There are so many factors that affect how our lives turn out, but one of the most interesting is how our backgrounds give us unique strengths and perspectives that affect who we are as adults. We asked rising stars from the community to tell us about their background and upbringing and how they feel it’s impacted who they are today.

Grace Mirabito | Photographer & soon to be Psychology Ph.D

I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA so this space and place has always and will forever be my home. I first started photography when I was 10 years old, I had an old beat up Nikon cool pix, those old point and shoot cameras, then when I was 15 I got a Nikon J1 which let me explore manual photography in a limited way. Finally when I graduated high school my parents bought me my first Nikon D5500 camera, now at 25 I use a Nikon D750 and D850! I have collected a plethora of lenses and have truly honed in to the type of photography that speaks to me, which is simply authentic and carefree. Read more>>

Ty Anderson/Ty The Voice Guy | Character Voice Actor/VoiceSlinger

I was born in Billings, Mt and spent the first 15 years of my life there. My Mom remarried when I was 5 and my older sister and myself joined his family of 3, Ed, my stepdad, Kellie my stepsister and Gus my stepbrother, both older.(Our little sister Sandra would come along 2 years later). Read more>>

Courtney Atkinson | Owner of C. Lauren Cosmetics

I am born and raised in East Atlanta, as well as my family. My family is big on support and that is a huge part of who I am. My family truly supported any idea I had growing up, that’s the main reason I feel I can do anything I put my mind to. Even though I had a lot of support with the things I’ve done, I didn’t have a lot of support emotionally. I grew up in a toxic environment, my parents had me young. They were trying to figure out themselves, trying to figure out life. They both grew up with childhood trauma, they did their best with me. Read more>>

Shona Dion | Fashion Influencer and Makeup Artist

I’m from a small town called Dacula GA. As a young child, I use to love playing in makeup and experimenting in different colors. While I was in high school, I was in a beauty pageant, winning, and receiving a modeling scholarship, where they sent me beauty and modeling school. Read more>>

Kelly Taylor Mitchell | Artist & Asst. Prof of Art and Visual Culture/Art Program Director at Spelman College

I am from the Greater Philadelphia area. My family put down roots in along the Delaware River after my paternal grandparents met while attending North Carolina HBCUs, North Carolina A&T and Bennett College. Home, family, and collective memory are central to my story and my artist practice. My grandparents come from storied sites; Harlem, NY, Lynchburg, VA, Boykin, Al and Garysburg, NC saturate my studio and spirit. Read more>>

Jo Williams | Influencer & Content Creator

I’m from the 757! Norfolk, VA to be exact. I did not grow up rich at all but my grandparents and parents spoiled me as a child & I can say it definitely turned me into a diva. For instance, growing up I always knew I was going to be someone of significance. & as an only child all you have is your imagination, right? lol. I’m not sure if I was manifesting it or what but I always thought highly of myself & my grandparents would always remind me of how a young lady should act/be. I grew into myself more & more as the years went by & continued to evolve to new levels as I got older. Read more>>

Kittwani Oscar | Group Fitness Instructor

I was born on the Caribbean island of Dominica and I grew up in a small village in the north of the island. The community I grew up in was one with a strong concept of community and an appreciation for the simplicities of life. Growing up in the Caribbean, I was deeply immersed in a culture that is colorful and energetic, which has impacted who I am as a person. As a child, I always was passionate about dancing, starting with performing praise dances at church, and I enjoyed the blissful excitement and sense of joy that music and dance can give a person. Read more>>