KIDS EXCLUSIVE JASMINE STEWART AZIYA ROBERTS
Inside: JESSICA TRESKA
TRUE STAR Foundation A media company run entirely by youth
Our Purpose TO INSPIRE DREAMS SO THAT YOUNG PEOPLE CAN FIND THEIR VOICE, CHOOSE THEIR PATH, AND PREPARE FOR LIFE.
TRUE STAR FOUNDATION
The True Star Foundation’s mission is to demonstrate healthy transitions for youth coming into early adulthood by exposing them to real world experiences in the workforce through the development of their own media and being an intricate part of the strategic direction and overall business operations of the organization.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Board President - LaTonya Wilkens Director Talent Management, Univ. of Illinois Business School Michelle Cohen
True Star is a youth work collaborative that amplifies youth voice through producing content for True Star Magazine, True Star Jr. Magazine. True Star Online, True Star Media TV, and True Star Radio.
Director Innovation & Acceleration Lab CME Group Giuseppe Commodaro - Director Strategy & Execution - CME Group David Douglas – Founder & CEO – Yolobe, Inc.
• True Star has provided on-the-job training for over 5,000 youth since its inception. • The vast majority of True Star students (70 percent) reported that their team-working, oral communication, researching, problem-solving, writing skills, as well as their confidence and ability to do other schoolwork, improved as a result of True Star’s programs. • In 2016, True Star provided 600 work opportunities that paid out $200,000 in stipends and youth pay.
Leslie A. Hairston - Alderman, Fifth Ward Thomas McLeary - CEO & President, Endow Inc. Sean Harden - Non-Profit Consultant Mia Nelson - Sr. Analyst, Baxter David Nichols - Americas Leader - EY Sharming Scott-Nathan - Human Resources Director, Fox Television Stations
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To donate visit truestarfoundation.org or send check payable to True Star Foundation - 1130 South Wabash - Suite 302 - Chicago, IL 60605 For Advertising Inquires email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312.588.0100
6 YOUTH ACTIVIST AZIYA ROBERTS BY SULLIVAN ANDERSON, JONES COLLEGE PREP, CHICAGO, IL 7 INSTEAD OF BEING RACIST AND SEXIST, BY JAILA MABRY, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL 8 ARE BOLD ACTIONS WORTH TAKING? BY MARIAH STEVENS, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL 9 WATCH OUT! DANGERS TO KIDS, BY BRIANA BARKER, JOHN W. COOK ELEMENTARY, CHICAGO, IL
22 WHO IS CHEF JASMINE? BY JAILA MABRY, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL 24 HANGING OUT WITH JESSICA TRESKA, BY DAYA BROWN, MAINSTREET ACADEMY, ATLANTA, GA 25 WHERE YOU AT THIS SUMMER? BY JAILA MABRY, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL 26 JUST CHILL: TOP 5 SPOTS FOR SUMMER TREATS, BY KAYLA HOLLOWAY, MORGAN PARK, CHICAGO, IL 27 BACK TO SCHOOL DRIP, BY MYLES JOSEPH, CHARLES R. DEW CHARTER SCHOOL, ATLANTA, GA
TALKIN’ NERDY 10 SUMMER SCHOOL: BOP OR FLOP BY MARIAH STEVENS, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL 11 NATURE MEETS FANTASY BY IMANI GUYASUDDIN, DODGEN ELEMENTARY, ATLANTA, GA 12 SUMMER BOOKS, BY ALISHA BUTLER, BETTY H. FAIRFAX HS, PHOENIX, AZ 13 ARE YOU UP ON WEBTOONS?, BY ALISHA BUTLER, BETTY H. FAIRFAX HIGH SCHOOL, PHOENIX, AZ
HOT OFF THE PRESS 14 THE CHI KIDS, BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL 16 THE CHI SHAMON BROWN JR., BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY CHICAGO, IL 17 THE CHI GENESIS HALE, BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL 18 THE CHI AJ CARR, BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL 19 THE CHI MARIAH GORDON, BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL 20 THE CHI MICHAEL EPPS, BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL 21 THE CHI MORELLA BRYANT BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY CHICAGO, IL
CREATIVE & CULTURE CORNER 28 DO YOU KNOW THAT FEELING? BY EDITH FELIX, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL 29 THE REALITY IS..., BY KIMANI MCBETH, JENNER ELEMENTARY, STUDENTXPRESS, CHICAGO, IL 30 ARTWORK BY: DIAMANTE BOLDUC, PUERTO RICO/ MARYLAND
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Kellar Middle School, Robbins, IL
The Main Street Academy College Park, GA
Kellar Middle School Chicago, IL
Kellar Middle School Robbins, IL
Morgan Park HS Chicago, IL
Puerto Rico/ Maryland
Kenwood Academy, Chicago, IL
Betty H. Fairfax HS, Phoenix, AZ
Lindblom Math & Science Academy Chicago, IL
Charles R. Dew Charter School, Atlanta, GA
Not Pictured: Imani Guyasuddin, Dodgen Elementary, Atlanta, GA
Kimani McBeth, Jenner Elementary, StudentXpress, Chicago, IL Briana Barker, John W. Cook Elementary, Chicago, IL
IS ON THE MOVE!
