Local Gem: Austin While Black

 Photo by Hakeem Adewumi from #iamblackaustin series by the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce. Website  here  .

Photo by Hakeem Adewumi from #iamblackaustin series by the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce. Website here .

Meet Evelyn Ngugi and Doyin Oyeniyi, creators of Austin While Black, a web series sharing the stories of black austinites. These babes noticed the lack of black representation in our community and decided to remind people that black people do amazing things here everyday. Check out the inspiring web series here and learn more about the founders below. 

Evelyn Ngugi || Co founder of Austin While Black

Q: What inspired you to start working in the field/Industry? Did you have any role models or learn from someone, in particular?

A: I’ve always wanted to tell stories, and my parents supported and encouraged me to study journalism. As a child, I was inspired by people like Oprah, Lisa Ling, Anderson Cooper, Ira Glass — they’ve spoken to hundreds, maybe thousands of people during the course of their career. As far as learning, nothing’s been a substitute for life experience. 

 Photo by Austin While Black 

Photo by Austin While Black 

Q: Do you have any tidbits of advice for people with passions, in general?

A: Your passion is your passion, whether or not you can pay rent with it. Or spend your whole day dedicated to it. Or get recognition for it. The thirty minutes you spend during your lunch break on your passion is still valid. It’s not a race.

Q: What have been your favorite moments of creativity?

A: The feeling of editing a hour long interview into a 3-minute piece. It seems impossible every time. But somehow—some way—we have the creative juice to make it happen.

Q: What have been your most challenging moments in your career, thus far?

A: Finding focus! There are so many opportunities and I don’t want to miss anything. I need to be more visionary and manage my time better. I know I’m not the only one who looks at their calendar and thinks, “is this too much or do I just suck at doing life?”

Q: What's your day job?

A: Social media manager and video producer

Q: When you're discouraged, what do you run to or away from?

A: I run to the nearest park and hike! Don’t forget the Claritin.

 Photo by Hortencia Caires Casazola, view more of her work  here  .

Photo by Hortencia Caires Casazola, view more of her work here .

Your favorite band at the moment: Not a band — Anderson Paak!

Your favorite book at the moment: I can’t say it’s a favorite per se but I just finished listening to "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up." I haven’t actually tidied anything up but… 

Your local Austin gem: My answer changes every time someone asks me this question! Right now Kin & Comfort, a restaurant inside Hana World Market on Parmer Ln. Curry Mac & Cheese. Enough said. 

Your social media handles: Find Evelyn on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
 

Doyin Oyeniyi || Co-founder of Austin While Black

Q: What inspired you to start working in the field/Industry? Did you have any role models or learn from someone, in particular?

A: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, mostly because I loved the power of storytelling to share experiences or create new worlds that helped me understand my own reality. I didn’t even know what a web series was until it started growing as a medium for storytelling, both fiction and nonfiction, while I was studying multimedia journalism in college. Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl was the first web series I ever watched, so I consider her one of the best models of how to start where you are with what you’ve got. Cecile Emeke’s series, Strolling, was a great testimony of how powerful black people just talking about their experiences could be. I don’t think I would have ever imagined working on something like Austin While Black without them as examples.

 Photo of Doyin Oyenyi via Austin While Black

Photo of Doyin Oyenyi via Austin While Black

Q: Do you have any tidbits of advice for people with passions, in general?

A: *opens bag of cliches* But seriously, ask for help. There are moments when I feel lost and overwhelmed, and those are always the moments where I’m too scared to ask for help, so I still have to work on following my own advice. Asking for help kind of sucks, but if the worst that will happen is someone will ignore you, either way, you’ll learn who you can depend on.

Q: What have been your favorite moments of creativity?

A: My favorite moments are when a story comes together. Sometimes, it happens in the middle of filming an interview and the interviewee is on a roll. And sometimes a story doesn’t come together until after days of editing. Either way, it’s always exciting, that moment when everything falls into place and I know we’ll be putting out something good.

Q: What have been your most challenging moments in your career, thus far?

A: Balancing my day job with other work and commitments. I may have gotten a bit caught up in the hustling, perpetually working and the “they sleep, we grind” madness. Being ambitious isn’t bad, but I think it’s been particularly harmful for me to try to live up to those expectations. I was losing sleep, always tired and stressed and eventually falling behind on my commitments. Around February, I had to learn to say “no,” even to projects I really wanted to a part of. Better to be committed to a few things I can do well than to be stretched too thin and doing shoddy work.

Q: What's your day job?

A: I’m an AmeriCorps member at a local nonprofit that helps people age 16-24 get their high school diploma or GED while learning valuable job skills. I help teach them media-related skills like photography, video editing, and graphic design. My passion lies in writing and I maintain that by freelancing at TexasMonthly.com. I’m hoping to write full-time when my AmeriCorps term is over.

Q: When you're discouraged, what do you run to or away from?

A: The work or writings of people who’ve achieved some of the things I want to. It helps to know that the doubts and challenges I face are pretty common and can be surpassed. It also helps to know that my dreams and goals aren’t ridiculous. Buzzfeed has a great collection of advice from journalists of color and I’ve got it bookmarked so that I can always go back to it.

 Photo by Hakeem Adewumi

Photo by Hakeem Adewumi

Your favorite band at the moment: I don’t think I have a favorite band anymore, but I’m falling back in love with Coldplay. Mylo Xyloto was hot garbage, but Parachutes and A Rush of Blood To The Head still speak to me and A Head Full Of Dreams is... not bad.

Your favorite book at the moment: The best book I’ve read this year is a short story collection called, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi. The magical realism in her work is so effortless, it’s exciting.

Your local Austin gem: Libraries have also been my safe place, so I gotta say the Austin Public Libraries. The Twin Oaks Branch is my current favorite.

Your social media handles: You can find Doyin on Twitter and Instagram!

You can follow Austin While Black below!

Twitter: @atxwhileblack

Instagram, Facebook, + YouTube: @austinwhileblack