Zaila Avant-garde, the first African American winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, has signed for representation with UTA.
The agency will help Avant-garde, who is also a record-breaking basketball player, find new opportunities in endorsements, publishing, speaking engagements and more.
In July 2021, Avant-garde made history when she became the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 93 editions of the competition. The 14-year-old eighth-grader from Harvey, La., won the title after correctly spelling the word “murraya,” a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees.
Since her win, Avant-garde has been celebrated by the likes of Barack and Michelle Obama, LeBron James, Halle Berry and “Akeelah and the Bee” star Keke Palmer. Plus, she received a parade in her Louisiana hometown.
The teen has also been a featured guest on various talk and radio shows, including “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” (where she played “Bee-ball” before receiving a special surprise from Bill Murray), “Today,” “Live With Kelly and Ryan,” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
“I’m hoping that in a few years, I’ll see a whole lot more African American females, and males, too, doing well in the Scripps Spelling Bee,” Avant-garde said during an interview with “Good Morning America.” Besides Avant-garde, the only other Black winner of the bee was 1998 champion Jody-Anne Maxwell from Jamaica, who also became the first speller from outside the U.S. to win.
But the spelling bee win isn’t Avant-garde’s only breakthrough moment.
In fact, she currently holds three basketball-related records in the Guinness Book of World Records: the most bounce juggles in one minute with four basketballs, the most basketball bounces in 30 seconds with four basketballs, and ties for the record for most basketballs dribbled at once. Avant-garde hopes to one day play basketball at Harvard University, before pursuing a career at NASA or as a coach in the NBA.
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