She’s EmPOWERed: Maryland Teens Demonstrate Why Representation Matters with #TheLittleMermaidChallenge

When the trailer was released last year for Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid,” the Internet was flooded with videos showing overwhelmingly joyous reactions from African-American children and adults alike. The reactions to Halle Bailey (of R&B duo Chloe x Halle) being cast as Ariel illustrated just how crucial representation is.

For high school seniors Sydnie Chandler Monet, CEO and host of The Perfect Timing Podcast and Lexi P., CEO of Curlanistas, the May 26 release of the “Little Mermaid,” is not only an opportunity to see a representation of themselves on the big screen, but it also is an opportunity to give back in a big way.

 The two have teamed up for #TheLittleMermaidChallenge and are raising money through a GoFundMe page with a goal of taking 500 young Black girls from the DMV to see the film.

 A Girl with Curls and Ambition

“I believe there is so much power in representation,” said Lexi, 18. “When you see positive examples of someone who looks like you, it gives you the power and inspiration to dream. As a young girl, I remember not seeing many people who looked like me on TV or in movies. I know how that made me feel and question my worth. Representation encourages others to imagine themselves in situations and experiences they see in the media.”

The desire for representation is also what powered Lexi’s brand, Curlanistas, which started as a movement to complement her first book Curly Girls Love Your Curls. Lexi wanted to develop the brand to help girls like her with big curly hair.

“I wanted girls to embrace who they are – to love their hair and to feel empowered to wear their hair, big, bold and proud,” she said.

In August of 2017, Lexi did a soft launch of her Curlanistas haircare line at the world-famous Bronner Brothers Convention in Atlanta and sold out the first day.

A Purpose-Driven Influencer

As a social entrepreneur and founder of the non-profit Live Your Future Educated (LYFE), Sydnie is a proponent of representation and inclusivity. Her organization is ushering in a new generation of influencers, celebrities and innovators and offering a safe platform for them to share their inspiring stories.

In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, she launched the Perfect Timing Podcast. “The podcast was established after the growing limitations of youth positivity on social media platforms,” Sydnie explained.

“The platforms without substance fueled my desire to make a change. It’s intentional for me to meet youth where they are by showing them how to absorb into the fabric of their own lives and see that their dreams are tangible.”

Nearly three years later, Sydnie has released 130 impactful episodes with more than 2,600 dedicated listeners.

High Aspirations Fuel the Future

As high school seniors, Lexi and Sydnie have big aspirations after graduation.

Lexi is looking forward to attending Morgan State University where she plans to study business. “I want to grow my hair care line and also start a non-profit for the youth,” she said. “My goal in life is to be a leader who has a positive impact on the world.”

Sydnie is looking forward to attending Howard University and studying strategic communications this fall. “I am so excited for this new chapter,” she said. “I have been prepared and molded for this moment as I approach high school graduation. I plan to continue growing the Perfect Timing Podcast and explore the opportunities that come with it.”

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