#BlackGirlsRock, #BlackIsBeautiful #BrownSkinIsIn. These hashtags, coupled with displays of gorgeous black women, permeate many social-media platforms. Black Girl Magic is now digital and at everyone’s fingertips. Below are eight women who use social media as a medium to showcase their respective art, businesses and lifestyles. These Instagram aficionadas serve as role models for young black women because they set the bar for digital branding.
1. Antonia Gore, Model/IG: @Antoniagoregous
[Philadelphia, PA] Although the picture above shows a beautiful and confident young woman, the younger and more reserved Antonia Gore suffered from stage fright. Now a model for New York Model Management Group, Gore said that her confidence and identity serve her very well in her career.
“I think to be young, bold, beautiful and black is a lethal combination,” she explained.
She hopes to become a dermatologist with her own private practice and non-profit to help young women garner self-esteem. Modeling has instilled poise in her, which will be important for treating and connecting with her future patients.
“The times you fail pale in comparison to the many conquests you will attain,” said Gore.
2. Bettina Briana Fireall, Musician/IG: @blackbettyent
[Brooklyn, NY] From humble beginnings in small town Denton, Texas, Fireall did not fully embrace her #blackgirlmagic until she moved to NYC. Her personal and professional growth required her to peel back layers of herself that previously muted her blackness. She poured that recovery process into her extended playlist titled Recovery.
“I found sound in the breakdown of myself,” she said.
Fireall hopes to become a published writer and woman’s activist and remains dedicated to her current craft.
“Don’t change or filter your voice,” she advised. “It’s done more than serve me; it has saved me.”
3. Carolyn Carter, Art & Pageantry/IG: @carolyncarter
[St. Croix, US Virgin Islands] Self-proclaimed traveler, painter, art enthusiast and creative spirit Carolyn Carter is clearly a jack of many trades. Her pageant endeavors were inspired by her desire to explore the world and freely express herself. When she’s not traveling, the former Miss USVI Earth 2012 is curating art for Atlas Restaurant in Buckhead, Atlanta, GA.
“I didn’t realize how much I loved the creative process until drawing and painting in an 8th-grade art class,” Carter said.
Since then, her every endeavor is guided by that passion. To young black women trying to establish a presence in the artistic world, Carolyn says: “Be comfortable in your own skin, follow your heart and believe in yourself.”
4. Emi Mwendapole, Poet/IG: @EMI_FARAI
[Seoul, Korea] If you’re looking for good poetry personified, let me direct you to Emi Mwendapole. She strives to exemplify a combination of wit, freedom, blunt honesty, style, intelligence and a pinch of pettiness. Writing poetry is Mwendapole’s way of narrating the details in life that no else notices. Moreover, she says that words have given her an unshakable urge to create space for herself to thrive.
“My #blackgirlmagic has helped me recognize the need to be proactive and not reactionary,” Mwendapole said, “And the need for me to tell my story when trying to operate in this society without shrinking.“
She urges young black women to publicize their work without worrying about the ‘likes’. She hopes to start an organization to help young creatives from marginalized communities gain access to resources needed to bring their art to life.
5. Janna Harris, Barre/IG: @barreinyourbedroom
[Dallas, Texas] Janna Harris is a woman deeply rooted in her sense of self, which has fostered her potential and growth. According to Harris, her #blackgirlmagic helps her relate to and connect with a diverse group of people on many different levels. With a background and education in exercise physiology, Janna launched Barre In Your Bedroom. Its mission is to help you “find your fitness.” She loves her barre body and values the workout’s methods that safely correct any anatomical/muscular deficiencies, especially as it pertains to the strengthening of intercostal and core muscles.
Her advice to fellow black fitness queens: “Keep it classy! Never compromise your values to attain popularity. Set your intentions, be genuine and just do you, girl!”
6 & 7. Jovanna Jones and Sammie Scottie, Editorial/IG: @marcojovo, @sammie_scottie
[Georgia/ NJ] “Listen… black girls are it. Black girls are my homies, my sisters [and] my mentors,” said Jovanna Jones, better known as Jojo, a Georgia State University MFA candidate. She and Sammie Scottie (writer, editor and graphic designer) co-created BlacQurl, a website dedicated to black women in art and media. According to Sammie, balancing personal and professional personas on the internet is difficult, however learning to live and love allows her and Jojo to confidently create while connecting black femmes beyond sexuality and gender.
“Ultimately, [our] goal is to create beautiful, thought-provoking content that centers both blackness and femininity,” said Scottie.
Jones advises young women in editorial work to at least give it a try: “You learn more from failure than you do from doubt,” Jones said.
“Our #blackgirlmagic is collective.”
8. Onikeh Brown-Wilson, Photography/IG: @the0brown
[Dallas, Texas] What started as a hobby during her undergraduate career quickly became a wedding and filmmaking business. Onikeh Brown-Wilson has always had a soft spot for weddings. She inserts her affable nature into her crafts and, as she puts it, she strives for “artistic yet journalistic style to capture the ambiance and feeling of your wedding day.”
Her advice to young black photographers and videographers: “Embrace what makes you, you. Explore artistic styles from all cultures, and don’t conform to the status quo.”