As March comes to a close, I thought it was fitting to pay homage to those women that have served as a constant inspiration for me. You’ll notice I make the distinction of “modern women.” By that I mean women 40 years old and younger who’ve impacted me on a daily basis. There are plenty of women from history who’ve inspired (and continue to inspire) me throughout my daily life. I keep the teachings and principles of various ancestors and Queen Mothers with me always. However, I don’t think enough credit is given to those women born in the mid-late ’80s, those on the earlier end of the “Millennial” spectrum.

With that being said, I want to give thanks and shine a light on some women in the entertainment industry who challenge and confront the world’s most pertinent topics — all while maintaining the dedication to their crafts. For the last week of Women’s History Month, I’ll be sharing a few of the women dearest to me.

Note: This list is in no particular order and is by no means exhaustive. Please share some of the late-20th and early 21st-century women who have inspired you!


Amanda Seales

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It wasn’t even a question that Ms. Seales would be on my list. I’ve loved her spirit and fearlessness since her earliest days on the first predominantly black family sitcom on Nickelodeon, “My Brother and Me.” As Dionne Wilburn, she gave Alfie and Goo the business on a regular basis, all while being the steadfast friend of Melanie, Alfie and Dee-Dee‘s older sister.

As a graduate of both SUNY Purchase and Columbia University, she’s one of the most outspoken intellectual minds in the entertainment industry, which at times devalues the merits of education. With her master’s degree in African American studies, she’s vocal about her desire to educate the masses on the almost innumerable tribulations of being black (and particularly a black woman) in the United States. Her perspective as a highly educated black woman allows her to share her views on various topics concerning children of the African Diaspora (herself being a direct descendant from Grenada).

Ms. Seales hasn’t been without her detractors. On a daily basis naysayers and (at times willfully) misinformed critics of her educated opinions and insights come into her DMs and comments. She handles this with class and dignity, but she is by no means afraid of a fight. She defends herself voraciously, in the meantime still educating the masses (no matter if they accept her lessons or wish to remain staunch in their ignorance). She takes everyone to task, from the keyboard warriors who come to her disrespectfully and without forethought, to media outlets who use sensationalized (and factually inaccurate) headlines to belittle her vision and most times well-founded opinions. But she also holds herself accountable, not afraid to admit she’s wrong, willing to re-educate herself and modify her perspective should the occasion call for it.

With her “Smart, Funny & Black” tour, Ms. Seales has successfully brought her brand of comedy as well as her immense education to audiences all over the US. As both a game show and history lesson, she’s taken the term “edutainment” to its fullest reaches, providing her audiences with an experience they’ll never forget.

Comedian actress, VJ, rapper, academic … revolutionary. Amanda Seales is one of my biggest modern inspirations and sheroes.

You can catch her on her HBO special “I Be Knowin’,” as well as series “Insecure.” You can also listen in to her weekly podcast, “Small Doses,” for more of her insights and discourse with a broad range of guests. Follow her on her “Smart, Funny & Black Lituation” Tour.


Rapsody

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This is actually a point of pride for me. Not for anything I’ve done, but for how far this woman has come since we first got a chance to speak! It was a few days after the release of her first album, “The Idea of Beautiful.” The North Carolina native gifted us the chance to speak to her. In our chat, she revealed her goals dreams for the future:

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Since then, she’s accomplished these goals and so much more. When her latest album. “Laila’s Wisdom,” was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2018 Grammy Awards, I couldn’t have been more proud. I felt my heart swell with just how much she’s grow and accomplished in six short years. Not only was hers the only rap album from a female to be nominated that year, it marked a significant maturity in her work. Rapsody has always had an impeccable sense of lyricism and musical timing. However, she’s stepped unflinchingly into her activism. Has used her words to shed light on the strengths and frailties of womanhood, of the power and pride of femininity without tailoring her sound for a male gaze.

When artists with names like Kendrick, Dre and 9th Wonder all praising her undeniable talent and powerful presence, it’s no wonder she continues to influence and inspire women from North Carolina to North London.

Rapsody is undoubtedly a powerhouse. Her style is just clean. But its her desire to uplift blackness and particularly black women that is such an inspiration. She’s been highlighting the achievements and legacy of so many of our Queen ancestors, fearlessly shedding light on the beauty and elegance of blackness.

An undeniable icon, Rapsody has made a profound impact on my life.

Please follow Rapsody’s Instagram to get more insight into her many projects and causes. Check out her website to order her work!

{WBUR; HBO; Smart, Funny & Black; YAM Magazine; YouTube.)

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