What advice would you give your younger self?
Whatever you do, don’t be invisible. Your voice is more powerful than you think, even as a young person. In our industry, it’s important to surround yourself with people who invite that voice in.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Moving to Singapore for two years, sight unseen and on my first passport book! It was hard to often be the only African American as well as the only American in the room, but it was such a rewarding and life-changing experience. And luckily, I was a “celeb” there and was asked more than once if I was related to Beyoncé.
If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing and why?
I’ve always had a real soft spot for helping the homeless because I can’t figure out why we haven’t cracked the issue in America. I also love interior design as a hobby, so I’d probably be running Airbnbs for the disadvantaged and designing the homes to make them nice and comfy to help people get back on their feet.
What should the industry do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
We have to look at DE&I as a sandwich recruitment strategy. That means starting at the top and not just the bottom. We exist, we’re qualified, we’re here. So many companies just focus on young talent starting out in their careers, and it’s just not enough. We have to see ourselves in those who inspire us from above.
We also have to work hard to dismantle “micro-aggressions,” which are really macro-oppressions. In today’s world, the industry has to be much more conscious, human and vocal about the things that aren’t said that create cultures of exclusion for women and BIPOC if we want to create real cultural change on a mass level.