December issue 2020
Celebrating women of African heritage
Paige Fraser Award Winning Artist and Scoliosis Advocate
Afroelle Magazine is a digital publication celebrating and empowering women in Africa and the diaspora.
Patricia Miswa (1985 -2018)
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Christabel Telewa PUBLISHER
FOR SUBMISSIONS AND GENERAL ENQUIRIES Afroellemagmedia@gmail.com
Model/Dancer: Paige Fraser (@lovingthispaige)
Photographer - Nohemi Moran (@nomeephotography) Fashion stylist - Marlene Anzaldua (@Stilett0b0ss)
Thabile ThabileMakue Makue writer Writer SouthAfrica Africa South Thabile is a South African healer, writer and facilitator. She was the 2016/17 Current State of Poetry National South African Slam Champion. Her debut collection “i know how to fix myself” was released in April 2017 by the African Poetry Book Fund as part of their New-Generation African Poets chapbook box set: Nne. Her work has been included in multiple journals, including “Pain” by Icelandic Parta Press, the 20.35 Africa anthology of contemporary poetry and the New Daughters of Africa collection released in March 2019. She has been longlisted for the Sol Plaatje European Union Prize, and was selected as a finalist for the 2018 Sillerman Poetry Book Prize. Her forthcoming collection of poetry, ‘mamaseko, is set for release this year.
Amina Touray Photographer Los Angeles
Afroelle gift guide
Moiyattu Banya Keister Writer Philadelphia
Amina is an award winning fashion and portrait photographer. Born to a Swedish mother and Gambian father, Amina gets inspiration from her multicultural background, which allowed her to move across European and African continents as she was growing up.
Moiyattu enjoys cultivating communities of women and girls through her company Women Change Africa, an African media brand curating stories and experiences for African female entrepreneurs, and her organization Girls Empowerment Sierra Leone.
This instilled in her a sense of curiosity and love for travel, which is reflected in photography.
She helps women-led startups tell their stories and enhance the visibility of their brands online via her communications boutique firm WCA Creatives.
Her work has been published in Vogue Italia and magazines such as Afroelle, Bronze, LA Style Magazine, Elegant, and others. Aminatouray.com
She teaches courses in social entrepreneurship at Columbia University and was recently recognized by Okay Africa magazine as an #Okay100woman honoree. @womenchangeafrica www.moiyattubanya.com
CONTENTS Dec 2020 - Jan 2021 8. Anna Nyakana- best selling author, motivational speaker and enterprenuer 18. Mother-daughter team, Aline Angelo Mila and Soraya Mila, talk about their new production, Afropolitaine 24. A conversation with Danielle Moné Truitt who plays the character ‘Junie’ in Winter Dunn’s short film, Junebug
32. GG Townson will be starring as the iconic hip hop artist ‘salt’ in the highly anticipated biopic Salt-n-Pepa 36. A colorful story of self-discovery and passion 42. Paige Fraser- Award winning artist, singer and scoliosis advocate 50. Black Opal, a captivating photoshoot 4
PG 26 PG 14
PG 30 5
“History suggests that human beings have an untapped reservoir of resilience.”
t’s been a challenging year, but we’ve almost made it to the end. The pandemic has certainly impacted us in some way. Some people have lost jobs, experienced health and financial problems, or suffered from depression and anxiety. But we have survived. We will always survive. History suggests that human beings have an untapped reservoir of resilience that helps them get through tough times. Our cover model, Paige Fraser, a professional dancer and scoliosis advocate, shares her journey of resilience and the lessons she’s picked up along the way. At the age of 13, Paige Fraser was diagnosed with Scoliosis (a severe curvature of the spine). While Paige was shocked and scared after her diagnosis, she was determined to make a name 6
for herself. Paige has had to do pilates, yoga, floorbare and chiropractic treatment for scoliosis. She now has numerous accomplishments, such as being a ballerina in Beyoncé’s “Mrs. Carter” World Tour video opener and a principal dancer in the global campaign “Experience Amazing” created by INTEL. Paige has also co-founded the Paige Fraser Foundation (TPFF). Danielle Moné Truitt’s story will also inspire you. As a child, Danielle was always singing, dancing and drawing. But she also faced a lot of family issues, including drug addiction. Danielle is now an actor, playing the character ‘Junie’ in Winter Dunn’s short film, ‘Junebug’. She was also recently a series regular on the show, ‘Deputy.’ In another example of resilience, when covid- 19 pandemic broke out, mother and daughter, Aline Angelo Milla and Soraya Milla, had just filmed Afropolitaine, a satirical comedy, for two weeks. It was frustrating for them because their project was bringing together people from Africa and the diaspora. But these challenges made them more creative and motivated. During lockdown, they wrote a new episode and shooting bonus, and interviews for promotional campaigns. We also feature Audra Gordon’s colorful journey through 76 countries around the world. Audra’s experience visiting 26 African countries was eye opening and inspired her to leave her banking career to nurture her creative calling. We finish with a captivating “Black opal,” photoshoot by Naana Yawson, which captures the beauty of Black women. To illustrate this beauty, Naana used a peacock, one of the most beautiful birds. As usual, I will leave you with a quote to keep you going until we meet next time. “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do,” Eleanor Roosevelt. Happy Holidays!!
