Black Female Voices on Being A Content Creator (Part 1)
Q: Tell us about you! Where you’re from, what it was like growing up there, do you think it’s influenced the person that you are today?
A: I’m from Utah! Specifically, Southern Utah (Saint George). It gets a bad rap sometimes, but I LOVE it -- Utah is absolutely breathtaking. Growing up in Saint George was difficult for me, however, it did shape me into the person I am today. For years I barely recognized I was different. But, there came a point where the color of my skin became “noticeable” to everyone and for some reason it was a BIG deal. I think it was a big deal because I was different from them. My skin was different, my hair was different, I was different, which I thought was a bad thing for the longest time. I spent years trying to “fit in” with the girls at my schools. I didn’t stand up for myself when the boys my age, for some reason, all thought it was so cool to refer to me as the N word with an A on the end. Back then, I never had the voice or audacity to say anything because I didn’t know that I had a place to. So, I kept a lot of the things I went through or the things people would say (mostly kids I went to school with), to myself. But I’ve embraced who I am and the color of my skin. God made me exactly how I’m supposed to be. I also lucked out with the most amazing mother who taught me that I was beautiful and smart from a young age. So, whenever I’m going through it, I just try to remember that.
Q: How did you get started in content creation/photography/modeling?
A: When I was in High School, my friend Ari and I used to always do the most fun, creative shoots together. She would call me up with these outrageous amazing ideas, have my makeup done (sometimes) & find the most edgy locations. She’d have me bring half my wardrobe and take all these photos of me -- then we’d post them on Instagram. Other photographers and brands started to notice the photos and my account, so they started reaching out. I was so ignorant and had no idea that what was just a fun thing to do with my friend, would turn into what it has. I’m so unbelievably grateful it did though.
Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned when it comes to content creation & photography? If you were helping someone get started, what advice would you give?
A: You’ve got to be consistent, authentic and creative. I’ve noticed, especially recently (while I’ve been trying to regulate my time on social media to protect my mental and emotional health), when I’m not posting as much content, then there’s nothing for people to look forward to. So, they lose interest, which can result in loss of followers and engagement. That’s just how humans are. We practically need all of that at this point. It might feel so obnoxious, but if you’re trying to grow your Instagram, you’ve really got to not care about “rules”. Post every day. Post 2 times a day. Post your face all the time. Utilize stories. Comment on other creators’ posts. Make Instagram friends! I personally am kind of at a point where I’m caught in the middle. I don’t care about posting a ton. But I also don’t care if I lose 100 followers just because I decide to take a break or post something they don’t like. It’s all about just worrying about you and doing what YOU want. People also love that.
Q: What is the #1 obstacle you have faced in making this a career for yourself?
A: The cost of my emotional and mental state. It gets overwhelming at times. I’ll feel the pressure to perform, basically. I’m scrolling through Instagram and all of a sudden, I’m having anxiety that I’m not posting enough, or that my content isn’t what it should be. Which is dumb, because I’m happy with my Instagram account and I love that it can be casual or serious. I get stuck in that thought of comparison and it drives me up a wall. I’ve never really been one to compare myself to others, because I love who I am and who I’m constantly becoming, but with this, I’ve found myself comparing a few times and I hate doing that because we are all made individually and none of us are supposed to be alike. Which means our Instagram accounts don’t have to be alike? Another thing that is hard for me personally, which seems so dumb to people when I tell them, is how hard it is being told how pretty you are ALL THE TIME. Because there is SO much more to me. I’d much rather be complimented on how goofy I am than how pretty someone thinks I am. And that’s been an obstacle for me. I date boys who are constantly going on and on about how much I model, and it seems like that’s the only important thing to them. Which makes me feel bad because, like I said…there is so much more to who I am, and I don’t feel like people really take the time to get to know that side of me.
Q: What hurdles have you faced as a Black content creator, if any?
A: One thing that specifically comes to mind is projects where they have issues with my hair -- mostly because they are either uncomfortable or unfamiliar. I am African American. My hair is NOT straight. But it’s also not ALWAYS curly. I wear box braids, cornrows, twists AND my afro & personally love how versatile my hair is. I’ve noticed a lot, in the past year, that sometimes photographers or brands don’t want me unless my hair is a certain more “repressed way” and will tell me that they will “reach out when my hair is back to normal”. That’s hard for me because I am who I am, but some people have issues with it. I’ve booked shoots or projects and the next day or even hours later they will reach out again asking “how my hair is.” So I’ve had to really stand up for myself and my skin color when I decide I don’t want to work with those brands.
Q: What has been your favorite project to date?
