Ashley, better known to our blogging tribe as our “Sunshine,” is really just that: Sunshine. Full of positivity and so much love, Ashley is helping to build a community of brown women who define their beauty for themselves! I stumbled upon her on Twitter, and since that ultimate writers day in November (Blogsgiving + When Pens Collide), I make sure to keep an eye our for her on twitter and her blog. Meet Ashley of the BBB Series (and if you’re not sold on her Sunshine by the end of this feature, get . the . “Dear Love” . book !)
Ashley! Welcome to YS.com! Introduce yourself to the YS crew!
Well first and foremost, thanks so much for having me! I am so inspired by all of my When Pens Collide ladies and I absolutely love the content and mission of Yetti Says and Certified 10. As for me, I am Ashley Coleman, an author and blogger from Philadelphia. I self-published my first book Dear Love in March of 2014 and since then I kicked into gear of really chasing my dreams down. I am the creator of WriteLaughDream.com which encourages growth in life, love and dreaming in color. I work as a writing mentor through my in-person writing workshops, The Writer’s Muse, and my e-course, The Writer, The Brand. I love words and I love encouraging others.
So tell us about Bold, Brown, & Beautiful! What prompted you to expand outside of your successful blog WriteLaughDream.com?
Bold, Brown, & Beautiful actually was birthed from WriteLaughDream. I wrote a blog post in response to the film Dark Girls. I hated that I felt like there were things that only further divided us instead of creating more community among us. I come from a family with a beautiful array of skin colors and I wanted to create something that encouraged the acceptance of all brown women even across race. After that initial blog post, someone said to me, “This should be an event.” So on August 20th of 2013, I hosted the first BBB Series event in Philadelphia at the Blues Babe Foundation office. It was a sold out panel where we discussed the film and images of beauty. Since then I have also hosted panel events in Washington, DC for the last two years.
[Tweet “We focus too much on what others think of us – @WriteLaughDream”]
With what your organization stands for, how do you plan to impact society’s views on a black woman’s beauty?
I am actually more focused on impacting how women of color view themselves. I think that sometimes we focus too much on what others think of us instead of what we think of ourselves. The more we work at being “self-defined,” to take a note from Audre Lorde, the better off we’ll be. I love the quote:
“If you live by their praise, you’ll die by their criticism.”
We just give others too much power over what we think about ourselves and it drives me nuts. So I hope to be another voice that adds to that narrative that we are classic beauty and that our beauty can all co-exist. Hopefully in the future, I would like to also begin to move into representative media for brown women like books and maybe even film.
How important is it to have a strong sense of self in the world of writing, blogging, and building a community?
It’s imperative. I mean in general it just helps. There are so many things that will pull you every which way in this world. And especially when we talk about writing and blogging, so often people find themselves imitating others instead of really being able to cultivate their own unique voice. There is nothing wrong with being inspired by others, but at some point you have to tip your student hat to the side, just for a little and fall into who you are creatively. Finding that sense of self was a turning point in my creativity.
2016 has just begun! Do you have any new projects up your sleeve?
Yes and it’s off to a great start! I know that every year feels like “the” year. But I have such a great feeling about 2016 and all that’s in store. I am slowly but surely finishing up my second book. I am so looking forward to being able to share with all of you. I also finished my writing course The Writer, The Brand so I am pleased to work with writers in that capacity. And I will definitely be hosting quarterly Dear Love Brunches and The Writer’s Muse writing workshops. Then there’s whatever God has in store and that’s not always so easy to know, but God’s plan is the plan, so wherever he takes me I am looking forward to going.
What words of advice would you share with your 16-year-old self about self-esteem, self-worth, and of course, surviving these transformational years?
Don’t let people change you. I feel like I was more confident at a younger age then I became as an adult. Just know and understand that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and you don’t have to fit into anyone else’s image or standard of worthiness but His. You are valid because you were created and that will lead you into every part of your purpose because you were put here to be impactful not by happenstance.
Where can we find you (websites, social media, etc)?
Of course! My site is WriteLaughDream.com. Sign up for the For Dreamers Only newsletter while you’re there too for a monthly dose of inspiration in life and creativity. And you can follow me @writelaughdream on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Periscope!
And you can find Bold, Brown & Beautiful at boldbrownbeautiful.com and @bbb_series on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!0