When I fly, I usually fall asleep immediately after takeoff—but not this evening. Sitting next to me in seat 7B was six year-old Nia. She was determined to hold a conversation with me whether I wanted to or not. Little Miss Nia isn't your typical six-year old. Nope. She's a little firecracker who's smart, inquisitive and isn't afraid to tell you how she feels.

For two 'short' hours we discussed everything from her favorite games on the iPad; to different toppings on pizza; to taking her asthma medicine. Then she told me how she didn't like being the only 'brown' girl in her Kindergarten class. I asked "why?", and she then proceeded to tell me that she didn't like her hair because it isn't like the other girls. And that she sometimes doesn't feel pretty. My heart sank. Her mother was in awe and became teary-eyed. I grabbed Nia's hand, looked into her big brown eyes and told her that God doesn’t make mistakes. He made you brown because you are special. I also told her that the name Nia means: "purpose". She smiled. Then her mom smiled.

It was at that moment I made a decision. I offered Nia an opportunity to cast in next week’s photo shoot. The final print ads will run nationally for one of my largest clients next year. Congratulations Little Miss Nia, you’re a rising star! Even though you’re already a star in my book.

That story pretty much is who I am and what I'm about. Real. Authentic. Compassionate.

 Nia in motion (not retouched)

Nia in motion (not retouched)

 Nia on set

Nia on set