Tinashe on Work vs. Luck: 'I Learned How to Produce From YouTube"

The singer-songwriter wants to encourage young women to take their future into their own hands.

At 28 years old, Tinashe has firmly cemented herself in the music industry. Starting as a teenager, the Kentucky native began making waves as an actress before turning to her love of music, beginning in a girl group before going solo. Now, the award-winning star is excited to achieve another career goal: appearing in SI Swimsuit. Plus, the songstress will be performing new music at the issue launch party. But, more than having her own success, Tinashe hopes to inspire other young women to make their dreams come true. And, according to her, it has nothing to do with getting a lucky opportunity. She opens up about her top advice, the woman she wants to collaborate with, and her secret to being confident in a swimsuit.


What was your experience like with SI Swimsuit?

"I feel like I manifested that from like a little kid. I've always wanted to be in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. It's such a huge bucket-list item since it's such an iconic publication. The beautiful and powerful women are so inspiring. So, it's cool that they can continue it and have more music and artist representation. To be involved was a no-brainer."

You're going to perform at the launch event! What are you most excited about?

"I finally get out of L.A. and get to go to Miami! I'm excited to perform my new music. [The performance] will be sexy, too, because it's Sports Illustrated."

Based on your Instagram, you're very confident in a swimsuit. So what's the secret to that confidence?

"It's a growth process and comes with the continual practice of self-acceptance. As someone who has been in the game since I was a teenager, there have definitely been periods where I felt pressure to get plastic surgery. How am I going to compete with these people? You look at yourself and your body differently. As I've gotten older, I've just really accepted this is what I look like. This is how I'm built. I just try to own everything that makes me authentic."

What are some of the biggest lessons that you've learned?

"Long-term is a great thing. There will be ups and downs. It's never going to be all up, and it's never going to be all down. So, don't get too caught up in the highs and the lows. Just keep moving forward and enjoying the journey. It's all about the journey."

How do you not fall into the traps of being young and talented?

"I credit my family a lot to that. Having family around me has always kept me really grounded and keeps that real central point of knowing who I am. But you definitely see that happen to people, and it's easier said than done. I think the mental aspect of being in the entertainment industry is not talked about that often. But, it's very difficult. So, unless it's something that you feel is your purpose, I can't see how you would maintain a long career because it's just too hard."

You have some new music! Tell me about it.

"[‘Pasadena’ and ‘Bouncin’] have a lot of tempo, which was important with this project. I wanted to keep the energy up because I really didn't make music that felt melancholy during the lockdown. So, I'm excited to be able to share those. I think it's perfect for the summer because they make you want to dance, and that's what we need right now."

Did lockdown spark any special creativity?

"I definitely went into creative mode heavily and used that as an outlet for me during lockdown. The biggest thing that I learned and my biggest takeaway was just to work on self-awareness. I looked at myself, my career, my thoughts, and my thought patterns to disrupt any negative thought patterns."

Did you take on any other creative endeavors?

"I was just doing anything that I could make fun. Like everyone else, I was cooking. Every day I was painting, making pottery, and was going to write a book. I love making things. That's the best part of being an artist."

Being in SI Swimsuit was on your career bucket list. What else is?

"It used to be things like win a Grammy or have a No. 1 album. All of those things are still goals. But I just haven't had them as my main point of focus anymore. So, I would shift my answer to being able to tour the whole world again and bring my family back to Bora Bora. I definitely want to collaborate with more artists. I've been talking about Christina Aguilera lately. I really want to collab with her. And probably get in a movie."

Lastly, you have this massive platform. What advice would you like to give young women?

"Probably two things. One would be, I would love to see more women producers and engineers. So, I would love to continue to encourage young girls to get into that side of music. And the second thing is don't wait around for an opportunity. If you have a dream, you just have to learn how to do it yourself. There are so many resources now with the internet. I learned how to produce and mix from watching YouTube tutorials. So, if there's something you want to figure out, take it upon yourself to learn it, and don't wait around for someone to validate that."

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Jordi Lippe-McGraw


Jordi Lippe-McGraw is a Contributing Editor for SI Swimsuit covering all things lifestyle from travel and beauty to entertainment and wellness. Over her nearly 15-year-long journalism career, her work has appeared in the New York Times, WSJ Magazine, Forbes, and more. Plus, she’s appeared on TV shows such as Wendy Williams, TODAY, E!, and MSNBC for her expertise. Jordi's personal passion for travel has brought her to over 50 countries on all 7 continents, including Antarctica at 5 months pregnant. She's also an avid penguin and truffle lover.