Niyah Zuri Anna Nyakana is an award-winning author, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur. Anna was born in Berlin, Germany in 1986 to a Ugandan father and a German-Moldavian mother. Her family immigrated to the United States in the early 90's, settling in Stamford, Connecticut. Through her own personal experiences, Anna discovered there was an overwhelming need for multicultural childrenâ€™s books, where heroines could slay the fiercest of dragons versus filling the typical princess in distress role.
â€œI want my young readers of color to gain a knowledge of self and the ancient legacies from which they hail; to understand that their history is beyond the 28 days of Black History Month and that they in fact hail from empires. I also want children who don't identify as a child of color to gain a love and respect for world cultures.â€? Niyah Zuri is a great title. How did it come about? In the first book of the series, Niyah Zuri and her best friends, Miguel and Hugo Gonzales, travel across time with the use of a mystical map. Their mission was to help other children from history conquer challenges that will forever shape the present World. The title "Niyah Zuri and The Pharaoh's Throne" is based on the characters' first official mission to Ancient Egypt to guide Prince Tut to overcoming his fear of rule. It was important to bring my young readers to Africa for we have birthed the world, but our history does not magnify us as the mother of all mankind. So, I will take on the responsibility of teaching our history with honor. What will children learn from reading this book? My aim is to educate and empower children of color to learn their own history without indoctrination and misrepresentation; to understand the glory from which they descend. I also want all children to embrace cultures that are different from their own, so we can all contribute to a loving and empathetic society. With that said, the Niyah Zuri series is based on my fearless heroine, Niyah Zuri.This is aimed to inspire girls and women to kick the damsel in distress concept to the side and step into their highest potential. I would like to encourage them to be heroines in their own stories by using their most precious treasure-their minds.
Photo Credit: Ivan Lopez
Photo Credit: Ivan Lopez
How did your childhood experiences shape this narrative? Growing up, I could never find a character on the cover of a book that looked like me or the children in my neighborhood. As an ESL (English as a Second Language) student, not having characters that l could relate to discouraged my desire to read to improve my English and suppressed a further discovery of self. After discovering the need for representation in childrenâ€™s books was still unfilled, I knew changing that narrative was my purpose. Also, I attended an underfunded, low-performing school and saw how society conditions children into thinking that their zip code determines their possibilities in life. It would be a shame to allow this type of trickery to continue. I am determined to change the narrative by bringing diversity to the classroom and homes worldwide, while empowering our youth to reach their fullest potential. Whatâ€™s your next big project? I am so excited to bring my dream of an animated Niyah Zuri cartoon series to life. After months of storyboarding, I am finally in production of my cartoon teaser "Adventures with Niyah Zuri" that I plan to pitch to networks in the coming months. The cartoon is based on my Niyah Zuri book series and will continue the Niyah Zuri mission of bringing into focus representation, girl empowerment and history through adventure. It will also be an educational resource, which can be utilized in the classroom and virtual learning at home. And yes, Niyah's natural curly hair will be animated with precision; no wild spiral will be spared. What else would you like us to know about you? Niyah Zuri is more than a character, a book, or a brand. It's truly a movement, a genesis of my Niyah Zuri Tribe. Niyah Zuri means "Beautiful Purpose" in Swahili and I created that name to serve a purpose. Everyone has a right to fulfill their own destiny and too many times we are robbed of the belief of our worth and potential during childhood. So, I will continue the work each day to empower our youth and the masses to live beautifully in their purpose in order to transform this world. My children, your children and all the children of this world are going to inherit the impact we are making at this point in history. Let's make it worthy of them.
NUBIANCE ounded in 2014 and based in Paris, Nubiance is dedicated to the development and distribution of dermocosmetic products developed from the most recent scientific discoveries, at competitive prices.
Specialized and focused on â€œNubian skinâ€? (Matte, mixed and black skins), our skin care products particularly target related-skin problems such as pigmentation spots and blemishes of acne prone skin. Nubiance products make no compromise between performance, safety, quality and accessibility to the consumer. Nubiance products are entirely designed and manufactured in France. Our strategy is centered on innovation. We control the entire development chain of our products, from formulation to production and have our own clinical studies carried out by independent experts in France and Africa.
