BRONZE deceMBER 2019
“THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE” STAR
FRANCES TURNER on her early career & how she prepares for a role
MISS BLACK USA TEKEMA BALENTINE on pagaentry, advocacy & empowerment of young girls
10 FABULOUS HOLIDAY GIFTS for her
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December 2019 Editor’s Note Brrrrrrrrr Bronze Beauties! It’s December and it’s cold outside. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and now that it’s behind us, Christmas is quickly approaching. Make sure you look at our holiday gift guide in this month’s issue on pages 12 and 13 featuring our carefully curated gift items for that “superwoman” in your life. Also, our very own “Joyful” fleece sweatshirt on page 3 makes the perfect gift. It can be worn off one shoulder and is so soft and cozy you’ll want one for yourself!
Cover Star: Miss Black USA TeKema Balentine Photographer: Melissa Austin Photography FOUNDER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Shawn Stuldivant
What better way to close out the year than to have the beautiful TeKema Balentine, the currently reigning Miss Black USA grace our cover. After reading about her you will understand why she was chosen to wear the crown. Her journey to the title/crown was not an easy one. You will feel inspired and empowered by her determination not to let obstacles define her. We are honored to feature TeKema along with all the other amazing women spotlighted in this issue. This issue makes the perfect gift for yourself and someone else that you want to uplift. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and we look forward to bringing you more inspiration in the New Year.
CO-OWNER Barry Stuldivant ISSUE DESIGN BY Shawn Stuldivant WRITERS Abena Boateng Tiarsha Harrison Marian Nimoh Kiara Timo
xoxo, n w a h S
DECEMBER 2019 4 Editor's Note 6 CHRISTIANA AFOTEY OF THREADS BY DREADS Feature 8 ACTRESS FRANCES TURNER Feature 12 HOLIDAY GIFTS 2019 10 awesome gifts for the "superwoman" in your life. 18 HEALTHY ROOTS DOLLS OWNER YELISTA JEAN-CHARLES Feature 20 ACTRESS LUNDEN DE'LEON Feature 24 KENNEDY DENDY Feature
PHOTO CREDIT: MELISSA AUSTIN PHOTOGRAPHY
Talks about her road to the crown, overcoming obstacles and her advocacy. Story on p.14
CHRISTIANA AFOTEY: THREADS BY DREADS by Kiara Timo
It all begins with Africa. That’s the saying, right? Well, for entrepreneur Christiana Afotey, it’s more specific than that. Her story begins in the beautiful country of Ghana. While she is first generation American, she began her annual trips to Ghana at the age of three and grew up in a Ghanaian household in the Garden State, New Jersey. “My mom and dad wanted to make sure that I know where I come from.” It was that upbringing mixed with her love of the homeland that inspired Afotey to create a brand dedicated to her culture, which she named Threads by Dreads. 6
Afotey is all about purpose. Stating the importance of identity and connecting to the continent of Africa, she notes all that goes into picking the fabric and colors of all her designs. “Threads by Dreads is an apparel line that strives to look bold. Our passion is to help anyone feel good, not just on the outside but inside as well,” she says. Afrocentrism has been on a steep rise in mainstream culture, both nationally and internationally over the past few years, making this the perfect time to provide consumers with apparel that so heavily expresses a sense of identity, and the culture that so greatly inspires Afotey.
The first generation American shares what inspired her to create a brand dedicated to her culture.
“My mom and dad wanted to make sure that I know where I come from.”
“Afrocentric Apparel, it’s already here! she says. “It’s already immersed in so many ways of life and in how people present the wardrobes that they decide to wear. There are artists, especially celebrities like Jidenna, who strives to make sure he incorporates his roots. When he’s rapping and has his Trap music on in the background, he’s still got on traditional wear. Nigeria or whichever country he’s representing, he still proudly wears [it]. So, it’s already here." As she grows her business, Afotey is also trying to improve it by participating in the growing socially conscious movement. “This year weare trying to cut down on waste,” she says. “So, what we have incorporated is giving out the scraps that we have produced from manufacturing our apparel and accessories. We import those scraps and keep the fabric that would otherwise have been thrown away and trashed.
