Giving Back to Our Community
This month’s edition of Urban Call Briefs features another group of “Role Models Beyond Beauty” who are doing wonderful things in our community.
“Role Model-Beyond Beauty” has been a Sophisticates Black Hair Styles and Care Guide magazine feature for more than 25 years. It highlights women of color who have made significant advances in their careers and who have given back to their communities. Nearing its 100th edition, the column has honored black women in a wide range of fields.
The column portrait art by commissioned artist Leo Rucker is also an art exhibition of 180 pastel portraits with the Role Model story about these accomplished women and their distinguished careers are in the personal collection of beauty industry leaders Sandra and Lafayette Jones. Visit RoleModelBeyondBeauty.org and the SMSi-Urban Call YouTube Channel (http://youtu.be/2VHP8iadIB8). In August 2013 the Role Model Beyond art portraits and editorial were featured at the National Black Theater Festival held bi-annually in Winston-Salem, NC where more than 30,000 festival participants had an opportunity to view the exhibition at The Sawtooth School of Visual Art.
The column is written by beauty industry icon Lafayette Jones and is co-authored by his daughter, Bridgette Miller Jones, who joined as co-columnist five years ago. Bridgette is a 2011 Spelman graduate and now East Carolina School of Dental Medicine candidate (2015). The “Role Model Beyond Beauty” column originally debuted as a touring 180+ piece art collection and exhibition.
The expanded exhibition opened for a second year in Winston-Salem, NC, the City of the Arts. Selected pastel portraits of the large collection commissioned by Sandy and Lafayette Jones and illustrated by Artist Extraordinaire Leo Rucker were shown July 13—August 9, 2015 in the Milton Rhodes Sawtooth. A handful of profiles are included in this OTC Beauty Magazine edition.
Dr. Bridgette Miller Jones is a very unique person – quiet and unassuming but determined to be successful in serving others. She was born in Chicago, and raised in Winston Salem, NC. While attending Spelman College, a Historically Black College and University, in Atlanta, Ga., she fell in love with community service and became heavily involved with volunteer work, both inside and outside of the Spelman College gates. The college also provided her with the opportunity to learn more about a growing passion for dentistry as a leader within the Spelman College Pre-Dental Institute. Dr. Jones’ first interest in dentistry began after receiving orthodontic treatment, and seeing how much it improved her overall confidence. At this point she wanted to be able to give that gift to others, especially those who do not readily have access to dental care. Upon graduation from Spelman she was fortunate to become a member of the Inaugural Class at East Carolina University School (ECU) of Dental Medicine in Greenville, NC. In dental school she helped to found the ECU Chapter of the Student National Dental Association and the Student Professionalism and Ethics Association. Dr. Jones was involved with many other services, including Mission Of Mercy Charitable Dental Cares (MOMS), and mentorship organizations on campus and in the local Greenville Community. During those four years in Dental school, she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. Today she is engaged to her college sweetheart and currently in a one year General Practice Residency in Asheville, NC. She is looking to stay in North Carolina for a few years to continue the practice of dentistry.
Dr. Bridgette Miler Jones is the daughter of Sandra and Lafayette Jones. The latter is a long term columnist of Urban Call Briefs for this publication, OTC Beauty Magazine.
Vanessa Williams is an American singer-songwriter and actress. In 1983, Williams became the first African American woman to win the Miss America beauty pageant. As a child, Vanessa Williams studied French horn and piano and also enjoyed singing. She earned herself a scholarship to Syracuse University, studying for a major of Theatre Arts. She left the university when she won the Miss America contest so that she could fulfill her role as the winner. She did, however, achieve a graduation certificate from the university 25 years later when she earned her remaining credits from her Tony-award winning Broadway shows.
Vanessa Williams first started entering beauty pageants in the 1980s. In 1983, she won Miss New York and in September that year, she was crowned Miss America 1984 and became the first African American woman to win the title. Williams received death threats and racial abuse prior to winning the title and 10 months into her reign, she received an anonymous phone call threatening to publish some nude photographs that had been taken of her before she won the title. Hugh Hefner refused to publish the pictures in Playboy on the grounds that they had not been authorized for release and did not want to embarrass Williams any further. However, Bob Guccione, the editor of Penthouse paid for the rights to the photos, regardless of Williams’ wishes. As a result, Williams was stripped of her Miss America title.
In 1988, Vanessa Williams released her debut album, “The Right Stuff.” The lead single, of the same name, was a success on the US R&B charts. The second single was “(He’s Got) The Look” and the third, “Dreamin,” was Williams’ first Top 10 hit on the mainstream Hot 100 chart. The album reached gold status and she won three Grammy Awards, including the Best New Artist Grammy. Williams’ second album, “The Comfort Zone” featured the hit single “Running Back To You.” The next three singles, “Just For Tonight,” “Work To Do” and “Freedom Dance (Get Free!)” also performed well. Her biggest hit single to date, though, was “Save The Best For Last.” “The Comfort Zone” sold over 2 million copies in the US alone. The third album from Vanessa Williams, released in 1994, was “The Sweetest Days,” which was a blend of jazz, hip-hop and Latin. It featured the tracks “Betcha Never” and “You Can’t Run,” which were written and produced by Babyface. The album was nominated for two Grammy awards. In 1997, Williams released “Next,” and “Everlasting Love” in 2005.Williams also released two Christmas albums. The first, “Star Bright,” was released in 1996 and the second, “Silver and Gold,” was released in 2004. In 2009, Vanessa Williams announced a new album, to be released in June 2009, who is now signed to Concord Records.
