Today we’d like to introduce you to Mona Elyafi.
Mona, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born in Beirut Lebanon and immigrated to Paris France in 1975 when the civil war started. I was raised in Paris benefiting from a mix of both a European and Middle Eastern culture. With a Muslim father and a Catholic mother, I grew up exposed to both religions – its traditions, celebrations, and beliefs. I moved to Los Angeles in 1990 to pursue a BA in Political Science. I then left LA to for New York City where I attended New York University to complete a Masters in Liberal Arts (with a minor in Journalism).
After years working for some of the top entertainment PR agencies in Los Angeles (including The Lee Solters Company), I took a leap of faith and launched my own PR firm, ILDK Media (named after my grandmother’s initials), in 2004. I have been very fortunate to work on many LGBTQ projects that have focused on uplifting our community, teaming up with some incredibly talented individuals that I am proud to call my clients.
From transgender activist Michaela Mendelsohn (Transcanwork), Mariah Hanson (The Dinah Shore Weekend), Christin Baker (tello films), E. Jag Beckford (Rainbow Fashion Week), to Marlene Forte (The Fosters, Familia), and ClexaCon (Vegas & London), among others, these are all LGBTQ PR campaigns that spark more than a dialogue about diversity and equality, they’re also leading the mainstream headlines making front-page news.
To have media institutions – whether it be LA Times, NBC.com, NY Times, CNN, LA Magazine to name a few – give your LGBTQ clients a mainstream platform to tell their stories to the world helps pave the way toward acceptance because it puts a human face on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Staying at the forefront of change, the campaigns I have led under the ILDK marquee have been instrumental in making LGBTQ agendas move into mainstream culture – aiding in the empowerment of the queer community. It has also contributed to changing the conversation about gays, lesbians, and/or transgender today; not to mention raising the visibility of women and pushing the envelope forward for women empowerment.
The mission to amplify women’s voices runs in the family. My great uncle, Abdallah El Yafi, former Prime Minister of Lebanon, was a pioneer in defending women’s rights & equality. He was at the forefront of the struggle to give women the right to vote, which he was able to achieve with his cabinet in power in 1952.
Abdallah El-Yafi was known to be a man of strong and correct principles, who believed that the empowerment of women was crucial for building a stronger society, equality providing a steadier base. These thoughts, when expressed in the 1920s, had quite an ‘avant-garde’ ring to conservative Muslim ears: they were not always welcome with wide open arms or minds.
At the end of the day, the most rewarding aspect of my profession is the knowledge that I, via ILDK, am involved in the very process of helping to change minds and hearts.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There were many struggles along the way. One of the biggest challenges was to convince the mainstream media to give my LGBTQ+ and Latino clients the spotlight. Make them understand and realize that their stories need to be told.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with ILDK Media – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am very proud to have my name (and ILDK Media) associated with high-profile LGBTQ+ and women-centric PR campaigns that have overall achieved massive levels of reach and engagement. These have been campaigns that have managed to strike the right chord with many audiences.
I am blessed to be able to work with the many illustrious individuals who make the entertainment industry’s progressive and prolific LGBTQ+ community so powerful and diverse; and to provide them with a valuable platform to amplify their voices and celebrate their many cultural identities.
I am also beyond proud to see how ILDK Media has been acting as an agent of change. Many of the PR campaigns I have undertaken have successfully fostered an honest and authentic dialogue about diversity and inclusion, and created a conversation about change and forward movement.
ILDK Media and myself remain strongly dedicated to being both a resource and an advocate for the value of diversity, equality and inclusion.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I want to continue to focus my PR skills on women empowerment and the LGBTQ+ community. I would love to help big corporations build a diverse and inclusive culture for women & LGBTQ individuals to thrive in the workplace.
- Website: www.ILDKMedia.com
- Instagram: @ILDKMedia
- Twitter: @ILDKMedia