FORMER MISS MICHIGAN RETURNS TO DETROIT BOOK FEST TO NORMALIZE WOMEN OF COLOR LEADING SCI-FI FANTASY ADVENTURES

– FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –

 

FORMER MISS MICHIGAN RETURNS TO DETROIT BOOK FEST TO NORMALIZE WOMEN OF COLOR LEADING SCI-FI FANTASY ADVENTURES

Author and former pageant queen promotes stories with Black women in the leading role

 DETROIT, July 15, 2019 –  Octavia Reese, Detroit-native and Miss Michigan 2005, will return to Detroit Book Fest on July 21 with the next two installments in her sci-fi fantasy series, The Hibouleans. Last year, Octavia’s first two volumes aimed to inspire young women to fearlessly delve into STEM-related subjects through her epic adventure treasure-hunt story. This year, Octavia wants to remind fans about the importance of normalizing women of color in the protagonist role for any genre of adventures, especially sci-fi and fantasy.the Hibouleans Octavia Reese

“When Disney announced Halle Bailey will take the lead as Ariel in the new Little Mermaid, I was thrilled,” Octavia said. “But not everyone was.”

Octavia was referring to critics from various social media platforms that were upset to learn Ariel would be played by a Black actress.

“If people can get upset about the skin color of a half-fish-half-human fictional character, it only proves we still have a long way to go when it comes to accepting women of color in leading roles,” she said.

In her young adult series, The Hibouleans, Octavia created a world where 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. She 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.

“It’s incredibly important, not just for young Black and brown girls to refuse to believe their skin color is limiting, but it’s just as necessary for everyone else to begin to envision women of color as main characters, too, not just restricted to foreign supporting roles,” she said. “We need an entire cultural shift – we have as much a right and a capacity to lead as anyone else.”

Octavia, who now resides in Chicago, represented the state of Michigan in the 2006 Miss America pageant, and is also a cellist and composer. She wrote The Hibouleans book score, too – the musical theme that accompanies her characters’ adventures in the series.

“As a musician, I also hope to show my audience that Black women can do anything – we can be queens, scientists, authors, physicians, Hibouleans, cellists and even mermaids.”Cello Goddess Open Octavia Reese Miss Michigan The Hibouleans

Find Octavia, her cello and The Hibouleans Volumes 1 – 4, this Sunday, July 21 from 10am – 4pm at Detroit Book Fest. For more information, visit www.detroitbookfest.com and www.octaviareese.com.

 

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Haiku 12/31

Don’t dim your sparkle

To blend into the shadows

Be your brightest star

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#haikuaday

Some days I wish I were normal. Mediocre. Average. Our world is designed for the average to flourish. But I’m very abnormal. And it’s hard. But I’d rather be myself than be miserable trying to be anything else.

So for all of you sparkly stars out there that are driving yourselves mad just to fight to fit into a group that will never truly understand you anyway, remember you— as you are — are your greatest gift to the world. Dare to be true to YOU!

#selfworth #selflove #selfesteem #shine #encouragement #poem #selfcare #poetry #selfhelp #goodnews #poetsofinstagram #poet #poetrycommunity #selfawareness #loveyourself #selfconfidence #bodypositive #amentothat #empowerment #positivity #mentalhealth #mindfulness #confidence #gratitude #healing #meditation #spirituality #positivevibes #enlightenment

Haiku 6/31

Things I used to hate

About myself are the things

I love most today.

#haikuaday

In couples therapy, I learned that each day is a conscious decision to want to be with your partner. “I love you today. I want to be with you.” Taking that same theory with me, I started practicing that for myself, to myself. “Today, I love me. And I want to be me.” Now, I don’t want to be me everyday. But I do more often than I used to, and it took me years to get this far. 2019 will be another year of radical self-acceptance and self-love.

Haiku 5/31

Brilliant talent serves.

With strength, purpose and passion,

She brings home the crown.

Octavia reese haiku a day

Today, I’m judging a pageant in Wisconsin. This one is dedicated to the Miss America program and all the incredible women that cross one of the hundreds of stages across America each year.

#haikuaday

Be your prayer

I recently wrote about my presentation at my church small group. Part of the expectation is not only to introduce our business but to also explain how that connects with our spirituality.