BY SULLIVAN ANDERSON, JONES COLLEGE PREP, CHICAGO, IL
hirteen-year-old Aziya Roberts decided to use her voice to speak out about an injustice to the Black community. Earlier this summer, Roberts led the #WeWalkForHer march in Bronzeville from 35th and King Drive to 51st and King Drive. The march was to bring attention to the disappearances and deaths of females, most of them Black, that have taken place since March on the South and West Sides. The Chicago Police Department said it doesn’t appear the cases are connected, but some neighborhood residents and community activists believe they are. The #WeWalkForHer march led approximately 100 supports through the streets, chanting: “Stop and listen, our girls are missing!” The event took about a week and a half to organize according to Roberts. Of course, Roberts doesn’t plan to stop here. #WeWalkForHer isn’t the only march she plans to organize this summer. Roberts says that she plans for her next march to have more 6 TRUE STAR JR.
participants. “Community marches don’t always have to be centered around violence,” Roberts tells True Star Jr. “Next time, I want Black girls to have a march centered around happiness and positivity.” When she grows up, Roberts aspires to be a community activist with KOCO (Kenwood Oakland Community Organization) and continue to organize marches. Although Roberts is wise beyond her years, the rising eighth grader at Fuller Elementary, still enjoys her childhood as much as possible. Her favorite colors are red and blue, and her favorite song is “Rise Up” by Andra Day, which is no surprise. “Jessie” is her favorite show, and in her down time she dances for the dance team at her school. Roberts wants everyone to know that they, too, can use their voice. “Don’t just look up to me. Go farther than me,” Roberts says. “For anyone to believe in you, you have to first believe in yourself.”
INSTEAD OF BEING
Sexist And Racist
Just Be Quiet!
BY JAILA MABRY, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL
here are so many ignorant people in this world who choose to judge others based on their physical appearances and gender. Too often women and Black people are mistreated, have to fight to be treated fairly, or are overlooked.
equity with men in 2059. But even that slow progress has stalled in recent years. If change continues at the slower rate seen since 2001, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2119,” the AAUW site said.
It is known that many women are seen as inferior based on the simple fact that they are women. For centuries women weren’t allowed to vote until people like Susan B. Anthony decided they’d had enough. Susan B. Anthony was a women’s rights activist who took part in the “Women’s Suffrage Act” that eventually led to the 19th amendment to be passed on August 18, 1920, allowing women to vote. Nearly 100 years later, women are still fighting for equality. One of the biggest fights is making money. Too often when a man and a woman are doing the same job, with the same experience and education, the man is paid more. During the 1970’s, there was a spike in income for women compared to men, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW). However, “at the rate of change between 1960 and 2016, women are expected to reach pay
But, women aren’t the only ones who have struggled. People of color have had it awful. They were all enslaved and treated like animals based on their skin color. Though each minority has been heavily affected (Native Americans were enslaved, massacred and had their land stolen; Japanese Americans were forced to live in internment camps; and forced sterilization of Latinas was happening just 50 years ago), African Americans have had it worse. Though things have changed over the years, some people still see women and minorities as inferior. Racism against LGBTQ people, people of color, immigrants, refugees, disabled people and sexism in general are still alive. People everywhere use derogatory names to refer to women and minority races. The ignorance is taking over, and humanity won’t stand for it. TRUE STAR JR. 7
Are Bold Actions Worth Taking? BY MARIAH STEVENS, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL
re bold actions worth taking? YES! Bold actions should be taken whether it’s doing something different to stand out or taking a helicopter to school so you don't miss your final exam. You might be missing out on an opportunity that can change the world. Without bold actions we wouldn't be where we are today. Dan Pearce, a successful author, once said, “I am not where I am because of luck. I am where I am because I took risks others weren't willing to take. The world rewards risk-takers. It always has. It always will.” Here are two reasons why being bold and the rewards with it are worth the risk. First off there is no way you can achieve your goals without taking the risk. Secondly, a change in this world would be great and your actions could make this world much better. Here's a list of evidence to show how the people who took bold actions changed the world today. • Harriet Tubman took a risk by not only escaping from slavery, but returning to go on many dangerous missions to Maryland where she helped lead slaves to freedom. • Muhammad Ali took a risk by refusing to fight in Vietnam even though he was threatened with jail. 8 TRUE STAR JR.
• Rosa Parks took a risk by not giving up her seat which led to some harm being done to her but, later started a massive protest which led to the end of segregation on public transport. Rosa Parks once said, “You must never be fearful of what you are doing when it is right.” And Parks, Tubman and Ali are all celebrated as heroes. On the other hand, there may be those people who say bold actions aren't worth the risk because the risk exceeds the reward. Don't listen to that, because being bold will always have its risks. Ed Sheeran, 27, a fantastic music artist once said, “BE ORIGINAL; DON'T BE SCARED OF BEING BOLD.”
