Michaela Angela Davis is an image activist, writer, creative director, and cultural commentator. She has been honored by the NAACP, the UNCF, the City of New York, and others for her work to expand the narrow and inaccurate narratives of women of color in mainstream media. She was the only executive fashion, beauty, and culture editor at Essence, the first fashion director at Vibe, and the last editor in chief at Honey magazine. She’s written widely about gender, race, fashion, culture, beauty, and identity. Davis is a conversationalist. She’s taken her identity project—MAD FREE: Liberating Conversations about Image, Beauty, and Power—to France, South Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand. She has led conversations on ABC, MSNBC, and BBC. Davis was recently the editorial brand manager for BET Networks and the editorial lead of the award-winning re-brand of Centric: The First Network Designed for Black Women. She is a frequent cultural critic on CNN. She lives in the Peoples Republic of Brooklyn and serves on the board of Brooklyn Community Services. She is the mother of Elenni Davis-Knight, a.k.a. @Dopedaughter.
Presented by the SUNY Buffalo State Office of Equity and Campus Diversity Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in collaboration with the SUNY Buffalo State Faculty-Student Association, Alumni Affairs Office, Grant Allocation Committee, United Students Government (USG), the Buffalo Challenger Community News and Burchfield Penney Art Center.
Admission is free and open to the public.
Davis cares about culture, style, and equality. She is an image activist, a writer, conversationalist, editorial director, feminist, fashionista, community servant, and CNN contributor.
The NAACP of New York distinguished her with the Phenomenal Woman Award at their centennial celebration. The city of New York proclaimed her a “Trailblazer” and the Feminist Press honored her for her “empowerment” of women. These, among many other accolades, are a response to her relentless multiplatform efforts to expand the narrow narratives about beauty, image, and power in media.
Davis has advanced the images of people of color at nearly every major media outlet targeting the African American market. She came to her cause through her first editorial position at Essence magazine under the mentorship of Susan L. Taylor in 1991. She was the Essence fashion editor, and the magazine’s first and last executive fashion, beauty, and culture editor. She was the first fashion director at Vibe and the editor in chief of Honey. She was a creative consultant for the rebrand of BET, a top 20 cable TV station and the largest black media company in the world. She is currently BET’s editorial brand manager.
Davis has penned everything from beauty blurbs to public service announcement scripts. Her power, however, lies in her essays. Her writings are included in breakthrough anthologies like Everything But The Burden: What White People are Taking From Black Culture and Black Cool. Her work has appeared in many international publications and can be found on CNN.com, Jezebel.com, Ebony.com and HuffingtonPost.com.
Her activism began in 2005 when she co-created with Essence the Take Back The Music Campaign, a national conversation about misogyny and misrepresentation of women of color in mainstream hip-hop music videos. She has appeared on MSNBC, Fox, MTV, VH1, BBC, NBC, and ABC, among others. Davis is most passionate, however, when she is appearing live, having “creative and critical community conversations.” She has led conversations for student audiences on campuses around the country, including Howard University, Yale University, Spelman College, Middlebury College, New York University, and Dillard University, as well as in cultural institutions, community centers, and intimate salons.
She is the creator of MADFREE: Liberating Conversations About Image Beauty and Power, a multi-platform conversation project with revolutionary women. She is frequently seen with Anderson Cooper on CNN where she is a regular contributor.
While Davis’ work is grounded in the politics of image, beauty, culture, race, and gender, her roots are in theater and fashion. She was a National Arts Scholar from Duke Ellington High School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. and trained at the Stella Adler Acting Conservatory through the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and The New School (For Social Research). She apprenticed under the exclusive fashion stylist for legendary photographer Richard Avedon, and became a bit of a legend herself as one of the few black women stylists in the 1990s. Her list of celebrity styling clients is long and includes Diana Ross, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, and Prince. She was a frequent style critic on FUSE TV’s Full Frontal Fashion.
Davis is a mentor to many young women of color and is a volunteer with the Black Girls Rock! and Imagenation organizations. She is the recipient of the Brooklyn Community Service Human Spirit Awards and sits on the BCS board of directors.
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