If effortless beauty, grace and all around boss energy was wrapped up into one person, Raquel Willis would be that girl. 

Between gracing fashion events with Gucci, executive producing and hosting on iHeartMedia, readying the launch of her new memoir, and providing us with a voice of reason on Twitter, Willis has done it all in the last year. Through her award-winning advocacy for the transgender community, Willis continues to be a flower in bloom, sparking change within the hearts of many and reminding us all that we too can create an impact if we simply dare to be.

Raquel Willis in a floral dress on the red carpet

Born and raised in Augusta, Georgia, Willis grew up under the tender care of her mother and father and was the youngest of her siblings. With the support of her family, Willis from an early age was able to take up space and learn from the community around her.

Often leaning on the wisdom of her father and his age-old sayings such as “walk like you know where you’re going”, Willis was imbued with a safety net that encouraged her to not just live in the world but to thrive. While her father has passed away, today Willis continues to live out loud with the support of her mother, siblings and as an auntie to a host of “niblings.” 

Throughout the years, Willis’ advocacy and daringness to live as herself has brought her career to new heights. Inspired by the power of storytelling, Willis began her early career as a writer for the Walton Tribune in Monroe, Georgia. From there she worked her way up the journalism ladder gaining bylines in publications like Essence, Vice, The Cut and Vogue and eventually the title of Executive Editor at Out Magazine.

In 2017, she was named one of Essence’s Woke 100 Women, a list created to recognize “women who are blazing trails for equal rights and inclusion for Black people in America,” and she joined The Root’s 100, celebrating game changing Black Americans. 

In October, Willis will release her debut memoir entitled The Risk it Takes to Bloom: On Life and Liberation.

Outside of her career in writing, Willis has tackled the duty of creating representation for women and the LGBTQ+ community in media through projects and D.E.I consulting. She has served as the national organizer for the Transgender Law Center and the director of communications for Ms. Foundation for Women, a foundation aimed at building “women’s collective power in the U.S .” 

Willis has also done work alongside GLAAD, “the world’s largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization” as well as with Logo as the executive-producer and host for “The Trans Youth Town Hall”.

Willis has remained a steady force for change, inspiring us all to work for the greater good of not only the LGBTQ+ community but all those who are pushed to the margins. Willis’s work and life provides a reminder that we can live our lives to the fullest, leaving our mark on the world and turning our dreams into realities. 

“There’s no savior that will save our people, so it’s about doing our own little lot of justice work to figure into the larger puzzle,” – Raquel Willis.

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