This week, Raven-Symoné spoke to the kids of Disney’s Dreamers Academy sporting a new do- but the attitude that has kept her a star all these years.
The event, sponsored by ESSENCE Magazine and Steve Harvey invited 100 teen contest winners and their families for a four-day program that showed they can harness the power of their dreams. Several celebrities showed up to partner with the organization including Yolanda Adams, Terrance J and Tamera Mowry.
But the real star of the show was the former “That’s So Raven” star, who delivered the Dreamer’s keynote address sporting her natural locks in a copper tinged fro. During her speech, Raven encouraged the youth at the event to strive for excellence in whatever they pursued saying:
“Don’t try to be the next Oprah, try to be the next you.”
The quote is one of my favorites from the star, who many have called the mini-Oprah before. While she said the statement with no disrespect, she makes a very valid point: we can’t all become successful by attempting the same things.
It’s not hard to imaging that Raven’s rise from Cosby child show to mogul was in some ways guided by Oprah’s rise to success. There are few other Black stars in Hollywood who have provided an effective model of brand expansion. But speaking to a new generation, Raven encouraged them to follow their own path instead of trying to do something that has already been done.
I also love that Raven’s starting point for the Dreamers put her expectations for them, and indeed their expectations for themselves, beyond what many Black youth often hear. It’s not as if she said don’t try to be the next singer/rapper/ballplayer as is so often brought up in reference to the prospects of Black youth. It’s a better starting point from a star who we are convinced is still closer to the beginning than the height of her career.
And in some ways that is a beautifully frightening thing- that even with her already massive empire, Raven-Symoné may have only just begun.