Keep our girls safe: lessons from Luxury Leena
We all learn them. Some are through our successes and others from our shortcomings. At times, we learn valuable lessons through observation and experience, and through the conventional, creative, traditional, non-traditional, orthodox, and far from it.
What can anyone learn from the world of exotic dancing to transitioning to modeling, acting, artist (rap), advocate, and being an author? When it comes to the journey of Kaleena McMath (aka Luxury Leena), a lot is an understatement. It's understanding how having a plan is central to being in this particular field, being aware of the challenges that are present, and an underlying notion of the more you know, the more you can do.
But it starts from keeping our girls safe.
The Miami, FL native identifies early on (at age 8) some of the hurdles that can impact a family, in her case, as part of a single-parent household. Given the struggles presented, that sparked an inner drive and focus so strong to be a leading presence in her family, including the odd jobs worked to improve the family quality of life to her goal of putting her younger sister through school. She feels it is her responsibility to be that person and presence.
This, combined with her foray to the field starts as a 17 year old; after watching the movie Players Club (featuring Lisa Raye-McCoy) and the potentially lucrative nature of exotic dancing, she takes inventory of her skill sets and attributes that would lend to the field. 15 years later, she's at the point where she's about to close that particular door, having opened up others.
However, there's more to the profession that what's on the surface, hence her forthcoming (May 30th) release, Safe in the Game: The Official Handbook for Exotic Dancers.
As with anyone and anything in life, there are ups and downs. However, there are some perceptions that can put these professionals at risk, starting with the challenges of the lifestyle. Given the access of certain elements (i.e. alcohol and drugs), coupled with any larger personal issues (just like anyone else) that at time are ignored or dismissed, it can be a daunting road. In fact, she admits, "There are times I'd drink (a lot)", to the point where she has to enroll in A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous). However, for the past 5 years, she's maintained her sobriety.
At times, unlike other professions, professionals in this arena are just that...in an arena, and at times are literally out there on their own. The "here today, gone tomorrow" adage is ever-present, ranging from the push from the established and veterans, along with ease where a dancer can to be replaced for just about any reason. A hidden danger of human trafficking is not just a professional challenge, but a larger society when you consider the hubs (Atlanta being one of them) of this kind of activity. The stigma that comes with the the field can at times be a little ironic in that a number of the dancers make more than the very people who are coming to engage with them, and this includes fields such as (but not limited to) law and others that are viewed in a less stigmatizing manner.
With the lack of professional regard along with the known and inherent areas of concern, what can be done? This is the why behind her book.
“My book is not to encourage you to become an exotic entertainer and at the end of the day, I can’t make anyone stop dancing, but what I can do is share my knowledge and experiences to help you navigate, remain professional and be safe in this industry, something no one ever did for me,” she emphasizes.
There are a number of insights and information shared for those to not only navigate, but have a better understanding of the world you are literally walking into. Likewise, having a real, tangible plan is central in order to be as successful and safe as possible, get something out of it, and still be proud of who you are.
Thematically speaking, how exactly can this be done? What are some outcomes of those who are applying some of these insights on a consistent basis?
For starters, effective engagement (essentials on what to do and what to avoid) is a key focus area. Understanding of the kinds of clubs, ranging from the starter up to others with high-end multi-investors can be a difference-maker in the exposure to particular elements. The dedication to the craft (as displayed by older women) includes working your plan, as a number who are doing so are able to transition out in a sound financial state among other things that again, people would find difficult to grasp given the imagery that comes with the field. And giving the women in the field more credit is another underlying push; as noted earlier, any profession or professional can be prone to mishaps as it's not just limited to one field.
Through the compilation of information, the key is making sure those who choose to go in this direction do not have to go through what Luxury Leena (or others) did. It's about applying what is learned and providing keys to truly navigate through the field, as it is possible to do so.
The jewels learned and shared are putting her in a space and place where she can be an even bigger resource and advocate. Transitioning to modeling, acting, and as an author, there are bigger things at work.
“I want this business to be seen as a profession that women can use as a stepping stone to achieve greater things like home ownership, retirement, and entrepreneurship.” This book is also a call to action against human trafficking and broader issues effecting women worldwide. Once silenced, she now uses her voice to open discussions that will empower women. Her message to readers is “Whatever you do whether it’s sweeping the floor, dancing in the night club, or running a company – be the best that you can be, be the best and succeed in it.”
With her book release (click HERE to pre-order), readiness to conduct workshops and related speaking engagements, the legacy-building she is doing is grounded in having frank, thoughtful, and focused conversation to better educate those considering the field as well as those to simply have an improved point of reference. It's about sharing those jewels of wealth and knowledge, as she sees it as her responsibility to share, along with equipping and empowering others.
Just as she does for her family, she transfers this approach to heeding the call to be that person for others, to better empower those considering the field, and educating those in seeing things from a different vantage point to where it leads to something better.
And it starts with keeping our girls (and professionals) safe.
Important notes: Readers may engage with Luxury Lena on Instagram and Twitter at @IAmLuxuryLeena and Safe In The Game at @SafeInTheGame on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Her book will be available on Amazon starting May 30th.