Imagine more than 2,000 dresses, shoes, and accessories; dozens of hair and make-up glam sessions; and one-on-one style advice from Monte Durham, fashion director for TLC's Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta . That is how more than 50 Miami high-school girls were treated yesterday during a day of mentoring and makeovers thanks to Say Yes to the Prom.
The fifth-annual program, conceived by TLC's parent company, Discovery Communications, grew from one small event into a national tour. The goal is to empower and inspire deserving young women and help them experience prom — without worrying about price tags.
The participants — who were handpicked from Edison High School, Southridge High School, and the Mexican-American Council — experienced a day of shopping and pampering for prom. Relationships with mentors were built along the way and are sure to last beyond the soiree.
While the girls were busy with glamming and saying yes to their prom dresses, the Biltmore Hotel's conference room transformed into a fairytale-like scene. Each girl walked down a runaway and showed off not only her dress but also, more important, her newfound confidence.
"Their confidence grows tenfold throughout the day," says Adria Alpert-Romm, Discovery Communications' chief of human resources. "And it’s clear in the bold, empowered way that they take the runway at the end of the day that they feel beautiful inside and out. Watching as participants bond with their mentors, listening as they open up about their goals and aspirations, and watching as they leave a more confident and courageous version of themselves is what it's is all about."
The show's national tour launched in 2014, and this marked Miami's second Say Yes to the Prom filming. Romm says she wanted to find a way to give back to the community by fusing TLC and philanthropy, which is what inspired her to create the event.
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"Prom is a milestone occasion," she says. "The program started as part of a local effort near Discovery’s headquarters to ensure that deserving young women felt beautiful and empowered for their prom. Since then, it has grown to make prom dreams come true for hundreds of students across the country."
Beauty aside, Lenore Rodicio, Miami Dade College’s provost of academic and student affairs, announced that every qualified student would receive free tuition toward an associate’s degree at MDC. The grant is made possible thanks to its American Dream Scholarship. Each girl also received a laptop courtesy of TLC and Discovery Communications.
"MDC has hosted the high-school students for a series of workshops and panels on leadership development, self-empowerment, and the value of mentorship and role models," explains Eduardo Padron, president of Miami Dade College. "From the very beginning, we have been inspired by the students' personal journeys and their commitment to higher education. It gives us much pride to offer the American Dream Scholarships to the students, who will find in Miami Dade College an environment where they can achieve their full potential."
Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, a spinoff of TLC's Say Yes to the Dress, debuted in 2010. About a year later, the first Say Yes to the Prom was held at Discovery’s global headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Two years ago, its nationwide tour launched and has since grown to include more cities each year. Besides Miami, the tour will stop in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Silver Spring, touching more than 300 students across the country.
TLC will air its first-ever Say Yes to the Prom special Friday, May 20, which will include tapings from the Miami event and follow several young women as they work alongside Monte and their mentors to find the perfect prom look.