A: This is almost too hard to answer. I’ve done SO many. And so many of them are my favorites. I think the people I work with make all the difference. I love when they let me be me and bring who I truly am to the shoots. So, this is tough to answer because I’ve worked with a lot of people and brands that have let me be myself. I did a lot of bridal shoots last summer that were everything to me (especially one in particular with Alyssa Ence). I always love my shoots and time spent with Courtney and Ben Campbell, who own Indy Brand Clothing. Lauren Wrigley often executes all of my ideas and I adore her. The list goes on and on. I think back to one that was very inclusive, though, with Rozie June last February, shot by Hailey Arnold. It was a shoot with women of every color, shape, and size. It was beautiful and so enlightening & I love that the shoot happened long before the major BLM movement last June. She was ahead of the game.
Q: What is your favorite type of content you create & why?
A: The content I do the most & my favorite type of content are two different things. I do a lot of photos which, don’t get me wrong, I do love. But when it comes down to passion, I love writing. So, when I post, sometimes my captions mean more to me than the photo. I miss writing on my blog -- it’s my favorite type of content, but i’m just so terrible at keeping up with it.
Q: What has been your experience with brands since the resurgence of the BLM movement on social media this past year?
A: One word, BUSY. Especially after last June, my calendar filled up so quickly I could barely keep track. Which I think is AMAZING but also kind of sad! The fact that the BLM movement was what encouraged all of these brands and companies to start working with black creators’ sucks. Especially in Utah, where it is common to see white girls flooding pages on Instagram & boutique and shop websites. But, it’s nice to see everyone doing their best to get on board and be more inclusive.
Q: In your opinion, why does representation matter?
A: I think it matters because we have generations to come that will need to see what they stand for and they will look up to those that have taught them to know. We live in a world where not everyone has the means, the platform, or even the courage to always represent. So, when someone does have the ability to, they should. It’s not something that everyone is capable of, so, if you are able to, you should be representing. I want to be able to look at my future children one day and tell them that I represented who we are in the best way possible.
Q: What do you think brands can do to be more inclusive when working with Black creators?
A: I think they could use more Black creators and models. I go to shoots more often than not, when I am the only Black girl in a mix of like 4 or 5 white girls. And you just KNOW they’re doing it because they have to have a little diversity. Why not have a lot of it. Also, I think continuing to work with Black creators past one project. It shouldn’t just stop because they’ve done their initial duty. It should be a new normal and I think that companies and brands who choose it to be a part of the new norm will thrive, because that’s something you notice.
Q: Do you have a favorite influencer / what have they taught you/how have they influenced you?
A: I have quite a few. I don’t know if they all consider themselves influencers, but they are instagram friends I look up to. Specifically right now, Chloe Bruderer (chlobrud). We met through Instagram last June and I’m thoroughly obsessed with how REAL she is. She’s a beautiful artist and even has a weekly newsletter that is everything good and holy to me. Chloe rocks her breakouts on instagram, so I feel like I can rock my breakouts on instagram. She really lifts me up and I think she’s amazing (even though I’ve never actually met her in person, I love her). When people use their platforms to be themselves and encourage others to do the same, it’s inspiring. I wish more people would be real on social media. I thrive off that.
Q: Do you have any major “don'ts” when it comes to creating for social media?
A: Yeah, don’t pretend to be something or someone you aren’t. Social media is so flooded with people who hide and, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be that way. Obviously nobody has a perfect Instagram life and I’m not saying you need to share every single detail of your life, but I think sharing experiences that are real can be beneficial to other people. Plus, I think you can see right through socials that are staged for the perfect life. So my major don’t is: DON’T pretend to be someone you aren’t. I will live by that forever
Q: How do you plan for photo shoots? Any tips?
A: I’ve always been a night owl, so I basically consider myself nocturnal at this point. But, with photoshoots, I try to remember to get a good amount of sleep, make sure I go to sleep with a clean, makeup free face, EAT breakfast, (Especially when I have a full day of shoots -- I’ve learned from experience that a hangry Maloree is a Maloree nobody wants to meet) and just stay hydrated, which is easy for me since I don’t leave anywhere without my water bottle.
Q: This one’s random, but we love getting put on to new music. Any favorite albums/songs that have been inspiring you recently?
A: Right now I’m a little obsessed with R&B. I’ve been living off Jessie Reyez since like 2017 but more recently her BEFORE LOVE CAME TO KILL US album has been on repeat. Then, I kind of do a full 360 and have been thoroughly infatuated with Fiji Blue. Butterflies and Waves if we’re getting specific.
Q: Final question! What is the #1 message you hope to spread across your social media platforms?
A: Be genuinely yourself.. Especially at a time like right now. The world needs more genuine people. It’s refreshing to meet people who don’t care what other people think of them or what they “should” be doing...because what we all “should” be doing, is whatever we want. And all of those things are going to be different, as they should be. So if anyone can get anything from me on social media platforms, it’s that. BE YOU. But remember that we are all still people going through our own tough times, so be kind as well. I can't express how important that is. Something I live by is: We are all different, but we are all the same.
(Had to throw this one in here, just because 😍)
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