WATCH OUT! DANGERS TO KIDS
BY BRIANA BARKER, JOHN W. COOK ELEMENTARY, CHICAGO, IL
s we all know, everyone in the world is not as sweet as pie. There are serial killers, pedophiles and rapists, and they often don’t “look” the part. Those that don’t “look” the part may be some adult, family friend or relative. And unfortunately, too often these people are sexually abusing children. According to the website Darkness to Light, 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before they reach 18. In June, it was reported by Chicago Tribune that sexual abuse had been occurring at Chicago Public Schools across the city. “At Simeon Career Academy, a young track star was raped 40 times by a coach,” the paper’s investigation found. As a result, the principal was “removed.” A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults and can become suicidal.
Children Abuse All over the globe kids are getting abused by a family member or a close friend of a family member. It is just terrible. Someone you are close to may show behavioral warning signs like bedwetting, not wanting to left alone with a certain person or inappropriate sexual actions. One of the emotional signs could be if a friend or family member you know starts sucking their thumb again, according to RAINN.org. Keep in mind child sexual abuse does not need to include physical contact. Kids can be weak sometimes. Defenseless. Naïve. That is why some adults take advantage of children. They are preying on our innocence. Children who had an experience of rape or attempted rape in their adolescent years were 13.7 times more likely to experience rape or attempted rape in their first year of college, according to victimsofcrime.org. We need to speak up. Maybe we can stop the abuse and the violence that is happening to children. TRUE STAR JR. 9
Summer School A
Bop or Flop?
BY MARIAH STEVENS, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL
s you know, summer is here and school is out. We all know that most teens dream to be on vacations with their friends and families instead of in summer school. The purpose of summer school is to give second chances to pass a class and just for anyone who wants to get ahead of the game. Disregarding its purpose, summer school still has its pros and cons like everything else does. Here's a list that may give you a different opinion on the subject.
Research suggests that students who come from low-income households are more likely to suffer from “summer learning loss.” According to a story at huffingtonpost.com, “it is estimated that every summer, children in low-income families lose approximately two to three months of reading skills while their middle-income peers make some gains. Over time, these summer learning losses add up and the academic achievement gap widens.”
- Smaller classes so you can have a better relationship with your teacher and classmates.
- You have to take away time from family and vacations.
- It keeps your brain flowing so you don't lose your habits to learn. - If you are attending summer school because of your poor grades it gives you a secondchance so you can graduate. - It gets you ahead of your upcoming class.
- You have to wake up early in the summer. - Most schools totally remodel in the summer and hearing the construction going on can be a major distraction. - As soon as summer school ends you have to worry about the new year starting. Overall summer school can teach you a lesson. If you truly don't want to attend and you would rather be having fun with your friends and family, and most importantly graduating middle school or high school, then do better with your grades in your regular school year.
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Nature MEETS Fantasy
At The Atlanta Botanical Gardens
BY IMANI GUYASUDDIN, DODGEN ELEMENTARY, ATLANTA, GA
ave you ever visited a botanical garden before? Well I did! I recently went on a field trip with my summer camp to visit the beautiful Atlanta Botanical Gardens. A botanical garden is a garden that allows you to explore different kinds of plants in different ways. We were lucky to have visited the garden at this time because the summer theme was “Fairy Tales and Fantasy.” As soon as we walked in there was a very big garden sculptured book that was titled “Once Upon a Time.” Our tour guide explained to us that the sculpture has an iron base and net wrapped around it and little colorful plants are poked through the wired netting which makes the image visible. As we continued to walk through the garden we discovered other images such as a dragon, a mermaid, and even a very impressive mammoth.
There also was a beautiful plant goddess, her hair was so pretty and made of different flowers. I was really impressed with the Phoenix bird sculpture. It was very big and had incredible detail. We saw so many different images. There was even a sculptured image of Sleeping Beauty who was lying down looking peaceful. Right beside her was an image of a dragon. The tour guide explained that according to the Botanical Garden fairytale, the dragon was there to protect her. Although this trip was our very first trip of the summer, it was amazing. We learned so many different things about the sculptures, plants, bugs, and horticulture. If you ever want to spend the day outdoors in a peaceful and beautiful environment, I suggest a visit to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Trust me, it will be a fantastic experience! TRUE STAR JR. 11
THAT ARE TOTALLY WORTH READING
BY ALISHA BUTLER, BETTY H. FAIRFAX HIGH SCHOOL, PHOENIX, AZ
t’s summer! You should be lying in bed or hanging out with your friends. Reading books may be the last thing you do, but what happens if you have no plans? That’s a good time to pick up a book or two. Here are some books you should check out this summer.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir—In a fantasy world inspired by Ancient Rome, the story follows Laia and Elias. Laia is spying for rebels against the reigning empire in exchange for their help in rescuing her captive brother; Elias is struggling to free himself from being an enforcer of a tyrannical regime. If you get hooked on it, there’s a sequel A Torch Against the Night.