We have partnership with local artists here in Nashville where we donate the scraps to them so they can use it and incorporate it into their art projects." A resident of Nashville, Tennessee, Afotey was inspired by the sense of community she felt whenever she thought about or went to Ghana, so after she began Threads by Dreads she also decided to start a scholarship foundation in honor of her mother for high school and college students in Ghana, called the Mrs. Fedelia Adokailey Mensah Scholarship Award, which provides up to one thousand Ghana Cedis, an estimated two hundred and fifty US Dollars, to students in Ghana. Ten percent of the proceeds from every Threads by Dreads sale goes to funding the scholarship as well as any donation given to the cause.
““I felt so passionately obligated—a calling to do something now for the people and for those who have helped me get to where I am now; those who I have not had the chance to say ‘thank you so much for sacrificing so much for me.’ In this privileged state that I’m in, I can help those that have either come before me or are here with me now. I’m able to help and if it’s in my blood, and if it’s in my breath, and I’m able to take a step every day and do what I can to the best of my abilities, then I’m going to do what’s right; and I’m going to help the people who have helped us and those who are in need of assistance who aren’t able to speak for themselves.”
If it’s not clear to you yet, Afotey believes in more than meaningless exchanges. In addition to creating her scholarship she tries to stay in touch with as many as the recipients as she can, providing them not only with financial assistance but the possibility of mentorship. “I make it a point to give out my personal cell phone number and my e-mail, because I want to know how that student is doing.”With plans of creating another scholarship foundation to honor her father, Christiana Afotey makes it clear that family, community, and ancestry are the most important values for her. “We’re not going anywhere. We are just getting started.”
Actress Frances Turner stars as Belle Mallory in the 4th and final season of the critically acclaimed Amazon Prime series "The Man in The High Castle,” which premiered on November 15, 2019. The series is based on the novel by award winning writer Phillip K. Dick and shows how the world would’ve looked if World War II had a different outcome. From recent appearances in Blue Bloods and Quantico and previous appearances in Time After Time, Lethal Weapon and Powerless, Frances Turner’s life changed once she decided to get in tune with her creative side. She is the true definition of do what makes you happy, Born and raised in New Rochelle, Turner grew up the youngest of two sisters with her mom and dad. She was named after her “artist” dad and grandfather. Her dad, who was born in Detroit, Michigan, moved to Brooklyn during his teen years. He studied architecture at Howard State University and became one of the first licensed architects in New York City. He centered his work around Black neighborhoods, making affordable and nice living areas in Harlem to help his people. Her mother was one of 12 siblings and had the largest family in New Rochelle at the time. She worked as a middle teacher for students with disabilities in the public-school district in New Rochelle.
Growing up, Turner was exposed to many African American greats because of how cultured her parents were and the neighborhood they grew up in. They lived in a very special area in New Rochelle that was not only “beautiful,” but it was also 90% black. Their neighbors consisted of first-generation middle-class people who were teachers, accountants and more. Some of their neighbors included influential Black role models such as the late African American playwright William B Branch. Their tight-knit community helped younger African American kids become exposed to being successful and not having any limitations to their future. “My mom was big on exposure, as a kid I saw the original Dream Girls and the original Wiz on Broadway,” Turner says. She remembers her mom making it a point for her and her sisters to go see Nelson Mandela when he was freed from prison and made his first trip to New York City. Her parents made sure to expose her and her sisters to influential black figures that made an impact in the world. Making sure they were comfortable in their own skin and the essence of being black was implemented in their family. “I wish I could bottle up how my parents raised me and my sister and sell it,” Turner says.
