Octavia St. Laurent
Octavia St. Laurent was a notable figure in the Harlem ballroom community. She was a trans woman of color who often competed in the category of "Face," and she used her prominence in the community to become an AIDS educator.
Octavia's life experiences informed her advocacy for the community
Octavia knew the adversities faced in ball culture. In How Do I Look, she spoke about her history with drug use, sex work, and the fight against AIDS. She was close friends with Willi Ninja, another star in How Do I Look.
Starring in How Do I Look
Octavia was a strong supporter of How Do I Look -- right from the beginning. She served as an advisor to the director and producer Wolfgang Busch. Octavia gave Wolfgang full access into her personal life and lifestyle, and she introduced him to her family and friends. Octavia attended How Do I Look meetings at the LGBT Community Center to talk about what the Ballroom community wanted How Do I Look to be. They wanted it to be a balance to Paris is Burning, which many regarded as exploitative, and they wanted a respectful inclusion of the suffering and sacrifices -- and the many losses to the AIDS epidemic.
Octavia's legacy became equal parts of an icon in the trans community and an influencer in the Ballroom community.
Octavia’s quote about How Do I Look : “Its too real for the general audience.”
Octavia was diagnosed with HIV but passed away from cancer complications on May 17, 2009.
More about How Do I Look
Octavia St. Laurent starred in How Do I Look, an independent vogue (dance) documentary released in 2006 that gives us a cinematic look at some of the legends, icons, and members of ballroom community that influenced pop culture around the world.
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