Worthy by Donna Cooner—If you’re into romance and realistic fiction Worthy is for you. In the book, this addictive app called Worthy is going around the local high school determining if the girl is worthy of the guy. Main character Linden just wants to pass by in the shadows of her best friend Nikki, focus on her writing and her boyfriend, Alex. When Linden and Alex are put under the Worthy spotlight what will she do? 12 TRUE STAR JR.
Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky—This coming-of-age book follows very observant and quiet Charlie as he enters high school. He writes letters talking about his past and present, and his thoughts on the way he views the world. This story is very interesting and good for teenagers who are scared and trying to adjust to the high school life. Transitioning from middle school to high school can be hard.
The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson—This story is a good thriller. Ten years ago, four people were murdered and only one girl lived. Everyone thinks she’s crazy or suicidal, and once she is released from the psychiatric hospital she spirals into a dark place, then she decides to find the murderer, but everyone is a suspect, even herself.
ARE YOU UP ON Webtoons?
BY ALISHA BUTLER, BETTY H. FAIRFAX HIGH SCHOOL, PHOENIX, AZ
f you love art and like to read comics, there is a website and an app you need to check out. Webtoons has a lot of great stories from talented artists who have created stunning visuals. Also on the site, there’s a discover page where you can find new or underrated comics. Then they have a popular page where you can find all the comics that everyone is reading. You can go to the play store or the app store. You can also go on www. webtoons.com/en/ to make your own account. And if you’re interested, then here are a few must-reads to get you started. “SIREN’S LAMENT” by instantmiso: Everyone on Webtoons goes crazy about this story. Heartbroken Lyra falls into the sea when a siren named Ian kisses her. But something goes wrong because she’s supposed to turn into a siren, and he is supposed to become human again. Instead, Lyra is plunged into a whole different world she never knew existed. “SWEET HOME” by Youngchan Hwang/Carnby Kim: This comic is about Hyun who lost his parents and now has to live on his own. Unexpectedly, a virus spreads turning people into
monsters. Hyun and a small group of people are trying to stay alive and not turn into monsters. “BOYFRIEND OF THE DEAD” by Ushio: Everyone has turned into zombies and N is trying to find the right person to eat but can’t seem to find anyone who is perfect. With him not eating he becomes more human like, until he stumbles upon a girl he thinks is perfect. But instead of eating her, he becomes her boyfriend. “UNDER THE AEGIS” by VIMEDDIEE: Six young people from different races called wilders are trying to solve a mystery and establish peace. Using weapons (that chose them), the group tries to find the seventh wilders weapon and figure out who is behind the attempts to murder the them. TRUE STAR JR. 13
HOT OFF THE PRESS
The Chi Kids "
Stylist - New Ara and Kennedy Stewart Photographer - Christopher Brown Art Direction Joi Mitchell Make Up - Shakeyah Wallace Clothing - Villa
14 TRUE STAR JR.
BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL
hree middle school friends—Kevin, Jake and Papa—are all too familiar with the hardships of living on the streets of Chicago. The preteens are part of the stories that focus on multiple people’s lives in a neighborhood on the South Side and how they’re all connected in the Showtime drama “The Chi.” The series was written by Chicagoan Lena Waithe, who is also the only Black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing. True Star Jr. got a chance to talk to Shamon Brown Jr (Papa), Michael Epps (Jake), Mariah
Sydnei (Andrea: Kevin’s crush), and Morela Bryant (Rhonesha: Andrea’s friend). At just 12 and 13, these teenagers are able to easily convey the raw emotions of kids going through tough times, whether it’s in the streets or at school. Even though these four actors are just getting started with their careers, they are taking it head on with each of them working on new projects including season two of “The Chi.” You can bet we will be seeing a lot of their work in the future. TRUE STAR JR. 15
Shamon Brown Jr.
BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL
hamon Brown Jr. knew acting was going to be his career from the start. He lets everyone know he has been doing “this” since 2010 when he was working with local theatre companies. He has been featured in print ads, a music video and he has been on “Chicago Fire.”
Brown’s character has been described as a breath of fresh air because he is not the stereotypical inner-city kid. He wants to stay out of trouble, but he wants to have a good time. He is very self-confident, attentive, unapologetic and his main desires are to get with girls and pursue his diverse interests. Brown, like the other child actors on the show, feels he is like the character he portrays. Those who don’t know Papa or Brown may feel they fit into a category, but they would be wrong.
“I’ve been wanting to do acting since I was like 5 years old and I’ve been doing it
Brown said he really enjoys working with his cast mates. “Just the experience about set life has been great. Just to see how cameras, visual, and audio works. And even hanging out with my brothers and sisters (in reference to his co-stars),” Brown said.
for about eight years now,” Brown said. He plays Stanley, otherwise known as Papa, and is part of the three-member preteen clique along with Kevin and Jake on “The Chi.”
