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INTERVIEW: Karrueche Talks Starring In New Upcycled Fashion Competition Show ‘Upcycle Nation’

Plus, learn which celebrity’s closet she would love to raid!

Karrueche has been stylin' and profilin' in Hollywood for years before becoming an actress and one of today's fashion blueprints. The 34-year-old model started as a personal shopper for numerous celebrities, with clients ranging from Logic to Ugo Mozie.

The actress continued to build her resume in the acting world, landing three Daytime Emmy Award wins for producing a web series called The Bay, in which she also starred. It wasn't until she synced up with Niecy Nash to share the screen in her breakout role as Virginia Loc on Claws and now recurs on the Peacock original Bel-Air playing Hilary's friend, Ivy.

The star is now heading back to her fashion roots in her newest project Upcycle Nation, which is a reimagined and repurposing fashion competition featuring aspiring designers from around the country who must transform previously discarded items into unique articles of clothing. The former stylist hosts the series, with Peder Cho (viral, trailblazing upcycling innovator) and Jérôme LaMaar (Creative Director for Beyoncé, Kimora Lee Simmons, and others) serving as judges.

In a fashionable conversation, Karrueche chats with BET.com about her hosting duties on Upcycle Nation and shares what acting skills she gained from Niecy Nash.

Before we dived into the loaded commentary, we started the conversation by simply asking how the actress was feeling at the time, to which she appreciated and shared she never gets asked that question often.

“I’m good and I love that you asked that by the way because I feel like I don’t get asked that during interviews,” the actress expressed.

“Life is good. It’s busy but slow at the same time, but good things are happening. I was at the Wakanda Forever premiere, and it was amazing. The movie is so good. There are so many juicy bits. Wait until you see it.”

As we pivoted from our excitement about the upcoming Black Panther sequel, she continued and told BET.com what makes her new fashion competition show UpCycle Nation innovative.

“There’s no other fashion competition show based on repurposing and upcycling,” she said.

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“There’s a lot of upcycles in the world like Peter Cho, who is a judge on the show. The best part about the show is we’re educating people, and we’re saving the planet. People don’t realize the effects fashion and its waste has on our planet —  a lot of these old fabrics and pieces get tossed into landfills which affect our world. I can even talk a lot about fast fashion, which I like that it’s affordable for the girls who can’t afford designer items — growing up, I couldn’t afford Gucci, Bottega Vanetta’s, or these luxury pieces so while we have these brands able to deliver some of these looks, they’re producing at such a fast rate that is killing our planet. With UpCycle, it’s creative, and it’s fun to watch.

There are so many fashion icons amongst us in today’s time, and the actress shared her favorite from then and now.

“Back then, I think of Cher, Madonna, and Diana Ross — the divas,” she expressed.

“I would also go back to the 90s when we had Destiny’s Child and TLC. Now, we have Zendaya, Marsai Martin, and Solange, who is one of my favorites. There are so many.”

All the girls mentioned continue to stay in their bag and get to a coin like Karrueche herself. So, how does she balance it all? The producer tells BET.com it’s all about prioritizing.

“I would say balance — a bit of prioritizing with work coming first and everything else will follow in places like working out, massages, and cooking,” she expressed.

“Sometimes, I’ll lay in bed all day when I have nothing to do. We have to listen to our bodies. This day and age have a thought process where we need to work, and if you’re not creating or producing, you’re ‘failing’ or ‘not being productive,’ which is draining physically and mentally. When we’re allowed to sit around in the house and watch television, take those moments because it can be hard — it’s important for us to listen to what our mind and body tell us.”

The Bel-Air actress pivots in our conversation and shares how she would love to pull pieces from Tracee Ellis Ross’ closet if she were to go back to personal shopping again.

“She gives body, androgynous, and all the things just like her mama,” she laughed.

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“She creates moments with hair and glam — it’s stunning. I would love to see what her closet looks like. I know it’s fab.”

While we wait for the invitation to Tracee’s closet, we get a peek into Karruche’s closet and she lets BET.com know for this season of fashion, it’s all about denim.

“Denim is top tier, and it’s everywhere,” she said.

“I’ve been wearing a few denim pieces. Sami Miro released a denim collection in which she upcycled a few pieces using Levi’s denim scraps. Hudson and Zoe Castello also collaborated with an all-denim line. Mix and match the denim, and it’s cool because it can be a daytime look or nighttime.”

Niecy Nash has been a hot topic as of late for her performance in Dahmer, and social media is already putting the buzz in the Academy’s ear to nominate the actress for an Emmy.

Karrueche lets BET.com know her experience working with the Reno: 911 star and an acting strength she learned from the veteran.

“Working with Niecy is so much fun,” says Tran.

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“She is such a character — what you see on television is what you get. She can be a mother, big sister, or the homegirl. We had so much fun shooting Claws and it was a blessing to work alongside her and the cast like Carrie Preston and Harold Perrineau. I remember right before Niecy started filming the show, she was filming Scream Queens and I remember her leaving set at midnight and she had to be somewhere else at 7am. Her hustle was different but I always kept it in my mind — Miss Mamas is working hard and if she’s doing, I can’t complain because this is the life. If you want to be great and be at the level, you got to put in the work and push through. She’s one of the hardest working women out there — she’s killing it.”

Before we let the Daytime Emmy Award recipient exit the chat, BET.com had to get the scoop on Bel-Air and the antics her character Ivy is getting into for season two.

“Ivy gets a little spicy this season,” she revealed.

“We’re still shooting and we're almost halfway through shooting the episodes. She’s got her business and she gets it done — she’s like one of these Instagram girls rolling around in her Bottega Vanetta’s [laughs]. She’s gonna handle her business which is a good thing but it can be a little shady since she puts herself first — you’ll see [laughs].

She then ends the conversation with a beauty tip for everyone to “dress for you” and your body type. The Bel-Air actress encourages people to “find out what works for you” and remain “confident” in how you look.

You can watch Upcycle Nation on Wednesdays at 10 PM ET/PT on FuseTV.


*This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Ty Cole is a New York-based entertainment reporter and writer for BET.com who covers pop culture, music, and lifestyle. Follow his latest musings on Twitter @IamTyCole.

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