By Kameron Brooke | Reporter
Teen Vogue hosted a summit and block party celebration Friday in Los Angeles, where a series of inspirational conversations featured this generation’s favorite creators and change-makers.
From sunup to sundown, influencers and experts held panel discussions and keynote conversations surrounding issues in the worlds of entertainment, fashion, beauty, social justice and more.
The day kicked off with me getting interviewed by Emily Uribe, who was working the socials for Teen Vogue. She asked me about the first time I felt represented in media and what fashion trends I want to come back, and they took a video of my makeup. She complimented my outfit, and that experience was such a beautiful way to start my morning.
I sat in my second-row seat with an incredibly clear view of all the speakers and watched Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Versha Sharma begin the summit with a keynote conversation with Lily Singh. Singh spoke about the type of content she strives to create and how she overcomes creative blocks.
“When I create content, I think of how I can change someone’s life and change culture,” Singh said. “I think about the legacy of content. I don’t want to do the mindless stuff anymore. If spaces don’t exist, make them. Care about the outcome.”
Singh then spoke about the importance of staying true to what you’re passionate about.
“I felt so strongly about what I loved to do that I was willing to struggle and disrupt my life, disrupt my parents’ life,” Singh said.
Singh took a selfie with us, and we said goodbye with applause. Following her, the summit heard from a beauty trailblazers panel with artists and creators such as Alok, Molly Burke, Quannah Chasinghorse and Olamide Olowe.
These are some of my favorite creatives, especially Alok, and it was incredibly inspiring to hear from them. The panel spoke on the beauty industry today and how they personally define beauty.
“I was taught that beauty is about perfecting the artist’s self-disappearance, cutting off the things we’re born with in order to be seen,” Alok said. “Our individuality and self-emulation is beauty. Beauty is about becoming yourself. There is no beauty standard.”
Hearing Alok explain how much of a construct beauty is and how we see ourselves as who we become resonated greatly. I’ve had a tendency to struggle with being loud and proud, so hearing these creatives tell me how important it is to celebrate what makes you different was beautiful.
Digital star Molly Burke spoke about beauty from her experience of being blind and how she focused on what she couldn’t and shouldn’t do due to her disability.
“I didn’t know I was going to lose my vision, but when I did, it was like I was mourning the person I was and all the plans I had,” Burke said. “I’m short. I can’t be a model. I’m blind. I can’t be an actress. People like me don’t exist in Hollywood.”
Burke paused, looked at the audience and said, “All that exists is my own will, and I am going to make things happen for myself.”
After being asked about how they navigate through the negativity that comes with the standards of the beauty world, Alok said they prioritize their joy over everything else.
“I started prioritizing joy over other people’s shame,” Alok said. “I started choosing to be here instead of defaulting into existence. Knowing your existence makes the earth better is important.”
After the panel, they opened the floor for questions, and I stood up to ask how they navigate not feeling good enough and feelings of comparison, as well as how they continue to celebrate themselves.
Senior fashion and beauty editor Karissa Mitchell answered and said, “Nothing is cool anymore. I need everyone to know that. The person you’re trying to impress is probably trying to impress someone else. You are good enough.”
Outside of the panels and keynote speakers, there were makeup and skincare product giveaways as well as a LEGO-themed kiosk, which was a part of the LEGO design challenge where Generation Next designers created garments inspired by LEGO and attendees were able to grab LEGOs from the kiosk and create their own designs. There were six winners, all design students, who got to present their designs at the summit and interact with the audience.
One design that stood out to me in particular was a dress with an image of the Chicago Skyline wrapped around it, completely made out of LEGO. This garment was designed by fashion and costume design student Matthew Williams.
“I was inspired by my city,” Williams said. “I am very inspired by the world around me, and I like to create with that.”
In between panels and keynote conversations, Baby Tate gave a performance and reminded us to say our affirmations: “I am healthy, I am wealthy, I am rich.” She had the entire crowd dancing, including myself, and her metallic gold boots were absolutely to die for.
Following the creative break, there were two more panels speaking on politics: the recent election and the importance of diversity in television and media.
The panel was made up of Freeform stars who spoke about the first time they felt represented in media and what kind of future they hope to see for diversity in television.
The political panel was conducted by abortion rights activist Olivia Julianna and executive director of Voters of Tomorrow Santiago Mayer. The two speakers emphasized the importance of Generation Z exercising its right to vote.
“Gen Z canceled out every voter over the age of 60,” Mayer said. “We are making big changes.”
“The people who are trying to tear us down and make rude comments about us aren’t comfortable in their body, and when you’re comfortable in yours, it drives them crazy,” Julianna said.
After these two panels, I decided to walk around and explore the summit. I ended up running into actor and philanthropist Marcus Scribner, who so happens to play the main character in one of my favorite shows: “Black-ish.” He shook my hand and complimented me, and my entire week was made.
As I made it back to my seat, the sun was going down, but the energy was still climbing up. Rapper and entrepreneur Saweetie spoke to us about “chasing the bag” and not engaging with negativity, focusing on yourself and becoming the best version of yourself — even if it gets lonely at times.
Emmy-winning actress Keke Palmer was the final keynote speaker of the summit. Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Versha Sharma mediated the conversation, and they spoke about Palmer’s favorite projects, as well as what she’s looking forward to in the future.
Palmer is one of my favorite entertainers. Her radiant energy always brings something special to every event. She told us how she aspires to do something that “includes singing, dancing and acting because I feel like I was trained in a very musical theater type of way.” This was so relatable, as I grew up singing, dancing and acting as well.
Palmer left the audience with one piece of advice: “Do you like what you’re doing? Do you want to do it? Do you believe in it? If so, then bet on your damn self. You have to do that. Let’s enjoy the reality that we’re all on Earth and have no idea what’s going on, and let’s create in that.”