And Papa has become a fan favorite with several people posting on Twitter. For instance, @ AMB_Noni said, “Papa in The Chi is the coolest kid in 2018. I love that lil man.” And @HoviBear said, “I deserve a friend like Papa from The Chi.” Just a search of “Papa” and “The Chi” and you can find many GIFs centered around Brown’s character.
16 TRUE STAR JR.
Genesis Hale BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL
hirteen-year-old Genesis Hale can relate to the character she plays on HBO’s “The Chi.” Like Maisha, people see her and have already checked off boxes. And being Maisha is the reason she wanted to be an actress. Besides she had seen her mother perform as part of “The Lion King” cast and her dad is an emcee. With entertaining being all that she knew, landing the role was destiny. “I basically grew up in the theatre and every time (‘The Lion King’) cast would have a break I would go onto the stage and just sing. I don’t have the same energy I had then, which is what directed me towards TV and acting because it didn’t take that much energy,” she said. For Hale this is a very major role and she loves being part of “The Chi.” “My experience has been amazing. I went from being a normal person to this person with a lot of fame. When people notice me I always remember to stay humble because it brings out a person’s humility,” Hale said.
While working on the show, Hale has formed close bonds with all of her cast mates and she always refers to them as family. “I love my cast. I love my family,” Hale said. “They are my brothers and sister and cousins, etc.” While she loves acting, Hale said that she is also interested in things that are not a part of entertainment such as science and psychology. This also helps her grow in different fields and always have something to fall back on if acting and music don’t work out for her. She also sings in the community choir and performs with her father. Check out her site genesisdenisehale.com. TRUE STAR JR. 17
AJ Carr BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL
jani “AJ” Carr is a teen actor that puts his all into doing everything he can to motivate today’s youth. At just 15, Carr has successfully made it as an actor. He has worked on TV shows such as “Atlanta” and “Chicago PD,” but his biggest role has been on “The Chi” where he plays Stick. “I’m super blessed to be a part of ‘The Chi.’ It’s such a good show for the city,” Carr said. “It also shows how much is really going on instead of just making everyone’s lives into statistics.” Carr enjoys playing Stick because he can relate to the character’s lifestyle and the character reminds him a lot of himself. “(Stick) basically is me if I went in a different direction,” he said. “I had few, but very important people that reached out, telling me that I could do something different...you could break the cycle. With Stick it’s the same thing. He’ll do anything for his people and I’m the same way.” His fame and social media have been a great way for Carr to reach out to children nationwide and help them make a difference, he said. “Something that I always point out to people is that we need to support the youth more. On the news, African-American youth are always 18 TRUE STAR JR.
depicted as something negative. It’s a lot of kids trying to do something good, but there’s nobody to support them,” Carr said. “At a young age we (youth) are forced to figure out what we want to do in life and our support system plays a big part in that.”
Mariah Gordon BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL
rofessionalism is important to this 13-year-old actress. Mariah Sydnei Gordon plays Andrea, Kevin’s (Alex Hibbert) love interest on Showtime’s drama “The Chi.” The Evanston native said she auditioned a couple times for the show, before she had the opportunity to play games with Kevin’s heart as Andrea. Gordon said the way she learned she was now part of the cast was something she will never forget. “My mom surprised me. She took me to dinner and it was after I ate a lot of food and was basically half asleep. Then a cake came out and everyone was like ‘Congratulations you made it onto the show!’ and I was so confused,” she said. The biggest adjustment for Gordon since landing the role of Andrea has been the notoriety. But she said that is part of being an actor. “I was sitting down eating,” she said, “and this lady was just staring at me….and then she realized who I was and came to take pictures. It’s fun.”
Often Chicago makes headlines for violence. Being part of the show and in the city has given Gordon an interesting perspective on how people in real life cope with the dark side of Chicago. "They don't really cope with it," she said. "Their way of coping may be different than what society views as normal." Gordon has been performing since she was 9 years old, when she landed her first print ad. From there, she worked in commercials and theater having appeared in "A Christmas Carol" at the Goodman Theatre. In addition to acting, Gordon is active in sports and extracurricular activities at her school. She plays basketball, volleyball and soccer. She plays the saxophone, sings, is part of a band, and runs track. TRUE STAR JR. 19
Michael Epps BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL
Michael Epps is not the character “Jake” he plays on Showtime’s “The Chi.” Jake has an older brother who is a gang leader. And like any younger brother he wants to be like his brother, Reg. “Jake gets involved with [gang activity] because of who his brother is. Even though he’s not looking for trouble, his brother’s lifestyle is starting to reflect on him,” the West Side native said. “He represents a lot of the lost kids in our city who don't have any guidance or role models to look up to.” Jake, Kevin and Papa, are just trying to be normal preteens, but Jake has added pressure, which could lead him falling into the young thug stereotype. And he starts to carry a gun and could endanger his friends’ lives by association. But maybe the relationship between the boys can help balance Jake? In one scene, the friends are talking in the school hallway. Kevin said something Jake didn’t like, and he dropped the F-bomb. 20 TRUE STAR JR.
