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

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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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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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