Edited by Nada Abdelrahim
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Y’all are coming out the gate with the tough questions, eh? Truthfully, I’m still figuring out this happiness thing. I’m not totally sure that there is a such thing as “perfect” happiness. For me right now, happiness is freedom. The freedom to dream wildly, and actively bring those dreams to fruition. The freedom to create soul-enriching content. The freedom to love. The freedom to build the life that my granny and her granny toiled day and night for me to have. And, I think the “perfect” part of this happiness occurs when everyone I love is able to have this freedom, too, and when the people they love can enjoy this freedom, and so forth.
What is your motto?
Never go to bed angry at someone you love. I don’t know if I can claim that motto as mine, necessarily. I didn’t come up with it. It’s just something that I try to live by. Growing up on the West Side, I saw a lot of things that kids shouldn’t ever have to see. I’ve been in the wrong places at the wrong times. Luckily, nothing happened to me or any of my friends and family. But now that I’m older, and feeling less and less invincible every year, I’ve realized that tomorrow really isn’t promised. One of my biggest fears is something happening to me or a loved one while we’re mad at one another. So I try not to go to bed angry. I’m not perfect though.
What is your current state of mind?
I’m feeling inspired. My eyes are wide open now. 2017 was a growing pain. But it was a necessary one. It was preparation for what’s to come, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for me and my crew.
How would you like to die?
Mmm... knowing that I’ve done all of the things I was put here on Earth to do.
What is it that you love most about what you do?
I love hearing people’s stories. I love understanding where people come from and how their narrative fits into the world around them. When people feel comfortable enough to let their guards down during an interview, it feels like I’ve been handpicked to share their story with the world. Also, I really enjoy collaborating with Morgan. She’s one of my best friends, and truly a visionary. She makes me a better creative. We always knew we’d work on a project together one day. And that project eventually became The TRiiBE. It’s surreal.
If you could have a conversation with anybody (alive or dead), who would it be?
I can’t pick one person. My list is endless, but here are a few. First: my granny. She died soon after my 18th birthday. She was my best friend. I wish I could call her when men are stupid. I wish I could ask her about growing up in the South. I wish she could give me a step-by-step guide on how to be a good adult, friend, daughter, lover--everything. I just miss her. Second: Lorraine Hansberry. I want to know her writing process. I want to know how she was able to depict Black life in Chicago so accurately, how she was able to take the images in her head and write them down on paper the exact way she sees it. Third: Whitney Houston--because, her voice changed my life. Fourth: Kanye West--I just want to sit with him when he locks himself away in the studio to craft his album. He’s a genius, regardless of all the other mess. He’s a real genius. Fifth: Oprah--because she has all the keys to life. Sixth: Rihanna--because, simply, I love her and want to smoke with her (laugh). (These are in no particular order).
When did you realize that you wanted to be a creative?
I don’t think I knew the word “creative” as a kid. But I was very sensitive to song lyrics. I remember being a little girl and putting on The Bodyguard Soundtrack or Mary J. Blige’s My Life album. I would sit next to the stereo, close my eyes and imagine the stories each song told. My mom loved music so we watched every award show and bought CDs and recorded songs off the radio onto cassette tapes. Music was my introduction into creativity, but I couldn’t sing or play an instrument. At one point, I thought being a songwriter was the solution. So I dabbled in poetry. I also was really into magazines. I read Vibe and The Source. I loved the articles, but I still didn’t know that being a writer was attainable. I didn’t realize that until my junior year in high school, and even then I wasn’t completely sure it was something a Black girl from the West Side could actually make a living out of.
What motivates you?
My family, my friends, the West Side. When I told my family I wanted to go to college for journalism, they worried that I couldn’t make a decent living at it. Journalism jobs were (and still are) scarce. Most young journalists have parents who can financially support them until they get their big break. As Kanye said, “she majored in a major that don’t make no money.” So, I’m motivated by this desire to show everyone that Black kids from the West Side can do anything they set their hearts to.
What do you love about being a woman?
I love being a Black woman. Black women are special. We’re made different. Strength and wisdom and survival are in our DNA. Black women had their babies and husbands ripped from them and sold away. Our families today are still haunted by these same institutional pitfalls. Yet, Black women never give up. We find a way or make one. We’re the backbones of our families, this country, this world--regardless of what anyone says. We’re indefatigable. I wouldn’t trade my Black womanhood for anything.
What is your experience of being a woman, while also being a creative?
As a woman, especially a Black woman, who started her own media company, it doesn’t always feel like I have a seat at the table. Media is dominated by men—particularly white men. And men tend not to take women seriously in terms of business. I’m not certain why that is. But I find that I have to prove myself more than my male counterparts as an entrepreneur and a writer, whereas men are often taken at their word. That’s cool though. Sleep on me if you want to ;).