But Papa tried to calm Jake down. He gives Jake a cross, and says, “I made this for you. It’s rosewood.” Jake responds with, “Alright. Thanks. If you want to hang, hit my line.” Papa grabs Jake to hug him and Jake gives in a little to the hug. Although Epps has been acting since he was 9, he is a normal preteen. He likes to dance, play basketball and has three women who are always there to love and support him: his mom, grandmom and greatmom. “My family is very supportive, but when I go out into public people say that I better not be like I am on ‘The Chi.’ In reality, I’m the good kid, I’m an angel,” said Epps. Not only is Jake falling under a bad influence, he has a foul mouth. Epps said he doesn’t use that kind of language. Epps plays "Taye" on “Chicago Fire” and worked on two other indie projects before landing his big role as Jake. He's currently working on his music and filming season two of “The Chi.”
BY MAKAYLA IDELBURG, LINDBLOM MATH & SCIENCE ACADEMY, CHICAGO, IL
orela Bryant is a young teen actor who plays Rhonesha on the Showtime series “The Chi.” Bryant started her acting career at 9 years old and from there she landed a role on “Empire” and now “The Chi.” “When I was a kid I wanted to be a doctor, but then my sister started acting and when I saw her I was like I want to do that too. So, then my dad got me into acting jobs and that’s how it started,” Bryant said. While the first season has now come to an end, Bryant said she is staying active by auditioning here and there. In the future, she would like to work on projects surrounding historical events, biographies and autobiographies. Bryant would also like to work with Taraji P. Henson. Bryant said she loves working on the show with the teenage actors. She has enjoyed learning the ins and outs of filming. “It’s good to see how they (the crew) do things and how they set up and how long it takes, etc.,” she said. Speaking of experiences, as a young woman in the entertainment industry it’s hard to be treated fairly and taken seriously. That’s why Bryant’s role model is Nicki Minaj. “She broke through all the stereotypes that women can’t do this, and women can’t do that,” Bryant said. Even though Bryant is getting an early start in
the entertainment industry, she’s still just your normal teenager with hobbies like hanging out with friends and watching Netflix. She also has a hobby of organizing and planning events. Her relatable character is definitely what’s going to be a reason we’ll see her on the big screen. TRUE STAR JR. 21
Who is CHEF Jasmine?
BY JAILA MABRY, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL
asmine Stewart, 13, may be the winner of “MasterChef Junior,” Season 5, but truly she’s about being an inspiration for young AfricanAmerican girls. She wants to be like former First Lady Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and Atlanta’s Mayor Keshia Lance Bottoms. She added that she is also inspired by Oprah. “She is a self-made woman who has endured tough times and came out on top,” she said. Stewart plans to use her love for cooking to get her the exposure she needs. She got started on her cooking adventure at a young age. Her parents were always in the kitchen and they 22 TRUE STAR JR.
made “such amazing things and I was like okay, I want to do this also,” Stewart said. She realized she had a true passion for cooking. Today some of her favorite recipes include her “Jamaican Poppers,” meatballs basted in jerk sauce, and “Caribbean Spice Salmon Filet.”
Being so young, Stewart said some have doubted her. “There are always naysayers who don’t think that your vision is actually something that can truly happen. They don’t take what you’re doing seriously, but honestly, I don’t even worry about that. I completely move on from those naysayers and those thoughts,” said Stewart. “It’s not even something I take into consideration.” Along with being a chef, Stewart loves acting equally as much. She plans to pursue acting, along with law, at Stanford University. She also loves books that highlight African-American girls who are doing positive things, and writing. She is passionate about having a voice. She feels like kids need to stand up and let their voices be heard. If something bad happens and you want to change it, then you should be an agent for change. Her goal is to encourage young people, particularly girls, to embrace their views, opinions, and ideas; and to not be afraid to be themselves. That’s how she created her trademark #LetYourInnerGirlSlay. Although she is an amazing chef, Stewart is still a normal girl. “Being a student and on
‘MasterChef Junior' was a little stressful with having to manage school and extracurriculars, keeping my grades up, and other things outside of that,” she said. As Stewart gets older, she said she sees herself in California because she loves the energy and creativity there. She has already visited Europe but longs to travel to Africa, Asia, and South America. Her perfect life includes her business coming to life and really growing, being an actress and chef in the entertainment industry, and meeting her role models. *Weird fact: Jasmine Stewart likes pickles and vanilla ice cream. TRUE STAR JR. 23
Jessica Treska BY DAYA BROWN, THE MAINSTREET ACADEMY, ATLANTA, GA
ising teen actress Jessica Treska has done projects for Disney and Nickelodeon. Some of Treska’s work includes “Criminal Minds,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigations” and HBO’s “Sharp Objects,” which came out this summer. True Star Jr. got a chance to get to know Treska a little better. Now you can too. True Star: Who is Jessica Treska? Jessica Treska: I am a 15-year-old recurring actress on Disney Channel’s “Walk the Plank.” I also have a twin brother. TS: What is it like being enrolled in public school and acting? JT: Public school is hard because it’s hard for me to keep up with schoolwork due to filming Alex & Me. I catch up on schoolwork by studying and completing work three hours a day on set, which is also required due to child labor laws.
