Disney Dreamers


BRANDI & KARLI HARVEY, the twin daughters of comedian/talk show host/author STEVE HARVEY presented `STYLE 101′ a fashion `how to’ seminar that empower teens to explore the appropriate fashion choices as they develop into womenhood. The seminar was the fashion highlight of the 10th anniversary of Disney Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World headquarters in Orlando, Florida.



Karli & Brandi Harvey at recently concluded Disney Dreamers Academy, at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Photo by; Walter Green


The yearly event hosted by Steve Harvey & Essence Magazine, brings together 100 high school students from across the US, for a career inspiration program. The students, identified as “dreamers” participated in an intensive four day, once-in-a-lifetime educational and mentoring program. Several luminaries in the business, education and entertainment fields also participated, serving as mentors and speakers, including; DR. STEVE PERRY;  PATTI LA BELLE; CAM NEWTON; YOLANDA ADAMS: KIM FIELDS; BRYSHERE GRAY; CHEF JEFF HENDERSON; JONATHAN SPRINKLES; T.J. HOLMES; MIKKI TAYLOR; DR ALEX ELLIS and SONIA MYLES-JACKSON.


Disney Dreamers


Brandi & Karli Harvey used their `Style 101′ session to educate and inform the female teens on fashion and style choices for several occasions. They said that they were on a mission to give something back to the female “dreamers.” “We are trying to teach them more than what we knew, like being well dressed is more than just a “look” it’s a necessity,” the twins remarked in unisance.



A series of images were shown on jumbo screens, as the teens were asked to choose if the looks were appropriate for specific occasions. They were given emoji paddles featuring `hot’ or `not’ symbols. Brandi & Karli dropped several fashion jewels between comments from the teens, as well as a panel of `Fashion Police’ selected from among the dreamers. “A woman’s dress should be like a barbed wire fence – serving it’s purpose without obstructing the view.” They also shared; “You are addressed by the way you are dressed.” On the way you dress for a job interview, Karli added; “When you walk into a room, they don’t know your personality, all they see is what you are wearing….you only get one chance to make a first impression.” Other fashion gems dropped by the twins included: “Always leave the house dressed like you are going to meet the President,” and, my favorite – “Your skirt length should be like a good essay – long enough to cover the the topic, but short enough to be interesting.”



The twins presented a mini-fashion show, featuring three looks for teens – a casual look for hanging out with friends at the mall or the movies; an appropriate party dress and a formal prom dress, all modeled by fellow dreamers.


Disney Dreamers

Participants in fashion show flanked by `Style 101′ presenters Karli & Brandi Harvey at Disney Dreamers Academy. Photo by; Walter Green

I got a chance to interview Brandi & Karli after their inspiring presentation. They actually finished each other’s sentences and had the same answer for every question…..well, they are twins, so! Revealing that their mother did not allow them to follow the latest fashion trends when they were teenagers, the twins said: “Whatever was considered `in’ by the masses, we were not allowed to wear. `Everybody else has it – Why do you want it?’ was our Mom’s question. We never had Air Jordans, because everybody else did. We were taught to set the trend, not follow what everyone was wearing. Do you, and the world would catch up to you.”


I asked the twins who was their current style icon, who do they look up to in terms of fashion and style. They both answered, actress Tracee Ellis Ross (Blackish), because of the way she rocks whatever she is wearing. “It may not be something that we may wear, but, her style is timeless, she’ll put something on and it’s not about the label, and it always looks beautiful. It may be something she’ll have for 20 years and it still works.” The twins added; “We also love Janelle Monae. These two women get it right. They have great style, they are always very elegant, they are classy in the style department.”


On the topic of dreams, both Brandi & Karli admitted their dream was to change the world. “It’s a global thing, the long term dream is to start schools. We want to change the narrative of how black girls see the world. It’s not just what is depicted on reality television, like the Real Housewives of Atlanta. We want to change what sisterhood really looks like. It’s about how we love and praise one another, we want to show that women can work well together. It’s not about the catiness, pettiness and back stabbing that is depicted on reality television. We want to show that sisters can work well together, and that does not mean just blood sisters, but sister-friends.” The twins continued; “We were born together so there is a natural bond, but in general as women we are not tearing each other down, This comes with love, patience and understanding. It’s Black Girl Magic! Individually, we are magical – collectively we are powerful.” Brandi & Karli added that young women need love, grace, patience and understanding.


Concluding with parental advice on raising a “dreamer,” Brandi & Karli revealed that parents should not impose their own past hurts, failures and ideas of what success is, on their children. “Be there as the guard, the shoulder to cry on and don’t impose your drama on them. Let them forge their own way. Let them make their own journey. Be a great support system. Give them advise, sometimes DON’T give them advise, but be a constant support system. Make them feel encouraged at all times.” Brandi emphasized; “We’ve got to affirm and constantly uplift our children. If we don’t who will?…..A lot of parents say, `Oh don’t give them a big head, don’t make them feel they are all of that.’ But, we’ve got to affirm their beauty. What God has placed inside of them, if we don’t tell them – who would? Affirm that child. There are lots of single mothers raising sons, and the hardest part is to see the father, reflected in the son and they say `You are just like your daddy’ in a negative way, Stop doing that, instead affirm and uplift that child because he’s the greatest part of you.”


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