Jillian Hervey

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Jillian Hervey
Hervey performing at 2015 Austin City Limits Music Festival
Hervey performing at 2015 Austin City Limits Music Festival
Background information
Birth nameJillian Kristin Hervey
Born (1989-06-19) June 19, 1989 (age 30)
OriginUnited States
  • Singer
  • dancer
Associated actsLion Babe

Jillian Kristin Hervey[1] (born June 19, 1989)[2] is an American singer, dancer and member of the group Lion Babe. She is the daughter of Ramon Hervey II[3] and singer, actress and former Miss America Vanessa Williams.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

In addition to parents Hervey and Williams, Jillian Hervey is the niece of actor Chris Williams and the great-great-great-granddaughter of William A. Feilds,[6] a formerly enslaved African-American who was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives during Reconstruction;[7] the latter connection was uncovered when the television show Who Do You Think You Are? traced the family's genealogy.[citation needed]

Hervey was raised Catholic.[8]

Hervey grew up in Chappaqua, New York, dividing time between the homes of her parents who divorced when she was eight.[9] She has remarked on her experience of being, in her words, "the only black girl, ever, in any capacity" growing up, as well as her awareness of the harassment her mother faced after she was the first African-American woman to be crowned Miss America. Hervey told the Telegraph, "Even when I was a child, I knew...When my mom would go on her tours, and she was in Alabama and there were snipers on rooftops trying to kill her, or people would send her envelopes with pubic hair inside."[9]

Hervey took up guitar at age 11[10] and studied dance at the New School,[11] where she also became interested in performance art.[9] During her time at the New School, Hervey began working with eventual Lion Babe collaborator Lucas Goodman. The two had met years earlier at a party, and Hervey reached out to him when a dance assignment at school required original music.[12]


Film and television[edit]

In 2000, Hervey appeared in the Lifetime television movie The Courage to Love.[13] The film was an historical drama starring Hervey's mother Vanessa Williams as Henriette Delille, a free woman of color who was born into a prominent New Orleans family in 1813.[14]

Reportedly Hervey was also offered a role on Gossip Girl when she was 19, but declined in favor of pursuing music.[9]

In 2012, Hervey appeared in an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race,[15] performing the song "Glamazon" with contestants.[16]


In December 2012,[11] Hervey and Lucas Goodman released "Treat Me Like Fire", their first song as the duo Lion Babe, putting Hervey's "towering cloud of golden curls and honeyed voice...in near-instant demand," according to Vogue Magazine.[17] The duo has subsequently collaborated with Pharrell Williams, Mark Ronson, and Childish Gambino. In 2014 they released another new single, "Jungle Lady," with Essence saying "Talent must run in the family. Vanessa William's daughter, singer Jillian Hervey, just released a new single, Jungle Lady, and we can't stop listening to the sultry song."[18]

In July 2015 Lion Babe played Lollapalooza.[17] In 2016, Lion Babe released their first album, Begin.[19]

Considering Hervey in terms of a "carefree black girl ecosystem" with Willow Smith, Zoe Kravitz and FKA twigs, Safy-Hallan Farah said in Pitchfork that Hervey's "appeal is a throwback to Erykah [Badu] and Corinne Bailey Rae at the same damn time, which is quite a feat."[20]

The San Francisco Chronicle also compared Hervey to Badu: "Channeling Erykah Badu's style and approach, Hervey makes tracks such as 'Whole' and 'Satisfy My Love' her own, calling forth a flittering, jazzy tenor. Other times, Hervey reveals a smoky timbre that glides across the beat, as in 'Hold On.'"[21]

Beauty and fashion[edit]

In early 2016, Hervey became a spokeswoman for MAC Cosmetics as part of a campaign called "Future Forward"[22] focused on up-and-coming musicians,[23] including Dej Loaf and Tinashe, also women of color.[24] Already noted for "her signature cat-eye flick coated in gold glitter,"[25] Situating Hervey's role at MAC alongside Taraji P. Henson's own MAC campaign and Kerry Washington's role at Neutrogena, The Observer describes their work as a significant departure from the way "historically, people of color have been absent from the campaigns and offerings of major beauty brands" in the U.S.[24]

In June 2016, Hervey also became a representative for Pantene hair products,[26] drawing press coverage for the selection's departure from major hair care brands' historical focus on long, straight hair[27] and the encouragement, as US Weekly put it, to "fellow curly girls to celebrate their texture."[28] Hervey has expressed excitement at becoming "a voice for girls with curls";[29] in a Glamour article called "How Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey Learned to Love Her Curly Hair",[30] Hervey described facing taunts from schoolmates for her curly hair and how important it was to her that she also had a "bunch of my girlfriends at the time [who] were like, 'You should wear your hair natural and curly it looks so good.'"[30] She also said that moving to New York and the diversity she encountered there "led me to feel more free, take more risks, and go back into my natural hair."[30] Speaking at Essence Festival in 2016, Hervey said this shift also affected her art: "Once I [went natural], everything started to change. I started feeling very comfortable in my skin and really confident about who I was. I started to look to a bunch of black artists who inspired me, that were kind of in my house. My mom had this Josephine Baker painting, and I always knew of her, but I didn't know much about her legacy and how much I was drawn to it. From there, I wanted to embellish it."[31]

