Sabrina Thompson is known for her stint on SURVIVOR: One world where she outwitted the contestants, and claimed the runner up position. However, she’s no runner up when it comes to her life. She’s a leader in her own industry as a designer for a jewelry line she hand paints called: BeanpYe, which is inspired by the art of Somoa and Figi. These one of a kind pieces can be found adorning stars like Alicia Keys and Nelly Furtado.
Sabrina is also the co-founder of WEEN (Women Empowerment in Entertainment Network) which boasts of over 40,000 members worldwide. Yet, it was her humble job as a teacher in Brooklyn which inspired her latest endeavor: Kuu Photography (Kuu, meaning “Prominent” in Swahili).
This past August she debuted her first collection in a series called “Dream Big” which ran for 3 weeks in New York City. The exhibit featured stunning portraits of 6-9 year olds, imitating world icons.
“I chose images of celebrities who have presence when they enter a room. Like Madonna, Muhammad Ali, Audrey Hepburn, “Jenny from the Block”…”
When it came to working with the children, she exclaims:
“AMAZING…none of the children were shy, and didn’t have to be severely coached. For the girls, it was just dress up and funky costume jewelry.” She adds. “Children have a mind of their own though, if you don’t get them within 12 minutes, you’re done.”
The Dream Big theme was inspired by students in her class last year, where she taught 18-21 year olds for a New York Public School in Brooklyn.
“I’m getting so emotional now because it was a different world teaching in Brooklyn and to see how limited the thinking was because of lack of exposure. There were some students who had never been to Manhattan and it blew my mind beyond politics of teaching just for a test. These children needed to know their worth and to be shown how to dream. You can’t teach motivation or how to dream, but you can expose them, because without exposure you don’t have the audacity to dream and if you can’t dream big, then where are you going?”
Her students inspired her to name the exhibit, however it was a chance encounter with a little boy who inspired the photography.
“I had a huge picture of Muhammad Ali and the frame broke so I had it sitting in the corner. One day I was working on a photo for a co-worker and her son was sitting off to the side…I started talking to him and asked if he knew Ali and to look him up…the kid had a lot of swag and attitude of what Muhammad Ali embodied.”
Although Sabrina is not ready to be a mom, she continues to inspire and lead the children in her life. 50% of Sabrina’s photography services for prints are donated to New York Public Schools.
When she’s not taking pictures, or juggling her multiple careers, she’s gearing up to participate in The Gender Awards, which she describes as: “Double Dare meets Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”
“As adults, how often do you get stuck? We have the ability to talk ourselves into a hole. People have stopped dreaming. We have to put one foot in front of the other and have a vision.”
Words: Dominga Martin