Remember when you were a little kid and people would ask you: What do you want to be when you grow up? I do. I remember saying things like a clown, a teacher, an actress. Yes, naivety ruled my world then however my passion and belief in achieving these things was genuine. So much so that, when I grew older and began to hear things such as, “starving artist” or “what’s your backup plan?” or “that sounds like a hobby…what’s your real job?” I was unfettered and even more determined to succeed.
And guess what? I am not alone! Recent studies show that “Millennials” (those born in the ’80s and early ’90s) consider personally fulfilling work to be just as important as a high salary. Simply put, ladies now days are choosing passion over paper. Does that mean we are happy and broke? No! The best part is, new research also shows that when passion and purpose are your biggest drivers, your bank account often ends up thriving too. So everybody stand up for the Millennial chicks and check out this real life “working” and not “starving” artist!
Millennial Girl: Nikiya Mathis
Hometown: Newark, NJ
Current Playground: Elizabeth, NJ
Millennial Girl Prep School: Temple University (BA in Theater and Communications)
New York University (MFA in Acting)
Passion Chasing Career: Actress
How Her “Passion” Chose Her: In the 6th grade Nikiya wrote a poem on “heaven” for a class assignment. It was her first piece of creative writing and it was so phenomenal that her teacher assumed someone else had written it. Nikiya was shocked in her writing ability yet hurt by her teacher’s false accusation. But thank God for haters…because when Nikiya was in the 8th grade, another poem of her’s was selected to be published in a book of poetry! Annnnd, soon after that, based on a (more encouraging) teacher’s recommendation she joined the speech and debate team…by the second year she was winning awards at every competition!
I now see that my path was what God meant for it to be…and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Not Back-Up Plan Gig: Hairstylist
How Her Not Back-Up Plan Gig Came About: In high school, Nikiya wanted to wear the cute styles that she saw in “Hype Hair” magazine. After experimenting on her own hair, friends would comment on her new styles and ask if she could do theirs. Not charging much (if anything at all) Nikiya gained some incredible experience. Unbeknownst to her this would come handy later on in life. What started as a side job to supplement her acting career eventually evolved into another bonafide career. Many theaters didn’t know what to do with African American hair, so Nikiya would fill that as a consultant to the theater; styling hair for her female co-stars. This coupled with leading Black Hair workshops to costume design students at NYU, photo shoots, weddings and everything in between, Nikiya is definitely your hair’s qualified go to girl!
I love the feeling I get when I make someone else look and feel better from the outside in. So if you happen to run into me on the streets of NYC, don’t hesitate to stop and just talk HAIR!
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Why She Loves Her Dual Passion Infused Career: The arts of acting and styling merge seamlessly. When I’m doing hair for the theater, I’m still immersed in my craft. To have a skill that I can lean on, whenever I need it, is a blessing. I love to act and I love to do hair! As an actress, the questions from myself and my friends are usually “how should I wear my hair for this audition or for headshots? If I wear my hair natural, will I be type-cast? If I get a weave am I selling out? What are my options???” I love to work with people on finding solutions.
