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TS Summer Programs Are In Session!

True Star Media recently welcomed its Summer Orientation class of 2023. The event took place at the Discover Card Shine Bright Community Center on Chicago’s South Side. / Photos: Christopher Lock

On Tuesday, June 27th, True Star conducted another successful orientation to kick off the summer session of programming. The event began with introductions from the co-founders of True Star, DeAnna Sherman and Na-Tae’ Thompson, who started the organization 19 years ago to empower urban youth.

Orientation gives the participants an opportunity to learn more about True Star, network with their peers, and meet the instructors of the programs that will ultimately become mentors for them. Orientation with True Star is a safe space filled with laughs, knowledge, and wisdom. With the constant goal of helping youth become successful, True Star brought in alumni and a guest speaker to share their experiences in the work force and express how True Star has impacted their careers.

True Star Co-founders DeAnna Sherman and Na-Tae’ Thompson pose with TS alumni Subria Whitaker of Grow The Game.

First we heard from True Star alumni Subria Whitaker who joined True Star in 2010. Whitaker is an entrepreneur who has worked with WNBA players, The Chicago Sky Women’s basketball team, and is the founder of her own non-profit Grow The Game. Next we heard from cinematographer Kayla Sullers. Sullers joined True Star back in 2014 and has had the opportunity to work on numerous shows including “Empire,” “Snowfall,” and “ The CHI.” Both expressed their gratitude and the importance of what True Star can do for you. Additionally, they highlighted the opportunity youth have while participating in the program.

After hearing the amazing alumni speak, we took a break to eat, listen to music, and meet the people we will be working with over the course of the summer. One of the things I appreciate most about True Star is their dedication to bringing youth together. When I looked across the room I saw a group of young Black teens and young adults being able to participate in a program that will pour into us and support our dreams. With the preparation that True Star is giving us, I have no doubt that the participants will grow to be successful.

Stephan Bardo listens to True Star participant Amariyah Mallory as she responds to a mock interview question.

We were also fortunate to have former professional basketball player, sports broadcaster, and journalist Stephen Bardo as our guest speaker for the afternoon. He shared his experiences and imparted wisdom upon us. Special thanks goes out to Mr. Bardo for taking the time to come speak and give advice to the next generation of youth in media.

We ended the orientation with a friendly competition. Everyone used the skills we have been taught while at True Star to create a 15-second reel with a group.

There is something for everyone at True Star. Participants are highly encouraged to try as many programs as desired so that they may experience all that True Star has to offer. True Star’s programs include podcasting, freelance journalism, graphic design, digital marketing, video editing/production, filmmaking and street team/event promotions. Over the next six weeks True Star will provide 65 of the city’s youth with a job this summer in the mentioned disciplines.

If you want to learn more about True Star Media or are interested in joining True Star or making a donation, visit our website. To keep up with True Star you can follow us on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok @True.Chi.


By Amariyah Mallory, sophomore, Whitney Young

IG Dancemari


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Written by Amariyah Mallory

Amariyah Mallory is a life long learner who's passionate about dance, committed to social justice and service, invested in African America culture and current events, and devoted to writing. 

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