Kwanza & I both attended George Mason University. Every time I saw her she had a smile on her face. She’s has such a positive aurora about her. She recently made a post on Facebook that inspired me & led me to ask her for an interview. Kwanza is basically famous in my eyes. Formerly apart of the BuzzFeed team & has much more in store for her film making career. Here’s one of my favorite videos that she’s in :Watch Here! Sidenote: Question #3 tells you the story of how she got the opportunity with BuzzFeed!
- How old are you and what is one word that describes this age /time of your life?
I’m 24 years old and I think the one word that best describes this time in my life is discovery. I’m discovering new things about the world, about other people, about relationships, and most importantly about myself. And self discovery is a beautiful thing.
- How have you bloomed ? What is the biggest change you’ve made in your 20’s so far?
I think I’ve bloomed by slowly letting go of fear and doubt. It’s still an everyday battle, as these things are natural human emotions that everyone deals with. But when I decided to pack up my life and move across the country to LA to pursue my film making career, I realized that I had to leave fear and self doubt behind. We all have a fear of failure, but if we just sit around and dwell on it, how can we ever succeed? I decided to take a leap of faith and now I’m chillin underneath the palm trees, doing what I love.
- We all want to know, how did you get the opportunity with BuzzFeed & what did you learn about yourself & being a professional during your time there?
When I was still on the east coast, probably in early November 2014, I was bored at work one day, scrolling through Facebook. I came across a couple of BuzzFeed videos and loved them and thought how it would be fun to produce content like that. I was just starting to seriously consider moving, so I looked up the company to see if they had offices in LA and they did. From then on, I started asking colleagues and friends if they knew anyone that worked there, and started working on my application. Before I could make any connects within the company, I decided to apply anyway – didn’t get an interview.
Then, once I moved to LA in early February 2015, I reconnected with an old friend who out of the blue mentioned that she had met a guy who worked at BuzzFeed. I asked her to connect me but their interaction was so fleeting that she didn’t even have his number. So she slid into his DM on Instagram lol. A few weeks later he responded and told her to have me email him with my resume etc. I did all that and applied again – didn’t get an interview. I was like “damn, not even with a connect do I get an interview. It must not be meant to be”. And at that point I basically gave up and decided to focus my energy on freelance projects.
About 4 months later, I had built a bunch of connections and had been successfully freelancing on feature films and other projects, when the same guy reached out to me and asked if I was still interested in BuzzFeed. To be honest, at that point I was kind of unsure. I was pretty comfortable with what I was doing, and was afraid that I’d lose the momentum that I had built by going to a 9-5. But it meant a lot that he still thought of me months later and made the effort to reach out, and the idea of a steady paycheck was definitely appealing. So I said hey, why not, and sent in my application for the third time. I received a phone call that same Monday that I applied, had an interview on Tuesday, and got hired Thursday. The rest is history!
While at BuzzFeed, I definitely learned more about the kind of content I want to make and how I want it to affect people. And I also learned that the best art often comes from owning your own insecurities and not being afraid to talk about them.
- What are your plans after Buzzfeed? How do you stay focused on your goals/ what keeps you going after your dreams?
I’ll be focusing on writing my first feature film, getting back into freelance editing/videography, and working on a web-series with actress and writer Andrea Lewis.
I have a real passion for filmmaking, and the desire to help and inspire others through the stories I share pushes me to work toward my goals everyday. But what also keeps me focused is the support and encouragement I get from my family and friends. They’ve invested so much in me so I’m determined to do whatever it takes to pay my gratitude and make them proud.
- What is your favorite thing about you & if possible, how do you use it to inspire others?
Ooo this a hard question for many young women, especially young women of color- and that’s a very unfortunate thing. We should all love ourselves! Because, for lack of better words, we are all dope as f*ck.
But anyway, my favorite thing about me is my positive energy. When you look at my life from the outside, you might think that everything is perfect. But just like everyone else, I have my struggles, I have my bad days, I have my moments where I think “what the hell am I doing?”. I just choose to focus on the positive instead of the negative. Because when you put your problems into perspective, compared to all the horrible stuff that’s happening in the world, you’ll realize that you have nothing to complain about. And staying positive is what helps to fuel that drive – knowing how amazing the destination will be, makes the journey that much better. I think by me projecting this positive energy, it inspires others to reach higher and push further.
- Who or what inspires you the most? Why?
Probably Beyonce. Lol just kidding (sort of). But no for real, it’s cliche but I’d have to say my mother. All the time I think about how when she was my age she had already had me and was working who knows how many jobs just to raise me by herself, not to mention she was new to this country. And I have no idea how she did it, because I know that I would never be able to pull that off. Though we had struggles financially, she never let me feel the burden of those, and I always lived comfortably and got everything I wanted for Christmas lol. If she could build an entire life for herself and for me from nothing at all, I feel like anything is possible. Just thinking about all she’s done for me pushes me to work hard every day.
- Best relationship (romantic, family, or friend) lesson you’ve learned so far?
I think one of the hardest things about growing up is growing apart from close friends/significant others. We’ve all had relationships with people that we thought would last forever, but life often puts us on different paths. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned from this is that it’s okay to let people go, and having a bunch of friends really is not that important. The people who are meant to stay in your life will be there no matter what and without you having to fight for them.
- Greatest advice you have received in your 20’s?
Probably that it’s okay to not have everything figured out. Many of us have this timeline in our heads where we feel like we have to have this type of job by the time we’re 25, and married by the time we’re 28, and kids by 30, etc. etc. But we’ve got to let that go! Yes, it’s important to set milestones for yourself to achieve your goals. But we can’t start freaking out if our life goals aren’t panning out exactly how and when we planned.
What we tend to forget is that God has a plan for all of us, and the path we conceive is probably not the path he has in mind. God be like “Oh you thought you were gonna get that promotion? Ha! Sit yo ass down. But I am gonna give you this new job offer”. We just have to have trust in ourselves and trust in God, or whatever higher power you believe in, and know that as long as we keep pushing, everything’s gonna be alright.
- Currently, what is your biggest hurdle & how do you plan to overcome it?
I think my biggest hurdle is getting caught up in the whole “living while you’re young” and YOLO lifestyle. So many people in our generation are focused on living in the now and doing crazy and careless things just so they can enjoy life to the fullest while they’re still young. This of course is appealing because tomorrow is never promised, and we want to make the most out of each day, but who says our youth is the only time we can have fun? I may not be as skinny or nimble but I sure as hell will still be turning up in my 50s. And I want to make sure I have the money and stability to do so.
I believe to truly have a fulfilling life is to follow a career that you’re passionate about, and every day will be fun. We definitely should take advantage of each day that we have, but we should work hard so that we can have infinite good days in the future, instead of only reminiscing on the good days we had in the past. If I continue to maintain a good work/life balance, I think I’ll overcome this hurdle and be able to stay focused on the bigger picture. Because no one should want to peak in their 20s.
- How does a sunflower/twenty something make it out the middle or embrace being in their twenties?
Learn to truly love yourself. Change the things that you can, accept the things that you can’t, and be happy with all the blessings God has given you. Once you realize how amazing you really are, you’ll be unstoppable and blossom into your best you.
CONNECT with Kwanza !
Kwanza Gooden, Filmmaker
@liketheholiday (for all social media)