Tsehai SmithTsehai Smith is a student at A Lady Named Pearl’s Leadership Academy. She is 10 years of age, and has started her own fashion line called “Refried Jeans.” She takes old jeans and create new fashions. These photos feature her bow ties as well as her purses.

At our academy we have our students write career development plans. One of Tsehai’s goals is to live in New York after high school, and while attending college, continue to build her fashion empire. One of the things we explain to the students is to be specific with your goals. In her paper, Tsehai, explained exactly what her store would look like, and how she would have a school to assist upcoming designers.

Follow Tsehai’s work on IG: @refriedjeans

Furthermore, come out to our one year anniversary celebration on October 18th, Tsehai will doing a presentation on her fashion line.

Screen shot 2015-10-06 at 9.37.05 AM Tsehai Smith


71JcXMRrjDLOur book for the month of October…drum roll please…. is The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It
Book by Kelly McGonigal
The call will be led by book club member Charlette Clark. Discussion call is scheduled for Sunday, Nov 1st from 6pm to 7pm! Order your book today!


De'Anna Liz - The Naked Campaign

De’Anna Liz – The Naked Campaign

A Lady Named Pearl’s Leadership Academy is very proud of our student De’Anna Liz.

De’Anna is the founder and creator of “The Naked Campaign”, a mental health awareness campaign. In this photo, De’Anna utilizes modeling, art, and poetry to express her emotions regarding her experience being raped.

De’Anna explains “The reason why I decided to make the Naked Campaign is so that I could break my silence.  I was hurting, and I did not know how to let go, so I cut myself constantly, so I could feel. There were times when I felt too much, and times, when I didn’t feel at all, I was numb.”

1 out of 3 women experience some form of sexual abuse.

*Effects of Rape Victims of sexual assault are:

3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

De’Anna’s plea:
Break your silence, become naked (vulnerable). What’s your story. Share it, email it to to be featured on the website and social outlets.

*Statistics provided by Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network



This month marks our one year anniversary of the opening of A Lady Named Pearl’s Leadership Academy. We invite you to join us for our celebration, on Sunday, October 18th, 2015 at 3pm at Phillips Rush Center, 1530 Dekalb Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307.

We will have a fashion show and presentations from various students in our academy. We will also be providing information for those that are interested in attending our academy and giving away two scholarships for our upcoming session. RSVP at

Like a pearl, leaders are not born, they are cultivated with an intricate balance of pressure, stringent conditions and time for development.

Through our academy, arts, and fashion, our goal is to produce strong, confident, young women.

Modeling and leadership classes begin November 8th, in Atlanta, GA.
Sign up today!



Ariana Miyamoto, the first half-black Japanese woman to be named Miss Japan!

We at A Lady Named Pearl are very proud of Ms. Ariana Miyamoto. She is defying the odds and facing criticism with grace, intellect and beauty. At times in this world, you will be criticize for being different, but you have to be comfortable with who you are. The universe did not make any mistakes when in created you. Stand in your light, stand in your beauty. Let the world know that you are here, and don’t you do need their acceptance to shine.

– A Lady Named Pearl



Casting Call

Photographer Geeno Mizelli is having a casting call today for a fashion show from 1pm to 4pm at Kisses Works Studios 650 Hamilton Ave, Atlanta, GA 30312. Female 5’5 + Size 4, 6, 8


Casting Call


Model Casting

Wednesday Sept 16

Location: 781 Wheeler Street #12, Atlanta Ga 30318

Looking for African American Females ages 16-35 for a MAJOR Beauty Campaign!
(Please come presentable and ready to get the job! Must bring image or portfolio)
Be a Real Next Top Model!
See you Wednesday & Good luck! ♡


It is a rivalry that in terms of importance and longevity compares with Chris Evert-Martina

Tennis superstars Venus & Serena Williams photographed as 14- and 12-year-old tennis phenoms at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy

Tennis superstars Venus & Serena Williams photographed as 14- and 12-year-old tennis phenoms at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy

Navratilova and Steffi Graf-Monica Seles. Venus and Serena Williams have met 26 times, 13 in Grand Slam events and eight in Grand Slam finals. The 13 Grand Slam meetings are the most of any pair save for Evert and Navratilova, who met 22 times.