"I wish I could bottle up how my parents raised me and my sister and sell it." When it came to academics and extracurricular activities, Turner was described as smart and dedicated. On the weekends she would go to the Dance Theatre of Harlem where she took ballet and jazz classes. She always wanted to learn new things, and stuck with it the longest among her sisters. She played many instruments such as the flute and the piano; and whenever she got bored with one, she would pick another. After high school, Turner knew she wanted to be a lawyer after watching the former TV show LA Law. “Blair Underwood was in it and he made being a lawyer look so good,” Turner said. At one point she thought about being an actress but figured it was “unrealistic.” “I asked my mom in fifth grade to take me to get head shots and she took me, although we never did anything with them,” she laughed. She also was influenced to become a lawyer because she grew up during the Central Park Five Case. She remembered watching it on the news with her family and knew it felt wrong and wanted to do something about it. From then she realized she wanted to go to law school and become a civil rights attorney. She attended Cornell University for her undergrad studies, then Georgetown Law School where she graduated with honors. After law school, she was recruited by one of the most prestigious law firms in NYC, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where she worked as a corporate attorney. After working there for a few years, Turner began to wonder what was next for her. “I was a good lawyer, but I wasn’t passionate about it,” Turner said. After working there for a few years, she started to think about what she should do next, but still in the law field. Around the same time that she was searching for her next stage in her life, she was reading a New York Times article about a popular acting coach, Susan Batson, who had 20 years of experience working with Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Rock and more, and she had an acting studio in New York. (continued on next page)
"One day in January I woke up and it was like a moment of clarity."
A year into it, she finally realized that acting was her calling. “I think I found my passion and I freaked out,” Turner said. She didn’t know how she was going to express this to her parents and thought they were going to judge her. She couldn’t get over the fact that she was about to leave a well-paying career for something with no security. Turner thought maybe she could do entertainment law but realized that acting was what she wanted to do. “One day in January I woke up and it was like a moment of clarity,” Turner said. But Turner didn’t just up and quit her job to become an actress. She took a five month leave of absence to focus on getting gigs. She ended up going back to work for a few more months then officially left the law firm. Leaving her lawyer life wasn’t easy; Turner didn’t know how she was going to tell her parents. With the help of Susan Batson’s encouraging words, she was able to break her fears and tell her mom. “When I told my mom she said, ‘Well, you know you can always come home.’ “That gave me all the support I needed,” Turner said. Turner’s first big break on the big screen was when she was a co-star on the highly favored TV show Law and Order, where she played the role of Nurse Byrd. Although it wasn’t a huge role, being able to be on a TV series that was so well-known was an amazing experience for Turner. “To shoot it was exciting, but to see it was mind blowing,” she said.
I see a picture of her, and she is a black woman, a tiny black woman and I was fascinated by her,” Turner said. After calling the studio’s number, which took Turner about a few weeks to get through, she finally reached someone who told her to come down to the studio for a class which was the following day. Unfortunately, Turner didn’t go due to “fear.” The next week, she was on the train and decided to get off at the stop where Susan Batson’s studio was. “I was on my way home from work and something made me get off, Turner said. When meeting Batson for the first time, Batson told her, “I see something in you, but you got to give me six months to find your true self,” Turner said. While juggling being a lawyer and an aspiring actress, one class became two, then three and before you knew it, Turner was going to her acting classes right after work and coming home late nights. 10
When it comes to the actress Frances Turner, for her to perfect her role, she spends time studying the character that she plays to get a better feel of who they are and how she will portray them. For example, for her role as Belle Mallory in “The Man in The High Castle,” Turner wanted to get a feel of who Belle actually was. When she found out that Belle used to play piano, she started taking piano lessons again. Furthermore, every role that Turner played, she connects with each character and always finds a piece of her in each role. When people discover that Turner has a law degree, they become interested and want to know about this life changing switch. Turner never felt like she was taking a risk, but simply following her dreams. “The dynamic of talented artists coming together to produce something is amazing and everyone is important. When I go see films I stay until the entire credits end to honor those people who had a part in making that piece of art,” Turner said. Francis Turner is a true Queen who isn’t afraid to follow her dreams. With the support of her family and her drive for acting, Francis Turner’s life changed once she found her true passion and stuck with it.
