BET weekend usually promises to be a celebrity-filled, star-gazing, “adult-fun” type of experience. There are always things to do, places to go, people to see and plenty of memories to make. But for one teen aged girl’s mentoring organization , Girls with Gifts, INC., it seems as though they received an unbelievable opportunity to experience it all.
Girls with Gifts, INC. (GWG) is a mentoring organization for girls ages 11-18 that is inspired to inspire young women to aim for their highest potential. With camps in Los Angeles, New York, Flint, MI and Houston, their mission is to cultivate the talents of young ladies, with an emphasis on the arts, education and self-empowerment. Their organization focuses on personal development, mental health, service to others and scholastic excellence. They are an organization that is focused on changing the world through passionate young women, one “gift” at a time.
Over the BET Awards weekend, the founder of Girls with Gifts, Inc., Antoinetta Hairston, who is also the supervising producer of the Centric Network TV series Being, arranged for her mentees to partake in many of the BET Weekend festivities. The girls started off their weekend at the KO Creative Offices where Hairston works. They had the opportunity to learn firsthand from Hairston and her team about “Women Behind the Lens,” something the GWG girls admitted to knowing very little about. Each girl was given the chance to select a name/title/TV show from one of three walls in the office and match the name up with the respective title and associated television show that the woman “behind the lens” worked on.
This interactive way of teaching the girls shined a light on the different roles women can play behind the lens and all the value they can add. All ten of the GWG girls were then given the opportunity to put what they just learned to the test as they received an assignment to develop, write, cast and produce a one-minute commercial about the GWG Reach Back Pull Forward program in LA. The girls were separated into two groups (production and creative), self-organized themselves, assigned roles and responsibilities, took charge of their operation and ran the show in producing their very own commercial. The girls nailed it and ended their commercial with a singing rendition of the GWG theme song as seen below.
Some of the other activities the girls participated in included attending the BET Experience on Saturday, and attending a live taping of the popular music countdown show “106 & Park,” where the girls got a chance to see, up close and personal, celebrities grace the stage and perform. Celebrities who made a special appearance included Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall and Floyd Mayweather. Some of the music artists who performed were Kevin Gates, the music group Rae Sremmurd who also co-hosted with Mila J, as well as DLOW, who closed out the live taping with his hit single “Do It Like Me.”
The GWG girls ended their red carpet VIP treatment weekend on Sunday night when they got a chance to see live performances from many famous artists, including Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, at the actual BET Awards show. Hands down, Bryson Tiller was the preferred favorite amongst all the girls, as they stayed on their feet, waved their hands in the air and sang along with him in unison, line by line.
By the end of the weekend, the girls were thankful to Hairston and the other mentors, including the organization’s vice president, Cassaundra “CC” Hawkins, Reach Back Pull Forward program coordinator Kayla Naylor, Farvelis Rodriguez, Dominique Brown and up-and-coming R&B singer/songwriter Mikhala Jene for having provided them with, what will undoubtedly be, a lifetime worth of memories. As the weekend came to a close, one of the mentees summed up her emotions perfectly as she plainly put it, “I feel blessed.”
For more information on Girls with Gifts, please visit www.GirlsWithGifts.org.
Please see pictures from the girls’ star-studded weekend below.
Photo Gallery Credit: Porsha Monique for Steed Media