1.AfroElle : How was the brand born? Nubiance Dermocosmetique : Nubiance was born in 2014 from a meeting between a plastic surgeon, a scientist specialized in dermocosmetics and a lover of Africa. They created a 100% made in France range that perfectly answers the problems of imperfection of the epidermis. These 3 collaborators started from the premise that no brand offered dermocosmetic products specially adapted to Nubian skins. Consumers then had the choice between cheap but often very poorly formulated products (hydroquinone, mercurial derivatives, etc.…), and products that were too expensive and not adapted to the specificities of black and mixed skins. The challenge was then to propose a range of well formulated products, adapted to Nubian skins and affordable in terms of price. We had our first successes in Africa (Ivory Coast, Gabon, Senegal, Morocco...) thanks in particular to the many dermatologists who prescribed our products. In Africa, voluntary depigmentation is a real scourge, and dermatologists were lacking solutions to counter this phenomenon which has become a vast public health problem. Building on the success we have had in Africa, we created the Nubiance website in 2017 to offer our products in France and Europe. 2.AfroElle : What about the formulation of your products? How many ranges do you offer? Nubiance Dermocosmetique : We formulate all our products with ingredients selected for their performance and safety. They particularly target hyperpigmentation problems (spots, melasma, pregnancy mask...) and acne. As an example, we were one of the first to believe in the virtues of Bakuchiol on acne (Bakuchiol is an ingredient of plant origin with anti-oxidant properties, which reduces pigmentation spots caused by the sun and soothes the skin). In 2018, we included this ingredient in our “ACT-5” cream and it is now one of our best sellers. Bakuchiol is making a huge “buzz” in the “skincare” industry today. It is a very interesting molecule because it has the advantages of retinol (anti-aging active ingredient), without having its drawbacks (photosensitivity, irritation, redness, dryness, swelling ...). Our products are made in France, and all our formulas are subject to extensive clinical tests, conducted by independent laboratories. We currently have 8 products in our portfolio and we are working on 5 new products that will be released in 2021. 15
4.Afroelle: What routine do you propose to treat and prevent the appearance of acne pimples and blemishes?
Nubiance DermocosmĂŠtique: The Cleanactyl cleansing gel, our Micellar water and our best seller, Atc-5. These are 3 complementary treatments that act on the causes and consequences of acne. Of course, this routine includes our bestseller acne product, ACT-5, which we mentioned earlier. It is very successful in both teenagers and adults, and in both men and women. 5.Afroelle : On average, how long does it take to see results in getting rid of blemishes? Nubiance Dermocosmetique : Our clinical studies - conducted on 40 volunteers - showed visible results after 28 days of use. Our ACT-5 cream shows results after 8 days of application. Whether for blemishes or acne, we always recommend a treatment duration of at least 1 to 2 months before visible results can be observed. Always tell yourself that a product that promises results in 1 or 2 days is either dangerous, toxic, or misleading!
3. Afroelle : What is this particularity of Nubiance, which will differentiate you from others? Nubiance Dermocosmetique : We differ on several points, but our main difference is our innovation in the choice of our formulas and ingredients. We offer innovative products with high added value, intended for consumers who are constantly looking for effective solutions to their skin problems. We respond to specific skin problems (pigmentation spots, acne, melasma...) and our customers appreciate our products for that.
6.Afroelle : What is the link between acne and blemishes? Why is it that in some women one pimple will cause more spots than another?
Nubiance Dermocosmetique: On a dark skin, an acne pimple causes a defense reaction of the skin, translated by an overproduction of melanin that causes a spot. This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
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7.Afroelle : Nubiance has the particularity to integrate its conception up to the level of the active principle. Can you tell us more about it?
Nubiance Dermocosmetique : The holiday season is an opportunity to get together with family and friends. We want to look our best and have beautiful skin, free of spots and acne. Our “My AntiSpot Ritual HRB-3” box set is a great gift idea to put under the tree ☺ We have promotions for the holidays! To take advantage of them, nothing could be easier, just create your customer account on Nubiance, we will send you deals regularly.
9.Afroelle : 3 Good reasons to buy Nubiance Dermocosmetics products for the holidays?
Nubiance Dermocosmetique : Indeed, we have an exclusive partnership with our active ingredient supplier, which allows us to benefit from the latest technological innovations. The active ingredients that we select from our supplier are used in many other products of more important brands, notably bakuchiol, which is really on the rise at the moment.
10.Afroelle : Where to find Nubiance Dermocosmetics products?
8.Afroelle : How would you define a good product?
Nubiance Dermocosmétique : On our website Nubiance. All orders are shipped within 48 hours, and arrive at your home very quickly.
Nubiance Dermocosmetique : At Nubiance, a good product must combine 4 qualities:
11. Afroelle : A last word to our readers ? Nubiance Dermocosmetique Nubiance understands your skin problems ! We will be happy to advise you and guide you towards a suitable skin care routine. You have -20% on your 1st order with the code HELLO20. This month a FREE WAX MASK for any order + a MILK WATER from 40€ of purchases !
• Performance : a product must deliver results. • Safety : the absence of side effects must be guaranteed. We are very vigilant on the toxicological aspects and on the cosmetovigilance of each ingredient we put in our products. •Ethics: a good product must not distort the original and natural beauty of the skin. • Accessibility: beautiful skin must be
See you soon on Nubiance !
