Julia’s Interview with Sabrina

  Sabrina Taylor is an inspiring African American woman who I had the pleasure of interviewing on November 17th, 2020.  Sabrina is a fearless visionary, who is open to new opportunities that come her way, without a doubt in her mind. She faced adversity throughout her life, although I was amazed by her strength and willingness to move forward and continue. 

Sabrina was born on the first class of a Pan Am flight, and the in-flight movie was Sabrina by Audrey Hepburn. Sabrina’s mom, Ella, needed to fly from California to Boston because Sabrina’s sister “didn’t have the right clothes for school,” even though she was 8 months pregnant. When the plane came down and changed cabin pressure, her water broke and she couldn’t be moved- so she gave birth to Sabrina on the floor of a Pan am flight. I thought this story was very interesting because it was unlike anything I ever heard before. It is also ironic that Sabrina was named after a movie due to her involvement in the entertainment industry. 

Sabrina grew up in Boston, Massachusetts for the majority of her life and attended two different colleges in Boston: Emmanuel and Emerson. She double-majored in English Communications and Business Management, while also minoring in Foreign Language. After Sabrina graduated college, she took a new career “path,” which led her to a field of new opportunities. She eventually moved to Los Angeles and became more involved in the entertainment industry. Currently, Sabrina is a Publicist, Producer, the Chief Communications Officer for Ebony Magazine and she owns two companies: ATM3 (a production company) and Pomp (PR company). 

I also learned some “fun facts” about Sabrina, which reminds me of how unique and special she is. One of the “fun facts” I learned about her is that she speaks 6 languages: English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Turkish, and Greek! Another “fun fact” is that she worked on an Oscar Campaign that yielded 91 Oscars. Sabrina is also one of the people that put Gay Marriage on the platform in Boston in 1999, which is the first place it was legalized! Due to all of Sabrina’s work, she also received recognition is having her own “Sabrina Taylor Day,” which is May 30th  in Boston, Massachusetts. So, if you are ever in Boston on May 30th, remember that the day is dedicated to Sabrina.

Impact of Neighborhood,  Socio-economic class and how others “saw” her 

Sabrina initially grew up in a 98% Jewish, wealthy, neighborhood and didn’t notice it was “different” for the first 10-14 years of her life. Since she was raised in a Seventh Day Adventist Christian religion and Orthodox Jewish people practiced their religion in the same way, it didn’t seem as if there was much of a difference between them. It wasn’t until she reached her first year in high school where she noticed that the students who “looked” like her were being bused from a different socio-economic class, so they thought she was “better” than them. Sabrina also felt a divide with the people who lived in the same neighborhood as her since they didn’t “look” like her. 

“But by the time I went to high school… there were a bunch of people who looked like me but they were being bused from the inner city out to the suburbs. I quickly learned that my socio-economic class, put me in a very different environment because the people who looked like me didn’t want to be my friend because they were like “you think you’re better than us because you grow up in this neighborhood.”

While Sabrina was in high school, her parents got separated and got a divorce. Sabrina’s father withheld finances from the family, which prompted them to move to a 2 bedroom apartment over a sub shop, in the same neighborhood. This move was a significant turning point in Sabrina’s life because it was a “change of reality” for her. 

“We went from living in this huge house- like one of the biggest houses in the neighborhood. I had my own wing. To a two-bedroom apartment for me, my mother, and my younger brother… I remember I was in the master bedroom, my brother was in the other bedroom, my mom in the living room. It was such a change in reality for me…And it was a little apartment over a sub shop. Can you imagine she wanted to keep us in the same neighborhood?”

After Sabrina noticed the difference in how people who “looked” like her treated her (when she lived in a wealthier socioeconomic class) and those who didn’t, she started to gain more of an awareness of her race and how it connected to what socioeconomic class she was in. 

“I went from being not really connected with my race so much, you know, being very aware of my race…It’s odd to say that because yeah, I knew I was Black and I always knew I was different. But all of a sudden now we went from having the biggest house, where you have one sort of mind frame, … to going to this two-bedroom apartment where all the people are still in their homes. And now we’re the only Black family, remember, in the neighborhood.” 

To hear more about how her neighborhood impacted her listen here:

“My childhood informs everything”

Sabrina’s childhood greatly impacted who she is today and “set the cornerstone for everything.” She felt “misunderstood” as a young person due to her peers that “looked” like her didn’t accept her and those who didn’t look like her (in her neighborhood) only saw the differences between them. She wanted her peers at school and people within her community to understand that she is dealing with the same issues as them and they are the “same.” This brought her “need” to communicate with others and speaks volumes to why she is in a career field that derives from communication, due to her inability to communicate what she was feeling in her childhood. 

