Our most recent collaboration with Dr. Yaba Blay is now available on our site. We asked Dr. Blay a few questions about the Professional Black Girl project and her career. Check out her answers and a few behind the scenes shots of the photoshoot here!
What does it mean to be a Professional Black Girl?
It's hard to pinpoint and define who a Professional Black Girl is, but I can tell you from my lived experience that being a Professional Black Girl means so much to many of us. It's a freedom that allows us to be exactly who we are, wherever we are. Wherever we are, we are Black and we are Girl. It's a love language - it allows me to communicate with other Professional Black Girls with a particular level of comfort and familiarity. It could be as simple as meeting a woman for the first time and by her sharing a memory of the brand of sneakers she used to rock "back in the day," or talking about the outfit she plans to wear to Beyoncé concert, I somehow know her. I can tell whether we would have been good girlfriends back in high school, whether we could be good girlfriends now. It's not only a vibe, or a shared experience, but the value we all place on that experience.
How long have you been a Professional Black Girl?
For as long as I can remember, and longer than that according to pictures.
Please tell us a little bit about the web series.
I didn't originally set out to produce Professional Black Girl. I was actually producing another original series and had planned to end each episode with a "Professional Black Girl" segment. But the more interviews and conversations I had about the project in general, and with the women themselves, the more I began to feel like this was something of its own. The web series are short video conversations with each of the contributors - from my 2-year old granddaughter to my good and grown girlfriends. Each of them will talk a little bit about what makes them a Professional Black Girl. You'll have to watch to see what they share. Every Friday through December.
Between Pretty Period, One Drop, your career as a professor and, now, Professional Black Girl, you are clearly very dedicated to uplifting black women across the globe. Were there any defining moments or experiences in your life that made you decide to devote such a large part of your life to this mission?
I can't say that there was any one moment. It just feels like this is the direction my life and my work took. I've always been committed to the idea that the work I do has to be work I want to do; that it has to serve a function, and everyday folk outside of the academy should have access to it, and be able to use and apply it. Many of the projects that I've produced are connected to and reflect my own experiences. In a lot of ways I think I do much of this work for little Yaba, thinking of what may have helped her to see and know herself.
What has been one of your favorite moments in your career?
Wow. From connecting with many of the Black girls for whom I do this work, to being featured in Auntie Oprah's magazine, I've had so many wonderful moments in my career. And I'm thankful. But I think one of my FAVORITE moments happened in 2013. I was invited to participate in BET's Leading Women Defined Summit and I met so many amazing women who I admire. But meeting Salt and MC Lyte has got to be a top 5 moment in my forever. These women had such an influence on who I was throughout my formative years and seeing them in person, being able to tell them to their faces how much I LOVE them, and hugging them? That was magic.
Who do you admire?
I admire my daughter. She is by far one of the strongest and most resilient woman I know. And she is SUCH a #ProfessionalBlackGirl.
Editor's Note: Special thanks to Press Beauty and Leo Spade for lending your space and talents to the project. You are greatly appreciated.
Photoshoot Location: Press Beauty
Photographer: Leo Spade