Posts in "Feature"

Meet Hannah + Charlie Lucas!

(Photo credit: Vania Stoyanova)

Keeping up with grades, navigating your way through a harsh social scene, parents constantly applying pressure for perfection…when does it ever stop? As a student, the pressures of life can quickly build-up and invite a “you against the world” mentality.

We have all been there–typed out a text message asking for emotional or physical support, only to delete it before sending. Teen entrepreneurs Hannah and Charlie Lucas are redefining the power of mental health while creating a fresh platform with their new app notOK™. Recently winning the NAMI Young Leader Award (National Alliance in Mental Illness), the fearless siblings are snatching away any shame that’s accompanied with asking for help. 

(Photo credit: Vania Stoyanova)

Just last year Hannah was fainting so much that she missed 70% of the school year due to a rare disease called POTS. While she was there she constantly got bullied and even threatened (by a fellow student) that she would be taken advantage of the next time she passed out in school. Being scared was a permanent state of mind. After becoming severely depressed and even attempting suicide, Hannah’s little brother Charlie stepped in to help her change things. The two searched for apps that helped teens in their time of distress. They didn’t find any so they created their own- the notOK app.

In just a few months after launch, these inspirational tech siblings have been gaining massive attention with over 49k downloads in just 3 months. They are working with Thrive NYC to implement a program in NYC schools next year and even scored their first investor.

To use notOK™, simply open the app, tap the red button and a text message will be sent to up to 5 pre-selected contacts that reads: “Hey, I’m not OK. Please call me, text me, or come find me,” along with a link to your current GPS location. Whether you’re a teen or an adult suffering from loneliness, anxiety, depression, stress, suicidal thoughts, or anything else, immediate help is only the tap of a button away.You no longer have to suffer alone. Help is closer than you think!

Let’s get to know Hannah + Charlie a little better…

(Photo credit: Vania Stoyanova)

The notOK app is beyond brilliant and is blazing the way for teens to tap into mental health. Why was it important to create a platform that not only allowed both of you to overcome personal struggles but other teens as well?
It’s important to create a platform that allows people to have open discussions about the difficult topics. In having these difficult conversations, it suddenly makes it OK to be notOK. And it gives people the opportunity to answer some of the less talked about questions.

Hannah, due to having POTS caused you to miss 70% of the school year which led to bullying. How were you able to shift your energy from a negative situation into a positive solution?
To be honest, I don’t think I would’ve been able to shift my perspective if it weren’t for the help of a therapist. When I first started going to therapy, I’m not going to lie, I was obnoxiously sarcastic. I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. When I started working on notOK I finally saw hope again. At that point I started to take my therapist seriously because something clicked inside and I realized that she was there to help me not harm me.

Charlie, seeing your older sister having to overcome obstacles could have caused you to feel a bit helpless. What motivated you to use your strengths + talents to be there for her?
Well helplessness was a key factor in getting me to this breaking point, where I couldn’t do anything anymore so when Hannah gave me her idea I leaped at the chance to help her.

Unfortunately, a lot of time teen mental health or stress isn’t taken as serious as it should be. It is labeled as “growing pains” or even being “dramatic”. How does the notOK app make it clear of the pressures teens deal with on a daily basis?
notOK is designed to destigmatize mental health. In doing so, all alerts should be received as urgent. The trusted contacts should keep in mind that even though it seems small, to the user, it could be life altering. Being notOK means something different for each individual person.

Mental health can be looked as a “weakness” when it comes to teens of color, how can we shift that stereotype and push diversity in this area?
In order to shift that stereotype, you have to start thinking of mental health as physical health. You have yearly check-ups for your physical but just ignore your mental health. When you really think about it mental health is just the chemicals in your body that make you feel or think a certain way. Thinking about it this way often helps people be more understanding towards those struggling with their mental health.

Actress Jenifer Lewis and Hannah Lucas

Being young, juggling responsibilities while walking towards your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?
Personally, I love to exercise. Whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed I just hop on my bike and ride around for a while. This is a great way to release all of the tension in my body and also keep in shape.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
Empowerment to me means having a hope for the future and having the power to achieve that future.
Empowerment means the hope of rights and equality for everyone, Empowerment means the hope of peace to me, Empowerment is the feeling of when the nation gets together to stop the injustices that happen within it.

Photo credit: Vania Stoyanova

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?

Celeb Crush:
Hannah: Trevor Jackson without a question!!!

Artist:
Charlie:Brendan Urie, Ben Platt, Pitbull, and Last but definitely not least,*drumroll* BEYONCE.
Hannah: My top 3 are Queen Bey (of course), Drake (obviously), and Kendrick Lamar (without a question)

Food: Cheese Curds, Mozzarella Cheese Sticks, Creme’ Brulee, Cheese, All And Every Type

Movie:
Charlie: Greatest Showman
Hannah: Black Panther hands down!!!

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Meet Najaah Malonne!

Leaping into confidence, turning into boldness + making a point to express herself describes the path of dancer and performer, Najaah Malonne! Budding from her introverted personality, she discovered her creative space to showcase her individuality on stage for the world to see.

Najaah started dancing at the tender age of  4 and  joined Dance Academy West’s competition team at only 9 years old.  By 10, she began performing solos to hone both her technique and stage presence.  She quickly became an award winning dancer, collecting top honors, special judges awards and scholarships.  In efforts to become an even better dancer, Najaah began attending summer intensives.  She has studied as a Jr Ballet Trainee at The Joffrey School of Ballet, Joffrey West Summer Jazz Intensive in Los Angeles, Debbie Allen Dance Academy Intensive in Atlanta and Alvin Ailey Summer Dance Intensive in New York.

She also expanded her work with one of her solo choreographers, Mitchell Kelly from Season 8 of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance”.  Mitchell provided aggressive  development and performance opportunities through his youth foundation, MK Life Parts.  He also provided her with a scholarship to her very first dance convention.  ASH (Artist Simply Human) which proved to be a life changing experience for her. After that experience, Najaah knew she wanted to become a professional dancer and decided to shift her focus from competing, to developing her technique to prepare her for the life and rigors of the professional dance world.  

Although dance is her passion, she has begun to explore other facets of the performing arts including singing + acting.   As an adult, she dreams of becoming a professional on the small and big screen and the Broadway stage, and study at institutions such as Julliard or Fordham Universities!

