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Meet Deborah Gregory, The Creator Of The Popular Cheetah Girls Series

Meet Deborah Gregory, The Creator Of The Popular Cheetah Girls Series

We can’t celebrate 20 years without her!

Deborah Gregory has always been a fashionista, earning her associate’s degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree from Empire State University, Cheetahrama reports. She always dreamed of becoming a singer and would make her own clothes and practice singing in the mirror as a child. But Gregory admits the dream was more escapism from her life as a foster youth and she knew that her path would take her somewhere else. 

She landed a career as a National Association of Black Journalists award-winning writer, her work appearing in VIBE, MORE, Heart & Soul, Entertainment Weekly, US, and in ESSENCE, where she penned a weekly column called “Chit Chat and All That.” It was then that she was approached by Disney Publishing with coming up with a book idea for girls. Thus, “The Cheetah Girls” was born. 

“I created this whole universe based on my concept of modern-day life being parallel to the real jungle (lions, and tigers and bears, oh, my!). Naturally, that means, they had to represent more than just a singing group. These girls had to have a set of ethics for surviving in the jiggy jungle. They had to be crew. More than anything, I knew they had to be from different backgrounds—just like real girls,” explained Gregory.

“The Cheetah Girls” novel series includes 22 books centered around the five incredibly talented teens who form a singing group while trying to survive growing up in New York City. The books were a hit and Disney picked them up to be adapted for a film series, co-produced by Gregory and Whitney Houston, and starring Raven-Symoné, Adrienne Bailon and Kiely Williams from the singing group 3LW, Sabrina Bryan, and Lynn Whitfield. The series became a cult classic among teen girls, producing a soundtrack on Disney’s Hollywood Records and an array of Cheetah Girls merch. 



Gregory was lauded for her work, winning the 2001 Blackboard Children’s Book of the Year and becoming a national phenomena. She went on to pen several other books and launch her Cheetahrama company, featuring original designs, art cases and hair accessories for girls. 20 years later, The Cheetah Girls are still a symbol of strength, perseverance, and sisterhood for young girls, her original characters of Galleria, Dorinda, Chanel, and Aquanetta continuing to breathe life into teen girls. For Gregory, she said the mission was always to reflect real life and encourage every girl to tap into their inner “growl power” to chase their dreams and become a true Cheetah girl. 

“True Cheetah Girls have the skills to access their power…There is a little Cheetah Girl in every girl, no matter how big or small her dreams are…Unless a girl lives in a glass house with glass slippers on her feet, life will require her to call upon her Cheetah Girl powers - her strength, vulnerability and courage on countless occasions…Girls have to know how to access their true power. And true Cheetah Girls are born for adventure. They have friends though and they and they always watch each other’s backs. They also fight fair,” Gregory said. 



Cheetah Girls, Cheetah Sisters! Thanks for everything Deborah!

Cover photo: Meet Deborah Gregory, the creator of the popular Cheetah Girls series/Photo Courtesy of Deborah Gregory/Cheetahrama