Meet the Jamie Mayes
Jamie is a native of DeRidder, Louisiana born on November 8, 1982. Growing up in the housing projects of DeRidder, Jamie experienced the aches of living in poverty and a single-parent home. Externally a happy child, Jamie internally fought issues of low self-esteem and childhood depression until her mid-teenaged years when she discovered her talent for writing and speaking. She began writing poems and "stashing" them under her bed to help her cope with feelings of insecurity and pressure from school and home. With the encouragement of a school club sponsor, Jamie entered a public speaking contest and found personal joy by verbally releasing messages of positivity and encouragement to her peers. While she continually fought difficult days, the comfort she received through writing and speaking helped her to understand her significance in the world.
Her determination to become successful pushed Jamie to begin working at twelve years old, earning money by cleaning houses, babysitting, and “doing hair” from home. It was with these earnings and financial support from her family and community that Jamie was able to seek opportunities to continue to write, speak, and compete. It was also in high school that Jamie became deeply intrigued with creating works that shed a positive light on American culture and the black American experience. She wrote and directed the first black history play in the history of her high school and continued to compete in public speaking events. During her final year of high school, she won first place at a BETA club state convention and went on to earn fourth place at the BETA national convention.
Following high school, Jamie enrolled at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Jamie eagerly anticipated college life with the expectation of much easier days to come. However, the demand of a full-time job to make ends meet, broken heart experiences, the death of a close childhood friend, and a journey to find self gave Jamie a view of reality. Consequently, she found herself once again leaning heavily on her pen for motivation, inspiration, and consolation.
Upon graduation, Jamie completed studies in English with minors in Communication Studies and African American Studies at Louisiana State University. Following college, Jamie worked in sales for a short time but found that it did not satisfy her desire to be a positive contributor to the future generation of leaders. Eventually, she became a high school English teacher. The desire for something new and a chance to pursue a graduate degree led Jamie to northeast Louisiana. There, Jamie obtained her Master’s degree in Education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Jamie dedicated thirteen years to public education and earned her education specialist degree in Instructional Leadership from Northcentral University.
Despite an unstable life, one thing remained stable-writing. Jamie continued to write poetry and essays and began writing short stories. In 2011, with the encouragement of a friend, Jamie decided it was time to turn pieces of paper into a book. Thus, she breathed life into Tear Stained Dresses & Dusty Shoes. Completion of Jamie's first work was a tremendous challenge as it forced her to deal with childhood pain and life disappointment that she had initially coped with by ignoring. However, embracing her life journey helped her become comfortable with herself and accept her experiences with an attitude of positivity. Jamie says she is truly liberated and now sees her experiences as stories to be shared through the literary canvasses she creates.
Since the release of her first work, Jamie has published a total of 7 books and served as a guest speaker at more than a hundred events. She received numerous awards and recognizations, including the CAMEO Arts Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha and the Women on Fire Award presented from Delta Sigma Theta. She was also named one of the Women who Shape the Delta by DeltaStyle Magazine. Jamie continues to pursue her passion, digging into topics related to social justice, education advocacy, literature, and parenting. In addition to being an entrepreneur, writer, and speaker, Jamie is the mother of a seven-year-old, Lee Antwine, III.
“The once cocooned worm inside of me is now a beautiful butterfly that has been set free.” ~Jamie Mayes
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