The Williamses’ latest match, Tuesday night in the United States Open quarterfinals, may be the most important yet, as Serena is bidding for the first Grand Slam since Graf in 1988.

But it is also a rivalry between sisters, and that brings with it some ambiguity or even discomfort. The sisters have said they do not especially enjoy playing each other. “It definitely doesn’t get easier,” Serena said after their most recent meeting, in the round of 16 at Wimbledon this year.

Amélie Mauresmo and others suggested years ago that matches between the sisters might be fixed. Fans and tennis writers often call their matches passionless.

Still, Serena told reporters of Tuesday night’s match: “I’m playing the best player in the tournament. She knows how to play, how to win. She knows all my weaknesses.”

Continue reading the main story

Sister vs. Sister in Grand Slams

Venus and Serena Williams have met 26 times, 13 in Grand Slam events and eight in Grand Slam finals.

Year Tournament Round Winner
1998 Australian Open Round of 64 Venus
2000 Wimbledon Semifinal Venus
2001 U.S. Open Final Venus
2002 French Open Final Serena
2002 Wimbledon Final Serena
2002 U.S. Open Final Serena
2003 Australian Open Final Serena
2003 Wimbledon Final Serena
2005 U.S. Open Round of 16 Venus
2008 Wimbledon Final Venus
2008 U.S. Open Quarterfinal Serena
2009 Wimbledon Final Serena
2015 Wimbledon Round of 16 Serena

The sisters met for the first time professionally in the round of 64 at the 1998 Australian Open. Venus, though playing in just her fourth Grand Slam event, was already a United States Open finalist. Serena, a year younger at 16, was making her Grand Slam debut. Venus won, 7-6, 6-1. “It wasn’t so fun to eliminate my little sister in the second round,” Venus said.

Venus dominated the rivalry at first, winning four of the first five meetings as well as their first Grand Slam final, the 2001 United States Open. But beginning in 2002, Serena took over.

The heyday of the rivalry was from 2002 to 2003, during the so-called Serena Slam, when Serena won four consecutive Grand Slam events. All four of the victories came over Venus in the final.

Venus beat Serena in the Wimbledon final in 2008, but has not beaten her at a Grand Slam event since. That was also Venus’s last Grand Slam title, and her performances have slipped as she struggled with an immune deficiency diagnosed in 2011.

The most controversial match between the two came in 2001 at Indian Wells. At a news conference after losing to Venus in the quarterfinal, Elena Dementieva suggested that the sisters’ father, Richard, would decide who won the semifinal between them. A few minutes before the match, Venus pulled out, citing tendinitis.

Courtesy of New York Times.


The Sweet Science of Ray Edwards Jr

Written by Linda “Pearl” Fils-Aime


“Pearl throw punches at Bethany, and work on your jab. Three rounds!”, says Biggs.

Biggs is the owner of Biggs Boxing, and has been my trainer for the past two years.

(The bell rings for the third round)

“Last round!”, Biggs announces, as Ray Edwards Jr, a visiting fighter and his trainer walk in the gym towards the ring.

Ray Edwards Jr at ESPY

Ray Edwards Jr at ESPY

Ray Edwards Jr is a former NFL Defensive End turned professional boxer, with his sights set on becoming  the undisputed heavy weight champion of the world. After looking further into his story, I found his journey to be very interesting.

Here is the Sweet Science of Ray Edwards Jr. 

Ray Edwards Jr was born on January 1, 1986 in Cincinnati, OH. He grew up with his mother and older sister; his father was not present in the home. The family lived in the public housing projects of Cincinnati. Early on in life, Ray hung out in the streets, and began smoking and drinking with an older crowd. “I was going to school high in the 5th grade. I was way too young to be doing that kind of stuff, but that’s what happened.”

In the sixth grade, Ray began playing basketball for his school. Shortly after, he met two individuals that changed the path of his life, Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins. They became Ray’s mentors. “It felt like divine intervention for them to come into my life. Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins instilled in me that you can go a long way with education, but that there are no guarantees in athletics.”

While hanging out in the streets, Ray found that his peers were getting into trouble or going to jail.

