From the NYC foster care system to “Best Author of 2018” by Miami New Times, Octavia Yearwood single handedly turned herself into an entrepreneur, artist, motivational speaker, choreographer, author, mentor, educator – a self-taught modern-day Renaissance woman. She has been featured on The View, by Time Out Miami, and has received countless recognitions including the American Express Emerging Leader Award and the #honoryourcode award on behalf of Courvoisier. “How the hell did you do that?!” is the question Octavia hears every time after she finishes telling her story. “How the Hell Did You Do That?!” is also the title of her self-published book in which she answers the question with the hope to empower others with difficult backgrounds like herself.
Afro Latina from Panamanian parents, Octavia Yearwood was born in New York and grew up in the foster care system. Today she is living and leaving her mark in the Magic City, having come a long way to becoming an empowered and impactful woman. “When facing adversity, healing is the first step to empowerment,” says she. “ Through healing you learn about who you really are and what you want.” Healing helped Octavia discover that her heart belonged in the creation and preservation of the arts. At a very young age she started expressing herself through dancing and later choreography. Her raw talent and passion took her to places all over the globe, such as Nepal, India, Barbados – to name a few. In 2012 it brought her to Miami, where she saw the need for her knowledge in contributing to the empowerment of at-risk youth.
Miami quickly became home for Octavia. In a very short time she became a mentor guiding kids and teenagers into becoming thriving individuals in their community. She works with various groups, such as South Florida Cares, Project Glimmer, and Diamond Minds Academy. In her mentoring she uses her personal story to demonstrate how loving oneself can turn your life around. “My growing ability to look at myself in the mirror with love is why – as a female, black, Hispanic, lesbian, former foster child – I became a multimedia artist, motivational speaker, and published author.” For her, self-love is of utmost importance in overcoming all adversity.
Octavia encourages everyone to explore their creativity. “Art doesn’t allow you to hide, it makes you show and share who you are,” she explains. She believes that art can break through the walls that keep us from being the best versions of ourselves – or “super self” as she calls it. “Everyone has the power to create the reality that they live in”, she mentions while explaining that every individual, regardless of background, has the potential inside them to create a life that they love. This is the “super self”, the capacity that everyone has within them to break free from their adversities and transform into a “super” version of who they are.
Her main objective is to be able to merge her two great passions into one by using art as a bridge between community and philanthropy. All her projects have the same philosophy at core: building communities and helping them heal through artistic expression. Her company, Team Ohhh, uses dance in order to teach today’s youth understanding, individuality, and discipline through movement. One of her most important art project, “Libations”, is an interactive, multi-sensory, storytelling, and performing art experience that breaks down the metaphorical wall between performer and audience members in order to create a performance that touches its audience at a much deeper and personal level, while also collaborating and involving fellow artists and expressionists. Her most recent success, “This Girls Lunch Box,” is a project co-created with an interdisciplinary creative Najja Moon to provide a safe space for creative queer women in Miami to convene, connect, network, and build together. Although new, This Girls Lunchbox has already made an impact in the male dominated LGBTQ community of Miami, thus allowing these women to manifest themselves in their individuality and in their connections with each other. “This Girls Lunchbox” has been covered by NPR, WLRN, and #MIAMIGIRL Magazine.
Octavia Yearwood is many things and if you follow her on social media, you might get a feeling that she is often in several places at the same time. If there is one thing we all can agree about Octavia, it’s that everything she does, she does out of passion and love – love for Miami, love for art, love for education, love for women, love for herself. A truly inspiring individual, a woman of many trades and passions, she refers to herself as an expressionist.
“… I’m not just an advocate, artist, or entrepreneur. If I am anything in this world, I am love, and even love has various expressions. That is me.”
We love you, Octavia.
Maria Budow originates from San Juan, Puerto Rico and now resides in Miami, FL. Her writing has focused on poetry throughout the years; you can find her at an open mic at any given night trying to snatch up a spot to speak, or talking your ear off about Veganism. She is an active member of the LGBTQ community and of This Girls Lunchbox, and makes her writing debut in #MIAMIGIRL magazine.