Today we’d like to introduce you to Raven Irabor.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in one of the most diverse, creative, and fashionable cities in the world, New York City. I am first gen. My mother is from Trinidad and my father is from Nigeria. I had a unique understanding of global blackness from a very young age. These two things are crucial in understanding the work that I do and the things that I am passionate about which are:
- Amplifying the stories, cultures, and experiences of the African Diaspora
- Providing a platform, creating a community, and supporting creatives/artists of the African Diaspora
I went to Syracuse University where I majored in Television-Radio-Film. Attending Syracuse provided a new lens on blackness, as it was my first time being in an environment where sub-cultures of blackness were heavily celebrated. I was part of a Caribbean dance team called, Kalabash Dance Troupe. That dance team not only provided a sisterhood, but exposed me to the importance of music, costume, and art in understanding culture.
Upon graduating, I worked my way within the media industry. First starting off at a commercial production company (owned by a fellow Syracuse alum & my mentor) to a network. During that time, I began producing and directing short visuals in order to build my portfolio. I worked on short films, documentaries, editorials, social media content, web-series, etc.
A year and a half ago I moved to Los Angeles, where I have been able to dive deeper in the work that I do and care about. Los Angeles has been great in giving me the space I needed to get clear on my passions and the lifestyle that I want to live. Since moving here, I’ve taken more intentional steps in ensuring that I am working on projects that:
- Focus on visual storytelling and use music and fashion to provide context to the subjects
- Speak to the experiences + stories of the African Diaspora
- Support creatives/artists of the African Diaspora
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been an easy path, and it’s safe to say that I am still figuring out. I often suffer with allowing the media industry’s emphasis on numbers and productivity ruin the visceral relationship that I have with creating visuals.
When I moved to LA, I worked at a creative agency in Hollywood. They had a massive layoff and after five months of being in LA, I ended up being unemployed. I learned a lot about freelancing and knowing my value + brand during that time. With picking up a bunch of new work, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with some amazing people and work on some cool projects. Unfortunately, this led to my share of extreme burn outs, especially at the end of Summer/early Fall 2019. This is somewhat caused by a mix of valuing productivity over intentionality. This is also caused by my inability to set boundaries, which is something that I am continuously learning. No one really teaches you how to set boundaries in your professional life when you’re going after a dream.
Right now, COVID-19 impacted my source of income. Luckily, because I went through that long period of unemployment, I was better mentally prepared this time around! However, this newly forced stillness was absolutely necessary. We are seeing how the ways in which we were living (fast-paced, productivity-oriented, etc.) was an outdated model and not sustainable. This stillness has provided a lot of clarity. I’ve been listening to a lot of Alex Wolf talks and been understanding the value of service in business. I’m excited as I transition from a creative to a creative entrepreneur and what those next steps will look like.
Raven– what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a multi-hyphenated creative entrepreneur. I am a filmmaker, creative producer, creative director, content manager, and visual artist. Inspired by creatives such as Renell Medrano and Solange Knowles, my personal work as a visual artist explores the relationships between identity, space, and culture, specifically within the African Diaspora. Recognizing how television, film, and the arts aids and influences our perception of culture, I make intentional choices in music and fashion to add context to the experiences of my subjects.
The best part of my work is working and collaborating with amazingly talented creatives to tell stories of our community whether that’s through film or digital content.
I am currently growing mentally, which I think is very important and shows up in my work. As I continue to dive into what it means to be a filmmaker, a creative, and a creative entrepreneur I am able to not only produce better quality of work for myself, but for my clients as well.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
During quarantine, I started bi-weekly Zoom conversation with female directors of the African Diaspora called, Black Girls Directing, in collaboration with The Roux (www.instagram.com/wearetheroux). It was an idea that I really believe God gave to me. I am so excited and honored to have women from all over the world (London, Australia, Leeds, Nigeria, Brooklyn, Chicago, Oakland, Los Angeles, etc) share their Sundays with me as we build a sisterhood, provide tips + tricks, and have a mini critique session. It’s a space that serves for healing and career growth. My goal with these sessions to grow to include producers, editors, creative directors, stylists, photographers, etc.
- Website: www.ravenirabor.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/ravencherisse
- Black Girls Directing Submission Form: https://forms.gle/2q74LGqoRvXs5GPf6
Photography Credit: Photo 1: Elizabeth Vacarro, Photo 2: Amandla Baraka, Photo 3: George Jonathan (photo) / Raven Irabor (edit), Photo 4: Amandla Baraka, Photo 5: George Jonathan, Photo 6: Jonathan Adjahoe, Photo 7: Kristie Chua, Photo 8: Austin Durant