“We have chiselled it like a jewel” Mother-daughter team, Aline Angelo Milla and Soraya Milla, talk about Afropolitaine, a fresh and funny satirical comedy that they have created.
For example, they have used photomontages, inlays, parodies, to create a very eclectic form.
hen producing Afropolitaine, Aline and Soraya wanted to move away from the classic theme of relationships between men and women and talk about topics like skin tone, traditional heritage, hair, dance, and food.
“We have chiselled it like a jewel. From the credits, which are all different, and each takes the patterns of a wax fabric whose names are the title of each episode, down to the smallest elements of the promotional campaign, which was launched three weeks before the broadcast and continues throughout season. Everything has been designed and deeply thought out,” Aline says.
The audience will not only be captivated by the storyline, but also the form of the series. Aline and Soraya had a lot of fun creating Afropolitaineand were free in the artistic direction, compared to what they would have done for a cinema project.
“We would like Afro-French people to recognize themselves, to identify in the situations described in our series, and to take an amused look at our quirks and our way of life.”
Representation of Afro-French Aline and Soraya decided to create Afropolitaine when they realized that the Afro-French were being underrepresented or poorly represented in the audiovisual landscape in France. The duo took matters into their own hands and, together with similar minded volunteers, produced the series.
Soraya agrees, and explains that she would like the audiences to see that the media is telling a story of the community without portraying them as a victim -just good entertainment with characters that look like them.
“Some people tell us that we should have approached famous personalities from the Afro-French community to star in our show, but the point was not to sell a big cast and be in the hype,” Soraya says. “On the contrary, we wanted to give the opportunity to young Black actresses and actors who are starting out in the profession, to get roles that really represent them. This is a very simple project, made with next to nothing but love.” Aline says that she would love Black people living in France White people, curious about Black people live, to see the series.
Interesting storyline The series focuses on two sisters and their family antics without the stereotypes. Manda Touré plays Yvoire, a 24-year-old young woman while Tracy Gotoas plays 20- year -old Yanis, a high-school dropout and an activist. Stephanie Vitonou plays their fierce mother Alphonsine whose traditional views clash with modern views of her daughters.
both and how web
Some of the actresses are similar to their characters. “If I had to choose one,” says Soraya. “I would really say that it’s Stéphanie Vitonou who plays Tantie Thérèse. Even though she is not going to be happy reading this, I am already preparing for her to yell at me!! She is a childhood friend that I have from Benin and she is not a professional actress, but she plays this role so naturally.”
“We would like Afro-French people to recognize themselves, to identify in the situations described in our series, and to take an amused look at our quirks and our way of life. We would also like everyone to realize that in our community there are different aspirations and not a single model,” Aline says.
Working together Aline says that working with Soraya was easy. “Soraya and I are very close. I love her deeply as my child and admire the talented young woman she is today.” Aline says that they both respect, listen to, and complement each other. Soraya agrees, “I am a Leo, a fire sign, so I’m always energetic and a go getter, if not impulsive. My mother is a Virgo, and she has a very analytical outlook on things, she always weighs the pros and cons before launching,” she says. “I found out that when you combine these two qualities to manage a project, it’s really ideal! She knows how to calm me down when I want to act too hastily, and I know how to take her hand to dive, because sometimes you just have to go!” Bumps along the road While the process of creating the web series was a fun, Aline and Soraya experienced challenges, such as lack of funding. “When you shoot without a budget, only with volunteer partners, it’s much more difficult. You have two or three different jobs on the set and you must take into account the schedules of every person because they also work elsewhere to earn an income,” says Aline. “Working like this requires twice as much energy, but we wanted to bring our project to life, and we were extremely motivated.”
“I am a Leo, a fire sign, so always energetic and quite a go getter, if not impulsive. My mother is a Virgo, and she has a very analytical outlook on things, she always weighs the pros and cons before launching Also, the Covid- 19 pandemic broke out when they had just filmed for two weeks. “It was really frustrating,” says Soraya. “We wanted the project to bring together people from Africa and the diaspora, our chief operator, Samuel Ouédraogo, came from Ivory Coast.” Samuel had to leave the set in the middle of the day to avoid being stuck in France. But the challenges brought about by Covid-19 only made them more creative and motivated, Soraya explains. They took advantage of the quarantine to move forward on post production and wrote a new episode (there were only nine planned at the beginning). Then they started shooting bonus, and “homemade” interviews in preparation for the promotional campaign. Aline and Soraya plan to develop the original version of Afropolitaine (there is a longer version of this project with 26-minute episodes) and to write a season 2 of Afropolitaine the web series, because the 5-minute format offers a lot of possibilities. They also have a reality TV project that they are keeping secret at the moment.
