Marc Bushelle is teaching his daughter to be fearless… one inspirational photo at a time

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Photographer Marc Bushelle and his wife, Janine Harper, were looking for a way to teach their young daughter Lily about importance of black women in history, so they decided to bring history to life.

They created the Black Heroine’s Project as a way to help Lily learn about African-American women whose strength and courage have made a difference in the world.

Marc’s photography expertise resulted in beautiful portraits of Lily dressed as lesser-known but important trailblazers, such as Bessie Coleman, the first black female airplane pilot; Mae Jemison, the first black woman astronaut and the first black woman to travel to space; and Admiral Michelle Howard, the first woman to become a four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy.

But the effects of Marc’s lessons to his now 7-year-old daughter continue way beyond those portraits. In an interview with theGrio for our #ThisIsBlackFatherhood series, Jackson shares how fatherhood has changed him, the inspiration behind the Heroine Project and his advice to new fathers.

TG: What does fatherhood mean to you?

MB: Fatherhood is the most important thing in my life. Everything that I do even if I think it’s for myself or for my family, is to hopefully impact Lily. And for me, being there for her spiritually. I want to be someone she can look up to not only now, but throughout her life. I want her to be proud of me.

That’s very important to me for her to be proud of me and to be able to cheer me own. And have her see that if I’m happy and it’ll make sense to her. So I want her to be proud of me. And it’s kind of hard to talk about fatherhood in a nice clear sentence. But it’s very important to me to be apart of her life and to see her grow.

TG: Has fatherhood changed you at all?

MB: I’ll say the biggest change was not just thinking about myself but that I’m here to help guide this little girl through the world and as she grows. And to help build her self-confidence and make sure she’s self-aware. And to try to instill those things in her.

TG: What was inspiration behind the ‘Heroine Project’ photo series with your daughter that went viral?

MB: It was a family project. The inspiration behind it is that is my wife, Denine Harper and I, wanted a way we could teach Lily about these heroines and be able to instill a sense of self worth within her in a fun way. We wanted to be able to do something that would be fun for her and embody these women and learn a little bit about them and all having fun while we do it.

It just started as a family project. We would go to my studio and take some photos and then we would share them with friends and family on Facebook. And then it started to pick up steam from there and people started sharing them and it went viral. But it was something that we just wanted to do for Lily.

TG: What piece of advice would you give to new fathers?

MB: Get your sleep. And know, it’s not easy. But take your time. Be open to learning. Because I think I’ve learned so much from Lily in her short life so I feel so fortunate.

I’ve always been an open person but that has helped me. So you take your time, be open and find a little bit of time for yourself as well. And don’t be embarrassed about singing silly songs. Your life does not end after you become a Dad. Incorporate your child into your life and have lots of fun!
For more of Marc Bushelle’s work with Lily visit and (