Brown girls dominate Wakandacon 2018

LOCAL AUTHOR AND TEEN ARTIST PARTNER TO INSPIRE GIRLS WITH SCI-FI SERIES AT FIRST ANNUAL WAKANDACON

Former Miss America contestant writes brown girls into the spotlight; 9th grader illustrates

CHICAGO July 31, 2018 – Young women of color can identify with new bold champions in the young adult science-fiction fantasy series, The Hibouleans. Writing and drawing their heroes into existence, author and former beauty queen, Octavia Reese joined forces with fourteen-year old illustrator Aaliyah Lachel’e.  Together, the girl team is filling a void, bringing young brilliant brown girls to the forefront of epic adventures.octavia reese wakandacon

“I’m a big nerd,” Octavia said. “I grew up admiring Stan Lee, Stephen King, Chris Van Allsburg, Tim Burton and Ed Gorey. But my favorite adventures always seemed to leave out characters that looked like me. I was tired of watching everyone else have all the fun. My main character, Taryn, looks like me.”

Octavia said she wrote the series for all the brown girls out there that love problem-solving, strength-building, lab experiments and dream of having super powers and being the hero in epic adventures.

Her idea resonated with child-artist Aaliyah, also known as “PeanutBuddar,” who jumped at the invitation to illustrate The Hibouleans when Octavia reached out to her mom.

“When I first heard about The Hibouleans, I couldn’t wait to read it – it’s the kind of story I love to read and watch,” Aaliyah said. “Being able to bring fantasy characters to life is so exciting, plus they look like me and the main character is my age. It’s like I’m drawing my own story.”

Aaliyah, who has been drawing since she was three years old, started her own company, PeanutBuddarArt, when she couldn’t find characters in fashion and media that matched her features.

Wakandacon IG FINAL PBA“I love cartoons, visual novels and books, but I never really got to see any characters that I could relate to – not in their skin, not in their hair, and not in their shapes,” Aaliyah said.

“No one really looked like me at all. So, I drew some that did.” Aaliyah’s colorful and charming characters adorn backpacks, lunchboxes, notebooks and pencil cases.

“Kids should be able to read books and watch TV shows and be able to see themselves in those characters,” she said. Aaliyah has already been published twice as an illustrator and in addition to thriving in high school, playing sports and running her business, she plans to work with Octavia throughout The Hibouleans 10-book series.

Octavia and Aaliyah were both thrilled to be a part of the first annual Wakandacon Convention, which aims to unite fantasy fans and comic-book-loving people of color around the central theme of Black Panther’s Wakanda.

 

Find The Hibouleans and PeanutBuddarArt this weekend at Wakandacon: Friday, August 3, 4pm – 8pm; Saturday, August 4, 11am – 8pm; and Sunday, August 5, 10am – 2pm. For more information, visit www.wakandacon2018.com, www.octaviareese.com, and www.peanutbuddarart.com.

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Detroit’s Miss Michigan 2005 Returns for Festival of Books

FORMER MISS MICHIGAN RETURNS TO DETROIT TO INSPIRE GIRLS WITH BINGE-WORTHY SCI-FI SERIES AT DETROIT BOOKFEST

Independent author and former pageant queen aims to redefine how young women of color set expectations for themselves

 

DETROIT, July 9, 2018 – Detroit-raised author, Octavia Reese, created a world where bold, brave, brilliant brown girls fearlessly step into their own greatness as stars in the sci-fi epic adventure series, The Hibouleans. The leading teens, Taryn and Priya, are STEM fanatics and must use their math and science knowledge to solve clues as they embark on a life-or-death treasure hunt against terrifying shape-shifting Hibouleans.

Octavia, who now resides in Chicago, represented the state of Michigan in the 2006 Miss America pageant is also a cellist and composer, and wrote The Hibouleans book score, too – the musical theme that accompanies her characters’ adventures in the series.  As Octavia travels, reading excerpts from her series and performing on her cello, she hopes to send one major message: it’s time for the world to envision women of color in more leading roles, especially in science fiction.

“I’m a big nerd,” Octavia said. “I grew up admiring Stan Lee, Stephen King, Chris Van Allsburg, Tim Burton and Ed Gorey. But my favorite adventures always seemed to leave out characters that looked like me. I was tired of watching everyone else have all the fun. My main character, Taryn, looks like me.”

Octavia said she wrote the series for all the brown girls out there that love problem-solving, strength-building, lab experiments and dream of having super powers and being the hero in epic adventures.

“I wrote it for my inner child and to fill the color-gender void I saw in my youth,” Octavia said. “Now I want to share it with all people that crave epic adventures – representation not only changes our narrative but changes how others view us as well.” Octavia hopes The Hibouleans normalizes diverse character leads in magical, science-fiction and fantasy genres.

“I also wrote this for my own children. I want my three sons to equate strength and bravery with boys and girls,” Octavia said.

In June 2018, the Miss America Scholarship Organization officially announced the elimination of the historic swimsuit competition from the annual pageant, sending shockwaves across the country.  Octavia supports the decision and says it aligns with her own vision of The Hibouleans.

“It’s time for women of all shapes, sizes and colors to take back our own narratives and tell the world how we want to be received. While the Miss America competition has evolved into being so much more than the swimsuit portion, that’s still the only thing most viewers remember. Now they’ll start to see us for who we really are – gifted and educated forces of change.”

Find Octavia, her cello and The Hibouleans this Sunday, July 15 from 10am – 4pm at Detroit Book Fest. For more information, visit www.detroitbookfest.com and www.octaviareese.com.