BREAKING FREE: Danielle Prescod
In her memoir, Token Black Girl, fashion insider Danielle Prescod examines the damaging impact of tropes and stereotypes relating to Black identity. Growing up in a predominantly white community, Prescod found herself unconsciously internalizing
the pressures to conform to limiting and punishing standards of beauty. As she pursued her career as a fashion and beauty editor, those deeply ingrained messages from childhood and adolescence—and the experience of working in the often toxic environment of the fashion world—led to increasingly self-destructive patterns that impacted her psychological and physical health.
“When I started writing this book, I had become resigned to the idea that I had serious self-esteem issues, but I was obsessed with finding out how and why I was feeling that way,” Prescod tells PW. “Once I was able to discover the origins of how I thought about my identity and what my personal hang-ups were, I felt confident that I could communicate my understand- ing in a way that would help people who had similar experiences on either an institutional, professional, or personal level.”
In addition to writing Token Black Girl, Prescod is the co- founder of the organization 2BG Consulting, which provides anti-racism training and aims to challenge fashion industry status quos. According to Julia Sommerfeld, publisher at Amazon Publishing, Token Black Girl “bravely takes the reader behind the curtain of the most exclusive suburbs and recognizable mag- azines, sharing what it feels like to be the living embodiment of the insidious Hollywood trope.” Token Black Girl will be published by Little A in October.
LONE WOLF: Cin Fabré
There aren’t many stockbrokers who make it on Wall Street by the age of 20, but Cin Fabré is a notable exception. As a daughter of immigrant parents growing up in the South Bronx projects, Fabré knew close to nothing about fi- nance or Wall Street, but she was highly motivated to escape a life of poverty and abuse.
In her memoir, Wolf Hustle: A Black Woman on Wall Street, Fabré recounts her experience of joining a brokerage house, VTR Capital, at 19 and eventually becoming a broker at a top Wall Street firm in the 1990s. In the process of working her way up the corporate ladder, Fabré observed and exposed the inequities of the investment world and discovered a lot about herself along the way. “In Wolf Hustle, I share how I became the youngest Black female stock- broker at 20 years old, detailing my hustle to the top and how I ran with the wolves of Wall Street,” Fabré tells PW, “all the while in search of what’s most meaningful in life.”
Fabré’s story of finding success within a notoriously cutthroat, white male–dominated profession brings a valuable new perspective to the cache of Wall Street lore. “We’ve all heard of Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street,” Fabré says, “but what about the kid from the projects who managed to make it from the Bronx to the boardroom?” Wolf Hustle is out in September and published by Holt.
A DIFFERENT WAY OF THINKING: Bria Adimora Godley
When Bria Adimora Godley enrolled at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, she had certain expectations. She believed that those who succeed as medical professionals carry with them a few immutable and indisputable qualities—among
them, perfect mental health. “I’d bought into this perception that doctors are supposed to be ‘healthy’ and ‘good,’” Godley tells PW. Yet, as a medical student, she struggled with her own mental wellness and even began to question her place within the medical field. “I was profoundly depressed,” she says, “and acting in ways that were inscrutable even to myself.”
Her memoir, No Acute Distress: A Memoir of Medical School, Mental Illness, and Feeling Fine, Basically, originated in her efforts to understand the discrepancy between her burgeoning identity as a doctor and what she was experiencing as a medical student with depression. As her writing evolved, she began to see how others might benefit from her nuanced perspective on the topic of depression and mental health, and the book came to fulfill a broader purpose.
“I wanted to present a different way of thinking about mental illness,” she says. “Not as something disabling or disqualifying, but as a framework to better understand the people around you.” No Acute Distress is forthcoming from Algonquin Books.
MORE THAN ONE WAY: Aomawa Shields
Aomawa Shields’s path to- ward becoming an astrobiologist and physics and astronomy professor at UC Irvine came with its own set of detours. Shields, whose work includes study- ing data from NASA’S Kepler spacecraft and other observatories to determine the climates and habitability of exoplanets, is also a professional actor with an MFA from UCLA.
In her memoir, Life on Other Planets, Shields writes about her professional callings, walking numerous paths of identity, and her role in investigating the possibility of life beyond our own. “The experience of navigating my way through multiple worlds is a story I have wanted to tell for a long time,” Shields tells PW. “It is a journey between the world of acting and the world of astronomy. An orbit around the push-pull of the pre- dominantly white environments I grew up with and the Black communities that floated within them, with me at times submerging through their atmospheres and other times achieving escape velocity from one into the other.”
Shields still depends upon her performance abilities, communication skills, and acting chops in her many public outreach efforts. In addition to becoming a TED fellow and appearing in documentary programs like NOVA, she founded Rising Stargirls, a program for girls interested in astronomy. Shields hopes that her story will resonate with readers who find themselves occupying seemingly disparate worlds or seeking to realize more than one dream. “As you’ll see in the book, dreams don’t go away,” she says. “They linger until we do something about them. This book is for those who have looked at their own lives and thought, it’s too late, what I want doesn’t make sense, this is crazy, how could it all possibly work, there’s no way... There’s always a way. And there’s rarely only one. The universe is a big place.” Life on Other Planets will be published by Little, Brown in 2023.