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How Gia Peppers Is Becoming This Generation's Game-Changer One Talent At A Time

Finding Balance

In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

The first time I met Gia Peppers, I was a student in the WEEN Academy, a four-week crash course in the entertainment industry.


We had been told that one day during the academy, alumnae would come by and have a WEEN roundtable, a day many of us were nervous about because you never know what to expect in the academy. As my WEEN sisters and I sat around in a circle, alumnae, including Gia, came in, offering discussions of Black women just talking about life, the industry, and perseverance.

Of all the things from that day, I remember making a mental note about something strange about Gia (she probably noticed me just staring at her and maaaybe was creeped out). I took note of how energetic she was, yet simultaneously, how calm her spirit felt. Up to that point, I had only known the name and face through my constant Instagram stalking, cheering on the sidelines because I just thoroughly loved another DMV (D.C., Virginia, and Maryland) native killin' it. She was someone I immediately made my big sister in my head, constantly following by example.

But Gia is one of those people who will steal your heart before you know it. She's young, but wise beyond her years. She's nothing short of showing people what putting in the work looks like, but also what it means to stay humble and never be above anything or anyone. But behind all the 'Gram flicks, the BlackGirl Podcast, and the nightly games during NBA season, how does Gia keep it all calm, cool, and collected?

In this installment of xoNecole's Finding Balance series, sitting outside a cute little café in the city, Gia and I chatted, woman to woman, sister to sister, creator to creator, and woman of God to woman of God. We talked work, life, and of course, balance.

xoNecole: What does an average week look like to you?

Gia Peppers: Lately, it's varied. Every single day comes down to planning and executing when you're a freelancer. Nowadays, I do a lot of hosting and get to do cool work as an on-air talent. Before, I was a journalist, but I knew I wanted to be talent. Of course, there's different perks involved, including the money. People were willing to help get me where I wanted to go, but you have to become more intentional about what you put out, and it has to be dope, especially since you don't have a standard 9-5.

During NBA season, it's a lot about travel. If I have a shoot, I'll be up and there by 8-9 AM. Then after, I get on Amtrak and get back to D.C., chill, do my makeup, and have everything ready for production meetings at 5:30. From 6-9 PM, we're hosting the game. Mom picks me up from the game, and then Dad and I will get up at 5 AM and he'll get me to the train and I'm back in NYC by 8 AM.

I also make sure to work out, pray, meditate, and set my intentions for the week.

I get a lot of really great headspace there, and then I'll work outside cafés, and sit and plan out what I want to do for the rest of the week. For me, I have waited way too long and there's all this work that I have to sift through, like my EPK! I always prep before things, so if there's an interview or event happening, I'm studying my script or writing it if I have to. It's about seeing what's coming down the pipeline and then preparing for it. I'm also getting better about posting on Instagram, and the community I've created online is really dope, so I try to put some dopeness out into the atmosphere. It's part of the territory as a host. So when it comes down to it, it's down to planning and execution.

When things get stressful, how do you get back to yourself? What role does religion and faith play in your life?

I grew up in the church. When I got to college, that's when I learned what's really inside of me, as I feel most people go through. I knew that I always had an awareness of my calling and purpose, probably because I'm the oldest in my family. I had to be an example for my brother and sister, but it shaped a lot of who I am. Even now, I'm not a wild kid, but I try to balance life when I can. Everything that we do is up to us, whether we try to act like it's a piece of a bigger picture or not. Everything we do is bigger than us. I learned how to hone in to the higher frequencies out there.

When you pray, you can ask God for help. You can tell Him you're upset, and He will help you out. It's an everyday decision to choose yourself, your health, and your dreams. You can accomplish whatever you want, it's just going to take work to do it.

But what happens when you get those thoughts of doubt? Those thoughts that tell you you can't be great?

