Ayesha K. Faines, a print and broadcast journalist, died unexpectedly on July 2 at the age of 35. Per People, Faines died of unknown causes.
Faines was a frequent panelist on the digital millennial talk show, The Grapevine TV. Fans of the show remember her as a pivotal voice of the show, often contributing well-reasoned and thoughtful points to the particular conversation of an episode.
On Faines’ professional background, per Deadline:
Faines graduated from Yale University. She worked as a TV journalist for WJXT4 in Jacksonville, FL, in 2008 and then for My9TV/FOX in New York City.
As a freelancer, her work and commentary appeared on MTV, Essence, Entertainment Tonight, Hot 97, Afropunk and The Michael Baisden Radio Show. Her most recent work was with Grapevine TV, a Black-centric website that focused on millennials issues.
Faines was also the founder of Women Love Power, a platform that aims to empower women.
“We are asking that people stop sharing her funeral arrangements,” the official account for Grapevine TV tweeted on Monday. “We all loved Ayesha and we are all mourning. Thank you for the support.”
“I remember the day I met Ayesha,” Ashley Akunna, creator and host of Grapevine TV followed up on Tuesday with an official statement. “I was 14 years old and she was so happy and so bubbly, I couldn’t help but ask my sister, “Who is that girl?” Years later we connected over a project I was working on called, The Grapevine. I knew she would be perfect for the show.” Akunna also spoke about Faines’ firm optimism, something that inspired her.
“We are trying to hold on to that optimism now,” Akunna concluded. “Ayesha is a once in a lifetime person. Our beauty and brain. We will hold her in our hearts eternally.”
Fans, peers, colleagues, friends and other loved ones took to Twitter to pay tribute to Faines after hearing the unexpected and tragic news of her death.
“Ayesha was such a bright light,” WJXT4 News4Jax (where Faines previously worked as a traffic anchor) anchor Melanie Lawson said in a statement. “She was so young when she came to News4Jax but very intelligent and mature beyond her years. When she spoke it was like listening to poetry. I was always so proud of her accomplishments after she left the station. Ayesha was also a fierce supporter of women. She never said a disparaging word about any woman so I wasn’t surprised to see her use her voice for women’s rights. She was a wonderful friend and journalist. This news is just devastating. My heart is broken for her family. I know she meant the world to them. I’ll never forget how her father lit up when he talked about his baby girl. I can’t imagine the pain they feel.”
“She was just good—good-hearted, good-natured, good to talk to, good to work with. We’re all just like, ‘Why her, why Ayesha?’ If you met her you loved her, and anyone who doesn’t know her should,” fellow Grapevine TV panelist Doug Rubenstein told People.
“How do we begin to tell the word who Ayesha is, what she meant, where she came from, and where she was going? I am so grateful I was able to ask you so you could share with the world in your own words. You were too big, too grand for this limited space. You are synonymous with legacy and icon. That is to be celebrated for the rest of time. The love my heart holds for you is immeasurable,” Uchechi Chinyere, a close friend of Faines as well as a fellow Grapevine TV panelist, wrote on her Instagram page.
Rest in power, Ayesha. Our thoughts go out to her family and loved ones at this time.