The Snapchat original series The Honeybeez of ASU chronicles the plus-size dance group at Alabama State University during the 2019-2020 football season. From the audition process and their game performances, to their drama with the marching band and their big appearance at the Magic City Classic, the show features all of the ups and downs of the five Honeybeez dancers.
The team is one of the top HBCU dance crews in the country, and many attend ASU with the hope of making the squad.
Led by Coach Anna Marshae Williams and Director of Bands Dr. James B. Oliver, The Honeybeez are pushed to their limits in order to perform at their best. Plus, they also have the added stresses of regular college life to deal with too.
For dancers Asia Banks, Andriea Hanna, Jairia, Bianca, and Na'Stacia Boyer, becoming a Honeybee is a dream come true, but making the team is just the tip of the iceberg.
Distractify spoke exclusively with The Honeybeez captain, Asia Banks, about what it's meant for her to be on the team, how fans have responded to the show's message of body positivity, and why she advocated for Na'Stacia to make the team.
Who is Asia Banks from 'The Honeybeez of ASU'?
Asia is a senior Honeybee member and the liaison between Coach Williams, director Dr. Oliver, and the other dancers. The social work major was born in California, but she was raised in Alabama and she began dancing in church at the age of four. She explained that she was inspired by her mom and her aunt because they both were plus-size dancers too.
Because of her proximity to ASU, she grew up hearing about and watching The Honeybeez.
"Being from Birmingham, I most definitely had heard of the Honeybeez. We always host the Magic City Classic, which is a game between Alabama A&M and ASU. We did the parades, and I would go to the games and I would always see The Honeybeez. That’s not initially why I went to ASU, but that played into my decision," she explained to Distractify.
While The Honeybeez is accepting of all body types, not many dance teams are inclusive. Asia said that when she was growing up, she was often placed near the sidelines for performances because of her size.
"When I was in high school, I had to get pushed to the flag lines because I was plus-size," she said.
Once she graduates from ASU, Asia plans on going into social work or becoming a therapist. But, she definitely doesn't want to give up dancing.
"I'm trying to go to school to become a social worker or a therapist to help children get their mental stability back after suffering from trauma," she said. "Outside of that, I do plan to continue dancing. If I see an audition here and there, I would definitely go for it... This is not the end for me."
Asia explained why she advocated for Na'Stacia after her botched audition.
The first episode of The Honeybeez of ASU centered around the audition process for the team.
"The Honeybeez, we are an inclusive dance team, but we only accept the best of the best," Asia said in Episode 1.
While freshmen Hanna and Bianca and sophomore Jairia thrived during their auditions, Na'Stacia flubbed one move due to nerves. Though Dr. Oliver was adamant about her not making the team, Asia was persistent about giving her a spot.
She had seen what Na'Stacia could do before the audition, and she knew that she had what was needed to do well on the team.
"We always have practices before the actual auditions to teach the routines and stuff, and she always had the enthusiasm and the willpower to learn new things outside of her comfort zone. I think when it came to the actual auditions, they got the best of her. I knew that she could do it, and I just thought that it was unfair that she wasn’t given a chance because of one mistake. I was like, 'please, we have to have her!'"
After discussing her point of view, Asia ultimately convinced Dr. Oliver and Coach Williams. Na'Stacia, who had been rattled by getting cut, eventually got a spot on the team.
She discussed haters and what it really means to be on The Honeybeez.
While the ASU student body loves to watch The Honeybeez perform, Asia noted that there is a friendly rivalry between the dancers and the marching band.
"We dance to our full extent and give it 200% all the time," she explained. "Being able to hit the field and know that we're going to get a standing ovation at the end because the Honeybeez are the best, and seeing how many people love us and how many people we inspire x's out the haters."
Asia said that since the show began airing, many people have reached out to her through her DMs or her Snapchat to say how inspirational she is.
"I really feel honored because our main goal is to inspire. That’s the whole purpose of our team — it’s not just to dance, but it’s to do things like that. It was really heartwarming to know that people see us in a different light," she said.
Though, Asia acknowledged, for every nice comment she gets, there's always someone who is spreading negativity online. She explained that her biggest hope for the show is that it will help people understand that the team should be taken seriously.
"I want people to not take us as a joke. I want them to be able to watch the show, to really understand the outside of being a Honeybee. We go through personal issues already, and we get some crazy comments. Where there is love, there is going to be hate somewhere," she said.
"I want viewers to really understand who we are as a team, and that we're not just sitting around and eating our lives away," she continued. "We are athletes. We bench and we get hurt and I want them not to take us as a joke."
Asia teased what viewers can expect for the rest of the season.
With the final episode of the series dropping on May 4, Asia said that there's still plenty more to come.
"You can expect to see our personal backgrounds and the different struggles that we all go through aside from being a Honeybee. We all face personal battles, so it's not just all fun and games," Asia said. "There are some scenes of people bawling their eyes out because of personal situations, as well as the freshman being able to cross over and actually call themselves a Honeybee."
As for whether or not the team will get the chance to perform for the 2020-2021 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, Asia said that the team has gotten tentative word that the football season will go on. Though The Honeybeez dance camp, which was scheduled to begin on June 14, has been pushed back.
"At first, there was speculation that we wouldn't have football season, but they’re going to allow us to have football season," she said. "They'll just take extra precaution with wearing a mask and things like that. Other than that, school will still go on."
Episodes 1 through 7 of The Honeybeez of ASU are available to stream on Snapchat. New episodes drop daily.