TS: What is Alex & Me about? JT: It is a Warner Bros/Nickelodeon film about a girl who looks up to Alex Morgan, a professional US soccer player. The girl bumps her head and Alex Morgan appears as her imaginary friend that only she can see, and she trains her for soccer.
TS: When did you get your first role? JT: My first role was about four years ago, which was one of my first auditions for a short film named “Windows.”
TS: Are you working on any other projects? JT: Yes, I am in the HBO [series] “Sharp Objects” which premieres during the summer, but it’s more of an adult show. It’s about a reporter who is sent to her hometown to cover the murder of two teenage girls. I am playing the part of one of the teenage girls.
TS: How did you begin acting? JT: I began acting by accident. I was out shopping with my mom for my tenth birthday in the mall. There were recruiters in the mall recruiting children to sign up for acting school. I signed up and auditioned for the school and was accepted.
TS: Where do you see yourself in the next five years? JT: Hopefully, I will have lead roles in more TV films, and meeting more of my role models. If I have a choice, I will choose the genres of comedy and drama.
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PHOTOGRAPHER: ISA BATTAGLIN HAIR/MAKEUP: SOPHIE BAWANY STYLIST: LISA CAMERON
GETTING TO KNOW
Where You At
This Summer? BY JAILA MABRY, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL
ave you no idea what to do for fun this summer? Well then, this is just the list for you!
• Navy Pier, Chicago, IL If you want to have some local fun and stay in Chicago, Navy Pier is the place for you! You can buy tickets to see plays, eat at all different types of restaurants, ride a gigantic Ferris wheel, and enjoy different themes and decorations. • Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, IL This place has the best roller coasters in the world! With super speed, high drops, and crazy twists and turns you’ll be sure to have the time of your life with family and friends. Also, on a hot day why not stop by their water park to cool down.
• Wolf Lodge Resort, Wisconsin Dells, WI In Wisconsin, there is a place called Wolf Lodge that has an indoor waterpark along with a hotel! You can visit the arcade, ride crazy waterslides and visit the outdoor waterpark as well. There are activities for people of all ages.
• Disney World, Orlando, FL No matter what age you are, the world of Disney is still a magical place where you can visit multiple kingdoms of wonder. Toy Story Land—something to check out if you loved the movies—opened this summer. Animal Kingdom—much fancier than your average zoo. Magic Kingdom—where the true Disney is found. Tomorrowland—for those with a taste for adventure and wonderful rides. Epcot— where you can experience the whole world in one place. Going to Disney World will be the greatest thing you’ve ever done.
• Carnival Paradise Cruise Though cruises are very expensive, children 12 and under go free here! There are so many restaurants and different activities on the boat. But then, you have excursions to beautiful islands and different countries such as Jamaica and Mexico. Once you get back on the boat the kids can go to Camp Carnival. Money spent on this cruise, will not be a waste.
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JUST CHILL Top 5 Spots FOR Summer Treats BY KAYLA HOLLOWAY, MORGAN PARK HIGH SCHOOL, CHICAGO, IL
ince summer is here, cold snacks are a must, especially in Chicago’s humidity! Who doesn’t love a cool treat on a hot day? Here are the top five spots in Chicago to visit for frozen treats.
Ferro’s - 200 W. 31st St, Chicago, IL 60616 Since 1986, this family-owned Italian restaurant serves burgers, hot dogs, and their famous Italian ice (it’s gluten and lactose free!).
The Original Rainbow Cone - 9233 S. Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60643 This place serves ice cream with flavors like Cookies & Cream, New York Vanilla, and Butter Pecan. They also serve banana splits, shakes, sundaes and cakes.
Baskin Robbin’s (Various Locations) Often connected to a Dunkin’ Donuts, this spot also has shakes and sundaes. Baskin Robbin’s has a lot of unique ice cream flavors such as Creole Cream Cheese, Lemon Custard, and Pink Bubblegum, so there are plenty of flavors to choose from.
Cold Stone Creamery (Various Locations) A famous American ice cream place with “The Ultimate Ice Cream Experience” serves flavors like French Vanilla, Cheesecake, Strawberry, and much more. 26 TRUE STAR JR.
Forever Yogurt (Various Locations) When you are not in the mood for ice cream, you can always go for frozen yogurt! This popular frozen yogurt chain has lots of toppings and flavors such as Turtle Caramel, French Vanilla, and Dutch Chocolate.
