For the last 5 years, AT&T has recognized more than 80 influential Black trendsetters through its Black Future Makers program under its Dream in Black initiative. The 2023 class includes industry heavy hitters like entrepreneur and model Lori Harvey, rapper Big Sean, P-Valley actor J. Alphonse Nicholson, and drag superstar Shangela.

“I am honored to be featured as a Black Future Maker. I’ve always believed that if you dream big and work hard, you can achieve anything," Shangela says. "I hope that future generations will be inspired by my journey, and know that anything is truly possible.”

The impactful campaign invites consumers to share their personal interpretations of what it means to dream in Black, for a chance to win $25,000. This year's theme, New Black Renaissance, "celebrates Black dreamers who are authentically contributing to the culture during this era of greater possibility." Throughout the month of February, there will be a series of activations across Chicago, including a series of portraits featured in select retail stores of the 2023 class, created by multidisciplinary artist Handel Eugene.

"These future Black makers are artists in themselves, and the work that they do is art. I really wanted to lean into that because when we think of kings and queens, we think of these really beautiful painted portraits," says Eugene, the 2023 Black Future Maker Artist in Residence.

EBONY spoke with Harvey and Nicholson to learn more on what this recognition means to them personally, and their perspective on what it means to dream in black.

J. Alphonse Nicholson is an emerging actor, best known for his role as Lil Murda on P-Valley. The North Carolina native got his start as a street drummer—a talent he still shares with fans via social media on occasion. Living by the mantra, steady grind, Nicholson remains humble while pushing toward his goals and aligning himself with everything he wants to do in life and in his career.

Actor J. Alphonse Nicholson. Image: Courtesy of AT&T Dream in Black.

"Dream in Black has immense possibilities. Dreaming about what you can do for your community, your family and even yourself," shares the actor. "And, even when those dreams become a reality, don't stop dreaming."

Nicholson also stresses being your authentic self in everything you do, it's how you shine, even in a subtle way.

Model and entrepreneur Lori Harvey lives by the mantra to whom much is given, much is required. She also emphasizes remaining humble as you seek to reach new heights in your career, and simply do the work.

"Dream in Black to me is a future for us, by us. As time moves on, we are moving toward a more equitable future for Black people where we are in the boardrooms, we are the CEOs," shares Harvey. "That to me is dreaming in Black, and we have to remember we can do anything despite the odds."