“It set the cornerstone for everything… I think that’s why I think that’s why I, you know, the meat and the foundation of my career as a publicist, it’s all about communication. And I think it really was being so misunderstood, as a young person. That I felt the need to even want to communicate, even more. When I got to high school and all the people who looked like me, didn’t really like me, I just wanted to help them understand “I’m dealing with the same thing you’re dealing with in this school.” But they couldn’t see that. I also wanted to communicate with the people that I lived within the same neighborhoods that you know “we’re all the same” and couldn’t communicate that. So I love the art of communication.

How Sabrina’s path towards discovering her career/figuring out what she wanted to do helped her to learn more about her sexuality and make a difference in the world

When young people are growing up and trying to decide their career of choice, it can be scary- especially if you aren’t sure how your life is going to unfold. Yet, I’ve noticed if you are open to new opportunities, it can take them on a path that could forever change their life. After hearing Sabrina talk about her life, I can see qualities of her being bold and open to new opportunities, which demonstrates how she is a “trailblazer” in her field and within other areas of her life.

In this portion of the interview, Sabrina began by talking about how unexpected changes started to happen after graduating college. Once Sabrina graduated college, she initially thought that she would go into Business or Communications; although after taking a job at Goldman Sachs, Sabrina realized it wasn’t for her. 

“ I’ll tell you I graduated from college, where I double degreed. I got a degree in English Communications and Business Management, and I minored in Foreign Language. And I just knew I was going to go into one of those two things, but my brother had gotten me a job at Goldman Sachs when I graduated, which I hated because anything that has to do with numbers or science.

At the same time, she was also organizing and throwing parties at her house, which eventually got big- with 2-300 people. At one of the parties, Sabrina was approached by a woman who asked her if she “was an event planner,” and if she could do “weddings.” Sabrina said yes (even though she never did a wedding before), and it led to a chain of events that would forever change her life. The woman who approached Sabrina ended up being the daughter of the Mayor of the City of Boston, so they ended up hiring her for special events for the city.

“And I would throw these parties at my house like once a month. First, it was parties for my small group of friends but then their friends started bringing friends to my parties, and then they started getting bigger and bigger where I would have sometimes two- 300 people coming through this house that I was renting, um, in, in Boston. And one day this woman came to one of my party, She goes, “you throw these parties every month,” I said “yeah.” She goes “Are you an event planner?” and I said, “yeah sure I am.” And she goes, “do you do weddings?” and said, “absolutely do weddings.” Well, that woman was the daughter of the Mayor of the city of Boston. So I got hired to do her wedding, and I had never done a wedding before. And then he hired me to do special events for the city. And it took on a whole new career path at a weird time because I had graduated I was in theater, all the way through high school and college.”

One of the events she was asked to do was to chair the Boston Pride committee (even though she didn’t know what Pride was and never been to a pride). She organized Pride for multiple years and is one of the people to put gay marriage on the platform for Boston in 1999, which was the first place it was legalized in 2004. Due to all of Sabrina’s amazing work for Boston, the Mayor made May 30th “Sabrina Taylor Day” “forever in the city of Boston.” 

“I threw the to the wedding for the mayor’s daughter, but then asked got asked to chair the Boston pride committee. I didn’t even know what pride. But before I had even been to a pride, I was organizing Boston pride-  which I did for a number of years… The mayor was just like “you been a good daughter to the city of Boston you turned things around with Boston pride.” I’m one of the people who put gay marriage on the platform in Boston which is the first place it was legalized… I put it on the on the issue into Boston city politics in 1999. Yeah, so it was the was the first… So he’s like “you know we’re making May 30th Sabrina Taylor day forever in the city of Boston and you’re always welcome here.’”

While Sabrina was throwing these parties, the wedding for the Mayor’s daughter, and chairing the Boston pride committee, she also joins a stand-up comedy class and meets a woman named Sandra- who she ends up dating for six years. When they first met, Sabrina didn’t realize that she was flirting with Sandra or changing her appearance in the bathroom before talking to her. One day after class, Sandra tells her that she “doesn’t experiment with straight women,” which was embarrassing for Sabrina because she didn’t realize that she was flirting with her or that her behavior changed around her.

 “But I met this girl in stand up comedy class, and I didn’t realize it like I would, um. One day she gave me a ride home from comedy class right. And while we were in her car just chatting, she said, “Look, I know you like me, but I don’t, uh, experiment with straight women,” and I was like, “What are you talking about?” And so she was like “you know if you’re gonna want to be with me you have to live on my island.” I’m mortified right so I was like, “What are you talking about?” she goes “you flirt with me all the time.” And I realized that for stand up comedy class, I was. I would rush home from work, I would get out of my work clothes and put on really attractive clothes to go to an evening stand up comedy class right. And then I would get to the class and hide in the bathroom, touch myself up. Wait exactly seven to 10 minutes after class started, then I would breeze into class and sit in the very front of the class, and look at her over my shoulder, and wave like that. Every day. And then every time and then I would ask her for a ride home. And so I remember I was so mortified embarrassed.”

