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Rising Stars: Meet Mariama Jalloh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mariama Jalloh.

Hi Mariama, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2018, a PWI located in Charlottesville, Virginia. As a Bronx native hailing from New York City, the culture shock that I oftentimes experienced at college was a lot to deal with at times. As a result, I was instantly drawn to people who looked like me or shared similar life stories, thus joining several Black organizations and even majoring in Black Studies. When I look back at those experiences now, I realized that I was actively creating and cultivating community for Black students like myself. Not only did it bring me so much joy and a sense of fulfillment back then, but I have realized that it rooted in all the work I do today – it’s my life purpose.

I founded Jalloh Studios in the Fall of 2019 after I had graduated and returned to New York City. As a New York City creative who was trying to find a niche and supportive community, I oftentimes failed. I did not feel closely aligned or connected with spaces and people I was coming across. After meeting a few women who felt the same way I did, I just knew I had to do something about it. In September of 2019, I founded Jalloh Studios, an enriching space where Black women could have access to the resources, network, and opportunities needed to build thriving creative careers and lives. What started out as an Instagram page to share inspiration and wisdom about being a creative has grown into a rich sisterhood where talented creative Black women can come together to grow.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It definitely has not been a smooth road, but all of the struggles I’ve experienced along the way has not only made me the women I am today but has contributed to where Jalloh Studios is today as well. One of the first struggles I experienced along the way was just having the confidence to create the space. Was I good enough? Would the space be successful? Would people want to join and collaborate with me? These were all questions running through my mind. However, after I reflected deeply on this internal battle I was having, I realized that this fear was very much rooted in ego. I had to realign and approach this process with intention. I returned back this question: Why was I doing this, and who was it for? Once again, after deeply reflecting on this question, I fully relinquished myself from the center of Jalloh Studios’ mission. I was doing this for other Black women artists and creators like myself who needed a safe space where they could connect, find sisterhood and just BE.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
For a very long time, I struggled to find a title that I most resonated with. As someone who spent a majority of their life being fearful of verbally expressing themselves, photography and imagery has always come naturally to me. It’s become my mode of communication. Combined with my ability to create and channel the deepest levels of my creativity, I think I have found a good balance between these two spaces. However, as most of my recent work reflects, right now in my life I also consider myself to be a community cultivator – something that brings me a lot of joy.

How do you define success?
For me, I am successful when I am able to get other Black women to see their light and realize their life’s purpose. I am successful when someone attends a Jalloh Studios event and feels seen, revitalized and connected, I am successful when I continuously show up as my best and authentic self. I am successful when I can overcome my fears and be a vessel of honesty, vulnerability, motivation and inspiration to those who need it.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Workshop photos taken by Ines (@nes_thetics on Instagram)

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