Pharrell is looking for the next big stars in the business

Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Pharrell, no last name needed, is an international icon in entertainment, activism, and fashion — and he’s ours.

The Princess Anne High School graduate has announced plans to showcase minority entrepreneurs in a two-pronged program to cultivate the nation’s next leaders in business and industry.

The program, Black Ambition, focuses on Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in technology, healthcare, design, consumer products, and consumer services.

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“We think that it’s high time that we [minorities] own more companies and the only way to do that is to start a program where we look for the best of the best and the brightest,” said Pharrell in a recent interview provided by Black Ambition.

Pharrell and fellow icon JAY-Z recently released a video, “Entrepreneur,” that exposes the difficulties minority entrepreneurs face as they break chains and fix their communities.

In this combination photo, Pharrell Williams attends the world premiere of “The Black Godfather” in Los Angeles on June 3, 2019, left, and Jay-Z makes an announces the launch of Dream Chasers record label in joint venture with Roc Nation in New York on July 23, 2019. Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams have teamed up to release a new song about Black ambition titled “Entrepreneur.” The track will be released Friday. (AP Photo)

In a made for television competition for the Black Ambition Prize, ten teams will compete for up to a million dollars in cash and critical network connections.

This is music to the ears of Virginia Beach Fashion designer Kendall Lawson, who owns a Hampton Roads lifestyle inspired clothing line called Three Scooops. The three “o’s” represent comfort, style, and relaxation.

(Photo courtesy: Kendall Lawson)

“I’m a huge fan of course and for him [Pharrell] to come back to the community, and the little guys like myself that are looking to take it to the next level — it’s extremely amazing,” said Lawson, who is a graduate of Landstown High School.

The Black Ambition HBCU Prize competition is the second prong of the program. Students and recent graduates from the nation’s historically black colleges and universities can win up to a quarter-million dollars and smaller prizes will be given to nine other teams.

Norfolk State University President Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, or “Dr. J” as she is called, believes a technology team at NSU will be highly competitive; they are working on an election application.

“For the voting process — to make that more secure and make sure that everybody can vote and know that there’s security in that voting,” said Adams-Gaston, who has been working with Pharrell on the program for several months.

“Pharrell has been an exceptional friend to Norfolk State University, the HBCU’s, and to higher education,” said Adams-Gaston.

Pharrell has major partners in the project including Adidas, The Rockefeller Foundation, the Visa Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Chanel, and Tony’s Chocolonely.


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