Danielle plays the character ‘Junie’ in Winter Dunn’s short film, Junebug. Junebug premiered at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) this summer, followed by screenings in the Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival, the Black Women’s Film Network, the Milwaukee Film Festival and in this year’s HollyShorts Film Festival. Danielle was also recently a series regular on the show “Deputy” that you can catch on Hulu. Danielle grew up in South Sacramento, the oldest of four children. As a child, she was always singing, dancing and drawing. She says that they had many family issues, including drug addiction. But her mother was a beautiful example of resilience and her father an example of reconciliation. They brought them up to be fighters and survivors. Because of them, she’s been achieved success as an actor. She shares her story with Afroelle in this Q &A interview.
“I think one lesson I’ve
learned is that you have to find a way to not internalize the opinions of others. You can’t put too much importance on what people think of you, whether it’s good or bad. Because when you do, you give others the power to influence the way you see yourself and your value. I’ve also learned that failure is a myth. There is really no such thing as failure because each perceived failure is only aiding you in reaching your ultimate goal. ”
What events set you on this path?
Then he pointed at me and said “This one right here. She has many gifts.”
I always say that the arts saved my life. Growing up in the hood sometimes only presents one path, but singing and dancing made me want more and dream for more. It was my escape from the dysfunction in our household.
Did you have any mentors who influenced you? Most of my mentors came from college. One was Dr. Linda Goodrich. She helped cultivate my love for Black theatre. As a teenager, I was a part of a summer project called “Positive Directions” and it had a profound impact on me. There I developed the mindset that I could do anything I put my mind to and could achieve my dreams.
When I was a young girl, my mom was approached by a man in the parking lot of the grocery store. We were going through a rough time and the man encouraged her with a scripture. Then he looked inside the car and asked if me and my siblings were her children. He told her that we were all very special. Then he pointed at me and said “This one right here. She has many gifts. She will touch the world with her gifts”. My Mama has told me that story many times and it has inspired and encouraged me along my journey.
What lessons would you like to share with upcoming actors? I think one lesson I’ve learned is that you have to find a way to not internalize the opinions of others. You can’t put too much importance on what people think of you, whether it’s good or bad. Because when you do, you give others the power to influence the way you see yourself and your value.
How did that journey lead you here? I started acting in college and fell in love with theatre and acting. After college I worked at a professional theatre and got my equity card. Three years later I moved to LA and here I am now! 28
I’ve also learned that failure is a myth. There is really no such thing as failure, because each perceived failure is only aiding you in reaching your ultimate goal. The only true failure is desiring the appearance of success and setting goals in a way that don’t stretch or challenge you. With all that said, if you’re not failing, you’re actually not succeeding at all. What motivates you to do what you do? I am motivated by love. Love for the craft of acting. Love for the art of storytelling. Love for my people and our culture. Love for my children and the opportunity to show them that if you work hard and don’t quit, you can achieve more than you even imagined. What are your future plans? I plan to produce and direct. I am writing a web series that I want to shoot in the near future. And I plan to work on projects that challenge and inspire me.
Would you like us to know anything else about you? I am a Mother to two amazing Black Sons. They give me hope. They inspire me and I am on a journey to become my best self because of them. It’s the most important role I will ever play. I love them so much. Danielle stars in Junebug, a film that journeys through 28-year old Junie’s most challenging writer’s block hurdle: How do you explain someone both impossible to love and impossible not to? The short film, which premiered recently at American Black Film Festival (ABFF) this fall, explores the fierce love between a daughter and father, the nostalgic and transitive power of music and the lasting impact of their complicated relationship. You can follow update on the Junebug’s next showings on Instagram at @Junebugfilm and #Junebugfilm
GG Townson GG will be starring as the iconic hip hop artist “Salt” in the highly-anticipated biopic Salt-NPepa. Salt-N-Pepa details the journey of Queensborough Community College students, Cheryl “Salt” James and Sandra “Pepa” Denton, as they enter the world of rap and hip-hop after recording a song for their friend Hurby Azor. Photo credit: Stephanie Girard
Growing up I grew up in Los Angeles in the Slauson and Overhill area. Growing up in the late 90s early 2000s was such a fun experience. Backyard boogies, P-jammie jams, Black Planet, MySpace, The Loop, and AIM, took up most of my time. I’m the youngest of three siblings and the only girl. My brothers and I were always having friends over at my house. I was the kid who was always entertaining. Even my mom says I use to sing in my crib as a baby. I knew this was the industry I wanted to be in and I was always in class and studying various actresses in genres that I could see myself being in. My grandfather saw my interest in entertainment and introduced me to his agent, who signed me. GG has strong family ties to the music industry. Her grandfather Ron Townson was one of the lead singers of the iconic vocal group Fifth Dimension. The group became well known during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s for their popular hit songs, such as “Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” and many others. Landing a role on the Salt-N- Pepa biopic My agent called me while I was at work. When I picked up the phone, he said can I speak to Cheryl James. I was so confused and hesitated that I responded, wait, what? He repeated himself, asking to speak with Cheryl James, then it hit me, and I immediately started crying!Salt-N-Pepa made a huge impact as one of the first allfemale rap groups and changed the look of hip-hop. The movie follows the group as they become the first female rap act to go platinum and experience groundbreaking success with multiple awards, including a Grammy Award, paving the way for all female rappers to follow. The biopic is set to premiere on Lifetime off-therecord January 23, 2021. Industry lessons One lesson that was the hardest for me to grasp was letting go after an audition. It’s so easy to get caught up in the feeling that you are the perfect person for the role, but many other factors contribute to an actor getting a job that the actor has no control over. Once I learned to do my part, release it, and give it to God, all of my nos’ turned into my staircase to the Yes. Future plans I plan to continue excelling in my acting career. I also plan to only accept roles that challenge me and my talents, while finding time to birth passion projects of my own. I may even bring home an award or two.
