Pamela Thompson is a writer, artisan and activist. Inspired by the work of Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, she believes that because the experience of being a Black girl, as well as that of being a Black woman, is so dynamic, nuanced and rich, the full story of Black girlhood and Black womanhood will never be known until all Black girls and women feel empowered and equipped to share their stories, their way. Her activism starts at home where she is the proud mother of four of the future’s brightest and most brilliant Black girls; Izzie, Ava, Elle and Lydia. Devoted to their development, she spends her days homeschooling the girls, using her degrees in English (BA) and Education (M.Ed.) to facilitate her ability to educate her girls well. Pamela is a creative at heart and happily designs for her own brand, Peiea Grace, in the fringe hours of her robust life of raising her girls and loving her husband of 14 years, Emmanuel Thompson.
Aeran N. Baskin developed a love for words at a young age from her mother’s spontaneous storytelling about warrior princesses, crafty assassins, and misunderstood dragons. Aeran channeled this legacy of storytelling into an affection for building worlds through poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. She deeply believes that writing is a spiritual baptism that provides the writer and reader with an opportunity to commune with God. Through the word, Aeran has dedicated herself to tell the stories of and advocate with Black women, girls, and families.
Her passion for advocacy and storytelling has professionally taken her into the child welfare, K-12, and higher education sectors. As a lawyer, she partnered with parents, foster parents, and grandparent caregivers in Detroit, Michigan. She later galvanized the philanthropic community through storytelling as the head of development for a leading education incubator and designed programming with young women impacted by the foster care system.
Currently, Aeran strives to create reflective and restorative spaces that will ensure that women and girls of color have the experiences, community, and resources that will propel them into purpose and position them to become leaders and advocates within their own communities. Aeran earned a BA in economics from Howard University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School, and a Doctorate of Education Leadership from Harvard University.
Amber Carroll Santibañez was born and raised in Durham, NC. She received a BFA in photography in 2009 and her Masters’ of Art in Teaching in 2010 from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. Amber spent the majority of her collegiate art-making career exploring ideas of black femininity and the ways hair texture and skin complexion limit or grant access to perceptions of beauty.
After 7 years away, she returned to her hometown to teach visual art in her alma mater, Durham School of the Arts, and marry her high school sweet-heart. In the classroom, she strives daily to help students discover, develop, and value their creative voices and the unique gifts they have to offer to their communities. She believes that art is the most essential form of universal communication. It allows humans to critically examine the world and connect with one another on a personal level. Amber is committed to ensuring that young artists in her community have a diverse range of meaningful experiences, in safe environments that encourage them to explore themselves and the world around them. Today, she uses mixed media, collage, and installation processes as a means of self-exploration and healing.”
Based in North Carolina, Damola Akintunde is a photographer that utilizes visuals as a form of expression of the self. She uses self-portraiture to capture her own personal story as a Nigerian-American woman, in addition to lending herself as a tool for others to align their self perception with their physical presentation, turning them into art. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Medical Anthropology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Akintunde hopes to incorporate her understanding of the human condition into her freelance work.
Cristin is a native of Philadelphia and carries with her the attitude of her hometown wherever she resides. Her work has centered media representations of black and brownness, of settlement communities, and has explored tenants’ rights and gentrification.
She is influenced by time spent in the U.S. South, Guatemala City and Brazil, and she currently resides in Austin, Texas. Cristin is pursuing an MFA in Film Production at the University of Texas, Austin, and is a member of the Beautiful Project Collective, based in Durham, NC.
I love telling a story which leaves the viewer feeling a wide range of emotions. I’m inspired by 90’s era films that embody strong story with moving soundtracks that not only reinforce the film’s story line, but help to move the story along and make you feel for the characters. When I make a film, it’s important to me that it not only be visually expressive, but have a musical component that is equally impactful. I believe that prioritizing both gives the audience a fuller experience, one where they feel deeply connected and therefore, remember the film or message, long after watching them. My films are about the reality of miscommunication. I enjoy studying social behavior and critiquing social issues with humor. With my films I showcase realistic representation of true love stories between all races and sexes whether documentary or narrative.
Alexandria Miller is a writer, historian, and headwrap connoisseur with Jamaican blood pumping through her veins. She crafts her lyrical prowess to illuminate the stories of people of color, with a particular focus on Black womanhood, pop culture, and reggae music. Formerly a 2017 intern with TBP, Alexandria currently serves as the US Editor of BASHY Magazine, a quarterly publication focused on art and culture of and on the Jamaican diaspora. She is an avid bibliophile, especially of Caribbean literature, and swears by castor oil and tea as the cure to all ailments.
A graduate with distinction of Duke University with majors in History and African & African American Studies, Alexandria has presented her research at the University of the West Indies at Mona, amongst others. She hopes to continue her studies dissecting Caribbean women’s impact on the world using music as her medium. Alexandria is a steadfast warrior woman driven by the importance of cultural studies to uplift Black people everywhere.
Kara Simpson is a native of Gastonia, NC and currently resides in Charlotte, NC. She currently works as a Labor and Delivery RN and plans to become a midwife serving women of all demographics, but especially women of color. She aspires to own her own practice and promote healthy, fulfilling birth experiences, while impacting staggering health disparities that mostly affect Black women during pregnancy and postpartum.
Kara is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has a B.A. in Global Studies with a concentration in Global Health and the Environment and a minor in Medical Anthropology. She loves writing and is an avid reader. In her spare time you can find her cooking, sleeping, watching movies, attending anything artsy, spending time with friends and family, doing yoga, and dancing. As a member of The Beautiful Project Cohort of 2011, Kara served as a teacher with the Saturday sessions.
Madylin Nixon-Taplet is a graduate of the University of North Carolina with degrees in African American and Diaspora Studies, English Literary Studies, and Spanish Language for the Professions. As a native of New Orleans, Louisiana and the daughter of a multitalented musician and photographer, Madylin has had an aspiration and love for the arts since she was young, though she initially started her career path as a pre-veterinary student. In the summer of her senior year at UNC, after having attended a Self Care Exhibit at the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies (hosted by members of The Beautiful Project), she was inspired to finally pursue her artistic passions, and has since dedicated her professional efforts towards photography, writing and social activism. As a post-graduate in 2015, she interned with The Beautiful Project, and has been developing her aesthetic talents and associations since her onboarding. During her time with the cohort, she gained experience in photographic art working as an event photographer in cultural spaces such as Black August in the Park and Black Genius Fest. She has practice in studio photography and has since ventured into freelance photography and editing with the hopes of establishing a sole-proprietorship in this specialty. This past year, she also completed continuing education programs at Durham Technical College to become proficient with popular editing platforms such as Photoshop and Lightroom Creative Cloud. She continues her work as a visual activist for the Beautiful Project through photo-editing and project management. In the coming years, Madylin hopes to progress her involvement with art collectives – such as The Beautiful Project – especially as it involves work being done to sponsor education around and opportunities in photography and art within black communities.
Elisabeth Michel is a health equity advocate passionate about seeing a world where everyone has the opportunity to reach their maximum potential. She is a Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer with Canopy Co., a startup focused on helping people talk about and make end-of-life healthcare decisions. Elisabeth holds a B.A. in Public Policy Studies from Duke University and a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan. Currently living in Ann Arbor, MI, Elisabeth enjoys photography, improv, playing the piano – and when spring and summer finally overtake the Michigan winters, she loves to lounge outdoors in the grass with a good book.