School: University of Maryland, Baltimore County '17
Major: English Literature
Career goals: Novelist and arts journalist, eventually wants to write for The Paris Review and travel the world covering art and culture while writing great literature
Current hustles: Currently freelancing with upcoming work, editing UMBC's Art MFA theses, and preparing a research proposal for her Senior Honors Thesis.
What inspires your passion for writing?
When I was five years old, my mother enrolled me into a children's book club that sent us new books every month. We kept getting those books for several years. One day in second grade I got Lily B on the Brink of Cool by Elizabeth Kimmel in the mail and, once I read it, I fell in love with writing. The story wasn't outright about writing—it was more about a young girl being conned by distant family members—but the main character was a diarist and the entire book was framed in her journal. She didn't just write, but she lived; she wrote because she lived, and that resonated with me. Lily B inspired me to write what I live and, thus, live my best life. I want to travel, learn, and grow so I can write profound, great literature that stands the test of time.
How are you currently preparing yourself for future career endeavours?
At the moment I'm preparing a research proposal for my Senior Honors Thesis and an independent study in creative writing. I'm also going to continue freelancing and, between you and me, I have a big project coming up with a large publication! Stay tuned!
But I'm also taking a gap year or two after college to travel and explore the world before I lose the freedom to. It's always important for budding writers to gain life experience before pursuing such a demanding career.
As a future arts journalist, who's a favorite artist of yours you would like to cover?
I would love to interview the French playwright Yasmina Reza about what inspired her to write God of Carnage and how she navigates the world of theatre as a woman artist.
What does a work-life balance look like for an emerging freelancer?
The work-life balance is a chaotic good! When I'm not in class or at meetings, I'm editing articles, transcribing interviews, or doing homework. The only reason I've been able to handle it all is because I've paced myself. I only take on one article at a time during the semester and I prioritize socializing, leisure, and sleep, because you can't function well at all if you aren't relaxed and well-rested.
How do you plan to use your writing platform to inspire others and create culture?
Honestly I don't know how I'm going to create a culture through my writing. As an arts journalist, I want to shine a light on marginalized artists who produce generally apolitical work—these days publications either only care about us if we're making a statement or don't care about us at all—and I want to ask important questions about the art world that often go overlooked or underexposed. As a novelist, I want to point out the errors of our society in a way that's creative and raw, without necessarily having to be beautiful. I don't have much of a statement to make with it; I just want to represent life in all its unadulterated forms.
What other forms of literature would you like to see Black writers develop?
I'd love to see more Black writers in philosophy and the everyday, outside of race relations (but without completely ignoring it). I want to see Black writers contemplate existence and theorize about human nature; I want to see Black writers write love stories, simple or larger-than-life. I want to see Black writers write about the fantastical or the simplest daily occurrences. I want to see Black writers write murder mysteries and fantasy novels, horror stories and romance. I want to see Black writers get out of their comfort zone. I want to see Black writers subvert the spaces we're "allowed" in and force ourselves across the whole literary spectrum.
Who's an activist that inspires you in your work?
Ava Duvernay is one of my favorite activists—maybe one of my favorite people, ever—to exist. I love how she keeps the courage of her convictions and uses her place in Hollywood to uplift and assist others who may never get a chance to succeed. Black women boosting one another in the art world is so necessary seeing as we really don't have anyone else.
What's a hashtag that would best describe your personality?
As the BLOC, our mission is to empower black collegians to achieve, connect and engage. We are really focused on enabling students to enact powerful change on their campuses and to bring the activist spirit and ethic into their given industry. How do you maintain your social consciousness / awareness while still staying focused on your studies?
I stay informed and urge others to do the same. I try to spread whatever resources I use to educate myself to those around me, whether they be friend or foe. So much misinformation floats around on the Internet that it can be hard to filter through the bullshit to find the truth. I also keep in mind that I'm not very educated at all, at least not yet; there's still a whole world out there that I don't know even exists, let alone comprehend, and even the things I think I know are always under question. I'll admit that sometimes I fall behind because coursework can pile up but, basically, I always look for the truth through lots of reading and critical thinking.
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