Let’s get to know Najaah a little better…

Dance is a form of expression that allows you to be free in movement, what first motivated you to step into the world of dance?
I always sang and tried to dance before I could even walk and talk. My parents put me in dance class because I was shy and introverted. They wanted me to have the chance to blossom and socialize with other kids before I began school. I immediately liked dance class. I listened to my teachers. Enjoyed being around other kids. But…it wasn’t until the performance and I was on stage did I fall in love with dance. Although I was shy, I loved to perform!

You’ve participated in programs at influential companies such as The Joffrey School of Ballet, Debbie Allen Dance Academy and Alvin Ailey! How has each experience aid to shape your own style when it comes to dance?

Each intensive is different because they have a different focus, emphasis or energy. Also, their locations and their legacies impact the styles of training and overall feel of each intensive.

-The Joffrey Ballet summer intensive was my very first intensive for me! Joffrey is a ballet company. So ballet is the foundation and there were a lot of serious ballerinas there when you attended as a junior ballet trainee. At their jazz intensive, they had top talent and the vibe on the West Coast is different. There legacy yields lots of resources so they bring in great instructors to their intensives. They give away lots of scholarships and reach and attract lots of dancers.

-Debbie Allen is a living legend and everyone loves her and her energy! She so highly regarded by her team and that energy is contagious. At the Debbie Allen Dance Academy Summer Intensive, they teach with so much passion. It’s special to have the founder of the intensive still alive and actually teaching classes and choreography to students. She’s accomplished so much and is still working and creating today and expanded into directing too. She’s a living breathing example of what you can accomplish as a dancer. When I was there they placed me in the advanced level. I was the youngest and everyone was much older then me. It was that that inspired me to push myself in order to keep up and grow!
But overall the intensive was more commercial compared to Joffrey.

Alvin Ailey is like THE GOLD STANDARD! The Ailey School has the largest and most beautiful dance facility in New York. Which is saying a lot because NYC is the performing arts capital of the world.
You can’t help to feel an overwhelming amount of pride while in the building. Mr Ailey was a dancer and he built an institution that is probably bigger than he ever dreamed! Everyone wants to train there. The training is so quality!

The focus was on ballet & modern. But like other intensives, they offer all disciplines too. It was cool seeing Misty Copeland walking through The Ailey School to take ballet with The Ailey Company! The Company members would walk pass you and it’s like, WOW! They are examples of what discipline and dedication can lead up too. They are touring the world, touching people with dance and are a part of history and the legacy of Alvin Ailey. Not to mention NYC that is a force of culture and creativity all by itself. Being in New York is an experience that is life changing if you take in all of the arts, culture, food, people and energy! Which I tried to do all 3 summers I attended.
I have done other intensives too. Alonzo Kings Ballet in San Francisco and Anthony Burrells Breaking Barriers too.

Performing Arts gives an outlet to be creative + present in the moment! How has performing arts helped in building your confidence + discovering your strengths?
The preforming arts is where my heart is at. Dancing has allowed me to express myself without having to say anything and has given me confidence I never knew I had. It gave me the confidence to take part in others genres of the performing arts like drama, chorus, and the visual arts. Dance has allowed me to perform in front of huge audiences and have the strength to go to so many different auditions! The arts have shown me how strong I am and how driven I am as a person as well as an artist. Just by being in
the performing arts I have seen how much of an inspiration I can be to others which has made me want to work even harder in my profession.

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?
You have to stay true to who you are and know that you are living your life. You must follow your heart and do what you want. Of course you will face obstacles but those obstacles are what will make you stronger.

When you see others who may be better or stronger than you, see them as inspiration to grow, to get better. In order for them to be where they are now, they had to start somewhere. We all have different paths to take so never, compare yourself to others. Everyone has a purpose and your job is to not be afraid to fulfill that purpose! Because you must to take the first step…

Being young, juggling responsibilities while walking towards your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?
It’s very important to get your thoughts together when you have a lot to balance in your life. My way of regrouping is simply going upstairs to my room. I plop on my bed and take out my phone to listen to music. The songs I play depends on the mood I am feeling on that particular day. I can get my mind off of situations when I have my earphones on. When I do this I am able to tune out the world and focus on what’s important.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
The first thing that comes to my mind is community, coming up and working together with others to fulfill the purpose to inspire and uplift one another. When doing this you are able to empower others to create greatness. It makes a system where people are able to support each other. This sense of unity and teamwork gives others the strength to conquer anything! This can also apply to the world dance. You are never by yourself as a dancer. You are always connecting and learning from different choreographers. There is music. And there is always an audience. Dance is a collective and everything feeds off each other.

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?
Celebrity crush : Michael B Jordan
Artist : Michael Jackson
Favorite food: popcorn shrimp
Favorite movie : shark tales

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Meet Felicia Fitzpatrick!

When you combine a savvy social media eye, a love of story-telling + an addictive enthusiasm towards all things theatre, what do you get? The unstoppable Felicia Fitzpatrick! This millennial girl on-the-go has built a digital footprint showcasing her writing skills as well as her true appreciation for the performing arts. Currently, Felicia holds the fast-paced position of Social Media Manager of Playbill in NYC + creator of Call and Response podcast where she celebrates black performers in the arts.

Felicia graduated with a BA Theatre and a concentration in African American Performance from the University of Texas at Austin. She held a social media internship with DoSomething.org  as well as becoming the Editor-in-Chief of  Her Campus Texas!

Being a contributor to BuzzFeed and Femsplain, Felicia was able to continue to expand her writing and share her voice through different outlets. She has also consulted on freelance social media projects for Wet Seal Inc.,  University of Texas’ African and African Diaspora Studies Department, and the Maryland Leadership Workshop.

Let’s get to know Felicia a little better!

Photo credit: Lauren Khalfayan

Being the Social Media Manager of Playbill is an amazing position! How has your theatre background allowed you to connect with their thriving online community?

