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I got to make an appearance on some BuzzFeed videos. A lot of people have been asking me how that happened so here’s the rundown. If you haven’t seen them yet they’re at the bottom of this post.

The Howard Connect

When I first moved to LA one of my friends from Howard connected me with a group text group of other Bison in LA. Back in June, an alum who works at Buzzfeed asked if any of us would be available to come talk about being Black in America. It sounded like it would be fun and meaningful so I said ok.

I Was Available

I could only say ok because I know I have a really flexible schedule, working part-time and driving for Uber in between production gigs. Even more than that, I live here, and I’m only 10 miles from Buzzfeed’s Hollywood office.

Shooting at Buzzfeed

One of the first things I noticed when I got to the office is that a number of the people I’ve seen in Buzzfeed videos seem to be regular employees, who just happen to also have on-camera work as part of their job description. The second thing I noticed was how freaking comfortable that office looked. It looked like a lot of the production offices for new media that I’ve visited here: one big warehouse space with rows and rows of people on computers and some lounge areas. It was really colorful and it looked like people were really free to have fun while they worked.

The video idea changed as we went, and by the time we scheduled to shoot, it became three videos. If you watch all three, you’ll notice it’s mostly the same people, just in different shirts. Shooting all three in one session was an emotional challenge because of the subject matter, but ultimately was very efficient for creating a lot of content. I’m pretty terrible at being concise without a script. The producers were kind enough to coach me through giving shorter responses they could use. I was surprised that they found a way to use me in all three.

What I Learned

I didn’t really think being in a Buzzfeed video was that big of a deal. Not that Buzzfeed isn’t a big deal, but as a media outlet it’s not VICE or The Young Turks, so I just see their stuff as just something fun to watch. So I figured I’d take the opportunity to do something that had some substance to it… and then I went on with my day. Even when I posted the first video to my Facebook wall I thought it was just kind of funny that I popped up so randomly. I didn’t know the other videos came out until people started texting me and calling me up like “what what what!?” and I’m like… “What happened?” Then my coworkers started mentioning the videos, and then my neighbors. At that point my introversion was kicking in big time. I appreciated people’s comments but I just wanted the extra attention to go away. It’s different being in front of a live audience where you do something once, everyone sees you, and it’s over. It’s a whole different experience to do something quietly, and then having people randomly tell you one by one that they saw it.

The biggest thing I learned from this is that I was doing a really good job of not thinking about missing my family until this video. I even asked my family to help me list sacrifices my parents made and it still didn’t hit me. But when I sat down in that chair, there were no more distractions. One of the things I said that didn’t make the video was how thankful I am to my parents for all they did to give me the life I’ve had up to this point, because I have no doubt in my mind that it’s because of them that I genuinely believe I can beat all the obstacles life throws at me. I’d never really said that to them, and all of that gratefulness came rushing into my face, and out of my eyes. And then I left. And then I thought crap… they’re gonna use all of that lol.

So that’s how it happened. My parents made me, they got me through Howard, then they gave me the courage to make the jump out West, and then their Howard legacy got me on Buzzfeed. And they probably don’t even know what Buzzfeed is lol. I really only made this post so they would know where to find all the videos hahaha. Mommy and Daddy I love you. Thank you for being the shoulders I stand on. I hope you enjoyed this.

Oh, shout-out to Because of Them We Can. I’m a big fan, and I noticed they picked up the last video about my parents. Check them out when you get a chance. Amazing visual campaign for black and brown pride coming right out of my hometown. PG County what up! Peace yall.