La La Anthony’s Inala brand is the recipient of our Melanin Awards ‘Newbie” Award.
La La Anthony greets me with a hug when we meet. We exchange pleasantries while she scans the room, seemingly taking it all in. It was only moments ago she walked into the sunlit Studio 8 at Pier 59, her fresh face kissed by the natural light. Albeit petite, she’s hard to miss in a sporty red puffer coat that stops just short of her ankles. She suddenly spots celebrity hairstylist Arrogant Tae, a friend who flew into NYC on this crisp October day for her cover shoot, and she erupts with joy. The Inala haircare newbie has the same personable energy for everyone she meets. That warmth permeates every area of her being. Making a difference in someone’s day is something she takes pride in. It is the silk lining that flows through her life, career, friendships, philanthropy, and motherhood.
“You never know if a certain ‘Hello,’ hug, ‘I love you’ or ‘It’s so nice to see you’ can shift someone’s whole day,” she says. “To some people that doesn’t matter, but it matters to me.”
The mother of one begins her morning with a prayer or affirmation, which she can easily find on her phone. Like the rest of us, her phone is filled with various group chats. There’s one with her pastor, who provides a daily scripture that always seems tailored to whatever she’s going through. There’s one with her girlfriends, including a group chat with Kim Kardashian. She has another with Angie Beyince and Kelly Rowland; and another with Ciara and Russell Wilson. ‘I have too many group chats. My phone is going off all day, which is probably why I never sleep,” she jokes.
Sleep. What’s that? I can hear the fatigue in her voice when she joins our call. When does the Instagram slaying, co-parenting, host, mentor, actress, and skincare entrepreneur have the time to rest? As if La La isn’t busy raising a teenager, newly navigating the single life, gearing up for season two of BMF, and devoting time to the incarcerated at Riker’s Island, she’s also expanding her beauty brand — Inala — one product at a time.
Inala was conceived in La La’s kitchen – sort of. The concept came to La La during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic when beauty salons and non-essential businesses shuttered their doors. During this unprecedented time, La La was able to assess the damage that had been done to her hair after months of neglect. She remembers often just throwing her hair in a ponytail, which led to her search for home remedies to restore her strands.
“I was experimenting in the rice water space by looking at all the rice water DIYs,” she explains. “I saw a huge difference in my hair from rice water, but I noticed, it smells really bad. But the benefits are amazing. I kept thinking, how can I make this into something that people can use on a regular basis and see these same kinds of amazing results that I’m seeing from fermenting this rice in my own kitchen? And that’s how Inala started.”
The Inala brand features three products – the “Power Potion,” “Reset Rinse,” and the recently released “Triple Threat Tonic.”
“It is a hundred percent rice water complex with biotin and arginine and all kinds of vitamins and minerals for your hair. And I figured out a way to formulate it to where it has no scent, it doesn’t smell. It’s giving you all the benefits of rice water because the Inala formula is a hundred percent rice water complex.”
While we’ve seen a rise in celebrity haircare brands as of late, her foray into the haircare industry feels organic. The difference between Inala and other brands is La La’s attention to the little things. Making processes easier is a throughline in her life. She is determined to make the life of everyone around her better, easier, and more meaningful.
“When you get the emails like ‘You know, my confidence is back, I got my edges back, this changed my life… I tried everything. It didn’t work. That’s when you’re like, this is one of the most fulfilling things I did. Not just another celebrity with some hair care product.”
La La is the proud recipient of our “Newbie” award.
“Like anything else in my career, I don’t do it for the accolades, but when you get ’em, it’s nice to know people are paying attention. People are seeing how amazing the brand is. People are seeing the confidence that it’s restoring in people’s lives.”
‘Ugh, today’s hair day,” La La says reminiscing on wash day during her childhood. At 41 years old, La La still thinks of getting her done as a negative experience. She recalls dreading her mother washing and rolling her tresses, but feeling elated when her hair was done.
“I knew that my hair was important, but I was learning it takes a long time to take care of it. It’s a process.” A process she was dedicated to simplifying for her other women. “I used to always want to simplify it, but still get the feeling that I felt when my hair was done and how proud I was or happy or confident I was.”
Mission accomplished. On set for her shoot is hair wizard Arrogant Tae — real name Dionte Gray — who she describes as “the best.” He’s the top,” she says matter-of-factly. “Tae is also an advocate of — even though we’re doing these wigs and they look like they’re coming out your scalp — you still have hair underneath these wigs when you want to take care of your hair. He’ll tell me all the time, ‘Give the wigs a break for a minute.’ It is important to take care of your hair because your hair is still the base of all these other hairstyles no matter which way you go about it.”