Kadjoé Design Kadjoé Design offers high quality and authentically made African inspired fashion. This inspiration manifests itself in the form of vibrant, eye-catching and dynamic pieces that can be worn casually, for a night out, or for formal events. Each piece is created for women to feel beautiful, elegant, sexy and powerful simultaneously. The fabrics are sourced from and pieces handmade in Ivory Coast (West Africa) .We understand that women want to feel like they are included in the designs when it comes to dressing their bodies. This is why we spend our time constructing clothing that fit perfectly, flatter body’s shape and make these queens feel confident when wearing them. The Kadjoé Design brand makes an inspiring statement of unity, diversity, beauty and elegance. KD has been more than just about fashion statements, it’s also a movement. A movement of uplifting young girls to love themselves and for older women to not let age does define who they are. KD is beacon that promotes self-worth and allows women to be bold in every way they can while wearing their pieces. www.kadjoedesign.com Instagram:@kadjoe.design Facebook:@kadjoedesign
A colorful story of
self-discovery & passion Audra Gordon’s curiosity has taken her to 76 countries around the world but it was her experience visiting 26 African countries that inspired her to leave her banking career to nurture her creative calling. Audra is now the Founder of Beam Bold, a vibrant resort wear brand for color lovers of all sizes. She is a Caribbean born, New Yorker, avid traveler, and a longterm Hong Kong expat. By Audra Gordon
left Hong Kong for Ghana with two passports and four visas in hand. I was aware that my Caribbean passport provided the privilege of having reduced cost or visa-free access to many African countries. So, I intended on visiting as many countries as possible on a small budget. From Ghana, I headed to Togo by road then returned to Ghana to make my way further west to Ivory Coast. While there, I was forced to take a break from exploring West Africa upon learning that my Angola visa was about to expire.
I took buses, taxis, and even a motorbike with my 50-pound suitcase on the back to commute from one country to the next. What was most special about my journey was that I was hosted by local families in every country except one during my trip. This allowed me to make meaningful connections and experience each country from a local’s perspective. With no advance departure bookings, I extended my time in some places and experienced freedom like never before.I indulged in local cuisine and was captivated by the beautiful landscapes from coast to coast.
After 3 weeks in Southern Africa – Angola, Namibia, & Botswana, I headed back to complete my road trip across West Africa. 37
Each time I travel to the motherland I felt at home, but my extended solo journey allowed me to fall deeper in love with the African continent. Fun moments Africa
I began researching options to commute from one country to the next and learned that exploring the continent by road was significantly more cost-efficient than flying. In some instances, I paid less than USD$10 to travel from one country to the next by road and had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The other disparity that comes to mind between my experience and mass mediaâ€™s portrayal of traveling the African continent is their notion that traveling Africa is unsafe. I have traveled mostly solo across over a dozen countries by road and felt safe the entire time.
My journey across the continent was life-changing. My connection to the locals was most meaningful but some of my fun moments include exploring beautiful beaches, fabric shopping, and getting colorful dresses made as I crossed each border. I also enjoyed eating & learning to make local dishes, dancing to the sound of Afrobeats, and attending music festivals. I was fascinated by the creativity of the people so I spent a significant amount of time at the markets buying local art and crafts. I particularly have fun memories of my playful moments in the desert in Mauritania and Namibia. I have begun sharing my journey across Africa on my blog and will continue to provide more useful tips to help others navigate the continent by road.
I met so many kind strangers who referred to me as their sister and assisted me along the way. I also visited eight French-speaking countries and three Portuguese countries and managed to navigate while only speaking English. I must note that the generosity of the locals and their commitment to making you feel at home in their country warmed my heart.
Disparities between mass mediaâ€™s portrayal of Africa and the reality
The journey was smoother than anticipated
My trip was unplanned so I researched only the basics, such as the currency used in each destination and the cost difference between acquiring visas using my US and St.Vincent passport. I was prepared for transportation cost to be a significant portion of my budget since the narrative about high transportation cost for traveling in Africa has been widely discussed.
My journey across Africa went smoother than anticipated. However, two challenges come to mind when I reflect on my time there. The first was when I arrived at the airport in Sao Tome with no cash in hand and had to be rescued by a local. 38
I met so many kind strangers who referred to me as their sister and assisted me along the way.
