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Daily Inspiration: Meet Makeena Rivers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Makeena Rivers.

Hi Makeena, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I trace my path back to my early childhood years. Like so many Black folks in this country, I grew up in a community where the schools didn’t have the funding they needed to properly and holistically support the full education of its students. When it got to the point that subjects in my local school were reduced to gym, math, and reading, my mom found a program that bussed inner city kids to more affluent (whiter) neighborhoods. It was in these years that I began to develop a deeper understanding of the starkly different racial realities of our country. My concern for issues surrounding justice was solidified. My fierce energy to pursue efforts for healing and social change came from traumatic loss, being impacted by the effects of incarceration, and my mom’s own work in this world. Academically I found my way to Social Work.

I was gifted with a clear understanding that I was a visual creature who was drawn to visual beauty. Modeling was my first overtly creative calling. I was a part of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program, where I learned about the creative and spiritual powers of expression. My passion for acting was developing along the way, but I was so tunnel-visioned for modeling and so invested in academic progress that I didn’t even realize how aligned this art form was with my being until later. As more Black film bloomed, I had what felt like an epiphany-like realization that acting was the way to fuse my passions for expression, seeking justice, liberation, and all I enjoyed about modeling.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It has not always been a smooth road, and it is not necessarily perfectly clear and easy now. With multiple passions, managing my time is one of the biggest things I am working on. It requires effort to maintain confidence in competitive creative industries historically fraught with racism. Some challenges that seemingly postponed my ability to dive directly into modeling and acting were the socioeconomic barriers my family growing up faced. You needed time and money to pursue these things which were things my single mom didn’t have much of.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am most focused currently on developing out my work as an actor, so I will speak to that. Though I haven’t formally been in the profession for long and you don’t know me for anything in that regard yet, I am at a point where I am looking forward to continuing to be a part of the acting community that is focused on telling stories of meaning while simultaneously maintaining my social justice and healing focus.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
My family has played a crucial role in believing the absolute best will be for me, advising and consulting with me. My friends and community of mentors have also played a huge role. Most people have been kind and loving towards me, reminding me of my power to effectuate change and to bring the vision to life. I am also grateful for my ancestors and the generations that have come before me, toiling in this work and making it possible for me to pursue the work and art I pursue today.

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Image Credits

Izack Morales Mark Clennon Beoncia Dunn & Johanna Desrosiers Yi Chiang Lin Rashida Zagon

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