“I decided from an early age that the best form of defense was attack, and that taking on the world and living life to the fullest was how I would deal with setbacks and problems.”

So declared the iconic Grace Jones in her 2015 memoir, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs.

From model and muse to musician and maverick, Jones has spent the better part of the past 50 years crashing boundaries. A visual storyteller, she has inspired, astonished and challenged us, never asking for anyone’s permission. She’s also audaciously self-aware.

“I can be a pain,” she wrote of herself. “But most of all, I can be a pleasure.”

To say that the Jamaican-born beauty is known for her edgy style is an understatement. Jones transcends genre, breaks rules and sets trends with every move. Always at the forefront of the culture, we featured the provocative artist on our June 1985 “Dare to Be You!” cover, presenting Jones in all her intoxicating, androgynous glory.

Thirty-five years later, the performer remains an activist in her art, basking in her indefatigable Black woman joy. For this and so many other reasons, she embodies one of our most important missions here at ESSENCE—to give voice to Black women who live boldly in their truth and empower others through their individuality.

Today, as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow, Jones helps us light the way.

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