Surrounded by colorful balloon murals and booths adorned with sunglasses, roses and snacks on McCarthy Quad, students waited in anticipation for the speakers of the inaugural “INSPIRE: Arts & Music and Beauty” festival, which took place Thursday and Friday.
Hosted by the USC Special Events Committee, USC Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment and USC Performing Arts Committee, this event celebrated “self-love, courage, creativity, passion and individuality,” as stated on its Facebook event page.
This year’s theme stemmed from the Shampoo Movement, a campaign centered on individuality and inspiration.
“A Shampoo Queen is a person who inspires the people they’re around,” said Ines Ramirez, a freshman majoring in industrial and systems engineering. “Just someone very selfless and caring and definitely someone who has a very strong sense of individuality which is what the whole Shampoo Movement is about.”
Ramirez was one of the Shampoo Ambassadors who presented Friday night’s special guests, singer Halsey and former USC student and actress Sophia Bush, who both spoke about what inspires them and finding their individuality.
Cheryl Koh, a senior majoring in business administration, was a student performer for Thursday night’s event, presenting her own renditions of Bruno Mars’ “Versace on the Floor” and Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie.”
Born and raised in Malaysia, Koh moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams of being a singer. She transferred to USC in Fall 2015 and performs under her stage name “Cheryl K.”
“This is my last semester here, I’m graduating in May,” Koh said. “So any performances on campus, I think it’s very inspiring to be able to be a part of it and be able to share my talent and my singing and to tell my story through music.”
Rainy weather threatened the second night of the event, but the organizers supplied attendees with 300 free umbrellas. At the event, sponsors such as Wicked Hippies, MAC and Girlactik also provided product samples, accessories and complimentary makeovers.
Special guests for the second night were models Emily Ratajkowski and Irina Shayk, who were introduced by that night’s Shampoo Ambassadors, Danielle Kaiser, a sophomore majoring in public policy, and Lexi Maggelet, a sophomore majoring in gerontology.
Jill Kickul, professor of clinical entrepreneurship and research director at the USC Marshall School of Business’ Lloyd Greif Center, led the interviews with the celebrity guests.
“[INSPIRE] is all about the individuality and keeping it real, keeping it authentic and inspiring the next generation of social change leaders,” Kickul said.
Ratajkowski answered questions regarding her acting and modeling career, as well as her take on the #MeToo movement and the gender wage gap, particularly in Hollywood.
“I think something that you guys here are all about, this award and this group, is all about is inner confidence and self-belief,” Ratajkowski said.