We had the good fortune of connecting with Thesha Lashley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Thesha, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Living life is a risk in and of itself. Every day we as humans put ourselves in risky situations. Whether driving to work, hopping on the elevator, or even being in the same space as someone else- risks are a part of life. I don’t see them as something to shy away from because with great risks comes even greater rewards. What some people may see as risks, I see as creativity. I see them as moments to stand out in the crowd and put yourself out there for the world to appreciate. This doesn’t always happen, obviously, but the benefits of diving in head first, in my opinion, are much greater than never dipping in at all. It is because of this attitude that I have been blessed with opportunities to share who I am and I what I love with everyone I come across. I have been able to build a brand around what I love and build a foundation for my friends and family. Finally I am able to be the shoulders for those around me to stand on and make the changes they want to see in the world.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved carnival. The music, the energy, the culture-it’s the best time of the year to me! It’s a chance to celebrate life and be free to live it. I love taking time to see people I haven’t seen in a while, hit the road with them, and just enjoy each other’s company. Above all else, the costumes bring me the most joy. Being surrounded by the colors, feathers, jewels and designs….it’s a feeling you can only understand through experience. Carnival is a part of who I am. As a flight attendant, I spend countless hours talking to people and making connections. Constantly being in front of people and feeling free to be who I am on the road has made it so much easier to be comfortable with myself. I’ve known all my life that I wanted to mesh my love for people, my love for the carnival experience, and my desire to share my creativity and visions of beauty with the world. Sometimes it still surprises me that I am finally doing it! Each time I pull on my costume, it’s another layer of beauty. Each time I put on my feather backpack, it’s an opportunity to get more wind beneath my wings. Each time I put on my headpiece, it’s a chance to accentuate my own crown. I step onto another level of who I am and get to highlight all of me. When it’s time to cross the stage, I step up and I show out. Knowing how much this feeling means to me, why wouldn’t I want to share this experience with others? Nothing goes without its challenges and I have definitely experienced my share of them over the years. In these moments, I have to remind myself that the energy we put in and FEED into, is the energy we get in return. I consider myself more than a costume designer. I give people the full experience of carnival the best way I know how. My team and I do our best to make sure no stone is unturned when it comes to satisfying our band. or section members. We love our people and want them to feel it from start to finish….after all, love is where the heart is.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am always getting bit by the travel bug. Any chance I get to go to another city, I am ready for the adventure. I do, however, love when people come to my city as well. The Tampa/St. Petersburg area is a beautiful place to have a relaxing weekend with the crew. Jerk Hut is a must after hours! The music and drinks are great, and the food is on point! Of course we have to hit St. Pete Beach to get sun-kissed before and we grab a bite at Spinner’s Restaurant. Downtown St. Petersburg is the perfect spot for a quick photo op. We may even swing by St. Pete’s Pier and chill at The Canopy Restaurant; the view from the rooftop is breathtaking and never ceases to amaze me! If the timing is right, we may even attend some of the Tampa/St.Petersburg festivities such as the Gasparilla day or night Parade or the Martin Luther King Day parade. Oh, and trust, when it’s time for Tampa Carnival, my whole crew is the first one there!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost, I have to shout out my mom. She has been my support system even when I didn’t think I needed or wanted one. My mom has shown me time and time again, that success and growth comes with discomfort and challenges. I appreciate her for continuously reminding me of what it means to live and lead with grace and self-respect. I’d also like to share my deepest gratitude to RBG Carnival (my carnival family). RBG has put so much trust in me and my vision for years now. I’m honored that they have allowed me to use my passion, creativity, and love for the culture to help change the narrative of what it means to be a person of color. RBG is the intersection of culture and cause. We understand that there is beauty in all that we do, and that it is our responsibility to take care of our community both on and off the road. I am humbled that I have a major role in building this culture of collectivity and making my mark on history. Lastly, I would like to thank all of the people that have been rocking out with me at carnivals and parades year after year to help me build my brand. Although I am an adult, I was a child of the village first and I know for a fact I would not be where I am if it were not for the continuous love and support from my community.