited about this season with the Dream. I also played overseas in China, South Korea, and Lebanon. That was an experience. More opportunities kept coming up, and God was looking out. I was blessed.
SUPERHEROES DON’T ALWAYS WEAR CAPES.
When I was growing up, my dad would take me to the Sparks’ games. I would watch Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker, and that would inspire me. I didn’t know I was going to be a professional basketball player, and at the time I didn’t aspire to be one either. I looked at them as superheroes. I thoughts “I want to be a Superhero one day”. I tried to do the best that I could in everything that I did, whatever it was.
I’m so thankful to be a basketball player, but even off the court stuff is important. I love that I have been inspired by Tyra Banks, watching America’s Next Top Model. She inspires me as a model. I don’t like putting myself in a box just as an athlete. I like modeling, basketball, and staying in shape.
BLACK GIRL MAGIC IS IMPORTANT
Serena Williams is so powerful and so strong. Her elegance and how she carries herself is inspiring and encouraging as well. Especially as a black woman, I look up to her. I’m thankful to have her as an example. I love music too, and an underground artist I really enjoy is Noname. She is breaking her way into the mainstream, but I like her message. She is very authentic. I also like another musician Ari Lennox. I admire her and what she stands for. She wears her hair natural and her makeup is very natural.
ASPIRE TO INSPIRE…
My thing now is that I want to be an example for young girls and women to show them that you don’t have to put yourself in a box. You can like heels, and sneakers, and be a beast on the court. That’s my message and what I try to put out into the world. A lot of people don’t see that the two can co-exist, and I hope to convey my message to young girls that are looking up to me.
MONIQUE ON BALLIN’ OVERSEAS…
Being the only American on my team was a struggle at some points, but I actually liked it. It was a different role that I had to embrace. Also, being the only English speaker, outside of Lebanon. That was a really big difference, but I am thankful for the experience. All my overseas ventures went really smoothly.
There are so many differences (playing overseas). I would say the biggest difference is the food, and I’m a foodie. I like to eat and I like good food. Overseas it was kind of a struggle, especially in China. I would eat chicken, broccoli, and rice twice day (lunch and dinner). For breakfast, I would eat oatmeal and eggs. That was everyday for four months. In Atlanta, if I saw a picture of a Calzone, I could just go down the street and get one. It’s not like that overseas.
SNEAKHERS… AESTHETIC OR FUNCTIONALITY?
I like a little bit of both, but I would say aesthetics. It really depends how I’m feeling that day. If I’m wearing workout clothes and chillin’ for the day, then comfort comes first. If I’m trying to look cute, sometimes you have to put that comfort to the side.
NO HYPEBEAST ZONE, ROCK WHAT YOU LIKE.
I have some Nikes that have a platform and are bright pink. I love them and they are so fire. It’s funny because I did a poll on Instagram and people weren’t feeling them. I like funky, creative, and vibrant looking shoes. Those are some of my favorites right now. I have a pair of Yeezys that I rock with, but outside of those I don’t like being a hypebeast. I don’t like wearing what everyone else is wearing, so I try to find the lowkey sneakers. That’s my style.
SHOP SIMILAR SNEAKERS BELOW
HEY BRANDS, ONE WORD - AUTHENTICITY.
When it comes to the wave of lifestyle focus in sneakers, I believe my voice as an athlete is still heard. I haven’t felt that I’ve been left out of the conversation.
When it comes to brand storytelling, we have to see authenticity. Not brands trying to cover up or mask certain things. For example, I like rocking my curly fro, or being able to dress how I want. Most people would expect me to dress as an athlete, but I like to put on a dress and heels too. Authenticity. It’s totally being able to be yourself and being comfortable being you. For that to be appreciated is so important.
ADVICE TO THE SHAWTIES OUT THERE…
Advice I would give to a young athlete is to not let anyone stop you or discourage you from your vision. Spread positivity, you know? Lift people up who are around you because that will lift you up at the end of the day. My thing has always been to create my own lane. If you don’t see a lane that is open, create your own and follow that.
WHAT DOES SNEAKHER CULTURE MEAN TO YOU?
SneakHER Culture is embracing femininity as a whole. Embracing being a woman, but also being able to rock sneakers or whatever makes you feel good. Whatever makes you feel like the best version of yourself and putting that out there. Getting comfortable with that and loving yourself is something that no one can take away from you.