My business (which is kind of a secret right now, but I’ll introduce very soon!) is a “company” version of myself, but not limited to my own talents and products and brands. The beautiful thing about the model I’ll present is that there is always room for more creativity at the table — not just mine. I want to elevate others with similar platforms, too.

I nearly ran out of breath listing the sorts of products my company will offer — both entertainment and retail — not only because I was on a clock and I was talking very quickly, but also because of pure passion and excitement to put all of ME out there in a marketable way.

When someone in the group asked about my spirituality, I suddenly stalled. I had a hard time spitting out the words that were on my heart. But finally, I boldly went for it. “I feel like I’m called to redefine the face of Christianity,” I said. Wow. It felt weird enough saying it out loud then but it absolutely feels just as strange and fresh typing it here. I’ve actually been avoiding completing this post for a week just because I was afraid of this…confession.

It’s so jarring to me because it seems like a very heavy burden to carry: How could one person reroute what’s been ingrained for more than two thousand years? Well, with one little drop of me, being myself and doing what I was created to do. What if your greatest call to worship, your purest form of prayer, and your most genuine communication channel with The Divine was by simply being yourself?

What if your greatest call to worship, your purest form of prayer, and your most genuine communication channel with The Divine was by simply being yourself?

The Grand Canyon wasn’t formed over night. Maybe it was one tiny pebble that diverted trickling rain water just enough to make it into a river. And maybe every rainfall that river grew a little bit wider. And after millions of years of H2O molecules passing and leaving their tiny impressions, an enormously stunning landmark was carved into the earth.

Not one of those molecules said, “Today, I’m going to make The Grand Canyon.” No. Every molecule simply existed.

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Water has been teaching me a lot over the past several months. I even referenced water in a Facebook live event I hosted, reading a piece of The Hibouleans and debuting the first track in The Hibouleans book score.

Skip to around 6:50 — water doesn’t strive for perfection. Water is gonna do what water is gonna do. The water doesn’t ask permission to be there. Water is. The journey I shared here was that I’m learning to accept (my)yourself in not only what (I)you do, but in each phase that (I)you do it.

So as I spoke to my spirituality, I offered this — that my faith is woven into every fiber of my company because I touch every grain of my company with my rawest most unfiltered gifts and talents. My quest to cultivate my passions and share them out of love and pure positive intent, not only shines my gratitude and adoration into those around me, but it is also a mirrored reflection of what is shone into me from The Divine.

I cannot separate my spirituality from my work. It is impossible to unbraid worship from my craft. Me being true to my gifts is my most authentic form of worship.

I don’t have a big conversion testimony. I can’t tell you the day Jesus saved me. I can’t tell you the moment I heard God speaking to me not from above but from within. But I can tell you that God speaks. God exists. God is love so great and abundant our humanness cannot even begin to quantify it.

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I can also tell you that my faith is not a product — I’m not in the ministry “business.” But I do have a calling to be the sort of Christian that makes people reexamine spirituality, Christianity and truly living the way Jesus — and others — showed us: let everything you do come from a place of love. Not superiority. Not judgement. Not hatred. Not condemnation. There is no other to judge — only us.

You see, when you recognize offering yourself — your gifts, your skills, your excellence — as a form of worship, it eliminates all the mechanics of doing it right. You’re already doing it right! Another reason why I love praise dance, or just playing my cello for the pleasure of making a joyful noise: I’m eliminating the limitations of conscious planning; I’m circumventing the human process of articulating and opening a direct channel between myself and the heavenly plane. This meditative, hypnotic, trance-like state, I believe, is what prayer is. Prayer, perhaps isn’t an action, but a state of being.

…when you recognize offering yourself — your gifts, your skills, your excellence — as a form of worship, it eliminates all the mechanics of doing it right.  

How many times have we all gotten caught up in interpretation and rules and words and how we might sound  or look to other humans? Our worship isn’t for them — it is for above. And that gate deserves to be fully opened without fear of imperfection, shame, humiliation or ridicule.

You are a gift to the world. Shine through your positives and in doing so, you honor God, whatever you perceive God to be.

