What happens to a dream deferred? The 2014 class of the Disney Dreamers Academy may never know, after a weekend of inspiration and education by dynamic speakers inside the magical world of Disney. For the past five years ESSENCE has teamed up with the Walt Disney Corporation and Steve Harvey to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for 100 high school students, selected from this year’s pool of 10,000 applicants.
“A dream with no action is just sleep,” Harvey said at the opening ceremony, where he shared his own dream to be a billionaire. Entrepreneur Magic Johnson, host Rocsi Diaz, educator Steve Perry, Ph.D., singer Yolanda Adams and more provided strategies to success throughout the weekend. Johnson shared how knowing his audience led him to break revenue records with his movie theaters and Starbucks franchise in predominately Black areas. "A leader always adapts and adjusts," he said. “Instead of scones, I had sweet potato pie in Starbucks.”
The “Essence of You” ladies-only session hosted by ESSENCE editor-at-large Mikki Taylor allowed female mentors to share their struggles and triumphs with teen dreamers. ESSENCE Festival alumna and best-selling author Lisa Nichols kicked things off with her transformation testimony. "I have the right to 1,000 second chances," she shared and encouraged the young women to adopt as their own mantra.
Students also got a front row seat to their career of choice with Deep Dives in various fields including culinary arts with chef Jeff Henderson, forensic investigation, journalism with editors of ESSENCE, law, entrepreneurship and engineering.
The Disney Dreamers Academy graduation ceremony featured music by Tamela Mann and James Fortune, and a keynote address from actor and host Terrence J. “Don’t focus on your Plan B because you don’t get a B life,” he shared. “This is your one opportunity. Go after what you want and protect your dream.”