Welcome to the inaugural class of '29. We've selected 29 graduating college seniors, entering the "real" world in 2018, to write about the state of their lives. What are their hopes, dreams, fears, stressors, failures, and successes as they leave school behind? We will be releasing new entries on a daily basis. If you would like yours to be considered, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello? Is this thing on? I’m Tamia Mallory and you don’t know me yet. But you will.
I am going to be the next Oprah Winfrey, dominating every inch of the media world. I will let my hard work and genuine spirit take me to the next level. You’ll see my name and face and hear my voice on radio and television, the pages of magazines and iPhone screens. Like Oprah, sharing inspirational stories that have the power to move audiences brings me great joy. With everything that I do, I will aspire to inspire.
How can I be so sure I have what it takes? Well, I’ve practically prepared for this my whole life. I’ve always been blessed with a natural curiosity, striving to find out who, what, when, where and why. I won’t stop until I get the answer — and sing it from the rooftops. In high school, I was voted the biggest gossip of my junior class. That’s not my most coveted title, but I expect this gift of gab to take me somewhere.
Now I know being able to talk for hours won’t be enough to get me to the next level. That’s why I put the work in as well. While in college, I was blessed with the opportunity of co-hosting an entertainment talk show that airs on my school’s television network. In that role, I had the chance to interview a wide range of guests, including Grammy-nominated female lyricist Rapsody. Interviewing celebrities like Rapsody gave me valuable experience, but it also shaped why I want to pursue entertainment journalism. In the midst of discussing her role as a woman in the rap game, Rapsody explained that it’s important to build other women up and not compete with them. That might sound like basic advice, but it stuck with me. Rapsody didn't become an overnight success. She has worked for years and continues to build herself, which gives me courage to trust the process. She’s just one of the many role models showing me the heights I can reach as I transition into post-grad life.
You see, being a young black girl, it’s not every day that I get to turn on my TV and see someone who actually looks like me: a regular BLACK girl. In fact, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism noted that out of the 100 top-grossing films in 2016, 47 did not have a black woman speaking at all on the screen. It is getting better, though. Yara Shahidi is the star of Grown-ish. Issa Rae is the creator and lead on the HBO original Insecure. Tiffany Haddish is everywhere, starring in a new TBS show and completing a national tour. These black women who are unapologetically themselves show that talent mixed with hard work and a genuine spirit will take you somewhere, which is inspiring. Drake even notices, as they were all featured in his new music video for “Nice for What.” Seeing these women, I know it’s possible to truly turn my dreams into a reality.
While I am confident, I know this experience comes with hurdles and rejections. As a full-time student, I worked a part-time job, taught university courses, completed five internships and signed up for a host of other extracurricular activities. I never want to be that person who complains about things that they signed up for, but it was hard to always be in overdrive. There were personal setbacks, too. Both of my grandparents passed away. Friendships ended with girls who I considered to be my best friends. I traveled to New York from Virginia for interviews only to be turned down. I experienced so many no’s from employers and potential internships. I was sad, I was pissed off, I felt alone, I wanted to scream, I wanted to kick and did I mention I wanted to cry?
While dealing with all of these things were difficult, I’m grateful for the challenges. Those are the moments that I will remember the most and they still fuel me. Nothing is perfect. I’m still receiving no’s and I’m still not hearing back from hundreds of emails and applications I’m sending out. And that’s okay. I know it will all pay off in the end.
In the words of Oprah Winfrey, “You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.”
Tamia Mallory is a senior studying Communication and Journalism at George Mason University. After graduating, she plans to keep working toward her dreams.