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MISS BLACK USA
TeKema Balentine has a message for young girls
Written by Marian Nimoh
As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Obstacles arise daily, but TeKema Balentine, the recently crowned Miss Black USA does not allow her obstacles to define her. Instead, the scholar, graduate student, activist and empowerment speaker sees her obstacles as opportunities, and education is her secret weapon to overcoming challenges; and it is an important tool she uses as her platform to encourage black girls to stay in school and have a plan for themselves. Balentine was born in Dyersburg, Tennessee. She has three siblings and was raised by a single mother in Madison, Wisconsin where she currently resides. As a young girl, Balentine desired to become a psychiatrist because she wanted to understand people and the issues that her family faced on a deeper level. She quickly changed her mind after completing her freshman year at Madison College and having the opportunity to work at a psychiatric hospital. “I realized I wanted to do more hands on. I wanted to do procedures. Psychiatrists don't really do a lot of hands on, so, I decided to go into nursing. It is flexible and there are many branches to choose from,” says Balentine.
Like almost every college student who must go through finances to pay off their college bill, Balentine was not allowing her financial struggles to stop her from attending school. She Googled various scholarships to apply for when she came across information on receiving a scholarship by joining a beauty pageant.
"I would like to be a nurse practitioner and specialize in pregnancy and childhood development." She seized this opportunity and decided to join the pageant. Balentine’s journey throughout the pageant was not an easy process. She was juggling online classes, working part-time as a high school Track and field coach, as well as being a part-time caregiver. Juggling two jobs to pay off her debts, Balentine did not have enough money for the pageant. “I had a difficult time raising money. So, I started a go fund me page and used all the money to buy dresses for the pageant, but I was short of money, so I had a fundraising event, networked and met people, and I received an anonymous donation for $2500. I was able to pay off the rest of my fundraising fees. It took me seven months to raise money,” says Balentine. Despite her financial difficulties entering the pageant, Balentine did not allow that to limit her. After receiving enough money for the pageant, she drove 15 hours from Wisconsin to Washington D.C., and with determination and grit, Balentine became Miss Black USA.
As a board member of Providers and Teens Communicating for Health, or P.A.T.C.H, an organization founded to advocate for health awareness and mental health resources for teens and adults, Balentine is working towards breaking the community gap by advocating for more awareness about mental health in the African American community. She looks positively towards a bright future, in hopes that she has not yet found her purpose; because she is young and would like to achieve and explore more things. “I would like to be a nurse practitioner and specialize in pregnancy and childhood development. I want to assist the community in positive healthcare experiences, especially the black community, where black women often have difficulties in pregnancy.” Balentine has been accepted to the Nursing Associate program at Madison College in Wisconsin where she will begin classes in Spring 2020.
"The quality of life does not exist for a person of color who doesn't have an education." When it comes to education and having a plan for herself, Balentine is no stranger at it. She wants black girls to be excited about school and dedicate themselves to their studies. “As a young black girl, it is hard to see a future for yourself because you do not have the resources to get there in that moment. I want girls to be aware that their economic status and where they are right now has nothing to do with them and that will pass. Eventually, they will have control of that and all they must do is be dedicated to their education. Young girls should remind themselves of their goals and stick to it. Determination and dedication are key to help them push through adversity.” Balentine believes that “education is power,” and young black girls should do the best they can each day by building themselves up academically. She believes that with education, your knowledge cannot be taken away from you, and she also quotes from the president of Madison College, Dr. Jack E. Daniels, III, that “The quality of life does not exist for a person of color who doesn't have an education.” Balentine loves animals. She has two dogs, a python, a cat, five different fishes and a gecko. She is currently helping girls from the high school she attended earn prom dresses by writing an essay. @prettybrown.thing @MissBlackUSA
By Tiarsha Harrison
From Yelista’s experiences, that is how the company began. The original concept started while she was studying Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. “I was tasked with redesigning Rapunzel and I chose to turn her into a little brown girl with kinky curly hair to show girls like me that we can be princesses too.” Once the idea of Healthy Roots Dolls was accepted to the Brown University Social Innovation Fellowship, Yelista researched children’s products and learned that toys also influence how kids think, act and in turn, see themselves. “Zoe is more than just a doll; she teaches girls to love their hair and her own hair is a unique fiber that can be washed and styled with hair care products just like real hair.”