I can’t wait to introduce you to my new company! Coming in just a few more weeks. Stay tuned…

xx,

Octavia

Feminist Author Joins Fun Home Talk

CHICAGO AUTHOR JOINS DISCUSSION PANEL FOR TONY-WINNING MUSICAL

Author Octavia Reese discusses feminism, family and LGBTQ issues in Grand Rapids production of Fun Home

GRAND RAPIDS, July 23, 2018 – Chicago author Octavia Reese, will be among a panel of West Michigan social justice activists to analyze and discuss the underlying themes of cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s Tony Award-winning musical, Fun Home. The musical, adapted from Bechdel’s graphic novel-memoir of the same name, chronicles the cartoonist’s youth and showcases powerful themes of family, self-awareness, mental health, death and sexual identity. Bechdel also developed The Bechdel Test, which helps scale how women are portrayed in film. Reese, like Bechdel, creates deliberately woman-centered literature.

“The times I see characters that look and think like me in my favorite genres are still too few and far between,” Reese said. “There will always be a need to consciously write women, especially women of color and queer women, into the narrative as meaningful and memorable significant characters.”

She said she wrote her series, The Hibouleans, to fill a representation void of women of color in sci-fi fantasy epic adventures.

Bechdel, who was first published in 1983, began her career to fill a void, too, developing pieces that raise queer and women’s voices into the spotlight.  Her first cartoon publication features gay women in the forefront, something that hadn’t been seen often – if at all – in the early eighties.

“Bechdel’s artistic contributions have reached so many spaces that are too often ignored,” Reese said. “Women cartoonists, LGBTQ youth, the importance of mental health – the list goes on.”

Reese added that representation this isn’t just for female, queer or brown-skinned communities. “The whole world needs to get used to seeing us,” Reese said.

“We have names, stories, talents, and the capacity to run the show, too. We’re not just voiceless, nameless bodies.”

The panel discussion will be held at Circle Theatre in Grand Rapids July 27, 2018 after the show. For more information on the event and for tickets to see Fun Home, please visit www.circletheatre.org.

For more details about Octavia Reese, visit www.octaviareese.com.

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Why The Hibouleans Matters

People. I am still reeling from Detroit Festival of Books 2018. While I’m riding this wave, I wanted to reflect on the experience.

This is why it was incredible:

  • It was my first appearance as an author in my hometown. I have been a Chicago resident for 12 years but The Hibouleans is based in Detroit, where I was born and raised.
  • It was my first event featuring Volume 2 in my series, The Hibouleans.
  • I nearly sold-out – I brought 40 copies with me, and left with only seven!
  • Anu Prakash from WXYZ Chanel 7 stopped by and told my story; on Facebook alone, it reached more than two thousand views in one day.
    • See the original article here:
    • Or watch the archived YouTube video:

I am honored and thrilled to be a woman of color envisioning other brilliant brown girls to the forefront of sci-fi/fantasy epic adventures.

The Hibouleans is not only a part of my soul and a child of my imagination, but it is also my dream of what the future could be…I hope the America that my sons inherit has a new, evolved, inclusive and openhearted baseline for what is normal.

Here’s why The Hibouleans matters:

  • Ethnic representation matters, period. Brilliant brown teenage girls are the heroes of this adventure. The Hibouelans is an addictive commercial fiction piece, featuring African-American Taryn and her best friend Priya, of Asian Indian decent – the heroes of the story are the kind of people that look like me and my friends – we’re seldomly featured, and if at all, we’re not even close to being the focal point.
  • Gender representation matters, period. The male characters in The Hibouleans support, encourage and respect the leading ladies. In The Hibouleans, strength, bravery and ability is not only shared and received, but expected equally across genders.
  • STEM and creative representation matters, period. Taryn and Priya are the ultimate magical geek heroes: they don’t shy away from adventure, they’re equal parts artistically and mathematically creative; one of them has telekinetic powers and the other is a shapeshifter.

The Hibouleans is not only a part of my soul and a child of my imagination, but it is also my dream of what the future could be. I hope to normalize brown women paving the way in fearless adventures, sound leadership and groundbreaking scientific advancements. I hope to see more men that love — and are not intimidated by — strong women. I hope the America that my sons inherit has a new, evolved, inclusive and openhearted baseline for what is normal.

I’ve designed The Hibouleans as a series of novellas – if you consider one novel to be an entire season of a TV show; each volume in my series is comparable to one episode – which I release every few months. The first 10 volumes are already written and I cannot wait to put them in your hands!

xoxo,

Octavia