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Blavity CEO & Co-Founder Morgan DeBaun Is Making Million-Dollar Moves

Blavity CEO & Co-Founder Morgan DeBaun Is Making Million-Dollar Moves

BOSS UP

Blavity CEO and co-founder Morgan DeBaun is your girl boss' favorite girl boss.


And I'm not just saying that because she impressively pivoted from her corporate tech job in Silicon Valley to running a successful media company at just 28 years old. I'm also not just saying that because she was able to secure $6.5 million dollars in new funding this past summer from GV (formerly known as Google Ventures).

Morgan DeBaun is worthy of that title because she's managed to do all of that while keeping one main thing in mind: This is all bigger than her.

Morgan DeBaun/Blavity

She took the time to chat with xoNecole in the midst of a busy workday and explained that the goal from the very beginning was to create a news source for the current and future generations. More specifically, a news source that accurately shared stories and spoke to issues that those in the Black community cared about, to highlight different categories of Black life both locally and abroad. "It's about pushing politicians, policy-makers, and thought leaders to consider the real-life impact of things happening in our world and how it affects the Black young community," she says.

The St. Louis native realized in 2014, along with her co-founders, that part of the beauty of being Black in America was the diversity of experiences and cultural things that go into our identity. And in an effort to not take on a linear perspective of blackness, they all joined heads to create and host spaces where different discussions and stories could be told. As a result of that, Blavity now covers multiple subsets including travel and food via Travel Noire, television and film via Shadow and Act, beauty and wellness via 21Ninety, and technology and entrepreneurship via AfroTech.

And yet, with all that going on Morgan has managed to stay grounded and focused on the present without succumbing to the pressures of her future goals and plans. It's something she credits partially to the amazing tribe of women she surrounds herself with on a continual basis. She tells me that being around women who are in the same vein of work helps her to not get ahead of or overwhelm herself. It's the women who are pursuing a life of creativity, entrepreneurship, and hustling that help keep her going. The women who are all pressing towards the mark of attaining both personal and professional success. And perhaps it's because of that power of connection and finding her tribe that she's been able to not only level up in her professional development but in her personal development as well.

Facing times in her career where she was sometimes the only woman in the room and the only Black person in the room, Morgan quickly realized that if entrepreneurship was the path she was headed down, she had to be present, perceptive, and persistent. She had to figure out a way to ignore the statistics and figures. To focus on the things that were in her control and not be negatively impacted by the things that were outside of it. "I try to ask myself: how can I be better today? Do I know my information? Am I performing at a level that's in alignment with my peers? And if the answer is 'yes,' and all those things are true, then that's the best I can do. I focus on just being my best self and let the results be the results."

Afrotech

"I focus on just being my best self and let the results be the results."

She's learned that it's okay to ask for help and to not be scared of the things she doesn't know. And she's also learned not to internalize the rejection, which is especially true when it comes to the area of entrepreneurship. For her, the journey is about surviving through difficult losses as much as it is thriving through exciting wins. It's about re-evaluating where you possibly went wrong and picking up where you left off. She explains, "Entrepreneurship is something that looks at not how many times you fall, but how quickly you can get back up and not fall in that same way again. It's difficult for sure, but if it wasn't, everybody would be doing it, right?"

"Entrepreneurship is something that looks at not how many times you fall, but how quickly you can get back up and not fall in that same way again."

Morgan DeBaun/Blavity

As we wrap, there is still one thing left unspoken: The future and what's coming up next. For Blavity, the future looks like investing more resources into the stories that are being published on their site and building up the news part of it. And after telling me how she dedicated her entire 20s to building and creating something for others, the next major phase in life for Morgan will be focused on maintaining what she's built for others while also creating something for herself. Though it seems she's already gotten a head start of that with the creation of M. Roze Essentials, her skincare and lifestyle brand dedicated to the modern Black woman.

In two years, she'll be 30 and undoubtedly well on her way to knocking off more phenomenal things on her goal list. And while her ambitions may arguably be lofty, we're both confident that if anybody can achieve them, she can. "At the end of the day, I always know that the one person I can always count on is myself. And I will always show up for myself."

How's that for a girl boss?

To keep up with Morgan, follow her on Instagram.

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My knee-jerk reaction, of course, comes from years of watching film and TV that have exploited Black trauma onscreen and were created with little (if any) consideration for what could emotionally trigger the Black audience. The 1955 murder of Emmett Till is so heartbreaking and inherently violent; would this film make us live through that violence on screen?

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This week, before watching Gina Prince-Bythewood's incredible The Woman King, a featurette for Till played in place of a trailer and it soothed my fears.

"There will be no physical violence against Black people on screen," the film's award-winning director and co-writer Chinonye Chukwu says in the featurette. "I'm not interested in relishing in that kind of physical trauma. We're going to begin and end in a place of joy," she says.

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Mamie's story of courage in the face of unspeakable tragedy deserves to be told--especially as we continue the fight for civil rights today. Knowing that the Black filmmakers behind the film are centering Black joy and aiming for our empowerment through the film makes a world of difference.

TILLis in theaters October 14.

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