This story appears in V139, the Supermodel, Superhero issue: now available for purchase!

“Honey? Miss Honey?” Beyoncé’s thumping track “PURE/HONEY” asks, playfully. To answer: yes, Ms.Honey has arrived—Honey Balenciaga, to be exact. And it may sound cliché, but the 22-year-old creative was always destined for stardom. “I didn’t know that I wanted to be a dancer, I knew I wanted to be a star,” Honey exclaims with an undeniable air of confidence, exuding from her petite, but powerful, frame.

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“Dance was just another piece of the puzzle.” Born in Brooklyn, New York, Honey spent her childhood embracing the lively multiculturalism of the city through outlets like cinema, dance, and community. Like the swerving yellow cabs and bolting trains clouding the city, Honey was captivated by movement: the idea that, with a few steps and a pulsing beat, you could channel the frustrations and triumphs of the everyday into physical, art-like brilliance. And though the artist initially dreamt of being an actress, Honey found her calling at the steps of New York’s underground: Ballroom.

During her latter teenage years, and like many members of the LGBTQ+ community, Honey found an escape through Ballroom—a subcultural scene popularized by Black and Latino New Yorkers in the late ‘80s. Though Ballroom has recently gained mainstream recognition thanks to series like Pose and Legendary—which Honey appeared as a contestant in the second season—the scene initially sought out to foster a sense of chosen community for those ostracized by mainstream society. That familial bond is what initially drew Honey to the scene, though her razor-sharp choreography and killer style didn’t hurt, either. “Ballroom offers another support system, an extended family outside of your own,” Honey shares. “I was surrounded by people who knew what I was going through—it’s a beautiful thing.”

Making her start in 2017, Honey quickly captured the attention of onlookers as a part of the House of Labeija. Merging freestyle spins and elements of Vogue, Honey is unrivaled in the Ballroom scene, her moves are dynamic and pack a punch that far transcends her 5-foot-1 stature. Now, nearly five years into her career, Honey has not only made headwaves in Ballroom but also within the fashion industry—appearing in campaigns for brands like Coach and Nike as well as becoming a mainstay on the front rows of New York labels like Luar and Kim Shui.

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After relocating to L.A., Honey is confident about the next stages of her blossoming career. Though the multi-hyphenate will never miss a beat, she is venturing into other creative facets—most notably music production and a forthcoming capsule collection of “Honey Essentials,” a curated selection of Ballroom must-haves. As she sets her sights on more, Honey’s appreciation for her community is unwavering: “I’m Puerto Rican and Honduran, artistry is in my roots,” Honey explains. “From the family gatherings to the loud, Latina music, the dancing, I am heavily impacted by my culture and community—I am always surrounded by art.”

Read the full interview with Honey, below!

V MAGAZINE: First, I wanted to talk about your upbringing in New York. Can you tell us what you were interested in as a child? How did you pass the time? What was it like growing up for you?

HONEY BALENCIAGA: Growing up, I definitely was interested in dance and music. I was very flamboyant as a child, so I was dancing anywhere and to anything I could. But I was also doing the typical family stuff. My family really enjoyed taking us out to different restaurants, trying different foods, meeting different cultures and people—just being really inclusive to those things. And our favorite thing to do was going to the movies. That’s why I really enjoyed theater growing up as well.

V: And regarding the role of dance, fashion and the arts. What role did those mediums play in your upbringing? Did you always know that you wanted to be a dancer and in the artistic field? Or did that passion develop further down the line?

HB: My first loves were theater and dance. So those played a really huge role, because I’ve always wanted to be an actor, but I never found love in theater at the time. And after finding dance, I loved doing what I was doing and I loved training in all different types of styles. But I never felt like I belonged, nothing really clicked. And after finding Vogue and the Ballroom scene, that’s when the medium started to really play a role in my life. And all the things that I learned and all the things that I took with me growing up really started to play a role in who I wanted to become.

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V: And growing up, were there any dancers, musicians, models, or icons that you like really looked up to? If so, how did that shape you as an artist today?