Where have you seen this Millennia Girl? Nikiya is rocking both the silver screen and stage! Film credits include: Teenie in “Knucklehead”, with Alfre Woodard; Connie in “Compliance”, with Dreama Walker and Bill Camp; and Jimmy Bug in “The Exodus”. As far as theater productions, you may have seen her as, Margie in “Milk Like Sugar” (Playwrights Horizons and La Jolla Playhouse), Latonya in “Seed” (Classical Theater of Harlem), Shun/Shaunta Iyun in “The Brother/Sister Plays” (Public Theater and McCarter Theater), Maime in “Intimate Apparel”, or Claudia in “The Bluest Eye.” Just to name a few! Currently, Nikiya is co-starring in Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop” at Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Follow Our Millennia Girl: www.NikiyaMathis.com
1. Candace Parker
Age: 26 Location: Los Angeles, California What She Does: Hoop extraordinaire Candace Parker was elected as the first overall pick in 2008 WNBA draft. She joined the Los Angeles Sparks on April 9th, 2008. As a rookie, the 6’4” beauty put herself and her team on the map when she led them to victory with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists, defeating defending the champs Phoenix Mercury! Her first year in the league, the forward averaged 18.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg. At the beginning of her second season, the Sparks MVP gave birth to a baby girl, resulting in an 8 game court absence! Despite Parker’s leave, she still led the WNBA in double-doubles and finished the season as the league’s leader in rebounds per game! Parker’s brother, Anthony Parker, and husband, Shelden Williams, are both in the NBA but when it comes to who has the best game, Candace undeniably holds the crown! CandaceParker.com, @Candace_Parker
2. Destinee Hooker
Age: 25 Location: San Antonio, Texas What She Does: First, Destinee awoke our style senses with a manicure fit for an Olympian: American flags on her thumbs, British flags on her ring fingers and gold topping her pinkies! Don’t let the pretty nails fool you though. The volleyball champ, with her 43-inch vertical leap, scored 39 points against China and 27 against Italy at the 2011 FIVB World Cup. So it’s no surprise that even as an Olympic rookie, Hooker led her team to the gold medal match against Brazil in the 2012 games. With assurance, her teammate Danielle Scott-Arruda claims, “She’s one of the best opposites in the world, and one of the best volleyball players in the world. And she has the potential to be even better.” Hooker and team didn’t take the gold this time around, but as a newbie to the big games, she sure gave her opponents a run for their money! Watch out for 2016, Brazil! @destineehooker
3. Sanya Richards-Ross
Age: 27 Location: Austin, Texas What she Does: Our favorite stories are those of redemption, which is why track and field superstar Sanya Richards-Ross holds a special place in our hearts. After the 2008 Olympics, when Richards-Ross took home bronze, we wanted to see her win the gold! And that she did, becoming the first woman in 28 years and only the second in history to win the 400m by sweeping the competition in the last 50 meters! “It’s definitely been my motivating factor after Beijing,” says the gold medalist. “It’s what kept me in the sport--that’s how special it is.” Her impeccable performance at the London 2012 games also put her in the rankings as one of the highest regarded female track and field Olympians of all time, anchoring the 4X400 relay team to gold for the 3rd consecutive time! SanyaRichardsRoss.com, @SanyaRichRoss
4. Gabrielle Douglas
Age: 16 Location: Virginia Beach, VA What She Does: Realizing your calling and having the guts to follow it is always impressive—especially when you’re not even old enough to drive yet. At just 14 years old, Gabrielle Douglas knew she had what it took to be a champion. Convincing her mother to let her move from Virginia Beach to Des Moines, Gabby fearlessly packed up and relocated to where she could train with legendary coach Liang Chow. After only two years of professional expert training, Douglas qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games. The first women of color in history to do so, she left the Olympic games with the gold in all-around gymnastics. Adding to her accolades, the 16-year old is also the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics! Douglas’ book "Grace, Gold and Glory, My Leap of Faith" will be published December 2012. We can’t wait to see Gabby deliver in 2016, as we still digest the not-even-5-foot gymnast’s record-breaking greatness! GabrielleDouglas.com, @gabrielledoug
5. Lia Neal
Age: 17 Location: Brooklyn, New York What She Does: Lia Neal is an Olympic bronze medalist in the 4X100 freestyle relay for Women’s swimming. Though an Olympic champ at just 17 years old, Neal still has an admirable humility and humanness about herself! “It didn’t really sink in, even when I was standing on the podium with the medal on my neck. I remember thinking, ‘shouldn’t I be reacting differently?’” she innocently told HelloBeautiful. Now that she’s back in Brooklyn, Neal’s days consist of practicing 2 hours before and after school then tackling homework and all the other school stuff we don’t miss. Though she’s not stoked about starting her days at 5:30 am, Lia still makes the sacrifice as she prepares for 2016 in Rio! Life of a champ! LiaNeal.com, @LiaNeal
