I trust in myself, very deeply. I trust in my talent, as well as my message. Having an ultimate long-term goal of the change I would like to make in this world keeps me focused and safe from anything that could harm or misunderstand me. Sometimes, this means saying no to certain opportunities. Other times, it means saying “yes” to an opportunity less attractive to everyone else. However, I stay anchored and remain at peace with myself.
What steps were necessary to take in order for you to be fully prepared for the job you have now?
Having a good work ethic is really important for this job. It’s heavy work at times, and that work all belongs to you. If i hadn’t understood the beauty of hard work, I may not have been able to flourish here. Studying media in college and constantly afterwards I found to be important as well.
What pieces of work in your portfolio are you most proud of so far?
I’m very proud of almost everything I’ve done at BuzzFeed. I’m really proud of my The Girl Who’s Never Been on a Nice Date series. I also take great pride in my stand-up.
Could you describe a moment where you felt like you defied the odds or broke a barrier?
At my job, we have a piece of software that tells us which thumbnail will get the best response for our videos. 9/10 this system will pick a thumb with a white person on it, over a thumb with a black person. The piece of software itself isn’t racist, it’s just recording the views of the world around us. I made it a small goal of mine to start beating that computer software with my face on the thumbnail of my videos. In time, I did. I was making so many videos that people enjoyed, that my face—a black face—became more popular than the default norm. That was huge for me, and important for all black women I work with.
How did you grow into your black identity?
From a young age, my parents and teachers enriched me with pride. This was important, because as a kid, you don’t typically know yet how bad the world can be. The realities given to you are truth. For me, my black identity was a truth and quite normal. By the age of 8, I knew the entire Nguzo Saba, had studied black artists, leaders, and writers, knew the ins-and-outs of the African slave trade, visited where The Million Man march took place and had seen Amistad…twice. African culture and American history were a part of my upbringing.
The identity issues I have had have come up more recently, in light of my twenties and the state of our country. I’m growing into my own political and personal thoughts and views more solidly, and being black puts you in a constant state of awareness everyday when it comes to your own identity.
How do you feel about the future of media?
It’s bright, and it’s going to be quite the ride. Respect for new developments will be vital.
written by: sydney gore