It can be tough because people try to say "greatness" is this thing that only one person can do. Anybody can be great, but do you have the guts to be great? Can you walk around with egg on your face and 20,000 people look at you? Can you be the same person when you win OR lose? I had to learn how to be that person, but it also starts with understanding that you have to take care of yourself and be aware of your body and its needs. Step back and take some time for yourself, replenish yourself when you need to. The entertainment industry can take a lot out of you, and you need to find the things that work for you, whether it's a sermon or motivational podcast.

Awareness is the key.

You have to have people who believe in you even when you don't believe in yourself. Write it down so when you forget, you can see it. And you have to do the work. If that means listening to your favorite love songs to get yourself in alignment, you gotta fight for yourself. When bad thoughts come through, you have to sweep them away, and tell them that's not true. Those things slowly but surely get you back.

Do you exercise?

I have a trainer! She has helped me become more aware of what I'm putting into my body and how much time it takes to really keep your body on track. You don't have to be extreme and do all this stuff to your body. I think once you get into this mental state that you realize you have the power to transform anything, including your body and your mind, the physical exercise really becomes nothing. Get those endorphins going! Working out has helped me, but you don't have to join a gym. You can do what you need to do while at home or outside. But I need a trainer, because I know I'll be at the gym and just be on my phone. (Laughs)

I want to know how you find balance with friends.

From the time I was a kid, my mom had us in several things. I was taking ballet, and then piano, and vocal lessons because I was trying to be Beyoncé. So, I really learned at a young age that life is compartmentalized in different ways and experiences that help you achieve. I've always been okay with having multiple things going on at once, and I'm a person who can operate in that. Like, if I stay still too long, I'll be like, "I have to get out of the house." Again, everything is intentional.

Check on your friends, celebrating and showing up for them and yourself. Putting out that you need your friends.

Our sisterhoods and our tribes have kept our culture together. If you find someone who makes you feel more inspired, stick with them. I came from the Girl Scouts, but also WEEN Academy, who gave me people who work in the industry and look out for me. Join organizations, learn how you can get into spaces with women. Create your peer spaces.

Family?

Family, I'm nothing without them. Black moms can be a bit crazy, but my mom does not give me a choice when it comes down to talking to the family (laughs). I learned on my own spiritual journey, God puts you on this Earth with people on purpose. I have one job — to love the people in my life, my parents, and siblings. Even if you don't have a family, creating your family is dope. Just stick with the people who give you positivity, and be sure to pour back into them.

Dating?

Oh, I'm still learning about dating. (Laughs)

How have you learned the power to say "no" to things that don't serve you?

It is a situational basis, everything is different. As a person who is in the middle of her journey, sometimes the right tradeoff is worth it. Not looking at the dollar signs, but seeing the larger payoff.

You have to be smart with how you choose your opportunities, because every opportunity isn't the same.

I think the reason I was so out of alignment was because, at some point, I allowed myself to stop being aware of my purpose, but also, just taking care of the spiritual part. Being in a relationship with God has to be an everyday relationship like you would be with your boo. I stopped caring, I gave the "no" rejections more power than "yes", and I just gave up because I'm human.

What's the hardest part about all of this? All that you do?

There are so many hard parts to this. Being an on-air talent is hard because you don't have an agent, you're just hustling. I'm a hustler by birth, but the hardest part is staying in the hustle mode but also giving yourself the space to regroup. Also, the disparity in pay between men and women is REAL. I'll talk to my male counterparts and they'll tell me they got twice as much.

Moments like that remind me it's about being vocal and finding out which battles are worth it.

If you have the power to be like, "Hey, so she shouldn't be getting paid less because she's a woman," and utilizing your power to help others, you should use it. Every battle has its own set of war tactics, but everytime you go through it, you add something to your arsenal. You have to be really focused and determined on what your big picture looks like. It can be tough, but remember who you are, whose you are, and where you're going, and you'll be fine.

For more Gia, follow her on Instagram. Check out past Finding Balance ladies we've featured by clicking here.

Featured image courtesy of Gia Peppers

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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