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My Essence Fest Experience With #MyFordFam Was One To Remember

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Every year, ESSENCE Festival brings together hundreds of thousands of beautiful Black women in New Orleans, LA for a three-day celebration. Ford Motor Company joined these boss women last weekend, in celebration of ten years of sisterhood with their #MyFordFam campaign.


Held at the Convention Center, Ford created a virtual home for Black women that featured various rooms to accompany the many aspects of being a boss. xoNecole was able to capture all of these moments, serving as the official host of the booth.

Each station had an accompanying theme. At "My Power," women could charge their phones to ensure they weren't missing important notifications.

At "My Style," guests could create custom t-shirts. At "My Beauty," women could get a quick touchup by a professional makeup artist, and at "My Whip," guests could create a 360-activation video in a Ford Mustang.

Our founder, Necole Kane and I (acting as host) had a great time testing out this feature.

While waiting to enjoy a station, guests could also enjoy live celebrity interviews with Sirius Heart & Soul. Some of the many celebrities to grace the stage, included Mary J. Blige, Regina King and the Cast of Beale Street, Ne-Yo, and R&B group, June's Diary.

In addition to the ongoing celebration, Ford took a moment to highlight breast cancer survivors with its Warriors in Pink/Tracey Nicole Fashion Show. Through the fashion show, Ford celebrated strong women who find ways to uplift each other in their everyday lives.

But that's no surprise, because ESSENCE Festival has a way of bringing together the strongest women to celebrate each other. Among these women are dedicated entrepreneurs who work day in and out to manage successful businesses. Ford held a pitch contest that provided these entrepreneurs with an opportunity to pitch their businesses to finance expert, Tiffany the Budgenista.

Melissa Mitchell of Abielle Creations walked away a finalist and now has a chance to win a brand new Ford vehicle. She told me prior to stepping on stage to pitch her business, "In December 2017, I said I'm going to be far more intentional about what I say, what I do and what I write," Mitchell said while explaining her journey to ESSENCE Fest. "I said I will be going to Essence Festival paid in full. I will be a guest of Ford and a guest of ESSENCE Magazine, and within six months, God allowed all of that to be manifested. I prepared for ESSENCE Festival before I even got the call."

Jaleesa Lashay and Winner of the Ford Pitch Contest Melissa Mitchell

She also shared, "My brand is very unique. I turn all of my favorite paintings into artwork. I've turned about 40 or 50 of my favorite paintings into head wraps, socks, bowties..anything you can name."

And…because you know we love feeling special, Ford also offered VIP experiences for vehicle-owners. Ford owners were able to chill in the VIP-garden, and enjoy other perks that included giveaways and more.

xoNecole had the chance to experience our own VIP treatment when we test-drove the platinum edition Ford Explorer.

ESSENCE Festival truly is a one of a kind experience. It's not every day that we get to be surrounded by women who see us, love us and know our struggle. Thank you to Ford for inviting xoNecole to be a part of that celebration with #MyFordFam.

To follow along with all of our coverage for ESSENCE with #MyFordFam, click here.

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A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

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As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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