It was common practice for me to use the local ATMs to avoid traveling with large sums of cash. However, upon exiting customs control in Sao Tome, I learned that the ATMs on the island did not support international cards. I am uncertain about whether this is still the case today so you should arrive with some cash in hand as a precaution if you intend on exploring Sao Tome. The Beam Bold brand idea was born in Africa. While traveling in Ghana, I met a traveler who disclosed that she owned nothing black. Our conversation about our shared love for brightcolored clothing sparked the idea of merging my love of travel and fashion to launch a resort wear brand for color lovers of all size. After living in Hong Kong for almost 9 years, Iâ€™ve faced challenges accessing size and length appropriate clothing options so size inclusion also became a core element of my brand, Beam Bold. When you spend months reconnecting with nature while traveling across Africa you will have a different relationship with the planet. While working on my first collection, I was contacted by a company in South Africa to assist them with finding a solution to the textile waste problem in Africa.
I realized then that although I was exposed to some of the impacts of textile waste, I was unaware of the magnitude of the problem which forced some African counties to ban secondhand clothes. My love for the African continent inspired me to do something about it. So, I design for long-term use pieces to keep them out of the landfills and specifically those in Africa. About Beam Bold Beam Bold is inspired by my vibrant Caribbean heritage and my journey across the globe. The brand is not just about color, it embodies freedom, comfort, and individuality. We use bright colors & bold prints to empower women and girls to be bold and to embrace their individuality. Moms and daughters can now access matching Beam Bold dresses for their travels and staycations from our mommy and me collection. Our pieces are available in a full size range up to 3X large and in petite, short, regular, & tall lengths. I am currently looking to collaborate with artists who are from The Caribbean, Africa, and the diaspora on creating textile prints in vibrant colors for future collections. Get in touch if you are an emerging creative with aligned interests or would like to collaborate. You can reach me at connect@ audraverse.com or on Instagram @ beam_bold.
Award Winning Artist and Scoliosis advocate
At the age of 13, Paige Fraser was diagnosed with Scoliosis (a severe curvature of the spine). Despite what doctors said, she was able to make a name for herself and live her wildest dreams. But she has had to do a lot of work to make it to this point of her areer.
Paige shares her Inspiring story
Words by Paige Fraser
grew up in a West Indian household. My parents are both from Jamaica, and so is majority of my family. I was born and raised in a three-story family home in The Bronx, NY; where my aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandmother lived. I loved living with my relatives, I could go downstairs to visit my aunt or grandmother whenever I wanted. Their doors were always open, and you could smell the beautiful aroma of Jamaican food whenever anyone was cooking. New Yearâ€™s Eve was the best because my aunt would host a party for all our family to attend. Growing up in NY was quite an experience. You grow up fast as a New Yorker because you see so much no matter how much your parents try to shelter you. My experiences in NY has made into the woman/artist I am today. As a child, my father would always play music on his big speakers. His record collection was diverse, ranging from Bob Marley to Luther Vandross. My mom is a writer and has produced several plays. I grew up in a household that embraced the arts, so it was destined for me to be creative. My parents said that I was always dancing around to music. We could be at the mall or in the car, I was always moving my body. One day, I was at the mall with my mom. Apparently, I was dancing around so much another woman noticed and suggested to my mom that she register me for dance classes. The rest is history. I started dancing at the age of four. I had also tried many other after school activities like swimming and ice skating. In elementary school, I played the drums and clarinet in the school band. I was actually a really good drummer, but dance was the thing I could not live without. I would literally rush home from school to do my homework so that I could go to dance class. At the age of 10, my teacher gave me the incredible opportunity to play Clara in The Nutcracker. I did not realize how big of a deal this was until years later. At the time, I was attending a ballet studio in Westchester, NYC. Majority of the students who attended this studio and the owners were White. The fact that my teacher cast an African American girl as Clara was major. It was encouraging to know that my teacher believed in me and that was a turning point in my life. I wanted to make my teachers and parents proud and worked really hard in rehearsals. This role helped me discover my love of performing. I loved being on stage by myself under the lights. Where most young kids would have been scared, I felt free. This moment sparked something in me. I knew from then I wanted to be a professional dancer.
It was encouraging to know that my teacher believed in me and that was a turning point in my life.
