After becoming the center of one of the year's most high-profile cases, Rachel Jeantel became both the target of stinging criticism and the beneficiary of praise and charitable giving.
But now, the 19-year-old who served as the prosecution's key witness in the trial for the man who shot and killed her friend, Trayvon Martin, is putting the past behind her and taking an exciting step into her future -- with a new look.
Ebony magazine and TheGrio.com teamed up to help the teen update her look, as she prepares to enter into the next stage of her life and faces the transition from her teenage years to adulthood.
Jeantel is currently finishing her last year of high school, working with counselors and tutors paid for by radio host Tom Joyner, who also offered the teen a full paid scholarship to the historically black college or university of her choosing.
“I’m blessed. That’s the truth,” Jeantel told theGrio. “Everybody wants to be in my shoes right now. But for me, I’m taking this opportunity, and I’m hitting it hard.”
With the help of the glam team from Amoy Couture Hair Salon, Jeantel got new hair extensions, a manicure and had her makeup done.
“I know that this is going to change a lot for her," Amoy Pitters said. "So it’s just really nice to be a part of it, and finally get a chance to meet her, and help with her overall new look.”
“She’s super young, with all this vivaciousness and personality,” Ebony magazine style director, Marielle Bobo said. “We want to keep that, but translate it into ways that can work for her, for her new life as a student. We want to give her a look that’s going to translate from campus life, to any internships, or employment that she may be doing while she’s at school.”
Jeantel's testimony became the subject of much analysis concerning her diction, demeanor and education. She was also criticized for having lied about attending Martin's memorial service and for having lied about her age.
But Jeantel says she is putting the negativity behind her and moving forward toward new adventures with her new look.
“I don’t really care about that,” she said. “I can’t let them put me down.
Check out the behind the scenes clips of Rachel's transformation in the video above, and see her glamour shots in the December/January Power 100 issue of Ebony magazine.