Before I share the awesomeness of this week’s Millennial On A Mission, I did want first extend my deepest condolences, thoughts + prayers to the victims of the heinous mass shooting that took place in Orlando yesterday.
In a world where we should be free to be, love and do what makes us the happiest, it is devastating that those filled with so much rage + hate feel the need to take those feelings out on the lives of innocent people. To quote Tony award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Love is love, and love cannot be killed or swept aside. Fill the world with music, love and pride.”
The newest Millennial On A Mission is truly a young woman after my own heart. Like myself, she is passionate about storytelling and giving young people of color spaces to be. Currently, she is traveling around the world collecting stories and sharing her journey with the hashtag #BKtotheWorld.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Natelegé graduated from Howard University in 2011 where she received her bachelor’s in journalism. For the first five years post-grad, Natelegé freelanced and worked as a reporter and content producer for several online publications. This past March, however, she took a break from the rat race to travel until the end of this month. “It’s always been a life goal to go abroad for an extended period of time,” Natelegé says, “and I felt like I was at a place in my career where it was a great time to do it.” She is also working on a passion project called “The Questions 100,” in which she is interviewing 100 millennials of color. “As I travel, I am collecting stories abroad and will continue to do so in America when I get back stateside this summer. So far I have spoke to 11 people and counting.”
MOAM: What inspired you to pursue a career in journalism? Who are some individuals you admire in your field of work? What challenges have you faced in building your brand, and what have you learned from them?
NW: Growing up, I was always drawn to the arts. I loved writing, drawing, design and creating with technology. From an early age, I had a computer in the house because my dad was always a gadget guy so I guess that rubbed off on me as well. When I was in 10th grade, my English teacher told me about an opportunity to apply for a journalism workshop with a media group called Youth Communications. I was accepted into the program that summer and learned how to brainstorm ideas, interview subjects and report. My very first article was about food deserts in the Black community. The process seemed rigorous, but I loved the idea of seeing my words on paper and in that moment, I found my labor of love.
Writers I admire include the O.G.s: Ida B. Wells, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison and more contemporary folks like bell hooks and Malcolm Gladwell. And our modern-day great writers Ta-Nehisi Coates, Danyel Smith and Demetria Lucas. My biggest lesson about building a brand is that working for someone else while you do it is difficult, but not impossible. You have to set clear goals and plan extensively and try your best not to burnout. For me, I’m learning that nothing was built in one day, so breaking down my goals and focusing on one thing at a time is more productive than spreading yourself too thin. I’m remembering that I am not really in competition with anyone else but myself, so as long as I’m doing learning more today than I did yesterday, who can really tell me anything? You have to big yourself up for your wins, little or big. Life is going to come and go anyway and it doesn’t make sense to beat yourself for every little flaw. You have to take time to enjoy your accomplishments.
To Natelegé, being a Millennial On A Mission means taking the social responsibility to do the extra just because excellence and adding value to your environments is a virtue for you and not just for the reward or fame. “Right now, I’m still figuring so much out,” Natelegé says. “I hope that one day, I can find a work environment that’s a lot more healthier than the ones I’ve worked in the past.” Everyday, she lives in gratitude with prayer and meditation, which allows her focus and be more productive so that she can be better at executing her goals. Her advice to her millennial peers? Become a doer, because life is too short not to take the risk. “If you have an idea, a well-thought out strategy for a business or a dream job you really want, why deny yourself the chance to do what you truly want? Allow yourself time to cultivate the idea you truly love, even if it’s starting with an hour a week.”