icyOver a Zoom call, Saweetie may be dressed down in a black sports bra and leggings, but she’s all glammed up: her caramel-auburn hair and bangs are noticeably silky and curled at the ends; her gold hoops and chains catch the light; later, her long green nails will flash across the screen when she talks. She’s almost ready to start speaking—but first, she swipes on a layer of MAC lip gloss.
This perfectly balanced combo of sporty and fabulous is apropos for Saweetie’s new campaign with Champion: the iconic athletic brand, ubiquitous from the gym to the streetwear circuit, joins forces with an artist known for her icy sensibilities. But Saweetie (born Diamonté Harper), is sportier than you think: she’s a former track star with a love for volleyball and even roller skating. “For my 13th birthday, I had a big skate party,” she recalls while chewing gum.
Arriving in the middle of Women’s History Month, the Champion campaign spotlights a set of 12 diverse female athletes—dubbed the Champion Circle—alongside the rapper in the brand’s latest offerings. Saweetie’s previously released song “Get It Girl” soundtracks the ad and also inspired its name. On top of all that, Saweetie was named the brand’s first-ever Global Culture Consultant too.
Saweetie’s got even more in the works; she says she’s been hitting the studio a lot lately. “I just rented out a whole building. So I have about seven rooms where I’m recording,” she mentions casually. She also notes she’s got a color palette ready for her long-awaited album, Pretty Bitch Music, but she won’t reveal it just yet. “You can’t share anything these days or someone else does it,” she laughs.
In the meantime, she’s looking forward to the Grammys in a couple of weeks—she’s nominated for two awards including Best New Artist. Saweetie is excited, but her look for the night is still coming together. “We’re actually gonna finalize it this week, so I definitely have to start thinking about it,” she admits. Perhaps this ensemble won’t involve leggings, but we can count on Saweetie to serve, as always.
Here, we talk more about her impressive athletic background, her favorite Euphoria characters, and entering academia.
How did the partnership with Champion come about?
Everything honestly got started in high school. I used to wear their clothes a lot to my practices. I ran track, I played volleyball, powder puff, so it’s always been on my body, but now I’m in the campaign and now I’m officially the new Global Culture Consultant, which is like a dream come true, ‘cause I love creating, I love sports, I love fashion apparel. It’s honestly the perfect match for me.
What can we expect to see from you as Global Culture Consultant?
A lot of icy aesthetics, a lot of cool brand-new ideas, along with some familiar athletic female faces, because I’m such a huge advocate for women in sports—especially with my athletic background. I love that I’m a part of something so positive and empowering.
Who are some of your favorite female athletes?
I just watched King Richard. So, I love Serena and Venus [Williams]. Their story is really inspiring and the fact they’re from the West Coast, I think they’re definitely my favorites.
Of all the sports you’ve played, have you ever tried tennis?
I played recreationally in elementary and middle school, but I was a volleyball lover. I wish I could have played [tennis]. I wish I was more passionate about tennis because you could be any height in tennis. In volleyball, you have to be a little taller to get a full-ride scholarship with a D1 school.
Does that mean you were a libero?
No, I was an outside hitter!
I had a 25-inch vertical, so I definitely jumped for it.
That’s amazing. I played volleyball for a year in high school and it did not go well. I was a setter.
I love setting! Setters, that is the most sexiest position on the court. ‘Cause I love the setter that can set backwards. Oh my God, it’s like the best part of volleyball.
This campaign is all about empowering women, which you do regularly, especially with the Champion Circle. What does women empowerment mean to you?
To me, it means a community of women who supports you. I think that’s the starting base of it. And the women who support me are women in my family, my friends, women on my team. It’s important [that] we exchange the energy of love and support.
You recently posted a photo of your mom on Instagram. What kind of support has she shown you through the years?
Girl, tough love. Tiger mom. But I think that her style of being a parent made me a really tough, persevering type of young woman. So I know that she always wanted the best for me and was coming from a place of love, in a good place. Lots of tough love.
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Yeah. Is it ever weird seeing the Internet go crazy over your mom?
No, because in school they would go crazy over my parents, since I was a little kid.
So you get it by now. “Get It Girl” is at the forefront of this campaign and fits so well sonically. When did you originally write the song?
The beginning of the pandemic, I just wanted something that was very confident, but very chill. The song is very laid-back, but there are a lot of confident vibes throughout the bars.
It was also in an episode of Insecure. Did you watch the last season?
I haven’t watched the last season yet, but I definitely binge-watched the first three seasons.
Are you Team Lawrence?
[Flips her hair in a dramatically slow fashion, frowns, and clicks her teeth]
No? Who then?
I’m Team Issa.
Team Issa all the way. Speaking of women empowerment, I love how you’ve teamed up with other women in hip-hop for some of your recent songs. There’s “Best Friend” with Doja Cat, “Closer” with H.E.R., and “Back to the Streets” with Jhené Aiko. Why is it important for you to link up with other women in the industry and what kind of energy do you get from these collabs?
Well, for me, it’s not really a matter of “importance,” it’s a matter of just respecting them. The intention is never an angle of, oh, I have to show this woman empowerment. It’s more of a, wow. I really love this woman. And I would love to work with her and hopefully we can, so we can create this magic. I definitely feel like some people use women empowerment as a strategy, but for me it’s a way of life.
It’s natural rather than forced.
Absolutely. It’s just second nature to me. I come from a village full of loving women. So I definitely don’t do it to brand myself. I do it because it’s just a way of life for me.
I do want to talk about “Closer” specifically, since that just came out last month. Also, as a Filipina, I loved watching you collaborate with H.E.R. What was it like working together?
H.E.R. is definitely one of my top three favorite artists that I’ve ever met. She’s just really cool, down to earth, and fly as hell. I love spending time with her on set.
She seems super chill.
Yeah. But that’s a confident chill. She’s really dope.
How did the flight attendant concept come together for the video?
Hanna Lux [Davis] put our brains together … but I really just wanted to show two fly women traveling the world.
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Your Closer to Euphoria skate party last week with Jack Daniels looked like a lot of fun. Were you always big on skating?
Yeah, I’ve been skating since I was like six years old. I could skate really fast. I need to learn how to skate backwards though. But for me, skating is like therapy. It feels so free.
Given the name of the event, I have to ask if you watch Euphoria.
I love Euphoria!
Yes, girl! I wouldn’t just take it just to take it.
Do you relate to any character in particular?
I love Maddy. I love Kat. And then Kat’s boyfriend…I felt so bad for him. Poor baby. He was such a lover boy. When she broke up with him, I just wanted to give him a hug. I felt so bad for him.
He really redeemed himself in the theater episode though.
He did, he did. He was a great actor.
Would you like to make a cameo one day?
I would love to!
Besides acting, fashion, and music, is there any other area that you want to dabble in next?
Definitely teaching at USC. I’m a guest speaker—I just love giving back to the kids. They’re actually interested. And I have to make sure my schedule permits me to become an official professor. But whether it’s this year or next year, I definitely see myself teaching a class.
Branding, aesthetics, marketing. The new way, the millennial way, the Gen Z way, on social media. [Because that] has changed a lot of careers and businesses.
The Grammys are in a couple of weeks. Do you remember the exact moment when you heard that you were nominated?
Yeah, I was actually sleeping. I wasn’t aware that they were coming out the next morning, so I woke up to a lot of missed calls and text messages of congrats. So I think that was a moment within itself, and I’m just so grateful to be acknowledged.
What do you hope to do if you win? What would an icy Grammy celebration look like?
I’ll probably pour something in there and drink out of the cup. [Laughs.]
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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