“We want to make sure all girls love themselves from a young age and have the confidence to be whatever they want to be.”
Studies have shown the importance of representation in the media and the effect it has on children’s development and selfesteem. “Our mission is to make sure no one feels less than because of the kink of their curl or the color of their skin. It is important for all children to have strong self-esteem as it can have a long-term impact on their development, academic performance and ultimate career. We want to make sure all girls love themselves from a young age and have the confidence to be whatever they want to be,” shares Yelista. Yelista was destined to be an entrepreneur. From an early age, she showcased the qualities. “I have always been passionate about leaving an impact and creating change.
It just so happens that I’ve created a company that creates toys that do just that. Visual arts have a unique responsibility to educate our society through our work.” Yelista plans to always work to empower children and instill confidence in young girls to combat societal pressures to change themselves.
Change is an epitome to growth. Healthy Roots Dolls has recently launched the reimagined Zoe doll in partnership with P&G’s My Black is Beautiful Campaign. The company is also excited to be a vendor at this year’s Detroit Holiday Market in Downtown Detroit. “This is the chance for our local Detroiters to come on down and meet Zoe if they haven’t already!” All in all, young girls should feel beautiful just the way they are and make choices based on what they want and not how society tells them they should wear their hair. Healthy hair is good hair. “Curly hair is beautiful and there are so many fun ways to style it. We should all be able to wear our hair in whatever style makes us feel confident and beautiful.” To follow the movement, Healthy Roots Dolls can be found on Instagram & Facebook @healthyrootsdolls and Twitter @RootsDolls
By Abena Boateng
Colin Powell once said, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” These words best describe the adored actress Lunden De’Leon, as she never gave up focusing on her dreams, which led her to much success. Starring in over 50 different films and being an entrepreneur, De’Leon is the epitome of hard work paying off. Born in Barbados and raised in South Carolina, De’Leon didn’t let her past of living in poverty affect her future. Residing right down the block from the projects, her dad was her inspiration to continue to strive for greatness. Although they didn’t have much, he always made sure there was food on the table and made sure she always had faith in Christ. “I wasn’t going to let where I came from dictate where I was going,” De’Leon says. As she got older, De’Leon’s acting career took off, leading her to much recognition in the entertainment industry. Being a successful woman of color in the industry may seem impossible compared to other non-African American and/or male actors, but De’Leon didn’t let this stigma weigh her down. She was mentioned in the Hip hop-based magazine “The Ave” as “one of the most significant women in entertainment.” The magazine covered many male stars such as Spike Lee, Busta Ryhmes and more. Although the industry has changed over time, De’Leon explains how she has found her “happy spot” and how she feels like as a woman she has a good place in the industry even though it wasn’t always that way.
One of De’Leon’s greatest achievements was being nominated as “Best Leading Actress" for her role in the film "Pure Justice," where she plays a well-known attorney at a prestigious law firm in the state but is accused of illegal and unethical practices. To be acknowledged as an outstanding actress is truly an honor for her. Even with ups and downs in the industry, she explains how being recognized is worthwhile and how she almost fainted when she got the news from producer Ashley Chase. De’Leon played many roles that involve law enforcement, including “Pure Justice and “The Carson Brothers.” She has portrayed a cop on TV and explains how very different it is in real life, especially since she lives in the Deep South. “I have family members who are constantly being harassed by police,” De’Leon says. She describes the system as biased and how she stays “prayed up.” With her acting career on the rise, De’Leon decided to incorporate her love for music, being a former gospel singer, into creating her own record label called “Dirrty Records.” She took time off from acting to focus on finding talented bands. By creating a business plan and contacting private investors, she was able to sign a distribution deal in 2003. Some of the artists signed to her label include The Fades, Peligro and more. 2003 also became the year De’Leon was inducted into the Caribbean Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame acknowledges actors, singers and more great people who are from the West Indies such as Bob Marely and Beenie Man. “I am grateful for the love from my Caribbean family,” De’Leon says.
