Photo Credit: Dennis Leupold

Th.Ur.Di. celebrates this trio of magical misses; Johnetta “Netta” Elzie, Teyonah Parris and Yara Shahidi. These young ladies are certainly soldiers in the war between contemporary black culture and traditional mainstream customs. Be sure to keep an eye and ear our for these ladies who are destined to become household names.

Johnetta Elzie, better known by her infamous twitter handle @Netaaaaaaaa (that’s 8 if you’re counting!) exhibits Black Girl Magic by being on the front lines of social activism in Ferguson. Teyonah Parris, the face of Spike Lee’s Chi-raq, spews her Black Girl Magic as an accomplished actress. She’s most recognized for her role in the popular AMC drama, Mad Men. Yara Shahidi, who you may not recognize as the cousin of legendary Hip-Hop artist Nas, is also a stunning actress. Yara’s Black Girl Magic contributes to the success of ABC’s hit sitcom Blackish.

Also included in this special Black History Month issue of Essence Magazine are emerging activists and looming stars: Bree Newsome, Jessica Byrd, Zendaya and Aja Naomi King, among others. Who isn’t necessarily mentioned, though deserves just as much of a spotlight, is the journalist who captured this story.

Bené Viera

I was introduced to Bené Viera as I learned of the Black Girl Magic cover story. Her success is an inspiration; it may very well be why i’m writing at this very moment in time and space. During my period of obsession, I became fascinated with the back story. Interviews serve as a source of inspiration, part of why podcasting will be vital element of Th.Ur.Di. We need constant inspiration and motivation from our peers and role models. Especially from those tales of triumph. Bené agrees.

On her Facebook page, she posted her humbling experience in landing her very first cover story. The icing on the cake was her having no idea this would be the outcome of a simple invite to a photo shoot. Bené had recently been laid off from “yet another job” and figured she had nothing to lose, being freshly unemployed. She had the time, so why the heck not.

The two-day shoot turned out to be for the “Shondaland” piece where Bené had the opportunity to observe and interview multiple actors and actresses. At one point, Shonda peeped her jotting down notes and, from one writer to another asked “what you doing;” they shared a chuckle. This was an acknowledgement of comradery between writers among all the “glam in the room.” It’s very well known that being a writer is among the most non glamorous aspects of entertainment. Bené expresses how at the time of receiving this assignment, she had declared herself “done” with the industry. She pushed herself to take advantage of this opportunity and praise Jah for that!

She wrote this Facebook post for women like me. Those who teeter on giving up on our passions and dreams, accepting the mundane 9 to 5 lifestyle. She encourages us to “keep dream chasing.” So that’s what’s happening here. I’m doing the work!

I agree with Yara verbatim…”being a part of this reemergence of a movement both pro-diversity and pro-woman is the best part of being a Black girl.”

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