Growing up on the west coast with a single mom, trips to New York City (and seeing a Broadway show) were not an option. I was involved in the performing arts community in my town, but I secretly longed to be a part of the New York City scene. I would sit on my couch after my mom had gone to sleep and watch every YouTube video about Beauty and the Beast. I remember one video highlighted their opening night and I thought “WOW. How cool would it be to go to one of those?” Now, being Playbill’s social media manager, I cover every Broadway opening night and get to make Broadway accessible to those same kids who live outside of NYC and are longing to be a part of our community. That’s what I’m always thinking about when I’m making content for our online community. I remember what it was like to not only be pursuing dance and musical theatre myself, but what it was like to be a fan and want to have a community to talk to about it.

Being able to create social marketing strategies to covering star-studded events like The Tony Awards is a thrilling day! How do you create balance + win at time management throughout your daily sched?

Having a job in social media means you MUST be able to multitask. You have to quickly shift from analyzing data for your weekly social media report to tweeting breaking news to answering emails about an upcoming Snapchat takeover to animating an Instagram Story back to the social media report and then to running to a Broadway theatre to produce Facebook live-stream. It’s a rush! Being a social media team of one, I’ve learned that I HAVE to have a to-do list to keep my mind organized, otherwise it’s too easy to let things slip through the cracks. And in any job, I think you have to learn to prioritize. Some days you just can’t get it all done, so you have to ask yourself “What are my priorities today? What do I need to tackle right now because it supports my overall goals and strategies?”

Photo credit: Jemal Countess

Transitioning from a senior in college to landing a dream job can sometimes be a rocky journey, what advice would you give to current college students + graduating seniors to making it happen?

My advice is to trust the process. Every twist and turn your journey takes is for a reason. There’s a quote that says “God has three answers to prayers: ‘yes,’ ‘not yet,’ and ‘I have something better in mind.’” You may be set on a certain path, but sometimes the universe takes you on a detour to where you’re suppose to be, and eventually you’ll realize that’s where you want to be. For example, I always wanted to be a dancer in Alvin Ailey or a Broadway musical, and when I auditioned for NYU’s dance program, I got cut the first round. Then I applied to be a social media intern at Seventeen magazine, and I didn’t get it. I went to the University of Texas and eventually found my way back to NYC and now I get to combine my love performing arts and social media. I had to cultivate these different experiences that would lead me to this place.

You have your own podcast called Call And Response that explores + opens up the discussion of blackness in the world of performing arts. Why was it important for you to create an empowering platform to celebrate the power and beauty of black performers + artists?

There were three catalysts that inspired me to start the call and response podcast:

One, stems from the lack of racial diversity in the industry. Yes, Broadway is a very white industry to begin with, but I learned during my first year at Playbill that there are so many black artists in the industry who aren’t getting the visibility they deserve. I got dinner with Christian Dante White (currently in Hello, Dolly!) and we agreed that if you’re frustrated about a situation or circumstance, you can’t just complain, you have to proactively find a solution.

Two, soon after the 2016 Presidential election, I was having a conversation with a longtime friend about activism in the workplace. He asked how I was pushing for diversity and representation in the Broadway industry. I mentioned how I use Playbill’s platforms to highlight artists of color—whether it was simply choosing a photo of an artist of color for an Instagram post or asking an artist of color to host a Snapchat takeover. After that conversation I realized I wanted to do more. Being Playbill’s social media manager has afforded me a lot of resources and I wanted to distribute my access even more. How many young people would love—and need—to hear candid conversation and honest stories from black artists?

Three, this is the most selfish reason: I simply missed talking about black arts and humanities. I was a theatre and dance major with a concentration in African American performance, and I knew this would be an opportunity to flex my mind and revisit the theories and ideas I loved discussing in college.

It was after an Alvin Ailey performance that I knew I had to share the stories of black artists. I initially thought it could be a blog, but since the goal was to amplify their stories, why not literally give them a mic to amplify their voices?

Photo credit: Marc J. Franklin

You’ve written and shared your stories on numerous platforms! How can storytelling impact the world? How can social media be a tool to aid in storytelling?

Storytelling can make people feel less alone—you can say “Hey, I’ve gone through this experience, too, and it’s valid.” It can also provide a new perspective that gives people a chance to look outside their own bubble. Social media goes hand-in-hand with storytelling because it is a space with borderless connections—you can find people similar to you as well as be exposed to new ideas.

Being young, juggling responsibilities while walking towards your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?

Some people think it’s cheesy, but I love to journal. I’ve been writing in a journal since fifth grade and still have all of them. It helps me understand and process what I’m thinking/feeling/experiencing. Having all of my journals, I can easily flip back and reflect on more challenging moments to remind me if I got through that time, I can charge forward now. It’s a clear reminder to trust the process.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
Being empowered means knowing your own self-worth. That you can be unapologetically yourself. That you have to tools to achieve your goals. That you are strong enough can push through any challenge. That you have a seat at the table and can speak your truth.

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?

Ah! I don’t know if I can choose just one celeb crush! How about Sterling K. Brown, Janelle Monae, and Milo Ventimiglia as my top three? They’re all so driven, so talented, and attractive as hell!

Choosing my favorite musical artist is hard because I often just listen to musical cast albums… a few I’d recommend are In The Heights, Ragtime, The Last Five Years, and Spring Awakening. If not musicals, some of my go-to artists are Norah Jones, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, Michael Bublé, and Nina Simone.

This one is easy…my favorite food is pasta! Any kind! I could eat it everyday!

Surprise, surprise, it’s also hard for me to choose my favorite movie! It’s constantly evolving…but some that I could watch over and over? The Devil Wears Prada, The Parent Trap, and The Breakfast Club.

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Spotlight x Karen McCormick!

What happens when your passion for music + beautiful vocals perfectly collide? An undeniable artist full of creativity, talent + energy sprouts up on the scene named Karen McCormick! Her captivating voice + inviting guitar creates musical magic for her audience + listeners to enjoy while being inspired.

Homegrown country pop artist Karen McCormick is a Washington based singer and songwriter. Raised on the contemporary country sounds of Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill and more, Karen began honing her guitar and songwriting skills at the young age of 13. After posting videos of her performances to YouTube, Karen caught the attention of many new fans, including NBC The Voice’s Terry McDermott who invited her be the opening act at his show. She has amassed over 830,000 views worldwide and continues to interact with her growing fan base who is eager to hear the release of her highly anticipated debut single “Just A Song“ on March 16, and her debut EP due later this year.

