At the age of 15, Plantadit’s life was changed when she saw the Ailvin Ailey Dance Company in Paris. She knew that dance was her passion. So she moved to the states and pursued it, and eventually danced for Alvin Ailey for seven years. “I believe that our lives are built around achieving our dreams. So I live my life that way. I think it’s a mission. It’s a mission to say you have a dream,” says Plantadit.
“Do you have a dream? And I think that you should be working on your dream every day.” Today, she’s a yoga instructor who jumps off of cliffs and takes people on adventures. She couldn’t have dreamt of a better way to be at 50.
More informally known as the creator of #OScarsSoWhite, April Reign says she stepped into her power as an advocate later in life. At 44, the diversity and inclusion consultant realized that being on “lists” of movers and shakers was less important than moving with a purpose.
“The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is probably to be authentic, and to know that whatever room you step into you belong there. That imposter syndrome should not hold you back in any way, shape or form,” she says. Combine that with drinking water and being unapologetically her, and you’ve got her secret sauce for aging gracefully.
For Charleston, reaching this milestone age affords her a newfound freedom. “Fifty just gives me a whole new level of confidence,” she says. “I grew up thinking that I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough, and now that I’m 50 I’m stepping into just being me.”
A human resources vice-president in Atlanta, she’s also stopped trying to fit in when it comes to her personal presentation, becoming less of a trend follower and embracing her own classic style. Taking ownership of her identity has brought a sense of unapologetic joy that has spilled over into all aspects of her life.
Now she spends her time worrying less and having more fun with family and friends. “It’s about just being happy and knowing who you are and loving yourself,” she says.
The youngest of twelve children, Della learned very early on that confidence and happiness would be among the most important things to get her though life. The wife and mother of two learned many lessons from her own mother, whose strength, hard work and joy she credits for shaping her.
It’s how she was able to turn 50 with grace, and confidence. “As a young child you never think about turning 50. [You think] that’s an old age,” she says while laughing. “But it was amazing and a blessing. The secret to doing it gracefully is staying healthy, working out, eating well, and lots and lots of laughter.”
While her position as chief of management operations for the office of the chief financial officer for the District of Columbia Government might be a mouthful, Rhonda’s life is quite simple: Live, love, and let God. Period.
“I am very aware I’ve lived probably the majority of my years, so it’s most important to me moving forward that I live with quality, I live with purpose, I live with authenticity,” she says.
“Let my yes be my yes and my no be my no. And to not only love but to continue to teach myself to receive that love.”With the new lens that 50 lends, she prioritizes what’s most important, guided by the lessons she’s learned in the previous decades.
“I think that 50 gives you a different lens into life about what’s most important; priorities. I have the benefit of lessons learned from my 20s, 30s, and even 40s that I wouldn’t want to repeat.”
Former model, business-owner and employee at NASA, Delcenia “Dell” Hobson is not your average 50-year-old. She’s a petite firecracker who stays young through her two little boys. She appeared in the pages of ESSENCE back in the ‘90s during her modeling days. It was also a time of discovery and learning which led her to becoming who she is today.
“If I could give my younger self some advice, I’d say be kinder to yourself,” she says. “Have more patience with yourself. Be better to your skin. Eat better. I want my next 50 to be as rewarding as my first 50, if not more. But I want to remain healthy, I want to remain sound in mind and just live life to the fullest.
With a beauty routine since the age of 7, Culpepper-Ransaw has been aging gracefully her entire life. It started with Noxema and has evolved over the years to suit her needs in different stages of her journey. The mother, wife, non-profit director and registered nurse is used to taking care of everyone around her.
So at 50, she’s truly learning how to take care of herself first. And in the process, she’s adopting new ways of seeing things.
“What I love most about being 50 is the freedom that I feel like I don’t have to have any pretenses,” she says. “I still have some things that I’m uncomfortable about.”
“I think as women we want to hold our stomachs in and sit upright,” she continues. “But it is what it is. Everything is not [always] going to be in its proper place and stuff is going to sag. But you know, they’ve got foundations and stuff for that.”
You wouldn’t know it from any conversation with her now, but Julia was once shy. A lover of mascara and community events, the Residential Child Youth Care Practitioner didn’t find her confidence until becoming involved in Black Student Union events and sorority life in college.
It was also where she found both her undying love for Black history and the hearing-impaired community, of which she is a part. “Our history is very illustrious, and I appreciate [Black women’s] contributions to the Black community, which includes the black deaf community as well.”
ESSENCE Ageless Beauties 2020:
Chief Content & Creative Officer: MoAna Luu @Moanaluu
Deputy Editor: Allison McGevna (@alliemcgev)
Photographer: JD Barnes (@jdthecombo)
Styling: OpeStyle (@opethestylist)
Manicure: Shamina J. Di Mauro (@shaminaj.di)