“Seeing people going to jail, living check to check, and struggling around me, motivated me to want a better future, for myself and my family. Once I started playing football, I knew that the NFL was my ticket out; it became my dream. So I made a sacrifice to leave the streets, and dedicated my heart and all my energy to education and sports.”

The sacrifice paid off. Ray attended Woodward high school, graduating second in his class; amongst the top 1%. He also exceled in basketball and football.


Ray attended Purdue University on an athletic scholarship, and started in 18 of 36 football games.  As a Defensive End, he recorded a total of 16 sacks and received many honors including All-Freshmen team choice by The Sporting News (2003), honorable mention All-Big Ten (2004) and semifinalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award (2005). After his third year at Purdue, Ray was drafted to the Minnesota Vikings.

ALNP: How did you stay focused during your college years?

Ray: I knew college was a stopping point. My main goal was to get into the NFL.  I knew I had to play at least three years. I worked hard every off season, and during school. You got to be willing to sacrifice for success. I really don’t go out, I really don’t hang out, I work.  


During his first year, Ray started in 15 of 16 games for the Minnesota Vikings, a rarity for a rookie.

Ray Edwards Jr

Ray Edwards Jr


ALNP: What was it like, once you got to the NFL? Was it everything you dreamed it would be?

Ray: It was the beginning of everything. I was twenty-one, and I had a great signing bonus. You go from having nothing to something, then you realize you can get more, and help more people. I was blessed to have Karl Dunbar of the Minnesota Vikings as my position coach. He is a great coach and great mentor of men.

As the years progress in the NFL, Ray encountered a suspension. The suspension was due to suspected “steroid” use, but Ray explains that it actually was a testosterone booster in a male enhancement drug that he took, that created the red flag.

“While on suspension, I picked up boxing, and it’s what I do now for a living. Everything happens for a reason. You never know why it happens, but it happens.”

In his comeback season, Ray had a break out year with 8 sacks.

ALNP: Do you feel the training you received from boxing, helped you have a breakout year?

Ray: “Absolutely. Boxing by far has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to train for in my life. It helps me strength wise, endurance wise, and mentally as well. In boxing you always got to think, it’s a thinking man’s sport. That’s why they call it the sweet science.”

Ray played with the Minnesota Vikings for seven years; afterwards, he played with the Atlanta Falcons. Due to various differences with the coaching staff, Ray stayed with the Falcons for a short period of time. Shortly after, Ray transitioned into boxing full time.


Ray made his professional boxing debut on May 20, 2011, at a Minnesota casino, during a lockout period for his football career.

Ray Edwards ANLP: What was your first fight like?

Ray: I was a nervous wreck of course. I was still playing football at the time, working on a big contract. I was not sure when the lockout was going to end, but I knew I was going to go back to playing football. You have that on your mind, all your teammates that you’d played football with, there to watch you fight, and your family. I believe it might have been 2,500 people in the building. In football you have 100,000 people in the arena, but they are watching everybody play. For boxing, those 2,500 people were  focused on me and my opponent. Once the bell rang, and I got to moving around, I got loose, and continued to have tunnel vision with the goal to win the fight.” 

Ray won his first fight victoriously. Currently, as of August 2015, Ray has an undefeated record of 10-0 with 5 knockouts.

Ray Edwards won his professional boxing debut Friday night at Grand Casino in Hinckley, where he outscored heavyweight T.J. Gibson in their four round bout. Gibson fights out of a gym in Duluth.

Ray Edwards won his professional boxing debut at Grand Casino in Hinckley, where he outscored heavyweight T.J. Gibson in their four round bout.


In addition to boxing, Ray will be going back to school to pursue his degree in Criminal Justice. Furthermore, Ray has aspirations of building a community center in his home town of Cincinnati, OH that will develop quality women and men as leaders in society.

“My first goal was to have my first professional fight. As I continued to grow in boxing, my spirit began to speak to me more saying that when you become the heavy weight champion of the world, your next goal will be to become the undisputed heavy weight champion of the world. After that, your next goal will be to establish a center for kids in your community, where they can learn how to be men and women in society, no matter where they come from. I grew up in the projects, I grew up around drug and violence. No matter where you come from, you can be what you want to be, as long as you believe in yourself. ”


 Pearls of Wisdom from Ray Edwards Jr

“Look to be better than the situation you come from.”

