Singer-songwriter Ne-Yo

Singer-songwriter Ne-Yo joins Disney Dreamers Academy alumna Anthony Juba-Richardson, singer and actor JD McCrary and Essence magazine director of Entertainment Cori Murray during the Disney reception that kicked off the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention in Miami, Aug. 7.


Multi-platinum recording artist Ne-Yo told attendees to the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention that he was mentor because youth are “balls of energy that need direction.”

Ne-Yo mentored Anthony Juba-Richardson during the 2019 Disney Dreamers Academy, an event that brings 100 students to a Disney resort for four days of guidance, inspirational conversations and career advice. Juba-Richardson was named Dreamer of the Year. One of the benefits Juba received with his title is traveling to Los Angeles and spending a day in the studio with Ne-Yo.

“Observing how Ne-Yo processed the beat, how things rolled off the tongue and how easy-going he made things,” are lessons Juba took away from his trip. “Ne-Yo taught me music isn't something you think about; it should come naturally,” said Juba. Ne-Yo was equally impressed by Juba’s talent while working together.

“I was there to mentor and inspire them but in actuality, it is kind of in reverse. I looked at them with a sigh of relief that there is hope for the future,” said Ne-Yo. “Potential without inspiration can be chaos. We have to take these balls of energy and guide them in the right direction and Anthony is an example of that.”

Disney held a reception for the Dreamers Academy on Aug. 7 in Aventura to honor Juba-Richardson and encourage South Floridians to apply for a 2020 spot.

Ne-yo wasn’t the only star that Disney brought to dazzle the journalists with their long-arm of influential connections. “Lion King” voice actor JD McCrary showed up as well and spoke to the dreamers.

And Disney doesn’t just use the star power to attract applicants.

They connect the dreamers with people who can inspire and motivate them.

Dreams are those visions of what life could be. Disney believes in dreamers, especially young dreamers. Disney equips the students with the tools and put them around the right people to help them achieve their dreams. Juba-Richardson was linked with musical artist Ne-Yo.

“I am grateful for the opportunity with Ne-Yo. Ever since my internship started my musicality has increased tenfold,” he said. Disney has been hosting the Dreamers Academy since 2008. This effort is a collaboration between Disney, Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine.

“It is really about reconnecting with the youth. It is inspiring to see the light in their eyes about how much they want to grow and aspire to be great,” said Cori Murray, Essence entertainment director and Dreamers Academy mentor.

Disney selects youth between ages 13-19 who possess creativity, eagerness to learn and dedication toward achieving their dreams. At the Academy, participants meet Disney stars, celebrities and industry experts who all share the message about dreaming big. Young Simba voice actor JD is a Dreamers Academy mentor, too. He said you can be successful at any age.

“I am 12 years old. I choose to be a mentor to show the youth that anybody young can do what a grown man or anybody that’s super success is doing at a young age,” said JD.

Disney hosts the Dreamers Academy every spring. The next academy is scheduled for March 12-15 2020. Applications are now open until Oct. 31.

Juba-Richardson strongly encourages students to apply.

“No dream is too farfetched, I was just a kid with a dream to make music. There are millions if not billions of kids with the same dream. Kids who are probably more talented than me, kids who are probably more well off than me or kids who are less well off than me. You never know what you can do until you try,” said Juba-Richardson.

 For more information or to apply, visit 

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