Never underestimate the power of social media. Earlier this month, high school Senior Kyemah McEntyre posted a picture of her self-designed prom dress alongside an empowering, anti-bullying message.
The image quickly went viral. Shared by millions, the New Jersey teen’s mesmerizing red gown boasted a regal African print, a plunging neckline and a full skirt. The extensive coverage of Kyemah’s dress on Yahoo, Huffington Post and more, eventually made its way to “Power” star Naturi Naughton.
Naturi immediately tapped Kyemah to design a dress for the BET Awards, making one of the Parsons College-bound designer’s biggest dreams come true. “Naturi contacted me through e-mail, and we talked over the phone about her ideal dress,” Kyemah told Necole Bitchie. “She explained to me that she wanted to connect with her African roots as well. I explained to her that my prom dress was my first design ever and that her design would be my second. So, of course, I asked her to bare with me. Naturi and her beautiful soul welcomed me despite my experience with Fashion Designing.”
New to the design world, Kyemah has already displayed tremendous class and grace in the face of her newfound fame. She said despite the attention, her initial goal is still the same: to use her platform and skills to inspire young girls “to be themselves.” Naturi had a similar reason for wanting to wear Kyemah’s orange fishtail-hemmed gown. “[Naturi] wanted to shed light on young people from her community [East Orange, New Jersey],” Kyemah said.
As a fellow New Jersey native, I couldn’t be more proud of this display of sisterhood between two supremely-talented young women from East Orange. Given their shared African roots and New Jersey connection, Naturi Naughton was the perfect choice to model Kyemah’s designs on the red carpet for the first time. And something tells us it won’t be the last.