“No matter what, stay true to your end goal.”

“We all have talent, are you willing to work?”

“Give back and help others.”

“You got to be willing to sacrifice for success.”




Drexina Nelson

Drexina Nelson

Written by Pearl Fils-Aime
Edited by Denise Sarkor
It is 3pm. I enter her office for our interview.
“Pearl,” says a warm and inviting voice from behind a wall—she must have heard the sound of the door shutting behind me. I follow her voice into a photography studio. There, a sprightly
Chihuahua runs up to and greets me. As I look up from the Chihuahua, I recognize a team of people—all seated—having lunch together. Drexina is among them, but rises to welcome me with a beautiful smile and warm hug.
Drexina Nelson is a beauty, fashion and advertising photographer with a remarkable eye. She is defying the odds in the photography industry, being one of few African-American female photographers in the business.

Drexina has captured some of the most beautiful and talented people in the world of entertainment, including Idris Elba, Kanye West, Tracie Ellis Ross, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Ludacris, Kandi Burgess, Cynthia Bailey, and NeNe Leakes to name a few.



I had the opportunity to shoot with Drexina in December of 2014, and the experience had a profound impact on me. Beyond awe at her accomplishments, I was so greatly impressed by her spirit that I had to acknowledge her in this featured article for the launch of PEARL, the magazine.

Drexina was born in Albany, GA and raised in Atlanta, thecapital—and most densely populated city—of Georgia. As a child she dreamt of being Motown’s pop star, Diana Ross. She loved beauty and fashion, and envisioned a career as a fashion designer. While attending the illustrious Clark Atlanta University, Drexina commenced her studies in Fashion. However, like many college students, she switched her major after realizing it
was not the right path for her. Drexina became an Art major; it was a perfect
fit. After graduating, she immediately pursued her MBA.
To be completely transparent, Pearl, I did not want to be a starving artist. So, I
got my MBA right after I graduated with my Art degree
With an MBA in her toolkit, Drexina served as a global implementation analyst for a major corporation. She worked in this capacity for several years before transitioning into the beauty industry as a full-time, make-up artist.
I remember taking my portfolio to an agency. They said they loved the make-up,
but the photography wasn’t strong
Unafraid of a challenge, Drexina purchased a professional camera and lights, and became the photographer for her make-up work. She began shooting dolls and neighbors as her first subjects. Her competitive drive kept her studying hard, day and night. Soon after, Drexina
became a sought-after photographer.
My first big shoot was with Akon. Opportunities were coming left and right. Within a
year, I was able to shoot Idris Elba for Vogue
How did she separate herself from the rest of the market, and get noticed so quickly? Drexina explains that when she entered the market, many photographers were shooting for magazines such as KING and Black Men, using a style that focused on the assets of women.
I aimed to capture the beauty of a woman as opposed to the booty of a woman,
Drexina says with a chuckle.
Next Chapter for Drexina
Photography is spiritual to me. Recently there has been a shift in my work. I have a life
coach/healer, and she has helped me work through certain blocks in my life;
it’s changing my approach to photography. I used to see things for what I
wanted them to be, now I see them for what they are
,” says Drexina.
Drexina is in her 10th year of photography. “I am more authentic. I am
ready to come out the way that I am supposed to with my work. It is about
women’s empowerment. That’s why I started. It’s about making women feel
beautiful, and changing lives.
The Society Salon
One of Drexina’s newest ventures is The Society Salon. It is a branch of her
beauty empire. The Society Salon is a membership-based salon geared towards empowering women through its network of members.


Pearls of Wisdom from Drexina Nelson

It’s not about the spotlight. It’s not about the fame. It’s about staying true to your
passion and mastering your craft.”
When building your business, be sure not to be influenced by everyone else. You can
only be you. Stay true to yourself.
Don’t expect anybody to give you anything. You have to work for it. No free lunch.
I believe in growing like a tree. I don’t want to grow fast, and have no substance. I
want to be a tree that lasts forever.
For more information on Drexina, visit