6. Claressa Shields
Age: 17 Location: Flint, Michigan What She Does: Oh how we love a trailblazer! The first year that women’s boxing was an Olympic event (it’s about time!), Claressa was the first American woman to win a gold medal. The boxing champion was also the only gold medalist out of both the men and women USA teams. Shields’ blows even hooked (pun intended) the attention of legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard: “Your Jab is so solid use it more! Your Hook, wow (just like mine) win every round and bring home the Gold Claressa!" he tweeted. Just like a true middleweight champ, Claressa has an undeniable confidence that we love: "All I wanted was a gold medal, and I kept working towards it, even when people were saying I couldn't do it. I'm too young… I proved them all wrong." The 17-years old high school student has already been compared to the greats, Cassius Clay, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar de la Hoya. We can’t imagine what that type of pressure may be like, but something tells us that Claressa Shields can handle it! By 30 She Wants: "Hopefully by the time I'm 30 I want to have a women's boxing channel. I also want to go to college to be a photo journalist. Probably married, I don't know (laughs)." ClaressaTrexShields.com, @Claressashields
7. Tianna Madison
Age: 27 Location: Sanford, Florida What She Does: After learning Tianna’s back story, we now think twice before saying the words “we can’t.” By the end of her senior year in high school, Tianna Madison had already won nine state titles and broke two state records in events such as the 100m, 200m, 4X1 and long jump! Her impressive track and field feats in high school led to a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee. By age 19, Madison went on to compete at The World Championships. Tianna, the youngest competitor there, jumped her personal best and became a World Champion with a professional NIKE contract to follow. Unfortunately, later that year, Madison was severely injured at a long jump practice when “she landed with her right leg still straight in the pit… Her leg buckled and bent backwards, tearing the cartilage and chipping pieces of bone off the patella.” Recovering from a life altering injury, Bianca blew us away at the 2012 Olympic Games! Giving new definition to second chances, she placed fourth in the 100 meter dash and was the head leg in the 4X100 relay, leading team USA to gold! Tianna-Madison.us, @TeamTianna
8. Bianca Knight
Age: 23 Location: Austin, Texas What She Does: After turning pro, just one year after running for the University of Texas, it seems Bianca Knight’s success is an overnight story. But the collegiate and Olympic champ has been running since the tender age of 12! While most seventh graders were hop-scotching and planning sleepovers, Knight was competing on a state and national level. As part of the Women’s US team in the 4X100 relay, she left the 2012 Olympics with a gold medal swinging from her neck—an accomplishment not every first time Olympian can boast about! We love Bianca because even though she’s an international champion and college student, she still makes time for service. The new superstar says, “Throughout my success, I have always had my sites on helping young people remove barriers to fulfill their dreams. My current community projects consist of: Ridgeland High School Lady Titans track team, Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, Sunnybrook Children’s Home, and Mississippi Trackstars Track Club.” BiancaKnight.com, @MidKnightDreams
9. Lianne La Havas
Age: 23 Location: London What She Does: Raised listening to Jill Scott and MJB, while learning the basics of guitar and piano, English singer and musician Lianne La Havas’ genius is no wonder! At age 11, Lianne La Havas wrote her first song, and 11 years later, the sweet songbird released her debut EP, "Lost & Found." Generating major buzz, and rightfully so, La Havas’ pure, raspy and perfectly toned vocals caught HelloBeautiful’s ears with serenades like “No Room for Doubt” and “Don’t Wake Me Up”! The new girl on the block, Lianne was nominated for the 2012 Barclayard Mercury Prize Album of the Year. A raw, incomparable talent accompanied by style ranging from ladylike lovely to bohemican-chic meets tribal flair, we’re sure Lianne La Havas’ stardom is only beginning! LianneLaHavas.com, @liannelahavas
10. RaVaughn Brown
Age: “A lady never tells…” Location: Los Angeles, California/ Atlanta, Georgia What She Does: RaVaughn is a former background singer for Brandy, Keri Hilson and Keyshia Cole. She’s now signed to Compound U/ Columbia. How She Got Started: “With Ne-Yo, I met him after doing a demo for a producer I used to work with. I had done tons of demos for different producers and writers in LA. A producer I worked with a couple of times called me like, ‘Where are you? I really need you to come and do this demo for me. I know it’s really late, but it will be really quick. Please.’ I didn’t know who the writer was, but I said, ‘I’ll come do it.’ I walk in and the writer was Ne-Yo... It was amazing… After signing with Compound U, which is a base record production team, which is Ne-Yo and Tango… I recorded maybe 10 or 12 songs and we chose the best four songs to give to Columbia. I had my first meeting with Columbia, and I didn’t do a showcase or anything—they just loved the sound of my voice. They were like ‘We’re very interested. We don’t have anything like you here!’” ItsRavaughn.com, @ItsRaVaughn
