In the vibrant tapestry of Bradenton, nestled 45 minutes from Tampa, emerges the creative force named Toni Kennedy. Born in South Florida, Kennedy’s journey unfolds through the lens of St. Petersburg.

Kennedy, the youngest of nine siblings, grew up amid the echoes of segregation. Her upbringing was a blend of Southern charm and a progressive worldview instilled by her politically active sisters. The legacy of her family’s history, rooted in the same South Carolina plantation where they were once enslaved, shaped Kennedy’s perspective on affluence and belonging.

Facing colorism and ostracism due to her appearance, Kennedy navigated the complexities of her identity. She embraced rejection as a guiding force, recognizing that it often pointed towards the right direction. Chronic illnesses, including juvenile diabetes and autism, made her easy prey, but Kennedy learned to transform her challenges into creative expressions.

A pivotal chapter in Kennedy’s life unfolded in Hawaii, where she discovered empowerment and a diverse, inclusive community. This period of self-discovery fueled her move to New York City, where she began to model, sing, and eventually found her calling in makeup artistiry.

Kennedy’s life took unexpected turns, from a tumultuous marriage all while raising two children. Her resilience and creative spirit remained undeterred. The podcast “What’s Poppin’ Penny?” emerged from Kennedy’s desire to create a safe space for children, offering stories that empower and embrace diversity.

The podcast gained acclaim, recognized by Common Sense Media as the best for children in 2023. Penny’s episodes touch on historical narratives, family treasures, and the importance of embracing one’s identity. Through the lens of her own experiences, Penny emphasizes the need to foster empathy in children and encourages parents to carefully build their understanding of the world.

The journey of What’s Poppin’ Penny? extends beyond the podcast, as Kennedy looks forward to upcoming seasons and collaborations.

Her artistic vision includes a writers’ room, an animated series, and a collaboration with Black Woman Animate Studios (BWA Studios).

Kennedy’s story is one of empowerment, authenticity, and unwavering resilience. She has turned rejection into her guiding star and is now creating content that reflects the diverse and inclusive world she envisions for children. What’s Poppin Penny? is more than a podcast; it’s a celebration of individuality, a testament to overcoming adversity, and an embodiment of the transformative power of storytelling.