As De’Leon’s successes continued to reach an all-time high, she never forgot where she came from and wanted to give back to her community. She created The Lunden De’Leon Foundation to allow younger underprivileged kids in her hometown of South Carolina to follow their dreams. She explains how the kids in her community are inspired by her journey and if she can make it, they all can. “I experienced poverty, but I turned those stumbling blocks into stepping stones,” De’Leon said.
From being a teen with nothing, who hitchhiked to Los Angeles from South Carolina, De’Leon was able to overcome many obstacles and make a name for herself by having faith in God. Former Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn declared February 7th as “Lunden De’Leon Day” in the City of Los Angeles. Furthermore, multi-talented Lunden De’Leon is not stopping anytime soon. She will portray the powerful role of Mamie Till, mother of Emmett Till, in the upcoming film “Justice on Trial.” She can also be seen in the Netflix movie “Blackbear,” currently playing on Netflix. You will also see her shortly on the big screen as she stars in the thriller “Angels Prayer.” Currently, she is working on a film called “Secrets and Friends.”
CREATE THE HIGHEST, GRANDEST VISION POSSIBLE FOR YOUR LIFE, BECAUSE YOU BECOME WHAT YOU BELIEVE.
Texas born and raised Kennedy Dendy knew from high school what she wanted to be. It was around the time that students had to decide on majors and colleges. “Something I knew was that I always loved to write,” exclaimed Dendy. After she toured Baylor University multiple times and sat in various journalism sessions, fate occurred at that moment. “I met a Baylor University alumna that forwarded an email and introduced me to an opportunity to audition for Baylor television.” Dreams aren’t always specific, and sometimes in life, one must broaden their horizons in order to grow. Dendy was introduced to an area of journalism she wasn’t familiar with; broadcast journalism. “I was determined and eager to try something new.” One thing led to the next and before she knew it, she was crowned the first freshman to land a sports reporter position. The opportunity helped Dendy to realize that her passion was journalism, and this was something she wanted to do.
The Girl That Could: KENNEDY DENDY By Tiarsha Harrison
As a result of her newfound passion for broadcast journalism, Dendy got plugged in to the campus newspaper's broadcast program, starting off as an intern and before long, she became not only a broadcast reporter, but also a news anchor for a program that had just recently begun! Aside from interning at Baylor, Dendy had the honor and privilege of working at CBS This Morning in New York City. “The most rewarding part of this internship was by being diligent each day. I was asked to go out and shoot with a producer. One example of this was having the opportunity to go to the Empire State Building.” She described the experience, relationships and connections as one of a kind; one that will never be forgotten.
"Something I knew was that I always loved to write."
The inspiration that keeps Dendy going is God and her family. “Family is extremely important to me, they are my backbone, my greatest supporters and my world. Dendy currently wears many hats, serving as the executive producer of Baylor's Lariat TV News, and additionally as a broadcast reporter, news anchor and producer. They all carry various tasks and a nice amount of outreach to the community to find that perfect story, along with working internally. Each role carries a very distinct responsibility which keeps her excited and anticipating more. Dendy is highly talented and very humble. “Without God, I am nothing. I truly would not be here today without the faithfulness of God and his favor that has been poured over my life,” explained Kennedy. She stays in prayer over every decision she makes, and she has a true understanding that God is guiding all of her steps. There are a lot of goals stirring up, however, the first one is to land a role as a multimedia journalist for a news station. The best advice she has for people wanting to join this field is, “First, believe that you can. It first starts with believing in yourself and the capabilities that you have. This is an exciting industry to work in and one of the biggest reasons I love doing it so much is to inspire others.” She advises aspiring journalists to prepare themselves and be actively working on it. “Our job is to present the facts. Your door will open when it is time.”
"This is an exciting industry to work in and one of the biggest reasons I love doing it so much is to inspire others." Kennedy can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @kennedy_dendy
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s a m t s Chri xoxo e z n o r B
Photo Credit: Adrienne Anderson
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Cover Photography: Melissa Austin Photography