Entrepreneur and philanthropist Erika Bracey, a.k.a. The Brave Chick is one of Chicago's most celebrated creative voices, from her creation of handmade jewelry, Blest Bracelets, which were created to raise funds to assist individuals fighting cancer, to her latest passion, the Brave Chick movement.
Bracey has been featured on local network television stations ABC7, NBC Chicago, WCIU, Fox News, "WGN Morning News" and more. She has appeared in several publications and on radio talk shows like Herb Kent's "Battle of the Best." Bracey is a Barbara Bates "Knocking Out Breast Cancer" model and has graced the cover of uStyleu Mag as "The New Face of Cancer." She received the Chicago Defender's 2012 Women of Excellence Award, the 2013 Crown Jewel Award from Top Ladies of Distinction, ComED Neighborhood Hero Honor, the 2014 Leading Lady Award, 2015 Status of Women Award, 2016 Common Ground Foundation Spirit of Giving Award, the 2016 Nazr Mohammed Full Court Press Against Cancer Benefactor Honor, the 2017 Cook County Clerk Community Treasure Award and the 2017 and 2018 PHP Pink Party Benefactor recipient. In July 2019, she was a Chicago Defender Charities honoree and honorary marshal in the 90th anniversary of the Bud Billiken Parade. Bracey was also featured on the Reuter billboard in New York City's Times Square as the new face of cancer, symbolizing awareness and empowerment for breast cancer fighters, survivors and all those affected by the disease.
Bracey's notable accolades have not come without major obstacles. In 2010, Bracey, a youthful, energetic, and vibrant woman, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although her belief is that the primary challenges are behind her, as a survivor she has been compelled to use her life as a bold example of transparency and to become an active participant in the fight against cancer. From diagnosis to treatment, and through mental and economic hurdles, Bracey is determined to fight for others who suffer from the debilitating effects of breast cancer.
During Bracey's research, she realized the compelling disparity in the mortality rate of women of color and other individuals with inferior resources. To that end, she established a philanthropic effort called Different Shades of Pink, which seeks to serve the immediate needs of patients and families affected by cancer. In addition, she educates and empowers young women to practice preventive measures and be proactive in their pursuit of healthy lifestyles. In 2013, Bracey began the Brave Chick Movement, in which she travels globally promoting communal advocacy, global inclusion, nondiscriminatory health care benefits and hope. Through her movement, she has personally impacted the lives of over 400 individuals and thousands via social media. In Spring 2019, Erika completed her first novel, "Brave Chick: I Didn't Wake Up Like This."
Bracey holds a Bachelor's of Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University (1993) and an MBA from Governors State University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Clark Atlanta University Alumni Association - Chicago Chapter and sits on the strategic planning and events committee of the Common Ground Foundation. Bracey enjoys photography, is the president of Different Shades of Pink Charity, director of the Tailored Beginnings 2 preschool, a volunteer for the Breast Cancer Task Force, a motivational speaker, a blogger and a mentor angel for Imerman Angels.
Vanessa Bell Calloway is an acclaimed actress, director, producer and mother. She will reprise her iconic role as Princess Imani Izzi in "Coming to America" in the upcoming sequel to the landmark film.
Currently, Calloway stars in Bounce TV's one-hour drama "Saints & Sinners" as the matriarch Lady Ella and will star in the Focus Features film "Harriet" in theaters November 1.
Calloway's TV credits are many, including "Shameless," "Black Monday," "Grey's Anatomy," "Hawthorne RN," "Survivor's Remorse," "Real Husbands of Hollywood," "The Closer," "NCIS" and "Castle," among others. Calloway has earned eight NAACP Image Award nominations and won the NAACP Theatre Award for Best Lead Female for her role as Zora Neale Hurston in the one-woman critically acclaimed play "Letters from Zora: In Her Own Words." Some of Calloway's film roles include "Southside with You," "What's Love Got to Do with It," "Biker Boyz," "Daylight," "Cheaper by the Dozen," and "The Inkwell."
The face of the national Know Your Girls campaign sponsored by Susan G. Komen and the Ad Council, Calloway inspires women and girls to take charge of their breast health. She recently relaunched her celebrity talk show "In the Company of Friends -- All Things Healthy" on Instagram TV to better highlight women's health and wellness.
A professional dancer for many years, Calloway was an original cast member of the Broadway hit "Dreamgirls" and also starred in "Seven Guitars" at the August Wilson 20th Century theater festival held at the Kennedy Center.
Calloway is married to Dr. Anthony "Tony" Calloway and is the mother of two beautiful grown daughters, Ashley and Alexandra.