Shylise Simpson: Making a Change One Girl at a Time

Sunday, 08 May 2011 09:54 Written by  Ebony L. Morman

We’re living in a world where more children are striving to be entertainers. Some want to sing, rap, dance, model or act, while others strive to be superstar athletes. The response to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is slowly changing. The usual answers of doctor, nurse, lawyer or firefighter are no longer as common, but this can be attributed to the amount of attention, respect and praise society gives the entertainment industry, which heavily influences the very children that are our future.


While most people talk about today’s youth being misguided and how they’ve gone astray, Shylise Simpson is taking an active role in shaping our future. As the founder of Underground Girls of Hip Hop and creator of the Power in Pink mentoring program, Shylise’s primary focus is to educate, support and empower not only youths, but women of all ages to do whatever it is that they want to do in life.

At the young age of eight, Shylise fell in love with hip hop when she heard the sounds of N.W.A and Salt-N-Pepa. Three years later, she performed her first rap and she was officially hooked. Writing rhymes was the one thing that came natural to her, and it was something that she thought she would do for the rest of her life.

Underground Girls of Hip Hop started as a result of Shylise’s not-so-good experience in the entertainment industry. After witnessing the “real” side of the industry, she put the brakes on her career as a rapper, but still wanted to be active in the female hip hop movement.

“I didn’t feel like I could walk away completely,” she reflects. “I felt like I had to give them a platform to show their skills and show who they are and be able to express themselves.”

What started as a platform for female rappers evolved into an awards show dedicated to them specifically. This May, Los Angeles will host the 2011 Female Hip Hop Honors. Shylise has been working diligently on this year’s event, which will unite females of all ages.

Even though Shylise’s heart wouldn’t let her escape the entertainment industry completely, she is sure that her life is now going according to the right plan, which is slightly different from her original goal of being a performer.

“God has a plan. I think that was something I was supposed to do in order to build character for mpinkyself in order to do the things I’m doing today,” she notes. “I think I have a bigger and greater movement other than just being a female artist.”

Power in Pink, an after-school mentoring program that empowers young women to become successful in life, build character and in turn, one day become mentors themselves, is definitely a part of that movement that Shylise speaks about so passionately.

Using entertainment as an initial appeal to the young women, Power in Pink also teaches etiquette, modeling and career building. Young women also get the chance to record their own mixtapes and shoot music videos, while being “glammed out.”

“I love those girls,” Shylise says. “I wish I’d had a program like this, which is the reason I created this program.”

A lot of the girls are either foster youths or a product of a broken home. So being able to be there for them and provide resources is important to Shylise. Some of the girls thought they couldn’t do things, go anywhere or see a celebrity, but Shylise’s efforts have provided these young women with a different outlook on life.

“They refresh me every day,” she adds. “People think I give to them, they really give to me.”

From her efforts with Power in Pink to what she’s accomplished with Underground Girls of Hip Hop, Shylise is amazed at how far she’s come and is anticipating the future.

“To think that all I wanted to be was a rapper,” she says, “not realizing that sometimes your purpose in life is much bigger that what you think and I know that now. I’m basically on a journey and I’m letting it go wherever it takes me.”


*Visit the Underground Girls of Hip Hop website to meet some of the young women Shylise is mentoring and to learn more about the Female Hip Hop Honors event.


Ebony L. Morman

Ebony L. Morman

GMO's Senior Editor Ebony L. Morman received her B.A. in journalism from Northern Illinois University and her master’s in journalism from Columbia College Chicago. The Chicago-native enjoys writing about almost anything, but since she also has a passion for music, writing reviews of albums has become one of her favorite past times. Aside from GMO, Ebony freelances for a variety of publications and volunteers in her community.

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