11. Melanie Amaro
Age: 19 Location: Florida What She Does: As cute as can be, Melanie Amaro took to the THE X FACTOR stage in her little black dress with gold sequin, barely there makeup and sweet Shirley temple curls. We were expecting a soft, sweet teeny-bopper voice. We got everything but when Melanie began Beyonce’s “Listen.” It wasn’t long into the song before Amaro’s powerhouse vocals had paralyzed us stiff. Needless to say, her superb rendition of the song landed her well-deserved spot on the show. While there were other talented contestants, much of the world developed a sincere liking to Melanie. She was a fan favorite, so much that when harsh but humorous judge Simon Cowell booted her, he was forced to bring her back on the show due to fan outrage! Winning the season and our hearts, Melanie is now making her mark in the music biz. Her hit singles “Don’t Fail Me Now” and “Love Me Now” are available on iTunes! MelanieAmaroOfficial.com, @ItsMelanieAmaro
12. Quvenzhané Wallis
Age: 9 Location: Houma, Louisiana What She Does: Can you blame us for ooing over her brown eyes and small voice that is accentuated by an innocent southern drawl? How can you not? Quevenzhané Wallis, a 9 year old actress starred in Beasts of the Southern Wild—a Sundance Film Festival and Cannes award-winning independent film. Auditioning for the film at just 5 years old, Quevehzhané landed the role of Hushpuppy. She was only 6 years old during filming—her first acting gig, by the way—and still convincingly conveyed a young, wise beyond her years little girl with the ability to survive her disturbingly impoverished environment and all that comes with it. Still very much a child, the young, witty and sassy Oscar-worthy actress told Jay Leno her favorite school subject was math!
13. Deborah Ahenkorah
Age: 25 Location: Ghana What She Does: We strongly admire beauties who not only start their own ventures, but who also dedicate those ventures to servicing others. Deborah Ahenkorah is the co-founder and executive director of Golden Baobab Prize, an African literary award whose goal is to inspire the creation of African stories that children and young adults all over the world will love. In a letter to site visitors, Debroah writes, “I corralled myself in an internet café and worked on a concept that would incentivize African writers to create wonderful tales for children all over the world. Eventually (and delightfully!) The Golden Baobab Prize was born!” When Ahenkorah first began Golden Baobab Prize, she was in her second year of college, “with no experience, no money and only a vision.” Today, Golden Baobab Prize is run by a volunteer team of individuals from all over the world and is sponsored by the Global Fund for Children and the African Library Project. GoldenBaobab.org, @missahenkorah
14. Yasmine Arrington
Age: 18 Location: Elon, North Carolina What She Does: Yasmine Arrington’s determination to navigate through a less than ideal situation and her selflessness to help others do the same truly inspires us. Yasmine’s father was incarcerated, and when she was only a freshman in high school her mother passed. Relying now on her grandmother, Yasmine recounted her mother’s emphasis on academics. Arrington spent high school focusing on her studies so that she could get scholarships for college. Though she was awarded funding, Yasmine realized that not every college hopeful would be as fortunate. To bring aid to her peers in similar situations, Yasmine founded scholarCHIPS in 2011, a non-profit dedicated to raising college scholarship dollars for the children of incarcerated parents. So far Yasmine has raised $10,000. This year Yasmine hopes to raise $30,000 and award $10,000 each to 3 high school seniors who have an incarcerated parent and/or sibling. Check out scholarCHIPSfund.com to donate and get all the social network info! scholarCHIPSfund.com, @YazzieBeau93
15. Mary-Pat Hector
Age: 14 Location: Atlanta, Georgia What She Does: It’s not every day we find a 14-year-old girl who’s speaking out on violence and other social plagues negatively affecting our youth. When we got wind of Mary-Pat Hector’s efforts, we felt compelled to share her story! Mary-Pat is the National Youth Director for National Action Network and spends her time traveling throughout the country, an average of 4,000 miles a month, to bring awareness to her peers’ issues and needs. She is also the founder of a non-profit organization, Youth in Action USA—a coalition of youth and young adults who are dedicated to changing the world one project at a time. Youth in Action USA is currently the nation’s fastest youth lead organization, hosting teen-safety workshops for schools and training teens and college students in youth advocacy techniques. nationalactionnetwork.com, @MaryPatHCEO
16. Bianca Bailey