Let’s get to know Karen a little better…

You first picked up a guitar and began your musical journey at the young age of 13! Why was it important for you to express yourself through song + music?
Up until I turned 13, we had moved around quite a bit. Music had been something that remained constant for me. I had joined the church choir, then joined the school choir, and it was evident that I loved singing. But when I started to play guitar and write my own songs, I found it was the easiest way for me to express myself and I didn’t want to stop!

You have created an amazing following with over 800,000 views on YouTube! How has social media played a role in building a community + sharing your gifts? And why is it important to be proactive in going for your dreams by creating your opportunities + not just waiting?
Social media is an amazing tool and platform — especially for independent artists like myself. Artists have the ability to reach international audiences without a record label! That’s incredible. I would feel like I was doing myself and potential listeners a disservice if I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that social media platforms can provide. More importantly, we only have one life and nothing is guaranteed — why not go all out for your dreams?

At the age of 22, you already have your debut single, “Just a Song” releasing on March 16th! Is it tough to tap into your emotions and pour your thoughts + vulnerabilities in your music?
I’ve actually found that music is the easiest place for me to be vulnerable and share my emotions. For me, if I write a song about a situation, then perform that song for an audience, every time it gets easier and easier — because I’ve processed the event and I’ve moved on. At that point, the song is for the audience. It’s for them to listen to and connect with and hopefully relate to.

You’ve opened for Terry McDermott of NBC’s The Voice + performed for countless festivals + concerts​, how does performing live inspire you in the music you write to connect with your listeners?
What I love about music is that it can bring together a group of people with completely different upbringing, ages, or beliefs. Music has no boundaries, no rules. When it comes to performing, if I’ve connected with just one person in the audience, I feel I’ve done my job. And I’m proud. As a songwriter, singer, entertainer, I feel my job is to help listeners forget about what is going on in their everyday lives and just have a good time during those two hours of my set.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
For me, empowerment is taking control of your life. I’ve wanted to sing since I was 16 years old, but along the way I’ve lacked confidence in myself and my ability to go after those aspirations. Now I’m 22, and I feel like I can accomplish my goals as long as I believe in myself and work hard. It’s realizing that you have the ability to create your own path and the only thing that can stop you, is you holding yourself back. So don’t! 😉

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?
It’s scary! I completely understand and 100% relate to being apprehensive to following your dreams. But think about it this way — what’s stopping you? In my case, it’s always been me holding myself back. No one else. You have the ability to make your dreams and passions come true, all you have to do, is do it. This year, I created a vision board for myself so I could have a visual representation of my goals and see them every day. It’s helped me so much! I wake up, see my goals, and ask myself, “What am I going to do today that will help me get one step closer to accomplishing these goals?”

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?
Celeb Crush: Nick Jonas! Ugh, I’ve been waiting for him to realize I exist since I was like, 13!
Artist: Carrie Underwood. She has mastered the balance of having an incredible career and a family. I love that about her.
Food: Pizza, pizza, and still pizza. Though I’m boring…my favorite flavor is cheese!
Movie: I don’t have a favorite movie, because I have several favorites! But one that I can never get tired of is 10 Things I Hate About You!

Make sure to download her DEBUT single “Just A Song” on iTunes on March 16th!

 

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Meet Alysia Johnson!

INSPIRE. MOVE. MOTIVATE! Dance is an infectious form of creativity that allows you to free your mind, body + spirit. Dancer Alysia Johnson bottles up inspiration from the world around her as she showcases her gift  of dance +  reflects the story of her generation. She is carving out her voice through her impactful moves + leaving a trail of inspiration and open doors behind her.

Alysia Johnson is a dancer, writer, choreographer, arts education advocate and a soon to be graduate from The Juilliard School in the Spring of 2018. Hailing from Dallas, Texas is where she attended Dallas Black Dance Theater and Booker T. Washington HSPVA before moving to New York. She has had the pleasure of performing works by Robert Battle, Dwight Rhoden, Kyle Abraham, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano and many other admirable choreographers. Her choreography was recognized by the National Foundation of the Arts, and she holds a passion for arts education near to her heart.

In June of 2015, Alysia founded Emerging Dancers of Dallas, a program catering to young artists in the DFW area and in her companies third year they launched their very first summer intensive August 2017.

Let’s get to know Alysia a little better!

Photo by Mikaela Kelly

Dance is powerful beyond belief + can enrich your life in numerous ways! What first attracted you to the world of dance? When did you know you wanted to pursue your passion?
I agree 100%! Dance is everywhere so it was almost impossible for me to not be attracted to it. It’s so hard for me to pinpoint when I first fell in love with dance because I’ve done it everyday for the past 8 years intensely and I am so lucky to get to do what I love. I remember one moment when I was certain that I wanted do perform and dance everyday. There was a long period of time where I was injured and doctors were telling me I shouldn’t dance and looking back I didn’t even give that kind of rhetoric a second chance. I remember just searching to find doctors who believed in me and the art form just as much as I did because I knew that I HAD to be a dancer.

Soon to be a graduate from The Juilliard School this upcoming spring, what was your proudest moment? Was the transition to NYC a difficult jump to make while perfecting your craft?
I’ve recently been working very hard on developing a consistent and confident voice and speaking up about things I am passionate about is something I am very proud of. My proudest moment to date was probably when the Dean asked me and a few other students to join the Student Committee search for the next president of the school. I hadn’t been much of a talker but I had shown my interest in arts education and the school took me seriously.

The transition was actually super easy, I adapt and accept change pretty well and I was fortunate to have my high school best friends not too far away from in the city to help with any hardships.

You founded Emerging Dancers of Dallas, a program catering to young artists in the DFW area. Why was it important to create a space + opportunity for young artists to flourish in the Dallas area?
Creating EDD is one of my proudest accomplishments. I am a direct product of the Dallas Arts community and I wouldn’t be where I am without their constant support. Leaving home and moving to NYC taught me a lot about the importance of having a stable and nurturing environment that will see you through trials, process and all the way to an end product if that’s what the artist chooses. Dallas has produces incredible artists and EDD is a reminder of how the youth has and will continually contributes to that. Young artists have a sense of fearlessness and if I can help cultivate that for as long as possible through art and education, then I’m doing a small part for the bigger picture.

