Mary Oyaya

Mary Oyaya

Kenyan-Australian Mary Oyaya played the role of Jedi Master Luminara Unduli in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

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A modern renaissance woman, she has two masters degrees (International Relations, and International Social Development); has worked with NGOs on behalf of refugees in Australia; and has modeled for Gucci, Chanel, Sergio Rossi, and Salvatore Serragamo among others.

She has also been an extra in the movies–Lost Souls, Down and Under, and Farscape.

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Atieno Williams

Atieno Williams

Kenyan-American Atieno Okelo Williams is Co-Owner of DC Home Buzz, one of the most exciting new real estate companies in Washington DC.

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DC Home Buzz provides Real Estate Brokerage services. They help people find the home of their dreams or to sell their current home. Their focus is on educating the community about the process of purchasing or selling their home, and making sound financial decisions during this process. In the past few years, they have expanded to include rental property management, renovation services and property development.

She received  the Jones New York Empowerment fund award in 2011 and plans to use it to establish a curriculum and a series of ongoing workshops that will help homeless women and women in transitional housing to reach the dream of housing independence by teaching them financial basics and then by building on that foundation of knowledge. She plans to use her non-profit arm, Buzz Hopes to achieve this goal.

She is an alumna of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing boot camp for women that works to increase diversity in the U.S. angel investing community and creates capital for women social entrepreneurs. Since April 2011, Pipeline Fellowship’s angel investing boot camp has trained more than 80 women, who have committed more than US$400,000 in investment, as stated on Pipeline Fellowship’s website.

Follow DC Home Buzz on Facebook  and visit their website to find out more about home ownership.

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Regina Carter

Regina Carter

African-American Regina Carter began studying violin at the age of 4, but could play the piano by ear at the age of 2. She also studied tap and ballet.

Regina Carter
Regina Carter

As a teenager, she played in the youth division of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In high school, Carter performed with the Detroit Civic Orchestra and played in a pop-funk group named Brainstorm.

In addition to taking violin lessons, she also took viola, oboe, and choir lessons.
In December 2001, Regina Carter became the first non-classical musician to play Niccolo Paganini’s highly guarded, handcrafted Guarneri violin , an instrument that dates back to 1743 and is counted among the most precious items in classical music history. Carter was invited to play after the incidents of the September 11 attacks as a gesture of solidarity.

She was both the first jazz musician and first African-American to play the instrument. She used it to record 2003’s ‘Paganini: After a Dream’, an homage to the musician who first owned it that incorporated bop and Latin-inspired arrangements reflecting the violin’s 260-year-old history.

Regina Carter was awarded a MacArthur Fellows Program grant, also known as a “genius grant,” in September 2006. The award includes a grant of $500,000 over five years.

Her latest album, ‘Southern Comfort‘ has her taking her audience on a journey through her family history as it explores the folk music of the south.

Learn more about her on her official website and on Twitter.

Lyndsey Scott

Lyndsey Scott

African-American Lyndsey Scott was the first ever African American to get an exclusive contract with Calvin Klein for New York Fashion Week.

Lyndsey Scott
Lyndsey Scott

She has also modeled for brands like DKNY, Victoria’s Secret, Gucci and Prada. This beauty has serious brains though and taught herself Python, Objective C, and iOS. She built 7 or 8 apps, two of which have made it into the Apple store.  She’s ranked as one of the top iOS answerers on the #1 programming site, Stack Overflow; has recently joined the prestigious tutorial team at raywenderlich.com; and has done video tutorials for kids co-starring the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg for Code.org.

She builds apps in her spare time for her company, Standeable Inc. and has a dual-degree in computer science and theater from Amherst. Her first publicly released app, coded in iOS, benefited a charity called Educate! which sponsors young Ugandan scholars. Her second public iOS app, called iPort, offered a digital way for models to carry around their portfolios. Squarify is another app she developed to  convert your rectangular video and images into squares directly from your device to make them Instagram ready.   She has also helped develop ImDown (an entertainment network for videos under a minute long) and beautifulBook (you choose the look of your reading experience from a selection of artistically designed themes)

Lyndsey has been featured by CNN, The BBC, NPR, Good Morning America, Forbes, Harper’s Bazaar, and many other news outlets for both her computer programming skills and her efforts to promote diversity in tech and has recently been named one of the 100 Women of the Year for both UK Elle and AskMen.com.

