067: Nurturing empowerment. The Beautiful Project reframes the images of Black girls and women.

The vision of The Beautiful Project is to use photography and reflective workshops to empower Black girls and women to confront and investigate what it means to be beautiful inside and out. I was honored to sit down and converse with 2 staff members of The Beautiful Project, Khayla Deans and Pamela Thompson. We discuss the programming and impact of The Beautiful Project, the Sisterhood Creed, and plans for the future. Listen in and soak up the wisdom and grace of  Khayla, Pamela, and the whole Beautiful team as they hold space for each other and the participants in their program

Jamaica Gilmer, Pamela Thompson, Khayla Deans, and Erin Stephens (the core team of The Beautiful Project). Photo by Jamaica Gilmer.

Khayla Deans is a music and film enthusiast, storyteller and image activist who cares deeply about amplifying the voices and images of people who are often unheard or unseen. She believes that media, art, and history can be used as powerful tools for empowerment when placed in the right hands. Khayla is a photographer and writer for The Beautiful Project and currently holds the position of the Creative Producer where she develops the media strategy for TBP exhibits, manages all of the organization’s communications channels, and implements the macro and micro details involved in the creative concepts of TBP’s programming and presence.

Pamela Thompson is a writer, artisan and activist. Inspired by the work of Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou and Alice Walker, she believes that because the experience of being a Black girl or woman is so dynamic, nuanced and rich, the full story of Black girlhood and Black womanhood will never be known until all Black girls and women feel empowered and equipped to share their stories, their way. At The Beautiful Project she creates writing practices, tools and spaces designed to meet those aims as well as educate the masses on how to better think, speak and write about Black girls and women. Her activism starts at home where she is the proud mother of four of the future’s brightest and brilliant Black girls, Izzie, Ava, Elle and Lydia.


The Beautiful Project is fiscally sponsored by the Southern Documentary Fund. If you would like to support the mission and vision of The Beautiful Project, donations can be made online or via check and mailed to: The Southern Documentary Fund RE: The Beautiful Project 1105 W Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701)

This episode is brought to you by the Soapboxers, the official patrons of the Artist Soapbox. If you like these episodes and want more, get on the Soapbox! This episode was recorded at the ASBX home studio. Artist Soapbox theme music by Bart Matthews.

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Would you describe TBP and the work you do? Why was it founded? What are your roles in the organization? How/when did you become involved in the work of TBP?

Why is the work of TBP so important? How have you seen that reflected in the participants? (Could you share an example or story of a meaningful moment or moments with participants?)

Durham is the home base of operations, but is this also a national campaign?


Pamela, would you read the Sisterhood Creed, and talk about it? (Why you wrote it? The value it has for the organization?) And then we can transition into the Storytelling Series that’s based on the different tenets of the Creed? Do you have an example(s) of a woman who has played out one of those tenets for you?


How do you manage the dual challenges of being a leader and being in process with this work yourself?

Did you participate in something like TBP when you were growing up? If not, how might TBP had an impact on you? If so, what impact did that experience have?

Would you talk about the art you practice outside of TBP? Has your association with TBP affected the art you make?

What are your hopes for TBP? What’s next?

How can people support TBP and find out more?

Artist Soapbox podcast is a listener supported podcast. If you listen, please support the podcast by sharing episodes with friends and contributing via our Patreon campaign.

If you have feedback, questions, suggestions, please email artistsoapbox@gmail.com. FEEDBACK IS EVERYTHING TO ASBX.

Artist Soapbox

Artist Soapbox is a platform for original scripted audio fiction and an opportunity for artists to discuss their creative work in their own voices. We do this through our interview podcast, our blog, live events, and original audio dramas.

Artist Soapbox is an anti-racist organization. We believe Black Lives Matter. In addition, as a podcast production company, ASBX has signed the Equality in Audio Pact on Broccoli Content.

Artist Soapbox is more than just a podcast.

We lead writers groups, accountability support, workshops, and events. We produce and create audio dramas too! Listen to the Master BuilderThe New Colossus Audio Drama, Jesus Pancake, Declaration of Love, Food for Thought, and ASBX Shorts. Stay tuned to hear about more projects written by the Soapbox Audio Collective Writers’ Group.

Audio Dramas

Jesus (1400 × 1400 px)-2

Jesus Pancake

Jesus Pancake is the newest scripted audio fiction series from Artist Soapbox. Nine episodes of zany dark comedy.


The New Colossus

The New Colossus Audio Drama is a totally unhinged dark comedy reboot of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, THE SEAGULL.


Master Builder

This audio drama was adapted from Tamara’s 2018 stage play produced by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and inspired by Henrick Ibsen’s classic, The Master Builder published in 1892.


Declaration of Love

Co-producers Aurelia Belfield and Tamara Kissane of Artist Soapbox commissioned eleven NC playwrights to craft short audio scenes based on the prompt “Declaration of Love.”


Food for Thought

Three pilot episodes of new scripted audio fiction series inspired by the prompt Food for Thought.


ASBX Shorts

ASBX Shorts are six short audio fiction pieces created and produced by North Carolina artists. Artist Soapbox Shorts were specifically contributed by the artists to aid in fundraising and to get everyone excited about Jesus Pancake, our new audio fiction series in development.

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