Photo by Eddie Eng

Being young, juggling responsibilities while walking towards your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?
I like to say I’m pretty good at staying calm and collected even when things can seem a little overwhelming, but the truth is there have been times especially as a working student where I’ve felt in over my head about future projects and new pieces I’m working on. There’s a few things I do when I feel like I’m getting into an unproductive or negative headspace. I stop completely and take a break from what I’m doing because at that point you’ll on fluster yourself more. When I’m feeling defeated I use a lot of self-talk and positive affirmation reminding myself that the moments where I feel discouraged or defeated do not make up my DNA. I try to nip those feelings in the bud as soon as I can and maybe talk it out with a friend, it’s best to not let those temporary moments fester and keep you down longer than they have too.

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you?
Oh my goodness you can draw inspiration from so many people and places. Living in NYC has inspired me to be a little bit more adventurous and risk-taking for sure. My mother has an incredible amount of perseverance and an A+ work ethic and I’m grateful that it has rubbed off on me. Once you start noticing and appreciating the strengths in the differences amongst people, you can get inspiration in people that can carry you through your tough days and weeks.

Photo by Omar Zobles

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
When I hear the word ’empowerment’ I automatically associate education and inclusion with it. There’s so much information available now with social media and the internet it’s a great way to connect and find people who you can identify with. There’s nothing more powerful than a person or group of people who remains a vessel to all of the information out there. It’s such an artsy thing to say, but empowerment and success don’t come from degrading other people and their ideas, it comes from growing through understanding and empathy.

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?
If you are nervous or intimidated by failure, try looking at it as an opportunity to grow and learn from the process/outcome. Don’t anticipate failure, give yourself a chance. You have to be the biggest advocate for yourself!

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?
Ooh my celeb crush differs by the week but the most consistent is Beyoncé. How could I not say that? My favorite artist is a recent writer I came across Nayyirah Waheed, she finds ways to say things I’ve been thinking and makes it poetry. I am a huge fan of French fries, actually almost all things potato involved haha. My favorite movie has been Colombiana for sometime now. Zoe Saldana plays the main character and I love the plot!!

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Emerging Dancers of Dallas

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Meet Shaiann Hogan!

How do you add flavor + style to your look with just a few strokes? Beautiful shades of nail polish, of course! Teen beautypreneur, Shaiann Hogan, created the vibrant + fun collection Shai’s World 5 Free Nail to express herself while showcasing her passion. Founded in August 2013, the LA based teenpreneur launched her beauty biz + went on to open her first online boutique carving out and creating her own lane of fashion forward colors. Both vegan + cruelty-free, this collection will have you + your style looking flawless while feeling good!

Let’s get to know Shai a little better..

You have such a vibrant selection of nail colors perfect for every season, what motivated you to launch Shai’s World?

What motivated me to launch Shai’s World is because I love everything “beauty”. My mom found a video that I created on my i-touch some years ago where I was using her make-up. She was highly upset but saw great potential within me and showed me how to create my own indie polish. I love creating my own colors and getting great responses and reviews from customers and not to mention the pretty glitter colors.

Being a teenpreneur is such an awesome accomplishment, what do you love most about owning + running your own business?

What I love most about running my business is making my own colors, especially the glitter polishes and making a profit doing what I LOVE!

Being young and having responsibilities can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?

The way I regroup and stay motivated is by way of cheer, hanging out with my friends and taking a “rest” day. I enjoy my childhood years and told my parents that I want to enjoy my teenage years while working on my business.

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

Besides my grandmother & my mom, Michelle Obama inspires me. I love her and how she responds to people as she knows what she is worth. I love that about her and it has helped me to recognize my worth as well.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?

Empowerment means to me, to inspire and/or reform. Make a change in the world. Inspire others to go after their dreams and help one another.

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?

The advice that I would give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions who are nervous are to be GREATER than their fears. In other words, there is GREATNESS within you and if never look at your fears face to face, you will never know what’s on the other side of fear that could possibly take you to the next level.

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?

My celebrity crush : Michael Ealy
Favorite Artist : Chris Brown
Favorite food : Ceviche
Favorite Movie: Finding Dory

Check out more here!

Shai’s World

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Meet Muhga Eltigani!

We always hear about how important it is to nourish your body with fresh foods but what about your tresses? Muhga Eltigani, Founder and CEO of NaturAll Club, proves that superfoods promote superstar strands! This dope beautypreneur started making hair products in her college dorm room. Frustrated with commercial hair products that left her hair dry and brittle, and supported by a small youtube following, she committed to a three-month journey of using only FRESH and NATURAL ingredients in her hair, and absolutely no chemicals. Those three months turned into three years, 32 inches of growth, and a youtube following of 40,000. In 2016, this dynamic entrepreneur launched NaturAll Club to share products and empower young ladies + girls everywhere.

Muhga continues to build and blaze a path in the beauty industry! She was featured as Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree 2017 and was the only black entrepreneur included on the retail list! She was also featured on CBS and Fireside Chat with Gary Vee just to name a few.

Let’s get to know Muhga a little better…

We’re in a day and age where more girls + women of color are embracing their natural curls! What made you launch your fresh hair care products, NaturAll Club?
I wanted a product that would celebrate women’s natural curls rather than damage them. I was frustrated with the current hair product options that left my hair feeling dry, brittle, and unhealthy, so I decided to create a better line.

We love that you allow beauties to personalize their products for their specific hair texture! What motivated you to create a variety of selections to cater to all natural hair types?
There is no one size fits all for curly hair types, contrary to what some commercial brands would like you to believe. In order to understand the many needs of different curl types, you have to understand density, porosity, curl pattern and more. We customize to different hair needs at NaturAll Club so we can give curly women the very best results!

Being an entrepreneur + running your own business can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?
When I feel defeated, I grab a pen and write out on a piece of paper why I am feeling that way. Putting my feelings into words helps me deal with them and think more logically about next steps. I am my own biggest cheerleader and motivator, so I start out my day with positive mental messaging in order to recover more quickly with each new hurdle.

Health is an important aspect of beauty! Why did you focus on using FRESH avocados in your hair masks?
We go the extra mile to hand-make products with fresh avocados to ensure that your hair gets the best nutrients. Fresh avocados contain vitamin B, which is essential for hair growth, and vitamin E which helps repair damage on the scalp that may slow or prevent hair growth. When mixed with the right oils, avocados act as an incredible moisturizer for curly hair. There’s a big movement right now to eat healthy and watch what we put in our bodies. But our hair is part of our body, right? Why don’t we take the same care with what we put ON our bodies as we do with what we put IN our bodies? This is the mission and reason I decided to start NaturAll Club.

