Please join the COA family in welcoming our newest writer, Nia Simone! Nia’s bio will be available shortly on our About page. Subscribe to COA so you don’t miss her upcoming debut piece ‘Here Comes the Sun.’
Q: Your name seems either to be an homage, or a real giant coincidence. Nina Simone was a talented, outspoken, incomparable figure in her time. And a legend in ours. What sort of influence has she had on you?
I like to call her my kinda-sorta-maybe namesake. If Kwanzaa didn’t have a principle named “Nia”, I probably would have been named after her. She’s dope; she’s the ultimate innovator. One thing that I’ve learned from her is how to have the courage to be yourself in a world that would rather you fit into a mold of what an “acceptable” woman should be. Even though she dealt with a lot of self-hate and racial discrimination, she eventually grew to who she was destined to be and was dedicated to living her truth. I’m dedicated to that as well; living my truth. I hope that one day I’ll influence a girl that had the same insecurities I had to have that epiphany; that it’s okay to accept themselves. I just hope that one day they’ll do her biopic right because she deserves to have her story told the right way.
Q: Your interest in entertainment does not stop there though. Your personal blog is full of reviews and critique. And you are active on YouTube and radio. What pushes you to get your voice out there?
There is an immense power in positive representation. Especially in media and journalism as a whole, there are not a lot of people that look like me and have my perspective. That definitely pushes me to build my own platforms in different journalistic mediums. I want to be able to show others that you don’t really have to ask for “a seat at the table”. You can really just build your own table.
Also, in the age of the internet and this “fake news” phase we’re currently in, it’s easy to get misinformed. With the super awesome radio show that I’m currently involved with, The Beacon Hill Project, I’m trying to combat that. I give the audience the straight facts on today’s current events so they can make their own opinions and I make sure I clearly separate my opinion from the facts. Ain’t no “fake news” around my block, that’s for sure.
Q: So what is going on around your block? You are originally from Atlanta, but your adopted home state of Virginia has been, shall we say, in the news a bit lately.
It’s really not as bad as you’d think. I live in Richmond, the capital city, so it’s quite diverse and there’s a lot of rich arts and culture downtown near my alma mater Virginia Commonwealth University. There’s also an insanely dope underground music scene that’s often forgotten. I swear the next big superstar lives in Richmond. I absolutely adore it downtown. Now that I made it out of college unscathed I currently live in the suburbs, so it’s a lot quieter. There’s lots of dog walking; there’s lots of man-made ponds. Just, you know, your average southern town.
Q: Cult of Americana is all about telling the many stories of the American Experience. Your piece coming out next week is about, quite literally, becoming comfortable in your own skin. As a consumer of media, what other stories of the Experience do you wish you could see more of?
I really would like to see as many stories as possible. I want to hear from people of all races, genders, sexual orientations: everybody. There are millions of different versions of the American experience and they’re all equally as intriguing. Media should reflect the true diversity of our nation. That’s not reality, but I hope that the media will grow more accepting as time pasts. Besides, who wants to hear from the same perspective all the time? That’s boring.
WANT TO JOIN MS. SIMONE ON THE COA TEAM?
Remember, we’re always seeking new writers, photographers, whatever-ers for the COA artist family. If you’d like to get paid for your craft and have it promoted on our dime, please drop us a line through the Contact Us form.