In 1994, Vanessa Williams was cast in a Broadway production of “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” She then appeared in a revival of “Into the Woods” by Stephen Sondheim. Williams has also landed roles in a number of feature films, with the most prominent being 1997’s “Soul Food.” She also starred in the 1991 underground hit, “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man.” She went on to star opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Eraser” and opposite Chayanne in “Dance With Me.” In 2009, Williams featured in the Hannah Montana film, alongside Miley Cyrus, “Hannah Montana: The Movie.” A pivotal role for Williams was her performance as Wilhelmina Slater in the ABC comedy “Ugly Betty,” which is produced by Salma Hayek.
Vanessa Williams’ first marriage was to Ramon Hervey II, who was her manager at the time. They were married from 1987-97 and have three children together. Her second marriage was to Rick Fox, the ex-basketball player. They eloped and married in 1999 and have one daughter together, Sasha Gabriella. They divorced in 2005. In September 2014, Williams confirmed that she was engaged to Jim Skrip during an appearance on “The Queen Latifah Show.” The couple met while vacationing in Egypt in 2012. They married on July 4th, 2015.
Biography excerpts by Contactmusic.com
When the “face” of your sport is a Wilhelmina model, you know you’re off to a good start. But Lisa Leslie, the most-recognized player in the WNBA and Team USA brought considerably more than a stunning visage and statuesque body to the court. She was the most dominant player in the women’s game.
While at Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif., she led the team to two state championships. In college at the University of Southern California, she was the all-time Pac-10 leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots. After college, Leslie launched her modeling career, signing with the prestigious Wilhelmina Agency in 1996.
She was a member of the gold-winning U.S. Olympic teams in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. She is the first team sport athlete to win four consecutive Olympic Gold Medals. In 2001, Leslie was the first WNBA player to win the regular season MVP, the All-Star Game MVP and the playoff MVP in the same season. That year, she also led the Los Angeles Sparks to their first WNBA Championship. In 2002, she became the WNBA all-time leading scorer and was named MVP of the regular season for the second year in a row. She led the Los Angeles Sparks to back-to-back Championships. She would go on to win her third MVP trophy of the WNBA in 2006. Leslie is the first woman to slam-dunk in a professional game.
Lisa Leslie sat out the 2007 WNBA season as she and her husband, Michael Lockwood, welcomed baby Lauren into the world. She joined the U.S. team that spring and won her fourth Olympic Gold Medal as she retired from the Olympics. In 2009, Lisa Leslie announced her retirement from the WNBA as she played her last season in front of her family, friends and fans!
In Lisa’s off-season she became an author and released her book, “Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You.” In her own words, she points the spotlight onto her remarkable life off the court, where being a confident champion was not always simple. She became a commentator for ESPN in 2004, covering the NCAA Women’s Tournament and has not looked back. She is now an in-studio sports analyst for ABC, Turner, Fox Sports Net and covered the 2012 Olympics for NBC.
Lisa Leslie is Co-Owner of the Los Angeles Sparks – a professional franchise in the WNBA. She also launched the Lisa Leslie Basketball & Leadership Academy. Lisa and Michael are parents to Lauren and MJ. As a wife, mom, author, sports analyst, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, you can see Lisa Leslie does it all.
It isn’t every day that a young black woman who was raised by her mother in the state of North Carolina be accepted into the world’s most revered institution of higher learning, Harvard University, along with eight other prestigious institutions including UNC Chapel Hill, Duke University and Dartmouth University. But it did happen to 18-year-old Paige Woods who was one of 1,600 freshmen college students in the world who moved to Cambridge, Mass. to attend Harvard College. She received an outstanding $900,000 in scholarship money from various sources including a Faculty of Arts and Sciences Scholarship from Harvard valued at $53,750.
These opportunities became available because Paige was an exceptional high school student, involving herself in over 20 clubs including Girls Empowered by Math and Science where she served as a teacher’s assistant and junior counselor, Varsity Volleyball where she was Captain and MVP, Student of the Year her 9th, 10th and 12th grade years where she was nominated by students and teachers, and had the fourth highest GPA in her class. “I wanted to be my best and I didn’t seek to compete against anyone else. The only person I was competing against was my own self to ensure that I was functioning in the most efficient manner I possibly could,” said Paige.
With her reputable academic success and history of servitude, Paige says that she would not have even thought of applying to Harvard had it not been for the Simmons Memorial Foundation which provides college counseling for students from vulnerable backgrounds. “At first, the request for me to apply to Harvard seemed so preposterous and foreign that I was taken aback. I remember sitting in my mom’s room, telling her that I had feelings of doubt…Most of these schools were places that I would have never applied to had it not been for the urging of the Simmons Memorial Foundation’s staff who pushed me far beyond my comfort zone and for the emotional and financial support of my mother. ”
Whether it was coming to know what she truly wanted in school or acknowledging her strengths and weaknesses, the college process helped her to grow as a person. It also gave her the opportunity to see the remarkable ability of God to bless abundantly. Not only was she accepted into nine top-notch institutions including three in the Ivy League, she was awarded generous financial aid grants and scholarships. Paige plans to double major in African and African American Studies and Sociology, and minor in global administration. She wants to pursue a career in global health administration in order to assist low resourced families receive the best health care possible.
Paige Woods is now in her senior year at Harvard College in Cambridge, Mass. and graduates in the class of 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Studies and African and African American Studies.