If you had to give one piece of advice to teen girls who are struggling with being comfortable in their own skin, what would it be?
The longest relationship that you will ever have is the one with yourself.You wouldn’t speak harshly to your longest best friend, so why would you do that to yourself? Practice using kind words for yourself everyday. You’ll slowly start to see a shift in your mental energy. Remember, you are the most beautiful you!

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?
I draw inspiration from my mom. She transitioned from being a stay at home mom to going back to school, and finally became a doctor. So many people assume they can’t advance in their careers or start something new once they start raising children, but my mom showed incredible persistence. Her determination inspired me to move forward and start my own business, and when I feel like I have a lot on my plate with NaturAll Club, I just think of her going back to school while raising four kids.

We’re all about empowerment at C.O.R.E Mag, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
A person who is truly empowered helps others. Empowerment means the ability to share with others what you have learned in order to uplift them.

Fun Faves! Fave Food? Artist? Song? Celeb Crush?
Fave food: Baba Ganoush (eggplant dish)
Artis: Alicia Keys
Song: If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys
Celeb Crush: Trevor Noah

 

Check out more of Muhga + NaturAll Club here:

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Meet Brianna Young!

When AMBITION meets PASSION it instantly begins to carve out a bright future and Brianna Young is walking boldly on her journey! With a beautiful spirit and a huge heart, she launched a non-profit called Sisters All Around Inc. to encourage a life of  empowerment. The organization consists of  a group of teen girls helping young ladies to stay on the right path while encouraging self-esteem, self-confidence, self-respect, and self-etiquette. She was motivated to launch her non-profit because she did not want other girls to ever feel inadequate in life.

Brianna also ran for Miss New Jersey Teen USA 2018 where she was inspired to use her platform to educate others on Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy as well as showing the world that a covered Muslim girl can indeed take the modeling world by storm!

Let’s get to know Brianna a little better…

 

Sisters All Around Inc. empowers young African American girls in the Newark, New Jersey area through different programs what made you launch this powerful organization? And share with our audience the mission of Sisters All Around non-profit.

I decided to launch my nonprofit organization “Sisters All Around Inc” because for a long time I grew up watching girls get bullied about how they look or what they wore. Besides that, I’d listen to a close friend/sister talking about how she’s too fat and need to lose weight.  I always say “God created us on earth a certain way because in his eyes being different is the new unique, not only that everybody is beautiful inside and out just the way they are”.

For my organization the mission is to help grow young ladies in self-esteem, teach them etiquette, share volunteer opportunities, expose them to trips, and much more. Empowering young girls is very important for the fact that we are the main source for developing humans.

Being a voice in the community motivates others to be great, what type of programs and events does Sisters All Around host?

Sisters All Around Inc. hasn’t hosted any events yet. Since we are an up and coming non-profit organization, things are just beginning. However, we are currently working on a project to gather feminine products and clothes to send to Puerto Rico while connecting with “Celebration of Womanhood” and a S.T.E.M program.

What made you decide to run for Miss New Jersey Teen USA 2018? And what message do you want to share with others on your platform?

Honestly for Miss NJ Teen USA, I didn’t even know it existed until I heard about Halima Aden. She blew my mind! The very first muslim girl to participate in a pageant fully covered and at the time I was learning Islam so I immediately went to the pageant website and there was still time left, so I applied. I had an interview over the phone and the next day received a call saying: “Congratulations! You have been selected as an Official Contestant in the 2018 Miss New Jersey USA® / Miss New Jersey Teen USA® pageant!  We feel that you have the necessary qualifications based on your photograph, telephone interview and the recommendation of your interviewer to become the new Miss New Jersey USA® or Miss New Jersey Teen USA®!

The Miss New Jersey USA® and Miss New JerseyTeen USA® pageants offer young women a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we look forward to working with you for an unforgettable life-enhancing experience.”

From that point on my mind was blown and full of excitement, I wasn’t going into the pageant to win I was there just to share my story which is my platform about how the past year has been challenging, as I was recently diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy. This process has taught me a lot about myself. My strengths, my weaknesses, and also strengthened my religious beliefs. Although it has sidelined my track career, it hasn’t stopped my dream of being a model. In addition too, over the past 2 months, I have been offered many opportunities to explore the field of modeling. When my health and time allows, I am also a YouTube blogger, photographer, I partake in a teen mentorship program, as well as volunteer work. As Teen USA, I would use my platform to educate others on Epilepsy as well as showing the world that a covered Muslim girl can indeed take the modeling world by storm. My dream is beyond this world and I am here to make it a reality. Which I did, the crowed was amazed by me which felt so good. I did come home with Miss Congeniality 2018! Whoop Whoop! It was truly an honor and great experience, I hope next year I can do it all over again.

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

I recently stated that Halima Aden is the whole reason I even went into the pageant. She’s who inspires me the most not only because she is covered all the time, but she’s standing out so that people like her can know that it’s okay to be different. Which I totally agree with, we are who we are and nobody has the right to judge us by our appearance when they don’t know our background or hasn’t spoken one nice word to see how the reaction would be. There’s people in this society they say Islam is a terrible religion because of all the negative things that’s happened and still is happening but if you look at Halima Aden, if you look at Sahar (SimplySahar) who’s a covered YouTube girl and plenty more we’re all just humans that bleed the same way. Halima is a huge inspiration to all young muslims but more so muslim girls.

If you had to give one piece of advice to other teen girls who are struggling with being comfortable in their own skin, what would it be?

One piece of advice I’d give to other girls that’s struggling to be comfortable in their own skin is to get up go outside whether it’s in your back yard or in the front of your house and just yell “I’m just as beautiful as the girl next to me” because you are, everybody is built differently. We all have different features but that’s normal. You yell “I’m just as beautiful as the girl next me” wherever you are just to make you feel better I bet you, you’ve just made another girl feel better. It’s a girl power thing, we stick together thruogh it all. Nobody gets left out because nobody belongs left out.

We’re all about empowerment at C.O.R.E Mag, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you and your organization?