Age: 22 Location: Washington, DC What She Does: The only thing that excites us more than beauty is brains! Bianca Bailey, a Howard University senior, was blessed with both! The young smarty-skirts was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for encouraging women and girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Bailey is also president of Howard’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders and has done volunteer work in Kenya, Brazil, and Haiti. One of her projects includes a partnership to provide Choimim—a village 200 miles from Naiorbi, Kenya—with clean water. As if she’s not wearing enough hats, Bianca also volunteers as the operational manager for Girls Incorporated of the Washington DC Metro Area. After graduation, Bailey has her sights set on pursing a Ph.D. in environmental engineering with a focus on international development. We wouldn’t be shocked if one of these days Bianca Bailey was receiving a Nobel Peace Prize! @S_BiancaBailey
17. Noni Carter
Age: 19 Location: Fairburn, Georgia What She Does: Do you love curling up with a good book as much as we do? Thanks to Noni Carter we’ll never run out of good reads! The accomplished classical pianist, poet and novelist’s appreciation for her ancestors’ contributions encouraged her to write a book. This book, "Good Fortune," is now an award winning novel that motivates youth to learn their ancestral history and pursue their own dreams. From Noni’s writing process, she created The Noni Carter Experience--a personal and educational experience which engages and empowers youth--the community and audiences of all ages through focus on educational excellence and motivation to achieve dreams. Carter is now a student at Harvard (Yep! You read it right, she’s at Harvard!) and participates in various extracurricular activities that allow keep impacting and educating our youth! Nonicarter.com, “like” Noni Carter Author on facebook!
18. Taylor Townsend
Location: Boca Raton, FL Age: 16 What She Does: That same proud, bubbly feeling we got when the Williams sisters first stepped on the court is back, thanks to Taylor Townsend! Taylor is a professional American tennis player and the world’s top-ranked junior girl. Last month, Townsend won her third junior Grand Slam doubles titles this year! Her other victories include the Junior Australian Open and the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. The USTA asked that Townsend sit out of the 2012 US Open Junior Tournament due to her weight and therefore did not sponsor her trip. Taylor Townsend took matters into her own hands and entered the tournament via her own funds. We love the tennis baller’s undeniable game, adore her self-confidence and ability to keep focus on her passion, despite the negativity! @Taylor_Townsen
19. Shiona Turini
Location: NYC What She Does: Shiona Turini, with all her style lusciousness, is indeed one of our girl crushes. The Bermuda born beauty studied at Hampton University and found her way to the big city after graduation! With no fashion experience—except robing herself in head turning looks, courtesy of an innate style sense—Shiona interned for nearly a year in the PR department at Yves Saint Laurent! She was then offered a job as the YSL PR assistant. From there, she stiletto-stepped her way up to Accessories Director at W. Unstoppable. Turini found her way to Teen Vogue and now serves as the Market and Beauty Editor at CF Fashion Book. It’s common to run across an inset of Shinoa posing for a “street style” pic while browsing your favorite fashion blogs or flipping through a style mag! @shionat
20. Alexis Casson
Age: 28 Location: Brooklyn, New York What She Does: Director, Producer and Editor How She Got Started: “A few years ago a really good friend of mine, Charla Harlow, put a camera in my hand and the rest is history. I was supposed to stick to photographer, but that was just a gateway drug for me.” By 30 She Wants: “Career wise, I want to have a space that would be open to the community for my boutique production company, continue to produce quality content for women of color and in a perfect world, I'd like to direct a Sci-Fi thriller inspired by Octavia Butler's Novels—bonus! [laughs]" AlexisCasson.com, @_AlexisNoelle
21. Essence Carson
Age: 26 Location: New York, NY What She Does: Essence is a professional basketball player for the New York Liberty of the WNBA. Since her rookie days, Carson has remained a vital part of her team's success. Outside of basketball, she’s a music producer and artist with a single, "Love Letter." The baller also finds time to give back, serving as a celebrity ambassador for non-profit organization Health Equity Initiative. Essence tells us that this organization is especially important to her because she's witnessed the unfair health disparities. How She Got Started: After completing high school in New Jersey, Essence went to Rutgers University and in 2008 she was recruited by the New York Liberty during the WNBA draft. By 30 She wants: “As far as my basketball career, I would love to have a WNBA championship,” Essence tells us. She also hopes to be a concrete artist and producer. EssenceCarson.com, @Pr3pE
22. Amber Koonce