High-school In my freshman year of high school, I began attending Professional Performing Arts High School in Manhattan, NYC. I was accepted as a dance major, which means I received dance training from the prestigious Alvin Ailey School. The training at Ailey was also very different for me. Up until this point I had been doing classical Ballet, but when I began attending Ailey I was exposed to Modern, Jazz and African. My diagnosis of scoliosis honestly came out of nowhere. Here I am attending this new performing arts high school where I am learning various styles of dance, and then boom! I am told I have a serious spinal condition. As you can image, this is the worst news a dancer could hear. I was 13 years old at the time of my diagnosis. It was a regular day. I went in for a regular yearly exam and my doctor asked me to bend over to check my spine. My doctor was kind, but very direct. During the assessment, he noticed a slight bump on the right side of my back and recommended I get an x-ray immediately. My parents and I made an appointment to get an x-ray and meet with an orthopedic surgeon. It was all happening way too fast. I had so many thoughts in my head as they were doing the x-ray procedure. I had never had an x-ray before. It also did not help that he surgeon who we met following my x-ray was extremely serious. He was a very tall man. I remember being very afraid of by him. I was 13 years old, and this was a lot to take in. Seeing the x-ray of my spine left me in disbelief. My spine was the curved in two places making it have an S shape. The surgeon explained to me and my parents that over time my curvature could get worse and that he recommended surgery. He explained how scoliosis can affect your organs and breathing. Hearing the word surgery was extremely heartbreaking. My heart was pounding. I wanted to become a professional dancer and the thought of having metal rods and screws put into my back was terrifying. I looked at my parents for support and reassurance. I could see that my dad was not having it. I was so thankful they were with me that day. It was honestly the worst day of my life. My parents were against surgery especially because I was still growing. We decided to go with the other option, which was back bracing. I was fitted for two braces; a small brace that I wore during the day and a larger brace that I wore to sleep.
Here I am attending this new performing arts high school where I am learning various styles of dance, and then boom! I am told I have a serious spinal condition.
When I think back to how scared and ashamed I was about having scoliosis, I am so grateful I did not give up or let any doctor persuade me to stop dancing.
A lot of work on my part Since being diagnosed, I have learned so much about my body. It has been 16 years since my diagnosis, and I am still surgery free. Maintaining a stable spine has required a lot of work on my part. I do a ton of body conditioning: Gyrotonics, Pilates, Yoga for scoliosis, Floorbarre, and Chiropractic treatment. This weekly regimen has allowed me to last as a dancer without needed surgery and without any serious injuries.I have grown to appreciate my body and all it has been awble to do despite having this condition. Yes, things are harder for me to do because of the limitation scoliosis creates but pushing through this challenge has given me a resilient and strong spirit. Having scoliosis has taught me to listen to my body and what it needs. When I think back to how scared and ashamed, I was about having scoliosis, I am so grateful I did not give up or let any doctor persuade me to stop dancing. I know so many talented artists that hear the word “NO” or “YOU CAN’T” and they actually believe it. But here I am moving forward and proving so many people and doctors wrong. Successful career I am very thankful for my career and all I have achieved. I am a graduate of Fordham University where I received a BFA from Alvin Ailey. My senior year of college I was handpicked to be one of twelve dancers in Ailey 2. Following my two years in Ailey 2, I took a leap of faith, moved to Chicago from NY, and joined Visceral Dance Chicago. I am a founding dancer of this company because I joined the year it started. I remained in this company for 6 years. During my time in that company I won a Princess Grace in Dance and was named Dance Magazine Top 25 to Watch. I always say that leaving NY opened so many doors for me. I am still living in Chicago and pursuing my dreams. When I left Visceral Dance Chicago, I booked my first musical theater job, West Side Story at The Lyric Opera of Chicago. I was a ballerina in Beyoncé’s “Mrs. Carter” World Tour video opener. I have also been featured in ELLE Magazine’s “The Movement” Series. I was also the principal dancer in a global campaign “Experience Amazing” created by INTEL.
My biggest accomplishment is founding the Paige Fraser Foundation (TPFF). TPFF was established in 2017 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with Paige Fraser as Founder and Artistic Director and Lesmah J. Fraser as Co-Founder and President. The mission of TPFF is to create a safe space for aspiring young artists, with or without disabilities, to reach their full potential in Dance, Music, Theater and the Visual Arts. See more about our work www.thepaigefraserfoundation.org
Black Opal Photographer: Kadeeme Kamise | @kadeemekamise Model: Naana Yawson | @nyawson_ Make-up Artist: Jerkeema Garrett | @kemo.sabeee By Naana Yawson
his photo is all about the internal and external beauty of Black women and our ability to see that beauty. I chose a peacock because peacocks are one of the most beautiful birds on earth. In addition, the tip of a male peacock’s tail represents the eyes of stars, eyes that see beauty, because they resemble an eye. This beauty shot captures a few eyes of stars. The first is the makeup on the left eye of the model. It’s made to resemble the tip of the tail of a peacock to represent the beauty we all see. The lighting is dimmed on her right eye to represent the beauty we sometimes don’t see in ourselves and the beauty the world fails to recognize.The same with her ears, both sides have feathers/ eyes of stars, but one side is dark and the other has light. The experiences of a Black woman speaks volumes. Whether it’s her struggles, her success or her knowledge, her voice is normally not heard. Her left eye represents the times where she is heard. The second is the dark background and the feathers the model is holding. The dark background shows that there is so much darkness in the world, but there is also light. We choose to hold on to the light because Black women are strong.
This edition contains inspirational stories of women of African descent.