20 Questions: Girl Talk with Taylor Roberts

Don’t you just love some good time with your girls?

Consider this post the first installment in a new series called GIRL TALK!

I’ll be interviewing some really rad, special women that I know and having conversations with them that will have you laughing, learning, and thinking so deeply you start stroking your chin.

Our first convo will be with TAYLOR ROBERTS, a 19-year-old undergrad student at Spelman College studying Political Science.

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She’s a Black woman who believes in God, sisterhood, miracles, and truth. She likes fake green plants, Black romantic comedies, and the podcast This American Life.

Taylor believes that writers are magicians – which is why she grew up and became one. However, instead of learning how to do complicated card tricks and levitation acts, she learned how to tell stories that made people believe.

Taylor runs the fantastic blog WMN-UP.com that I encourage all girls to check out.

Without further ado, here is Girl Talk.


1. At the age of 8, what did you want to be when you grew up?

At the age of eight I was sitting in my elementary school’s cafeteria singing Cheetah Girls acting as if I were on American Idol. I wanted to be a singer.

2. What is the longest or coolest word that you know?

The coolest word I know is actually a name. It’s my dad’s: Tyron. Originally, I believe my dad’s name was supposed to be Tyrone but my grandmother forgot the e at the end thus how she ended up with Tyron. She denies it but my father used to write Tyrone on his papers until he got sick of it in elementary school and just went by Ty. I think it’s pretty cool.

3. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I think it’s a superpower to be a morning person, so I wish I was able to do that.

4. If they made a biopic of your life, who would Hollywood cast to play you?

Let’s hope Yara Shahidi would play me. We don’t look anything alike but I feel like she’d do a great job.

5. What was the last book you read?

The last book I read was actually The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls by Joan Jacobs Brumberg. It’s about white middle class girls and attitudes towards things like menstruation, body development, and beauty throughout the ages. I read it for this class I’m taking in school, and I enjoyed it, it was really good.

In my spare time, however, I’m actually reading Humans of New York Stories by Brandon Stanton. It’s a simple read, but I love the Humans of New York project in its entirety. It was an amazing idea and I’m glad Brandon Stanton put this collection together.

6. If you could have dinner with 3 famous Black people, who would they be?

Meagan Good, Kelly Rowland, and Solange Knowles. I see myself in them. I feel like the conversation would literally be Girl Talk and great girl talk at that. Nothing too heavy, but heavy enough to make me think about it later on.

As I’ve watched these women grow and change through Hollywood, I admire and honor who they were and who they are becoming. Most importantly, I value their experiences. I know they’d have amazing advice for me.

7. What is your favorite part about being a woman?

That’s such a hard question, because as a woman I value and love every single part of me. I also want to be careful in not thinking that the most important parts of me are who I am because of the gender I identify as.

Is this who I am because I’m a woman, or is this who I am because of my spirit? Now if you ask me what’s my favorite part about being a Black woman, I’d have a completely different answer.

8. What is your least favorite part about being a woman?

My least favorite part about being a woman is the constant erasure of what it means to be a Black woman. Some women try their hardest to discredit our experiences as well as add their input on them as well. Nobody ever asks for the think pieces but for some reason certain women keep writing them.

(Note: Splendidly, Kait sipped some very hot tea at this point. It was the best tea of my life.) 

9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about your Blackness?

That I do not have to choose between my womanhood and my Blackness. That I can be both at the same time and demand that people see me as such.

10. If you could attend any other institution other than Spelman, where would you enroll?

This isn’t something that I’ve necessarily put a lot of thought into. Spelman is my home – it has its trifling moments, but it’s my home. However, I’d probably choose NYU. You seem to have a lot of fun there and I love how they have different schools within the university to cater to their students.

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11. What are you most passionate about?

Love. Giving it and making sure everyone receives it. I’m passionate about making sure people see it in me as much as possible. It’s a necessity and something essential to survival.

12. If you could only listen to four albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?

The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack by Whitney Houston, Revelations by Alvin Ailey, The Christmas Collection: The Best of Stevie Wonder, and Gospels, Spirituals, & Hymns by Mahalia Jackson.

I think. This was hard.

13. What would you say you struggle with the most as a writer?

I struggle with piecing things together. What happens is I start thinking and write down various fragments, and then when it’s time to put things together I’m stuck. It’s like I have the thought, but I need something to connect it. It takes me some time to usually do that.

14. What is the last interesting thing you learned in school?

The last interesting thing I learned in school was that women’s narratives often end in marriage. Particularly in movies, when they do where-are-they-now scenes, they often tell you if a woman got married or if she had kids or not. That’s something I never realized.

It perpetuates the idea that a woman’s life ends in marriage and family and that everything else she’s accomplished or been through doesn’t really matter. It’s wack.

