Meeting Taraji P. Henson and Susan L. Taylor

May 27, 2009

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I had the pleasure of meeting Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson last Thursday at the U.S. Dream Academy Gala. The gala was to raise funds and awareness of the power of mentoring at-risk youth at 11 Dream Academies around the country, where incarceration rates are highest. Since 1998, the U.S. Dream Academy has helped children through its after-school and mentor programs and honored community and business leaders as well as celebrities for their activism.

Taraji, a Washingtonian, was given the President’s award for her dedication to helping children achieve their highest potential and inspiring children from low income families to rise to their fullest potential.

I got the chance to interview Taraji about her style, Washington and Hollywood. She is so humble and sweet, which is so refreshing. Taraji told me that she used to work as a substitute teacher for special needs children when she lived in DC. She also worked on the Spirit of Washington, a dinner cruise ship. From humble beginnings to garnering attention for her talent, Taraji is an inspiration to young African American children, especially those living in the area. Click here for the video from the interview.

Taraji also praised fast fashion super giants like H&M and Topshop for making fashion so affordable and within reach for those who do not have the money to splurge on designer threads. She’s also a big fan of Rene Caovilla’s shoes and handbags, which she wore a lot during awards season.

I also got the chance to meet a legend in the magazine publishing world, Susan L. Taylor, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Essence Magazine. For those who do not know Miss Taylor, she is responsible for giving women and children of color positive images in her magazines. Under her leadership, she made sure that issues affecting black America were addressed. Issues like AID/HIV, breaking the color barrier, career advise, beauty for women, self-improvement and self-help tips and financial tutorials were advocated in Essence magazine.

I read Vogue religiously but read Essence just as much. As a young African girl who had just emigrated to the States, I learned how to be a better woman, how to respect myself and even how to wear my hair, which makeup to wear and many many more life lessons I couldn’t get from my mother in Essence. I thanked Susan Taylor for being such a positive influence in my life.

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