La La is no stranger to compliments. Click any post on her social media account and there are easily thousands of comments from fans praising her beauty or curvy body. “I think beauty is confidence and that comes in all skin tones, hair textures, and personality types. It’s a confidence thing to me.” Sure, La La has a lot of confidence, but she isn’t modest about having insecurities.
“I think as women, we all have insecurities that aren’t necessarily connected to a breakup, divorce, or a man. We’re women and we have insecurities sometimes — whether it’s from social media or the pressures that we put on ourselves. I am human, I have days where I feel insecure, but I just remind myself this is just a moment, this is not indicative of who I am. I remind myself of all the positive things about myself or in my life and that’s where the affirmations or prayer or whatever someone does to make themselves feel good about themselves or worthy about themselves. To say I’m a hundred percent confident all the time and I don’t ever feel that, would not be me being, being honest.”
When she isn’t feeling secure, she leans on her tribe. “We’ve all been through things at different times — some have been through more than others. It’s always good to have a great girl group you can bounce things off of.” She says. “Even with Kiyan being one of the older kids out of everyone; Kiyan’s 15. Kelly will call with, ‘Did Kiyan ever do this? Or how’d you dealt with this when he did this? Or had you ever had this happen?’ It’s great to be the person she can come to for that — being able to talk to her about feelings, thoughts, clothes, hair, makeup, whatever it is. It’s just great to have resources with all my friends that way.”
La La is fully aware she’s raising someone’s future partner, which is why she reiterates to her son Kiyan Anthony, 15, how to make a woman feel special and to find beauty in all shades of Black skin.
“I definitely make sure that [Kiyan] understands there’s not one kind of [beauty], there’s not one definition. I always show him beautiful Black women — all different types from all over the world. From all skin tones and all hair textures. I randomly send him a picture of beautiful women I come across.” She continued, “I also make sure that he knows it’s important to uplift women and give compliments. I’ll come home and I’ll be like, ‘Hey, you didn’t say anything about my outfit today or my hair.’ It’s not about me. It’s because I want him to understand how important that is for women. So when he gets into relationships or when he has female friends, he knows it’s important to compliment and make them feel beautiful. I use myself as the reference because I am the woman that’s in his life right now.”
La La and Kiyan’s bond feels palpable even through photos. She laughs when she thinks about the viral meme of her showing Kiyan’s father Camelo Anthony her phone on Facetime during a game. “I’ve seen it a million times. Kiyan sends it to me sometimes and we do laugh about it cause every time there’s a different picture on that phone,” she joked. “I just laugh about it because I was at the game and Kiyan kept saying ‘Mom show Dad the phone.’ And Mello was in front of me. I was showing him the phone and it just turned into this hysterical meme. But it’s, it’s funny, we laugh about it. We find it funny and now it’s like when people’s album drops or different things happen, you start seeing that same meme pop up.”
Her role as a mother also serves to fuel her passion for social justice work. La La tells me she sees her son Kiyan in the young men at Rikers Island, where she dedicates a significant amount of time to mentoring inmates, securing resources that include lawyer services, and preparing them to reenter society.
“I was introduced to a pastor Tim Johnson through the mayor, Eric Adams, who was doing an initiative at Rikers called Fatherless No More. And it was for young men who — a lot of them in Rikers don’t have fathers — were finding their father in Jesus Christ,” she passionately explained. “Seeing all the amazing positive work that was coming out of Rikers with the younger 18 to 21 population. When I look at these young men, I see my son and it was touching me in a different way.”
When asked if she taps her friend Kim for advice or help, she responds, “of course.”
“I talk about it with [Kim] all the time because we help each other out. It’s not just going in there and mentoring. It’s what happens when they get out: jobs and lawyers. We go to court with the young men in our program and it’s about finding lawyers for them. I’m not a lawyer, making sure I understand how certain things work. Why did the judge say this? Why are they quoting this specific law in this case? What does that mean? So constantly talking back and forth. That’s what’s great about having an amazing circle like you mentioned earlier because there are so many resources you can provide each other, and that’s been really important and really helpful.”
La La could teach a masterclass on balancing it all. Her brand Inala proves she can navigate any space and succeed. All of this is a testament to her authenticity, business savvy, and ability to humanize people in a way that other celebrities lack. “I love people and that’s how I’ve always been.”
With a crockpot full of flavors simmering, what can we expect next from the beauty mogul in the making? We watched her sharpen her acting skills on shows like The Chi, Power, and the Wu-Tang Saga and she will reprise her role as Markaisha Taylor on the upcoming season of Starz’s hit show BMF — the story of the infamous Black Mafia Family.
“BMF is back in January, so I’m excited for that and excited for people to see what the shift is with me being over at BMF. I think it’s gonna be a great season and I’m looking forward to it.”
Read our Inala review, here.
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