Chicago’s Black Women in STEAM Series: Meet Taylor
“Chicago’s Black Women in STEAM” is a series on The Adler ’Scope that highlights the awesome women of Chicago who are doing amazing things in science, technology, engineering, art, and math fields here in our own community. Meet women of varying ages, backgrounds, and interests and learn their unique stories.
Content Producer | Change Agent for Diversity & Inclusion
What first sparked your interest in producing/storytelling?
I’ve always had an active imagination. When I was younger I would spend hours in my bedroom reading and writing. I would dream up whole worlds full of characters and convince friends to act out what I had written. Creative writing, organization, and planning all came pretty naturally to me. Being able to translate my childhood interests into a career skill set changed my life.
I ended up receiving my graduate degree in English literature from Dartmouth College and completed postgraduate study at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland where I received a master’s degree in media and film studies. After graduating, I continued studying the art of filmmaking. I took courses, read books, wrote, and watched lots (and lots) of television/movies and YouTube—all in an effort to gain the knowledge I needed. Then I put it all into practice.
I started producing small projects for friends and church, which then led to bigger ones with budgets and clients. Going to film school isn’t for everyone, but you must be willing to put in the work. It didn’t happen overnight but when it did, I felt prepared.
What aspect(s) of storytelling do you enjoy the most?
To craft a truly interesting story there are a few key ingredients. In my opinion, the best storytellers masterfully showcase:
Characters: Strong characters resonate. Good or evil, they should remind you of someone or something. Their actions and motivations should drive the narrative and hopefully give you something to root for or against.
Dialogue: Dialogue can make or break a piece of content for me. I love it when a character says something that sounds exactly like something someone I know would say. That’s the mark of a good storyteller—capturing the emotion of human behavior through language. Acting embodies it, but good dialogue ensures that each character is given a distinct voice and personality.
Collaboration: Creating content is a collaborative act. There are very few mediums were collaboration is the driving force for success. As a writer-producer, my role is to bring together the most creative and talented people, create an environment where ideas are welcome, and utilize everyone’s strengths and weaknesses to fill in the gaps. We’re all working towards the goal of telling a compelling story.
Could you tell us more about your newly founded production company, “Blessed Press Productions?”
“Blessed Press Productions,” is a production company which aims to bring to life stories of faith. It serves as a production hub for creatives like myself who are interested in purpose-driven storytelling and want to create content that inspires hope, healing, and empowerment.
As a practitioner myself, I understand the value in making content that is meaningful to your community. My own work examines Otherness, identity, and representation within contemporary audio-visual culture. I have also produced and worked on all types of projects; both small and large scale productions, including live events, commercial work, digital content, tv and film.
We plan on developing the next wave of artists by providing resources, workshops, and hands-on training for professional growth. Particularly, for marginalized identities, *womxn, and creatives of color. My goal is for “Blessed Press Productions” to offer opportunities to create, work together, and build community—all the while creating powerful content!
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a producer for Wakandacon (a convention that highlights diversity in “nerd culture”)?
Wakandacon is a 3-day Afro-futuristic convention that celebrates STEM, art, community, and self-expression in the Black diaspora. Honestly, every aspect of producing the event is rewarding and exciting. It’s a huge undertaking, but I feel very proud to have co-produced it the past 2 years. It’s been very rewarding to see people from all walks of life, regardless of age, ethnicity, or background feel like they finally have a space where they can just be themselves. It’s a very powerful thing to witness and I hope it empowers others to outwardly express and embrace their inner nerd.
The greatest impact has been that we’ve been able to create an inclusive platform and brave space for people of color, and specifically Black professionals to nerd out, showcase their work, and expose a younger generation to these possibilities.
What advice would you give to young girls of color who are interested in pursuing careers in STEAM?
A popular quote by Dr. Maya Angelou says, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I want to speak to those feelings, insecurities, and shared experiences you will undoubtedly face as a young womxn of color. You are not alone when faced with doubt, hardship, in need of encouragement, in search of belonging, and desire to feel joy. I keep a collection of quotes by phenomenal womxn who make me feel like anything is possible because they’ve already overcome the impossible.
For each situation, here are the words I turn to for inspiration:
Creativity: “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” – Dr. Mae Jemison
Encouragement: “Making it through the ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other woman’s footprints.” – Shonda Rhimes
Failure: “Failure is God’s way of letting you know you’re moving in the wrong direction.” – Oprah Winfrey
Healing: “Contrary to what we may have been taught to think, unnecessary and unchosen suffering wounds us but need not scar us for life. It does mark us. What we allow the mark of our suffering to become is in our own hands.” – bell hooks
Imposter Syndrome: “Your crown has been bought and paid for. Put it on your head and wear it.” – Dr. Maya Angelou
Paying it forward: “…When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” – Toni Morrison
*Womxn is an inclusive term to represent intersex, trans, and non-binary identities and gender expression.