HB: I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a dancer, but I did know that I wanted to be a star. So dance was just another piece of the puzzle. Growing up, I did have a real, strong connection with artists, like Lady Gaga—artists who were flamboyant and their artistic expression was crazy [and] I was inspired by the way they would express themselves. But ideally my artistry was shaped because of my community and the people I grew up around.

My family also really shaped who I am, because I’m Latina. I’m Puerto Rican and Honduran, so artistry is in my roots—from the family gatherings to the loud Latina music, the dancing, I was heavily impacted by my family, my culture, and my community. Especially being predominantly around Latina and African-American people in my community, I was always surrounded by art. I was definitely inspired by the people around me, the community I was with.

V: And talking about that community, I wanted to ask you how you even began in Ballroom. Can you talk us through what those early days were like, when you were first starting out? And what made you want to do Ballroom in the first place?

HB: Honestly my early days weren’t so long ago, I started Voguing in 2017. So before walking my ball a year later after training in this style, I always came back for more because there were many obstacles starting out in the ballroom scene at first, but I pushed through it. I always came back to these balls and I always showed up because Ballroom taught me something that I needed. And I had a new confidence when I came to Ballroom, I walked with grace when I came to ballroom. Ballroom gave me the strength I needed to handle the obstacles of everyday life.

V: What does Ballroom mean to you as someone who is navigating not only your identity, but also the realities of every day? What does Ballroom offer in terms of community and support?

HB: Ballroom definitely offers another support system, it’s definitely an extended family outside of your own. Coming into ballroom, I felt like God was answering my prayers because I was surrounded by a bunch of people that knew what I was going through and knew how to navigate through life because they’re walking in the same footsteps as me.

I was gifted another family that understood me, because you don’t tend to always get that from your actual family. So having that extended family understand where you’re coming from and understand the life you’re walking in is just a beautiful thing—especially because it’s like having a real family. So whenever I’m done learning from them, I take what I can and I’m ready to be on my own—I learned independence from them.

V: And outside of Ballroom, what do you want to accomplish in the future?

HB: After moving to Los Angeles and discovering who I want to become, I have new loves and goals for my career. I’ve been getting into high fashion and being recognized by those brands so quickly is definitely a “pinch me” moment. I’m finally being recognized for what I do, who I am, and what I can bring. Sitting front row and being recognized by these brands is something that I continuously want and is definitely my dream.

V: Definitely! I saw you at the Luar show at New York Fashion Week, you looked amazing!

HB: Thank you so much! That show was amazing. I had to leave literally like five minutes before it ended, but it was so sick. Literally that feeling right there is what I’ve wanted—just being recognized, coming to these events, being photographed, and feeling like a star. Those are the same feelings I had in ballroom, and now that I’m having it in other [realms], it’s amazing.

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V: You’ve been killing it! And I know you were born in New York and then moved to LA. What prompted you to move to LA? How do you like it there compared to New York?

HB: So as much as I love the Ballroom scene, as much as I love my community, I felt like I was stuck in New York. I felt like there was nothing pushing me and I felt like I needed something new, a new environment to grow in because I was outgrowing the box I was in. And so that’s what honestly prompted me to move out here was the new creativity, the new art that I was seeing. I was meeting people that were hungry for the same thing I was hungry for, we are all trying to make it into the fashion world and using what we can to make it. Because that’s the dreams that we want and what we’re trying to make happen. So coming to LA after leaving New York was the best thing I did because ever since I moved to LA, I’ve only been growing from here.

V: And then to finish off, What’s next for you? Do you have anything you can share with us? 

HB: I’m doing a lot, I’m starting my own collection. It’s definitely going to be the Honey essentials, of what I love wearing at a Ball. So imagine what I love wearing at a ball, that’s what I’m dropping.

V: Oh my God, that’s amazing. So it’s going to be a capsule collection?

HB: Yes, it’s definitely going to be a little fashion collection. I want this to be a collection where people aren’t using it as—what is that called when artists put their face on the t-shirt?

V: Merch?

HB: Yes! I don’t want it to be merch. I want to be a forever thing. I want it to be fashion, I want it to be something you use, you know? So that’s one thing that I’m doing. I’m also getting into music. I’m definitely gonna have a couple of tracks out very soon. There’s a lot happening!

Catch Honey Balenciaga in Legendary now streaming on HBO Max.

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