Age: 22 Location: “My hometown is Charlotte, NC; however, I am currently working in the Philippines for the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation—a Filipino NGO that advocates for the rights and welfare of incarcerated individuals, especially children, the sick and the elderly.” What She Does: “I am founder and Executive Director of BeautyGap, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit that organizes the collection and distribution of dolls of color to girls of color internationally.” By 30 She Wants: “Personally, by 30, my only hope is that I will be pursuing God's will for my life—whatever that may be at the time. I try not to set rigid goals because my human mind is limited in scope, and my 22 years of living have taken me to better places than I ever could have imagined. Professionally by 30, I hope to be channeling my passion for child advocacy as a juvenile defense attorney.” beautygap.org, @beautygap, @amberkoonce
23. Ariel Harden
Age: 20 Location: Atlanta, Georgia What She Does: “I’m a research at Spelman. The research I am conducting now is dealing with Trisomy 21, aka Down Syndrome. Trisomy 21 is caused by the failure of chromosome 21 to segregate properly, resulting in a person having 3 copies of chromosome 21, hence the trisomy. We are studying a gene, PRDM9, which functions in recombination. We believe that the Zinc Finger Binding Domain of PRDM9 may have variation that predisposes chromosome 21 to segregate improperly. With our research we are trying to refine a woman's risk of having a child with Down Syndrome by finding a correlation between variation in the zinc finger binding domain and chromosome 21 to segregate improperly. If we can find that the variation does differ in mothers of children with trisomy 21, then we can test other women's zinc finger domain and give them better information and stats about their probability of having a child with down syndrome. Now the only information we have is that women over age 35 have a higher risk, but it may not be age; it may be that zinc finger domain variation.” By 30 She Wants: "By 30, I want to have graduated from grad school with my PhD and doing my research. I also want to have a family, at least one child. I just want to be settled and kind of simple." @its_ariebaby
24. D. Piper Twins
Age: 25 years young Location: New York City What They Do: “We are the designers of fashion line Kastle Designs and accessories line Treasure Chest. We are proud to announce that we are selling our collections at two hot spots in New York City, the Patricia Field boutique and the Limelight Marketplace. We’ve been featured in WWD, Daily News, Vogue Japan, Today's Black Woman Style Report and Amsterdam Newspaper. We’ve also made modeling appearances on Rachel Ray and NBC’s Today Show, and placements on Gossip Girl. Celebrities including Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes, Bianca Golden from ANTM, Ramona Rizzo from Vh1 hit show Mob Wives, Tamar Braxton have been spotted wearing our designs. We are young ambitions girls chasing our dreams.” By 30 They Want: “By the age of 30, we would like to have our collections sold in major department stores such as Saks and Bergdorf, as well as luxury boutiques. We would like to open our own store in New York and Ghana. Africa is a growing continent with a lot of opportunities, so we look forward to expanding there and worldwide.” KastleDesignsAndTreasureChest.com, @DPiperTwins
25. Issa Rae
Age: 27 Location: Los Angeles, CA What She Does: The latest webisode of "Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" is often the topic of our conversations. Thanks to producer, writer and director we can fill the void of funny sitcoms that have now been replaced by reality TV with Issa's webseries. Rae received a B.A. from Stanford University and then went to New York Film Academy to hone in on her filmaking skills! She's also the mastermind behind another one of our favorites, "Roomieloverfriends." Word on the street is Issa Rae will be joining forces with Shonda Rhymes to bring "I Hate LA Dudes" to the TV screen! How She Got Started: “I started writing stories and plays as soon as I could and then created my first web series when I was a senior in college.” By 30 She Wants: “To produce other up and coming filmmakers, to work on a movie and/or television show and to own a house.” IssaRae.com, @IssaRae
26. Kimberly Frye
Age: 28 Location: New York, NY What She Does: Director, Multicultural Merchandising & Vendor Development - Macy's Inc. Kimberly Frye recently joined Macy’s Inc. as a Director of Multicultural Merchandising & Vendor Development. How She Got started: Kimberly’s career in the retail industry began as a Black Retail Action Group (BRAG) buying intern at Lord & Taylor in the Modern Sportswear division after her junior year at Spelman College. Kimberly then steered her career in a new direction to dive into the growing E-Commerce segment. As a Senior Buyer/Brand Manager at DrJays.com, she managed a successful business inclusive of Celebrity Streetwear Brands and the Contemporary Handbags/Accessories on the sister-site DJPremium.com. By 30 She Wants: “By 30, I want to continue loving my job and performing well, always seeking to add value to the team and the company. It's lofty, but by 30, it would be incredible to sit on a board of an emerging or established retail/fashion company. It's such an exciting time for young entrepreneurs in the e-commerce space!”