Hervey has also drawn notice in the fashion press on topics like her '70s-inflected taste,[32] fashion shoots with her mother Williams[33] and Williams's influence on Hervey's style,[34] as well as Hervey's other fashion influences, like Naomi Campbell[34] and Chaka Khan.[35] In 2016, Vogue described one of Hervey's "signature outfits" as "a thigh-skimming, waist-whittling, flared minidress straight from G-Star's Spring 2016 collection with Kurt Geiger over-the-knee, platform velvet boots."[35]


  1. ^ MacMinn, Aleene. "People". articles.latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  2. ^ "Vanessa Williams". PEOPLE.com.
  3. ^ "The Soulcialista: ::GET FAMILIAR:: LION BABE".
  4. ^ Bossip Staff (27 February 2013). "Vanessa Williams Brings Daughter Jillian Hervey To Event « - Bossip". Bossip.
  5. ^ "Vanessa Williams, Daughters Jillian And Melanie Strike A Pose & Talk Ageless Beauty For Allure (PHOTO)". The Huffington Post.
  6. ^ "Who Do You Think You Are?: Season 2, Episode 1, Vanessa Williams (February, 2011)". Who Do You Think You Are?. 2011-02-04. Retrieved 2015-12-05.
  7. ^ "African American Legislators in 19th Century Tennessee: WILLIAM ALEXANDER FEILDS". State of Tennessee. Archived from the original on 2015-07-24. Retrieved 2015-09-19.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/vanessa-williams-faith-10585404
  9. ^ a b c d Vincent, Alice (August 8, 2015). "Lion Babe: 'I think it's a good time for women in pop music'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  10. ^ Hyman, Dan (December 15, 2014). "A Sensual Music Video from a Dynamic New Duo". T Magazine. The New York Times. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  11. ^ a b Hairston, Tahirah (December 23, 2014). "The Heart and Soul of Lion Babe". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  12. ^ Savage, Mark (May 29, 2015). "Lion Babe: Working with Pharrell 'expands your mind' - BBC News". BBC. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  13. ^ Fisher, Elizabeth (1 August 2015). "The New Black Fashion Influencers | Black Ballad". Black Ballad. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  14. ^ Zahed, Ramin (24 January 2000). "Review: 'The Courage to Love'". Variety. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  15. ^ Sava, Oliver (13 November 2012). "RuPaul's Drag Race: "All Star Girl Groups"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  16. ^ Stransky, Tanner (November 13, 2012). "'RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race' episode 4 recap". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  17. ^ a b Wagoner, Mackenzie (July 31, 2015). "Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey on Her Lollapalooza Beauty Staples: Black Eyeliner, Body Bronzer, and More". Vogue. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  18. ^ Lewis, Taylor (December 9, 2014). "Vanessa Williams' Daughter Also Sings! Listen to Her New Song". Essence. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  19. ^ Betker, Ally (27 April 2016). "Lion Babe Drops New Single Ahead of US Tour". W Magazine. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  20. ^ Farah, Safy-Hallan (January 12, 2015). "Black Weirdo Rich Kids: Zoë, Willow, Jaden and Pop Nepotism | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  21. ^ Tabios, Nina (August 3, 2016). "Lion Babe brings the fire to San Francisco". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  22. ^ Cummings, Faith (May 26, 2016). "Lion Babe Discusses Her Collaboration with MAC, Feeling Comfortable in Her Own Skin, and Touring with Disclosure". Teen Vogue. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  23. ^ Oliver, Dana (27 April 2016). "An Important Beauty PSA For Men". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  24. ^ a b Street, Mikelle (24 August 2016). "Taraji P. Henson Is the Latest Black Celeb Calling the Shots in Beauty". The New York Observer. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  25. ^ Cesaro, Alicia. "Jillian Hervey's Getting Ready Routine". The Coveteur. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  26. ^ Arterbery, Andrea (June 10, 2016). "Why Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey Says Sweat Is the Secret to Great Volume". Allure. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  27. ^ Gold, Grace (June 7, 2016). "Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey and Her Incredible Curls Are Bringing Diversity to Hair Ads". Yahoo! Beauty. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  28. ^ Underwood, Khalea (June 7, 2016). "Pantene's Newest Curly Girl Is …". USWeekly. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  29. ^ Fields, Jackie (August 1, 2016). "Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey Is the New Face of Pantene: 'It's Really Exciting to be a Voice for Girls with Curls'". People. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  30. ^ a b c Kitchens, Simone (June 7, 2016). "The Secrets Behind Lion Babe Singer Jillian Hervey's Amazing Curls". Glamour. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  31. ^ Porter, Nia (6 July 2016). "Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey Discusses That Crazy-Curly Mane". Racked. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  32. ^ Metzger, Chloe (November 2, 2015). "How to Wear Gold This Fall, as Demonstrated by Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey". Allure. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  33. ^ Wilson, Julee (25 March 2013). "Vanessa Williams, Daughters Jillian And Melanie Strike A Pose & Talk Ageless Beauty For Allure (PHOTO)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  34. ^ a b Hobdy, Dominique (1 July 2016). "Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey on the Best Style Advice She Ever Received from Her Mom (Actress Vanessa Williams)". Essence.com. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  35. ^ a b Carlos, Marjon (April 4, 2016). "Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey Loves Her Denim Like Her Disco Idols: Funky and Original". Vogue. Retrieved 1 September 2016.

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