EMPOWERMENT within my organization means everybody has a say. Nobody opinion is left out. We work together as a team and make stuff happen. At the end of everything I’m trying to get my girls to a place where they are capable of speaking up and holding their own. After all for some strange reason girls are doubted but not mine, you know why. This is why, because together we stand strong, together we are sisters, together we are a powerful pact but when I let them go they hold their heads up, stand tall and proud while still being the voice for our Sisters All Around!

Fun Faves!
Fave Food? I absolutely love pizza, if that was the only thing on this earth to eat I’d be fine. Pizza is life!Fave Artist? As of right now my favorite artist is Jhené Aiko. I’m loving her new album. Although it does relate to the loss of her brother, R.I.P Jhené’s brother. There’s one song I can listen to all day
Fave Song? My favorite song now would have to be “Live Up To My Name” by Baka. That is my theme song!!!!

Check out more of Brianna here..

Instagram

Personal: @breezyy.briii

Modeling page: @briii.young

Organization page: @sistersallaroundinc

Pageant page: @2018teenusa

Clothing line page: @artisticadvocate

Twitter: @realbreezyybrii

YouTube Channel: Breezyy’s Life

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Meet HUMAN INTONATION!

Making a fashion statement in today’s  age is more than rockin’ the latest trends! Verneda Adele White combined her style for powerful social change. She’s the Founder and Creative Director of HUMAN INTONATION, the premium, charity-driven apparel brand dedicated to raising awareness while donating 20% of each sale to pertinent social & human rights issues. Following her family’s personal experience with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the loss of her closest cousin and best friend to AIDS, Verneda began designing men and women’s graphic tees, tank tops, and dresses made from her own original patterns, using organic materials, to draw attention to re-building efforts in the Gulf Coast.

Her national platform of using fashion for social change, related community events, and speaking engagements has since extended to education for children in Darfur, rebuilding Haiti, and the brand’s primary focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment. Verneda has received support from the likes of Usher Raymond, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Wyclef Jean, and Hydeia Broadbent, in addition to lifestyle mogul B. Smith who wore her own Human Intonation tee during a cooking segment on The Wendy Williams Show. Human Intonation has been covered by VH1, the Black AIDS Institute, NV Magazine, Black Enterprise, AOL, and Uptown Magazine

 

Let’s get to know Verneda Adele White of HUMAN INTONATION a little better!

HUMAN INTONATION is an awesome charity driven apparel brand, please share with our audience what inspired this concept.

My greatest inspiration is the opportunity to impact the lives of others through fashion. As a premium, charity-driven apparel brand, HUMAN INTONATION® (H.I.) is dedicated to using fashion as a platform to raise awareness and funding for a number of social and human rights issues. Originally inspired by my family’s personal experience with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I started Human Intonation as a creative space to raise funds for recovery efforts in New Orleans. During my first volunteer trip to rebuild New Orleans, I had the opportunity to meet and was inspired to pursue my vision by one of music’s true artists, Usher, who not only continues to give back, but has been a supporter of Human Intonation since our inception. In the same year following Katrina, I lost my closest cousin to AIDS when he and I were both just starting out in life after college. These were two back to back life experiences that greatly shaped my entrepreneurial spirit, and continue to inspire me to use Human Intonation to champion causes that impact us globally.

Today, Human Intonation is an international platform with related events, partnerships, and speaking engagements, along with working with Non-profit organizations to develop compelling apparel that meets their branding and fundraising needs. While our primary focus is HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment, our brand is accessible, not only in giving voice to social and human rights issues that affect all of us, but in being the most wearable, soft, organic, and uniquely cut conscious t-shirts and tank tops you will find.

How has fashion and style shaped and impacted your lifestyle?

I have always loved all things fashion, from producing fashion shows to developing my own original t-shirts for our H.I. Collection, but my journey with fashion and how it impacts my lifestyle is constantly evolving. As a personal lifestyle, I feel I am often more in tuned with the rhythm of the business of fashion than with any one particular style of the moment. Sometimes I’m on trend and sometimes I walk to the beat of my own drum. I want to be comfortable and stand out all at once, and when I really want to rock something special I call my stylist @MsDaniDK. What fashion gives me is pure adrenaline, motivation, creativity, and belief that anything is possible. I seem to have super human strength during Fashion Week (New York and London) while attending, getting my hands into production, and reviewing as many shows as possible. As a brand, I am constantly looking at fashion, but our silhouettes and designs are inspired by our customers and followers. One of my biggest lessons in business has been to understand that the end product is not always going to be what I would wear. It’s truly about what our customers want.

What message do you hope people will receive and act on by purchasing HUMAN INTONATION designs?

For us, the power in Human Intonation is that we are able to inspire people to start the conversation about social and human rights issues in a way that can change perceptions, change choices, change lives. With the designs and messages in our collections, we often include a call to action to empower individuals to have a positive impact on their own lives or the lives of others. When it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment, it is my hope through Human Intonation that even one family may have a different experience than my own. It is important for all to understand that HIV is 100% preventable, and it starts with each person taking the action of getting tested and knowing your status. Currently, I am excited to be featured in the “Bare It All” Ad campaign (http://bit.ly/2sacmco) from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to raise awareness for sexual health, and encourage all, including LGBTQ New Yorkers, to talk openly and honestly with their doctor about their sex lives and drug use in order to receive the treatment and services one may need.

What are 3 pieces of advice you would give to girls who wanted to pursue their dreams but are too nervous to start?

First and foremost, bringing any idea, business, or creative dream to life is not easy, no matter your age, background or level of education. With that being said:
Girls who set out to make their dreams a reality should know you are already ahead of the game just by making a beginning. I am constantly reminding myself there are so many who dream but never attempt to try. Start by writing your dreams down or making a vision board to make it concrete. Believe in your vision. To be successful you must first believe in yourself.

Learn to forgive yourself. Be fearless and unafraid of making mistakes because mistakes and setbacks will happen no matter how hard you try to avoid them. Do your best to learn the lesson, and keep pressing forward. In my experience, everything happens for a reason.

To jumpstart your dreams, put yourself in the best position possible by planning how you will take care of yourself. If you are making the leap from a steady paycheck to “do what you love, the money will follow,” put your savings together before you leap. Following your dreams always costs more than you think it will. Fortunately, it’s worth every penny.