Miko’s Italian Ice 2236 N. Sacramento Ave., Chicago, IL 60647 There’s just something about Italian ice on a summer day. They offer flavors like Orangezilla, Sour Cherry and Passion Fruit. And the good news is that they now have three locations, Logan Square, Bucktown and Irving Park.
Back To School DRIP
BY MYLES JOSEPH, CHARLES R. DEW CHARTER SCHOOL, ATLANTA, GA
ashion styles of 2018 are hard to keep track of. I am here to help you and your wonderful friends catch up on the top three fashion trends. One of newest trends in fashion is OF. OF stands for “Odd Future,” short for OFWGKTA which means, “Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All.” OFWGKTA is a musical group featuring Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, Taco, Syd Tha Kyd, Hodgy and more! The name is very derogatory, but it catches teens’ eyes with the word OF formed into two donuts. This can be bought from two places that I know of, which are the Odd Future website are and the retail store Zumiez. OF has a lot of items from sweatshirts to slides. The next one is Thrasher, which is a new hit clothing line. Thrasher was first a skateboard company then it started evolving to a clothing brand. You will see most people wear Thrasher sweatshirts and shirts, which are the most common gear. Thrasher is a unique brand pulling teens in with the most iconic logo being the word
Thrasher on fire. I know it sounds lame, but it goes too hard when you want to be dripped out and on a nice size budget. This fashion can also be found online and at your local specialty clothing shop like Zumiez. The last and final fashion trend is the infamous fanny pack. It has come back in style to be a new fashion trend. It was a trend back in the 80s but died out. Somehow, teens have found a way to “rebrand” or “reborn” the fanny pack. Fanny packs have been in such high demand that there are now different types of fanny packs available, like the crossbody bag. People are no longer wearing them around the waist but across the chest. There are many different brands of the fanny pack like Odd Future, DGK (Dirty Ghetto Kids), Fila and more. This item can be found online and at your local retailer. Now y’all know three of the best fashion trends of 2018. Go show how dripped out you are now. Everybody you know is going to want to be just like you. So, dripped out when school starts again. TRUE STAR JR. 27
CREATIVE & CULTURE CORNER
DO YOU KNOW That Feeling? BY EDITH FELIX, KELLAR MIDDLE SCHOOL, ROBBINS, IL
Do you know that feeling where you Just don’t know what’s really hurting? Cry. Tears. Screams. Shouts. You would run out, but Ouch you hit the couch. But there is a “Good” in “Goodbye.” Believe an “over” in “lover” an “end” in “friend” And an “if” in life. But you might cry At night I see that kite some One left it so high up. Cause nobody Wants it. Yeah, that’s how I feel like You peel my heart while it’s in your Arms. You never realize how bad you left Me. He wouldn’t even care. I couldn’t Care to stare at that smile that I saw like mine.
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THE Reality IS… BY KIMANI MCBETH, JENNER ELEMENTARY, STUDENTXPRESS, CHICAGO, IL
The word “kindness” means so many things. But the way that it is interpreted is up to you. In some areas of the world, “kindness” is a weakness. You might be thinking right now, “How could kindness be a weakness?” Or “I understand what you’re talking about, cause that’s how I look at it.” In most inner-city neighborhoods “kindness” is not a good thing. Most people think that kindness is interpreted by people this way because kindness has not been shown to them. This is a result of violence, including gun violence, and police brutality, etc. On the other hand, kindness is different in suburban cities because of their environment. As well as, how they were raised. Most of the time kindness won’t be shown to you if you don’t do the same. That’s why most of the time when you show kindness to someone, they will do the same. Most of the time people don’t know how to receive kindness. It is weird to me that people can receive rude comments better than kind comments.
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ART BY Diamante Bolduc "Borialis Party" 2017 A slightly abstracted piece- which has a rainbow palette. Acrylic on paper 14" x 17"
"Natural Machine" 2017 A mystical mechanical women in an enchanting living forest. Acrylic on canvas, 11" x 11"
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Words from the artist: She is the love in your soul and the inspiration of your creativity. She pours her vibrancy into you and speaks through your intellectual gaze. She is brilliant... And so are you! You are totally unique in every way and your addition to society shakes the world with the sheer awesomeness of your creative mind. The world admires people like you, people who let their kindness and intelligence guide them through their passions, impacting the people they meet with wonder and inspiration. We all have the power in us to be the heroes of our stories. You will create something amazing today my friends, I can feel it. Diamante Bolduc is a 14 year old artist, from Puerto Rico/ Maryland Instagram @dcbolduc9390
Diamante Bolduc at the March For Our Lives event in Washington D.C., March 24, 2018
"Intelligent Beauty" 2018 Acrylic paint, marker and pen on wood 16" x 16"
Diamante Bolduc working in the studio at Interlochen Arts Camp, Michigan, Summer 2017 TRUE STAR JR. 31
True Star Junior Summer 2018