Mother Stasha Sanchez

Stasha Sanchez takes her role as mother to more than 50 kids and as a performer seriously

Tammye Nash | Managing Editor
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” I have kids all across the map. I am their mother figure,” titleholder and long-time performer Stasha Sanchez says.

And “mother figure” is a role she takes very seriously.

“A lot of these kids, they don’t have any parents they can talk to. So that’s an important role that we take on for them,” Sanchez said.

And no topic is off limits; if it is something that affects her children’s lives, it’s something she wants to be able to talk to them about. And her status and longevity in the community gives Sanchez a way to reach out to the younger generation.

“When you are onstage, performing at clubs and Pride events and other venues, people see that; they gravitate to it,” she said. “They come to see you as a mother figure and they feel they can talk to you.

“We lose younger generations by not actually speaking to them about important topics,” Sanchez continued. “Sure, they want to see singers and the rappers and the video girls. So if we use that — the music industry, the entertainment industry, the Ballroom scene — then we can reach them.”

But, she stressed, you can’t condescend to the younger people, not if you want them to listen.

“You want to help these kids. You want to teach them,” Sanchez said. “But you have to always remember that they are adults, and you have to treat them with respect. That’s the only way they are going to listen.

And that’s important to me, that I treat my children with respect, so that they respect me.”

Sanchez said that her role as mother includes making sure her children “stay on top of things” like health issues, financial issues, education and more.

“I want my children to always think about taking care of themselves, about not losing sight of themselves in this lifestyle. I want them to know yes, you can be free and have fun. But you have to be responsible too,” she said. “And there’s more than just one thing to pay attention to.

“People feel the way we live, the way we are — well, some people treat us wrong for it,” she said. “We are losing trans women to violence all the time. But suicide is happening more and more in the younger generation. All of it — social media bullying, violence, suicide — I think that the more of us that come together, the more chance we have to find a real solution. And I feel like I need to use my voice. People listen to me, and I need to use my voice and take advantage of this space I am in to make a difference.”

These days, especially in the lead-up to midterm elections that have the potential for dramatic impact of the future direction of the country, Sanchez said she also talks to her children about the importance of taking part in the process of government.

“I tell them, if you want things to be better in your life, then you have to get up and go vote. I say if you want things to change, then your voices have to be heard,” she declared. “We have to push that. We have to make sure they understand. I tell them, we’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go. So vote!”

Sanchez said she was born and raised in Jacksonville, Fla., and started her career on stage there. She moved to Orlanda for about three-and-a-half years before settling in Atlanta.

“I’ve been in Atlanta ever since,” she said. “This is home. I have been able to show myself and my talent here, and it’s been a real blessing for me.

“I’ve always known I wanted to be a star,” Sanchez continued. “My parents always told me, ‘Whatever you do, put your best foot forward.’ And I listened to them; whatever I do, I strive to do my very best. Entertaining is definitely it for me.”

Sanchez has been performing for more than 20 years, and she has been involved in the Ballroom community and pageantry for most if not all that time. Performing, she said, “has taken me all over the world.”

In 2008, she went to California to film the video for Janet Jackson’s “Rock With U.” Janet, she said, “came to the Stars of the Century Show, which I am still part of. It’s at the Heretic night club in Atlanta. Niesha Dupress is the overseer, and I am the show director now.”

She was also invited to attend the Life Ball in Vienna, one of the biggest HIV/AIDS benefits in the world. “That came from me performing the balls,” Sanchez said. “I worked with Fergie there. It was amazing to be there.”

Sanchez has a resume loaded with titles, too, dating back to 1997 when she was Miss Duval.

“Yes, I’ve won a few of them,” Sanchez said of her titles. But some of the ones most dear to her are Miss Black Universe, Miss Black America, Miss Sweetheart International, Miss Gay UsofA and, most recently, Miss Continental.

One reason the titles are important, Sanchez said, is that they give her a platform from which to address the many issues that are important to her. The titles help her raise money for nonprofit organizations, and they get her invitations to conferences where she can “sit on panels and tell my story.”

The chance to participate in such a conference is one of the main reasons Sanchez is in Dallas this week. She will be speaking at the seventh annual Southern Regional Ball/House and Pageant Communities

Conference on Health Disparities and Leadership, which began Thursday, Sept. 27, and concludes today (Friday, Sept. 28). The conference is presented by Abounding Prosperity Inc., a nonprofit that provides services addressing “health, social and economic disparities among black men with a particular emphasis on gay, bisexual and male to female transgender individuals.”

“We’ll be discussing a variety of topics, including HIV and AIDS — things that I talk to my children, to other young people about,” Sanchez said. “The conference gets people’s attention. It gets them to come and learn about these topics, and about our history — about the role trans women have played in all the progress we’ve made. Without transgender women fighting at Stonewall, we wouldn’t be where we are now.”

But while the daylight hours are dedicated to the conference, the night is when the partying begins. (See events listings in this issue for details on all the Black Pride and Lesbian Pride events taking place this weekend.)

Sanchez will be performing Saturday at the Black Pride Weekend Pool Party, taking place from 4-10 p.m. at the Cedar Canyon Dude Ranch, 4523 N. Houston School Road in Lancaster. The event will also feature K. Michelle and Jazzmine Sullivan.

But even when she is performing, Sanchez said, she still wants to be the role model, the mother figure so many of the young men and women around her are looking for.

“I have more than 50 something children,” Sanchez said. “I have to take on their energy, their downfalls, the cheering when they do great. It can take a toll on you, sure. But as I long as I stay prayed up, I’m good.

“The energy you give off, is the energy they take on, so I have to be aware of that,” she added. “I like to have fun with my kids, but I also make sure they take care of business. Being a leader, you have to know how and when to address a situation. It’s hard sometimes, but I choose faith through anything and everything I do. By choosing faith, I set my own atmosphere. Things can feel shaky sometimes, but when you choose faith, when you stay prayed up, it all works out.”