 It wasn’t until her mom asked her questions about her and whether or not Sabrina had feelings towards her, that Sabrina came to terms with how she was feeling and “made a move.”

“I went upstairs and my mom had called me and I was like, “Mom, can you believe this lesbian, she said this that the other” and she goes, “why would she say this?” I said, “I don’t know, I mean I just she gives me a whole ride home every time.” And she was just like, “well, Sabrina, Do you have a crush on her?,” and I was like, “excuse me.” She goes, “do you have a crush on her?” and I said, “What are you talking about Mom?, I’m strictly dickly.” She was like, “Okay, first of all, it sounds like you’re flirting with her. If you are flirting with her, She goes, You owe it to you and myself to figure out that this is your life path.” … “I can only love you as much as you love yourself. You should figure it out. You owe it to me to figure that out.” I was so mad at my mom Julia I hung up the phone. But the next time I saw Sandra because that was her name. Um, I felt emboldened, and I kissed her we made out, and then she and I dated for six years.”

To learn more about Sabrina’s path and discovering more about her sexuality listen here:

“I think Feminism is activism” 

During our interview, I asked Sabrina what it means to be a feminist and she explained that to be a feminist, one must advocate for themselves or another woman.  She related it to being “anti-racist,” and how a person must actively speak up for themselves or for another person who is affected by racism to be considered “anti-racist.” I agree with the correlation Sabrina made because if we are not fighting for our brothers and sisters affected by racism, sexism, etc. then we are complicit in the atrocities happening- so nothing is being done to change it. 

In Bell Hooks’ novel, Feminism is for Everybody, she talks about how the “feminist movement, especially the work of visionary Black activists, paved the way for a reconsideration and race and racism that has had a positive impact on our society as a whole (Hooks 59.” This quote emphasizes how Sabrina defined feminism and how to be a feminist, one must advocate for themselves or another person. When this happens, change is made. 

“I consider myself a feminist and I consider myself a feminist pretty clearly because my mom is a feminist through and through.”

Sabrina’s 87 year old mother, Ella

Throughout our interview, Sabrina refers to her mother, Ella, and discusses how she “aspires to have her sense of peace” and that she is inspiring. Sabrina told me a little about her mother and how she overcame the circumstances she grew up in the Jim Crow Era- segregated buses, water fountains, bathrooms, the Tuskeegee experiments, etc., and she “doesn’t have a grudge in her body.” When I heard this, it saddened me that she had to experience all of that, although I am also inspired by her strength, bravery, and will to continue living life, at 87 years old! I had the pleasure of briefly meeting her during our interview (she facetimed) and seemed like a fantastic woman. 

 While Sabrina was sharing how her mom is a feminist, she also brought up a story where she met Barack Obama smoking weed, the same night Obama announced he was thinking about running for President. After hearing this, I wanted to hear the whole story- so Sabrina told me that her brother is good friends with Barack Obama, going back to when they went to Harvard together. Sabrina’s brother told her that some friends were coming over for dessert (after dinner) because one of them had an “announcement to make.” After this, she went in the back to smoke a joint and a man tells her that it “smells good.” When she goes back into the house, the same guy (Barack Obama) announced that he’s thinking about running for President. Sabrina felt embarrassed by what happened and told me that each time she sees him now he gets close and says “Hey how are you doing?”

At the same dinner, Sabrina points out how Barack Obama asked Sabrina’s mom for her support, and she said “no.” Her mom told him that Hilary could be running so it was “time a woman puts it [this country] in track.” Most people would be surprised that someone said “no” to the future President, although I can see how Sabrina sees her mom as a feminist- due to her wanting a woman in office. 

“He asked everyone in the room, “Do I have your support?” My mom was like “nope.” He was like “why not?” And she goes, “because I heard Hillary might be running.” And she goes, “You men have had enough time to ruin this country it’s about time that a woman puts it back on track.” And Barry said- Barack said-the president said, “what do I have to do to get your vote?” And she was like, “You can’t. Like, I need a woman in the White House.” That’s the kind of woman that raised me.”

To learn more about how Sabrina defines feminism, the “Obama” story, and Sabrina’s mom, Ella, listen here:

Does our failure to recognize the differences between women creates a chasm? 

At a different point of the interview, I talked to Sabrina about a specific quote by Audre Lorde which states: “It’s not our differences which separate women, but our reluctance to recognize those differences, and to deal effectively with the distortions which have resulted from ignoring and misnaming of those differences.” Once she digested the quote, Sabrina explained that she doesn’t “subscribe” to the quote, since she believes that women embrace differences (i.e. body types, hairstyles) more than men do and how women “relax and socialize in ways that men don’t like.” 