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

At the moment, I am completely inspired and draw my energy from all the #BlackGirlMagic in the world. Parts of my character, from my determination to my unbridled ambition, comes from the #BlackGirlMagic in my life whether drawing from other women entrepreneurs, the imagination sparked by a Beyoncé or Serena Williams, or the very special #BlackGirlMagic that my mom has created in her lifetime. My mom, better known as Dr. Darlene Riggins White, was not only the first African-American woman to be accepted and graduate from the University of Buffalo’s School of Dentistry, she went on to become the first African-American woman to own her own dental practice in the western half of New York State. I am proud I have my mom’s entrepreneurial spirit! I had an opportunity to write about my love for all things #BlackGirlMagic earlier this year in my Huffington Post blog: http://bit.ly/2iveGpM.

We are all about empowerment, What does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?

For me, the ultimate form of empowerment is the being comfortable in one’s own skin. That’s what I strive to give to myself and others each day. Being comfortable in one’s own skin lends to being confident, to know that you can do it, you can survive even the most challenging situations, and be stronger for it on the other side. Don’t be discouraged by the naysayers. Naysayers come in many different forms, but each of us has everything we need inside to make a difference in our lives and to have a positive impact on the lives of others. When I made the decision to start HUMAN INTONATION by developing t-shirts from my own original patterns, to source my own fabric and build my own supply chain it was because I knew I could do it, but more importantly I wanted our t-shirts, tanks, and dresses to be able to empower others down to the very core of our brand. Education is also key, and in business it is critical to be both book and street savvy. Hone your craft and never stop learning. You never know when you will be able to take what you’ve learned and empower someone else.

 Time for the Faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?

I love this question!
Celeb crushes: Kofi Siriboe, I mean how can anyone not… but I can’t front like I haven’t fallen head over heels for Sterling K. Brown. Idris is still in the game because he will simply never go out of style.
Artist: Kanye, Solange and Kendrick Lamar (current), Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder (classic)
Food: I am a total foodie which means I am always up for trying just about anything from around the world. If I have to choose, I would say my palate stays close to home with fried catfish, collard greens, homemade baked mac n cheese, or a pot of gumbo.
Movie: Again a tough one (of all time) … Coming to America

Check out more of  HUMAN INTONATION here:

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Meet PhDivas!

What do you get when you add brains, ambition, drive + beauty? PhDivas, of course! In a society where media loves to portray women of color as just beauty with no brains, it’s completely refreshing for Dr. Liz Wayne and Dr. Christine “Xine” Yao to create an empowering  platform that flips the script! PhDivas podcast covers  academia, culture, + social justice across the STEM/humanities divide. An engaging conversation between friends and scholars, PhDivas fills a niche for witty and insightful discussion and proves that PhDs in Engineering and English literature have more in common than meets the eye.

At over 50 episodes, PhDivas garnered a wide audience with a listenership from over 100 countries and over 20,000 plays. Two women of color Ivy League PhDs navigating higher education. Biomedical engineer meets literary critic. And of course, both fans of lipstick!

Let’s get to know Liz + Xine a little better!

PhDivasis a podcast about academia, culture, and social justice across the STEM/Humanities divide, what made you launch this powerful podcast?

Academia is a struggle for everyone, especially for those who are underrepresented minorities. Solidarity between women, especially women of color, is so important for surviving higher education regardless of discipline. Sometimes we have to be the change we want to see in the world or the inspiration we wish we could have had. This work is deeply personal: we hope to be part of a chain reaction that will make higher education a better place. As Liz likes to say, “Academia won’t be the space that was provided for me but one that I create — not the one I dreamed of but one that I build.” Join our community!

Being a voice in the community motivates others to be great, which past topics/episodes do you feel your audience responded to more than others? And why do you feel this topic had a large effect?

People feel the pressure to perform perfection all the time, but we try to be honest about the struggle and our anxieties. One of our most popular recent episodes was S03E23 “The Secret Life of Academic Conferences.” Perhaps drew our listeners was that we went beyond the list of practical, professional tips and advice that can be found elsewhere; instead, we delved into the social life and psychology of the conference experience that people don’t often talk about — especially not from the perspective of those who are junior in academia. One of our classic episodes S02E07 “Imposter Syndrome and Other Anxieties” speaks to the personal and structural difficulties everyone can have in competitive environments. Together we discuss the difference between responding to environments inhospitable to women of colour versus universal worries about expectations and performance.

Christine “Xine” Yao

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

We both love how Laverne Cox talks about possibility models instead of role models. For Xine that person is Sara Ahmed, a (now former) academic in the humanities working on feminist and queer of color criticism; not only does Xine draw from Ahmed’s theoretical models, but she is inspired by how Ahmed practices her principles in life, not just in research.

For Liz that person is Dean Gilda Barabino, the first Black women to be Dean of an Engineering School. She has led an exemplary career and she just an amazing and lovely person to be around. She gives me hope.

Liz Wayne

If you had to give one piece of advice to teen girls who are struggling with race and gender issues in their day to day, what would it be?

 Xine: There’s a community out there for you and those people are both more wonderful and more flawed than you can imagine. You will grow together when you work toward each other’s liberation. Oh, and you need to learn how to strategically stop caring or listening to those on the outside in order to make it through.

Liz: Some things we can’t change or help– where we live, who are family is, etc., but we can choose our friends and our life partners. Choose wisely. When the world feels like it has no space for you, surround yourself with people who want you to be healthy, happy, and successful. Don’t linger on the toxic relationships or the toxic social images. Having a strong support network has helped me deal with the struggles of the world.

We’re all about empowerment at C.O.R.E Mag, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you and your organization?

Lift each other up!

Fun Faves! Fave Food? Artist? Song? Celeb Crush?

Xine: Food: loves eating everything but if she had to choose it would be good ice cream. Artist: Gustav Klimt or Kara Walker (easier for me to think of this kind of artist and not musical ones!) Song: History Maker by Dean Fujioka (the theme song for the anime Yuri!!! On Ice) Celeb Crush: Riz Ahmed

Liz: Food: Chicago deep crust pizza. Artist:Titus Kaphar & Frida Kahlo. Song: Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks  ​Celeb Crush: Rihanna (because she puts in work work work work work).

Check out more of Liz + Xine here!

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Website

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