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In the first installment of our Body of Work series, Claire interviews Riley Blanks, founder of Woke Beauty.
Riley Blanks is a multimedia storyteller, socially conscious artist and the creator of Woke Beauty—a photography movement and self-actualization tool that celebrates the inherent resilience of women everywhere.
Riley’s work serves to question the lenses of beauty and power. As a communication artist, she uses self-portraiture and thoughtful photography to capture the world in a different light, one that centers life’s intersections, the experiences of women of color and the curiosities behind our collective identities. Over the years, her projects as a writer and photographer have been featured in publications like NPR StoryCorps, Forbes, Camille Styles and Tribeza. As a creative, she has worked with brands like TJ Maxx, Unilever, Dove and Fanm Djanm to create everything from social media campaigns to editorial spreads and life-size exhibitions.
Riley’s commitment to deep, truthful storytelling—the kind that gets to the good stuff—guides her relationship to advocacy, education and community-building. Through founding Woke Beauty, she has cultivated a thriving social media following, and she regularly hosts events, podcasts and workshops exploring creativity, mental health, holistic wellness, racial identity and compelling storytelling.
Beyond using her artistic expression to share transformative perspectives, humanitarian and societal issues continue to shape Riley’s projects, too. She proudly serves as a Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum, sits on the board of Fresh Chefs Society and collaborates with nonprofit organizations to foster spaces that value creative insurgence, equity and inclusion.
Although Riley has lived in 15 cities and six countries throughout her lifetime, she is now based in Austin, Texas. She currently spends her time running Woke Beauty, working with brands she believes in and shooting Manifest—a photography series exploring her biracial identity and its relation to earthly elements, as a reflection of what it takes to undo injustices toward women of color in America.
Learn more about Riley’s work:
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