15. What is one skill you always wish you possessed?

I wish I was able to be a math genius. Math is something I’m just really not good at.

16. If you were in a room with Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Tracee Ellis Ross, Serena Williams, and Debbie Allen… what would you say to them?

If I’m being honest, I’d have nothing of major importance to say to Debbie Allen or Serena Williams. The only thing I’d have to say to Debbie Allen is how much I hated Dwayne and Whitley together, and I’d congratulate Serena Williams on being the greatest athlete alive. I value them, but I don’t think about them often.

I’d probably cry too much to get a word out to Michelle Obama. I’d thank her for how she worked her way through the White House. I’d thank her for not being afraid to take up space. I’m actually having trouble with this question… Michelle Obama is someone who is extremely important to me. What could even be said to her? Where would I start? How could I even begin to make sure she feels the love within my words?

I’d tell Beyonce to stop attending the Grammys. They don’t value her enough to award her what she’s worked for, they only value her enough to use her to pull an audience in. White mediocrity will always win sis, at least there. I’d tell her that Lemonade dropped at such a great time and that I cried to it. I’d tell her that I’m currently in the “Forward” stage of the album and I’m looking forward to “Freedom.” I’m looking forward to “All Night” as well but it can wait.

I want to enjoy “Freedom” for as long as God allows me to.

I’d tell Tracee Ellis Ross how much I love who she is. I’d thank her for how she’s navigated Hollywood. She is who is she is by herself, and I think that’s so important. She’s never allowed a group or a man to define who she is and I appreciate that. That’s something I needed to learn.

17. Who was your celebrity crush as a kid? Who is your celebrity crush now?

This question brings back horrid memories of my Justin Bieber fangirl days. I used to swear on everything that I would marry that man. I felt it in my heart! I was such a clown. Now my celebrity crush is Chadwick Boseman. The movie 42 made me fall in love with him, he’s so talented. Also Keith Powers is really beautiful.

18. What is your favorite thing you have learned during your adolescence, as you leave it behind?

So many. Mind if I list them?

  • That God doesn’t deserve a half ass kind of love.
  • I’ve learned the importance of loving people where they’re at. I had a friend, a sister really, who was in a stage of her life where she was hurting and taking it out on the world. It was frustrating, but I was extremely selfish, as I wanted her to move out of that stage as quickly as possible. I wanted my vibrant friend back and was mad because she wasn’t there. It was completely evil and cruel of me and I loved her where she was but I didn’t love her hard enough. I know better now.
  • I’ve learned to forgive and to forgive graciously.
  • That closure isn’t necessary. It’s not always important to know why someone did something. It’s actually unnecessary. I don’t need an apology to carry on with my life.
  • I’ve learned how to allow myself to be imperfect. To not hate myself just because other people hate certain parts of me. Often times, people have expected me to be perfect while they make mistakes. I hurt myself too much in my adolescence by trying to be perfect — the perfect friend, the perfect love interest (or whatever), the perfect daughter — while allowing others to lay their imperfections on me. I’m glad I learned the importance of holding other people accountable.
  • That all things work out for the greater good of those who love God, but that you must be called according to God’s purpose.
  • That when I allow my flesh to steer me, I always fall.
  • To pray when I think negatively about others.
  • Not everything needs to be recorded.
  • That there is no love like the love that comes from my family. I’m grateful that I was born into the family that I was born into. The love within them has sustained and carried me since birth. I will never leave them behind.
  • Make sure your ego isn’t getting in the way when you make certain decisions, especially decisions about cutting people out of your life.

19. You can pick any place in the world to retire: where are you going?

I’d actually live anywhere in the South. Near a nice little Baptist church. That way, I can be that bomb matriarch who hosts family reunions, the one who everyone comes to visit during the holidays. I wouldn’t be too far for someone to come receive some love and wisdom.

20. Why did you start blogging, and where do you hope WMN-UP.com is in five years?

I started blogging because it helps me to process personal situations a lot quicker. I originally thought that if I wrote it and put it out there, I’d get over it a lot faster… that I’d believe in myself a little bit more.

I was wrong, but other people learned from what I had to say. It made me believe in the power of sharing experiences. I guess that’s a good thing.

Five years from now I hope I’m still being consistent. I hope that I’m a lot more raw when it comes to my writing and I hope that a lot more women find love and power within my words. I hope that my words inspire movement.

Bonus question: you’re stranded on a desert island with one celebrity and five items. What and who are you with?

I’d be stranded with Solange because I feel like she’d make being stranded such a beautiful adventure. (Plus Beyonce would miss her so we wouldn’t be stranded for long.) I’d bring a journal, my polaroid, lots of water, a hat, and deodorant.


I want to thank Taylor for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with me. You can find her on the world wide web on Twitter (@taylorellisross) and Instagram (@taylorellisross).

Until next time Girl Talk.

Splendidly,

Kait

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