Pretty BIG Movement CEO/Founder Akira Armstrong, is a Bronx native with a big heart and an even bigger vision. Akira began her intensive dance, drama, and vocal training at the age of eight, while attending Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center, in the Bronx, where she was hand-picked to participate in a high-level merit program. Akira is also a former student of the Alvin Ailey School and has always possessed many talents, allowing her to perform all over New York City. In breaking down so many stereotypical narratives on how society views plus size dancers, Akira has been successful in creating a platform for other plus size dancers to be seen and heard. “We’re allowed to TAKE UP SPACE,” as Akira would say.
Following her graduation from professional performing arts high school, Akira studied at Syracuse University, where she received her B. A. in Public Relations/Education. She has performed with the Jubilation Dance Company, the Bernice Johnson Dance Company, and the Ladies of Hip Hop at Cosmo Theater in Vienna, Austria. Dance has also led her to perform on the stage of the world famous, Apollo Theater. In 2007, Akira made her debut as a principal dancer in two of Beyonce's music videos: “Greenlight" and "Get Me Bodied". This debut was just one of many more professional performances that Akira would have the opportunity to shine in. Due to the bias faced by plus-size dancers in the dance and entertainment industry, Akira formed Pretty BIG Movement in the spring of 2008, a dance company prioritizing the talents and gifts of plus-sized dancers and artists. Today, Pretty BIG Movement is the 1st Plus Size Dance Company. Aside from being an amazing dancer, Miss Armstrong's talents encompass more than just dance. In 2011, Akira worked with Hip Hop legends "Salt-n-Pepa” as their personal makeup artist and has traveled alongside them to countries such as Dubai and Australia. Initially, after realizing a need in the community, Akira began conducting workshops that were primarily based on appearance enhancement.
Akira is a fighter for her career, in which she continues to press forward in spite of the many different challenges that she is faced with. Through every challenge, Akira seems to always have a victorious ending. Akira is determined to succeed and propel her brand to levels that will change men, women, and children’s lives globally. In being an inspirational figure for so many women and young girls, Miss Armstrong still experiences her own personal obstacles that the world never gets to witness. These obstacles have varied from betrayal from failed business and personal relationships to Akira sometimes standing in her own way. Yet and still, she c0ntinues to fight, for she knows that the blessings that have brought her joy, outshine the moments that have caused her pain. From having the opportunity to work with artists such as being a featured dancer is 2 of Beyoncé, to working with Janet Jackson and more recently performing with Lizzo at the 2019 VMAS, Akira is determined to succeed and propel her brand to levels that will change men, women, and children’s lives globally.
In 2015, Pretty BIG Movement was featured in a video entitled “Personally”. This video was a homage to all of the black men and women who were victims of police brutality and a tribute to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. In February 2017, The Scene interviewed Akira and the members of Pretty BIG Movement which went viral, prompting over 21.5 million viewers to tune in. Viewers were introduced to Akira and the members of Pretty BIG Movement, while also learning about the mission of the company and Akira's desire to enhance one’s outlook on their personal appearance.
More recently, Miss Armstrong has become a published model, gracing the cover of LuxeKurves Magazine September 2020 Fashion Issue. Akira has also been featured in VOGUE’sSeptember 2020 latest, 'I LOVE NEW YORK' commercial campaign, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg as well as being highlighted in October 2020 VOUGE Magazine issue. With the intent to create PBM chapters nation-wide, there is still so much to be done. Many of the supporters of this beautiful company and woman, have yet to understand her strength and need to persevere. With a no nonsense, humble, & grateful attitude, Akira is determined to make Pretty BIG Movement global!
**Akira and Pretty BIG Movement appearances, performances and ad campaigns include:**
Principal dancer – “Black Girls Rock” – Jennifer Hudson (2013) Principal dancer – “Black Girls Rock” – Jazmine Sullivan (2016) America’s Got Talent (2016) Harry Connick Jr. (February 2017) Lifetime Show "Dance Moms" (February 2017) Lane Bryant #thisbody campaign (February 2017) Performance for the City of Miramar in Fort Lauderdale (March 2017) Nationwide Children’s Hospital Charity Event (March 2017) Panelist & Judge at RuPaul DragCon – LA Convention Center (April 2017) Alvin Ailey Theater – Ladies of Hip Hop Festival
Panels: High Heels; High Standards – Keynote Speaker along with Yandy Harris-Smith “Love & Hip Hop" Ms. Katrina Walker (Self-Made Millionaire) and Kira J – Spoken Word Artist – (Viral Video) Akira is the artistic instructor for the following:
Leaps and Bounds Dance School – Brooklyn, NY
Harlem School of the Arts – New York, NY
Alvin Ailey’s Arts and Education Program – New York, NY (for the past 8 years)