I’ve been waiting to share some exciting news with you for a while now, so I’m excited to *finally* announce that I’m joining Spotify to lead its ‘Sound Up: Behind the Mic’ program. I’ll be putting my years of entrepreneur, podcast, broadcast and leadership skills to use to create a space for aspiring and early career Black podcast producers to hone their skills – and land a job with the company.
The best part? I’ll be working to make sure they’re valued for their skills and perspectives.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m passionate about making sure everyone’s perspective is reflected in the media. It’s the reason I write, develop podcasts for creators – and write this newsletter! My passion *absolutely* comes from not seeing people who looked like me (or my friends) represented with care in the media back in the day. I remember being 15 years old, sitting on my bedroom floor, wondering if someone like me would ever be allowed in front of a camera or microphone. I also remember my career advisor raising an eyebrow as I nervously whispered that I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. It was the first time I’d said it out loud to anyone, and I instantly regretted sharing this secret with her. She calmly suggested that I “ consider another career.” The offense on her face spoke louder than her words, as it asked “who do you think you are?” I went through the same experience again five years later, this time with a university professor.
The truth is, being seen as ‘different’ has helped me hone my superpowers. I’ve learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and listen to the silences in between the words. I’ve found commonality between people and cultures – and celebrated our differences. I’ve sustained lumps, bumps and a few breaks along the way – and I’m thankful for all of them. Over the years they’ve reminded me about the importance of staying open and true to yourself, while seeing our collective humanity.
So now here I am, telling my own stories as I create a space for you to tell yours. And I’m THRILLED.
I’m not alone thankfully. I interviewed a few people doing this kind of work for my online series, “The Media Disruptors.” The interviewees were – and are – using their platform to change established narratives about women of colour. One of those women was the award-winning movie director Amma Asante, MBE.
The product of a Ghanaian upbringing in London, Ms. Asante has been disrupting media norms since she was a teen, when she was an actress on British TV. These days she works behind the camera, directing and writing movies that shed a light on hidden narratives. Long before “Bridgerton” showed the world that there were Black members of the British aristocracy, Asante’s feature film “Belle” explored the racial complexities of that economic class. The movie, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, also explores slavery through the true story of the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of an enslaved African woman and a British navy captain. In our interview, Asante talked about how her bi-cultural experience has influenced how she navigates an industry that can be resistant to diversity. This is what she told me:
“…I think part of it is to really get real with yourself and not to spend time trying to be accepted by those who just simply are not going to accept you. It’s also about making sure that I take time out away from the industry. Making sure that my weekends, where possible, or my days off, are really days off where I’m not also talking about work.”
It’s a great read — check out the rest here.
Until the next time, fam,