27. Mea Boykins
Age: 23 Location: London What She Does: “I’m currently in London attending King’s College for a Master’s in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.” Prior to her move to London, Mea Created Student Emergency Assistance as an undergraduate student at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. “S.E.A. was created to assist juniors and seniors at Spelman College who have exhausted all of their financial resources, including grants, loans, scholarships, work income, and family contribution, thus placing them at risk for expulsion.” Sea-Of-Love.org. SEA is something that Mea plans to maintain and is currently branding it into a broader non-profit organization. How She Got Started: “I experienced a lot of turmoil. I was exposed to a lot. I also came from a poor family. A lot of people haven’t received higher education, and I want to be an example. I know that God put me on this Earth to be a generation changer. By 30 She Wants: “I want to have influenced and inspired globally at least 500 to 1000 people to pursue their passions and goals. The main goal in life is really to inspire others to inspire others. I want to create a cycle of love and giving. That’s really all I want. I love to travel the world. By 30 I want to have been to every continent.” Sea-of-love.org, @emergenSEA
Location: NYC/LA Age: 20 What She Does: Lion King will always be one of our faves, so we couldn’t help but fall in love with Samantha Marie Ware after she played Nala in The Lion King Las Vegas! Velma in Chicago, Mimi in Rent and Rusty in Footloose are also credits on her résumé. Most recently, Ware snatched another leading role as Ugandan teen Nabulungi in the Tony Award Winning Musical The Book of Mormon. Her Broadway performance will continue through November, and so far she’s been receiving applauding reviews. To her fans, Samantha Marie Ware says "I picked up the mic when I was about four. My relationship started with the notes on the page and the voice on the track in church. I found my confidence before the Lord and found a dream worth living for. I’m here to make a difference.” As a budding actress and singer who’s already made mega strides in the industry, we can’t wait to see what’s next! @Sammie_Ware
Age: 17 Location: Fort Worth, Texas What She Does: We were shocked when we discovered that the stylish designs of Nesa Fab were created by a 17-year-old! When she was in sixth grade, Tanesa Peterson joined an organization geared toward building the self-esteem of young girls. She designed the organization’s T-shirt and assisted with the girls.Through this experience, Peterson realized that she had a passion for fashion and inspiring her peers, which led to the birth of Nesa Fab—a clothing line aimed at inspiring today’s youth. Her company has three divisions: Nesa Fab (for tweens, teens and young adults), Nesa Gurl (“for the lil fashionistas”) and Teacakes (couture and evening wear). Nesa Fab is now planning a shoe, accessory and menswear (Nesa Guy) line! The 17-year-old CEO and Fashion Designer and Consultant definitely pushes us to step our game up! Nesafab.com, facebook.com/nesa-fab
Age: 21 Location: Jamaica What She Does: We found it super cool that Imani Wilmot is a world renowned surfer! This past summer, Imani was the first Jamaican female to win the Makka Pro International Surfing Championships! Not only is she a rad surfer, but Wilmot is also an admirer and vessel of the arts! Growing up, Wilmot was surrounded by writers, dancers and musicians! It was in her early childhood days that she’d recite spoken word and cut a step with award winning dance groups. These days, when she’s not being Jamaica’s top female surfer, Imani is performing her poetry and writings for audiences like Jamsessions and Seh’ Sum’n! How cool does she sound? We want to be her friend! Soulkisser.wordpress.com, @theSoulKisser