Learn more about her on her official website or follow  her on Facebook.

Jeanette Jo Epps

Jeanette Epps

African-American Jeanette Jo Epps is an engineer, an CIA intelligence officer, and current NASA astronaut.

Jeanette Epps
Jeanette Epps

After graduating, Epps worked in research at Ford Motor Company, then as a Technical Intelligence Officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). She was selected in July 2009 as 1 of 14 members of the 20th NASA astronaut class. She graduated from Astronaut Candidate Training that included intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, Extravehicular Activity (EVA), robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training.

Epps earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics from LeMoyne College in 1992, as well as a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1994 and 2000, respectively. She is the author of several highly cited journal articles describing her research involving extensive testing of composite swept-tip beams, comparative analysis of analytical models and experimental data for shape memory alloys, and the application of shape memory alloy actuators for helicopter rotor blade tracking.

At Ford Motor Company she developed magnetostrictive actuators to reduce vibrations that enter a vehicle via the suspension control arms. Dr. Epps also investigated automobile collision location detection and countermeasure systems, which resulted in the granting of a U.S. Patent.

She was a three time recipient of the Exceptional Performance Award (2003, 2004 and 2008) while she was at the CIA. Dr. Epps is a member of AIAA and the Society for Science and the Public. Dr. Epps is the first Ph.D. graduate of the University of Maryland’s Dept. of Aerospace Engineering to become a NASA Astronaut.

Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong'o

Kenyan/Mexican Oscar winner, Lupita Nyong’o has, as of this posting, won 25 awards! Talk about a breakout artist. Nyong’o is the first Kenyan actress and the first Mexican actress to win an Academy Award.

Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita has been a production assistant on ‘The Constant Gardener’, ‘The Namesake’, ‘Where God Left His Shoes’, ‘In My Genes’, and the music video, ‘The Little Things You Do’.  She was Maz Kanta in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and is, as of this writing, working on ‘The Queen of Katwe’, ‘The Jungle Book’, and ‘Star Wars Episode VIII’.

She has also been on the cover or featured in several magazines including Vogue, Dazed and Confused, New York Magazine, and InStyle Magazine, to name a few. In 2014, she was named “The Most Beautiful Woman” by People and “Woman of the Year” by Glamour.

In 2014, she was chosen as one of the faces for Miu Miu’s Spring 2014 campaign and has been a regular on Harper’s Bazaar’s Derek Blasberg’s Best Dressed List since Autumn 2013.  To keep up with her extensive interviews, modeling gigs and movies, become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and Instagram and keep up with her movies on IMDB.

Brenda Palms Barber

Brenda Palms Barber

African-American Brenda Palms Barber is the CEO of Sweet Beginnings, a producer of natural honey-based personal care products and premium honey under the brand name, Beelove.

Beelove
Beelove

She originally started the company in 2004 as a transitional-jobs program for former offenders. The success of the program spawned the formation of the Beeline brand. The program boasts a 3% recidivism rates versus an average rate of 80+% in most rehabilitation programs.

Her website states that “Sweet Beginnings is a wholly owned subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network and offers full-time transitional jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals and others with significant barriers to employment in a green industry – the production and sales of all-natural skin care products featuring its own urban honey. Sweet Beginnings workers care for the bees and hives, harvest honey, make beelove™ products, package and ship products, track inventory, fill product orders, and sell at retail outlets and special events. These training and work experience modalities transfer to market positions in manufacturing, food service, distribution, warehousing, hospitality, customer service, and more. The recidivism rate for former Sweet Beginnings employees is below 4%, compared to the national average of 65% and the Illinois average of 55%.”

BeeLove products can be found at Whole Foods, and Mark Shale Stores.

Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola

Nigerian Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola returned home to Nigeria to co-found a waste recycling company, Wecyclers, and her vision is enormous. To transform the lives of people with garbage, create jobs, and help build the economy of her beloved motherland, Nigeria.

Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola
Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola

Wecyclers gives households a chance to capture value from their waste while providing a reliable supply of materials to the local recycling industry. Wecyclers works in partnership with the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and collects recyclable waste, including plastic bottles, plastic bags, and aluminum cans, at the household level using low-cost bicycle-powered collection vehicles called “wecycles”.

The wecycles are designed and manufactured locally and are operated by youth from local communities. The wecycle operators cover specific neighborhood collection routes to collect material from households. At collection, operators weigh each household’s materials. The weight of material that each household recycles is entered into the Wecyclers’ SMS points platform to automatically generate a personalized SMS. Wecyclers rewards households with redeemable points based on the volume and quality of recyclables that they give them. Wecyclers has registered over 5,000 households for our collection service, built 29 operational collection cargo bikes and collected over 300 metric tons of recyclable materials. Wecyclers has developed strategic partnerships with leading companies including the Nigerian Bottling Company, DHL and Coca-Cola.

Wecyclers is the recipient of multiple awards, including, the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award, Tech Award, Echoing Green Fellowship, MIT D-lab Scale-ups fellowship, MIT IDEAS Venture Grant, Yunus Challenge Prize at the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge Competition, Carroll Wilson Fellowship and is a Sustainia100 company. [Their] work has been highlighted in The Economist, CNN, Al Jazeera, The Punch, BBC, Marie Claire Magazine, New African Woman, The Independent among others. (Source: Huffington Post).

Hazel Scott

Hazel Scott

Trinidadian Hazel Scott was a jazz and classical pianist and singer; she also performed as herself in several films. She was prominent as a jazz singer throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1950, she became the first woman of color to have her own TV show, The Hazel Scott Show, featuring a variety of entertainment. To evade the political persecution of artists in the McCarthy era, Scott moved to Paris in the late 1950s and performed in France, not returning to the United States until 1967.

Hazel Scott age 3 or 4
Hazel Scott age 3 or 4

Scott was awarded scholarships to study classical piano at the Juilliard School from the age of eight. As a teenager, she performed piano and trumpet with her mother’s “Alma Long Scott” all-girl jazz band, which sometimes featured Lil Hardin Armstrong. By the age of 16, Hazel Scott regularly performed for radio programs for the Mutual Broadcasting System, gaining a reputation as the “hot classicist”. In the mid-1930s, she also performed at the Roseland Dance Hall with the Count Basie Orchestra. Her early musical theatre appearances in New York included the Cotton Club Revue of 1938, Sing Out the News and The Priorities of 1942.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Scott performed jazz, blues, ballads, popular (Broadway songs and boogie-woogie) and classical music in various nightclubs. From 1939 to 1943 she was a leading attraction at both the downtown and uptown branches of Café Society. Her performances created national prestige for the practice of “swinging the classics”. By 1945, Scott was earning $75,000 ($985,813 today) a year.

In addition to Lena Horne, Scott was one of the first Afro-Caribbean women to garner respectable roles in major Hollywood pictures. She performed as herself in several features, notably ‘I Dood It’ (MGM 1943), ‘Broadway Rhythm‘ (MGM 1944), with Lena Horne and in the otherwise all-white cast ‘The Heat’s On‘ (Columbia 1943), ‘Something to Shout About’ (Columbia 1943), and ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ (Warner Bros 1945). In the 1940s, in addition to her film appearances, Scott was featured in Café Society’s ‘From Bach to Boogie-Woogie’ concerts in 1941 and 1943 at Carnegie Hall.

She was the first Afro-Caribbean to have her own television show, The Hazel Scott Show, which premiered on the DuMont Television Network on July 3, 1950. Variety reported that “Hazel Scott has a neat little show in this modest package”, its “most engaging element” being Scott herself.

Scott continued to play occasionally in nightclubs, while also appearing in daytime television until the year of her death. She made her television acting debut in 1973, on the ABC daytime soap opera ‘One Life to Live‘, performing a wedding song at the nuptials of her “onscreen cousin”, Carla Gray Hall, portrayed by Ellen Holly.