Jayda Cheaves, Reginae Carter, Aoki Simmons Inspire Gen-Z Women At Essence’s Girls United Summit

Essence’s Girls United 2022 Summit recently brought out the hottest young Black and female trailblazers to Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Hosted by Reginae Carter, the summit’s theme of #ForeverTheBlueprint led to panels on content creation, maintaining your mental health, and marketing magic among many others. 

 Black women, in the millennial and Gen Z age groups,  joined together to participate in workshops, TikTok challenges, and speed mentoring from fellow Black women at the top of their field, all while receiving nail art, hairstyling, and a food village from Atlanta staples such as Slutty Vegan. 

Jayda Cheaves, Dess Dior, Aoki Simmons, and Paige Hurd were among the many panelists for the event, and were also attendees for the Impact Awards Dinner. 

Captured by Stephon Williams

The  Girls United 2022 Summit was followed by the more intimate Future Makers Awards Dinner. Held at Art Center and hosted by “Bel-Air” actress and singer Coco Jones, honoring Cheaves, Topicals Skincare brand founder Olamide Olowe, activist Chelsea Miller, and actress and education advocate Trinitee Stokes, with the Entertainment Award going to Meg Thee Stallion. 

ADW was able to talk to Jayda Cheaves and Aoki Lee Simmons about the impact of the Girls United Summit, and how they plan to use their influence to shift the culture. 

Captured by Stephon Williams

Cheaves was “shocked” to be honored as a Future Maker, stating she was not expecting “to finally get flowers.” She also expressed how she’s “been putting in the work, and to be honored by such an iconic company like Essence and Essence GU, I’m in awe.”  

For the young women who look up to the self-made mogul, Cheaves advised “keep going, don’t stop, and keep breaking those barriers. Somebody’s got to start the trend first, so don’t be afraid to be yourself and do it.” 

Aoki Lee Simmons, model and daughter of supermodel Kimora Lee Simmons, was a panelist and presenter for the Education Award for the GU Summit, and also spoke to ADW about the event. 

“I’ve been connected with Essence since I was a baby, my family’s been on the cover, they’re so great. I really think it’s the coolest thing for Essence to create Girls United to extend its reach to the next generation,” says the model and current senior at Harvard University. 

Captured by Stephon Williams

It’s no question that Black women and youth are and have been global trendsetters. From the latest TikTok dance challenges to new entrepreneurial avenues, this event served as a reminder that they are the blueprint that encourages them to keep creating while remaining authentic to who they are. It’s clear that this Girls United Summit is fulfilling its mission to uplift Black girls and empower them to make their mark in the industry, with Atlanta being the cultural hub of it all. 


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