 “But I don’t know how much I subscribe to that. I don’t believe that we have issues. I believe that our differences is something that women will embrace more than men, like if you’re in a room and you saw women with big breasts, small breasts, big hips, small hips, big bellies, flat bellies, brown hair, curly hair, like we don’t really, I think as a whole evaluate and separate based on curly hair versus straight hair. Right?”

In addition, Sabrina explained how these “differences” are related to external forces (i.e. male energy, finance, the animal “kingdom” competitiveness). She believes that these external forces place “value” on the differences, which make us want to compete against each other.

“You know, I understand what I think Audrey Lorde is saying, but I really feel like men or the male energy placed values on those differences. Yeah, I actually feel really, really strongly that it always has to do with an external force whether it’s finance, male energy and that’s where I think the separation comes from.… I don’t believe that we are often pitted against each other by an internal reason. I believe it’s external reasons that, that I’m very strongly about that.”

I think Sabrina had an interesting perspective on how she analyzed this quote, I don’t know if I would have thought about it in that context. I think another external force could be the media and how women strive for this “ideal” body image and could feel competitive if they didn’t attain the body they wanted. 

“But there’s some external force that has made my sister feel like in order to be accepted “like this is what you’re supposed to look like.”

I also think that Audre Lorde’s quote relates to Hooks novel- Feminist is for Everybody, when she states: “ When reformist thinkers from privileged class backgrounds whose primary agenda was achieving social equality with liberation they meant high-paying careers. Their vision of work had little relevance for masses of women (Hooks 48).” When hooks refers to “little relevance for masses of women,” she is talking about any group of women who are not in the privileged class. Therefore, hooks is pointing out that 20th-century feminist movements were focused on the privileged classes, instead of being more inclusive. 

I believe this relates to Lorde’s quote due to her critique that privileged women are ignoring the “differences” (race, class, etc.) that women of color, indigenous women, etc. have to face. By not acknowledging these differences, it causes a division and distortion of what is really happening. 

I can see how Sabrina would disagree with Audre Lorde’s quote, because although we still have a lot of work to do to ensure inclusivity- I believe that people are starting to be aware of the differences that separate them, by also trying to accept one another for their differences. I’ve seen more of an emphasis on social media of uplifting Black women and women of color, which is exactly what needs to happen. 

“The challenge is true sisterhood is hard to achieve” 

Even though we made some progress towards recognizing our differences which separate us, I don’t believe we have reached true “sisterhood” yet. Speaking for myself, I’ve endured challenges maintaining friendships with other women due to jealousy, competitiveness, etc. It is hard to find a good group of supportive women who want the best for you- but I believe it is possible.  

Going off of that, when talking to Sabrina about “sisterhood,” she pointed out that the reason why we haven’t had a woman in the white house is due to how women “usually tear each other down” or “blindly supporting other women.” 

“Women seem to tear each other down. Men can usually form a union in a team aspect a little bit better than women and I just, that is a quandary for me. I just don’t understand why. It’s really hard. I think that’s the only reason you have not seen a woman in the White House. I think women have a hard time blindly supporting or focusing, um, other women which is sad.” 

Although, Sabrina pointed out that when you have “sisterhood,” it’s “unstoppable,” This relates to when Bell Hooks talks about how “sisterhood is powerful” in Chapter 3 of Feminism is for Everybody

  “I think when women get together and put their mind to something we’re unstoppable. You know I’m sure you’ve heard a lot that’s come out of this last election, about how black women did this and you have to respect the black woman. I really do feel like Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney, says “black women are the most endangered person in the United States.” Were also, women, and black women are pretty powerful. … I think 10 women, with a focus, are way more powerful than 10 men with a focus.”

The painful, daily routine to being “accepted” in society

If you think about it, most people want to be accepted and recognized in society, but some people have to work harder to “fit in.” After talking to Sabrina, I realized that she is one of those people that has to put on a “mask” every day to conform to society. Putting on these “masks” is a painful experience for Sabrina because she endures it on a daily basis- she isn’t able to let her guard down.

“So yes, I’m a black, woman, who’s not a size two, who works in entertainment. All the time. Every day.”

One of these “masks” that she puts on is when she has her “PR hat on” and she is coaching someone to be more “accepted.” Sabrina emphasizes how just by changing the use of which finger she is using while making a point makes a difference in how she is perceived. If she used her pointer/index finger instead of her pinky, Sabrina is more likely to be associated with stereotypes- based on how she looks like. She also can’t raise her voice or be angry due to the stereotype of being an “angry Black woman.” 

“ For example, coach somebody else to be more accepted. My definition of PR is many things. Some people think it’s just about getting people into parties and sending out press releases. So much more than that. Like when Julia Marshall decides she wants to either have the Nobel Peace Prize or want to win the Oscar- I’m the one who gets hired… As you know, I’ve worked on all those Oscar campaigns. My job is to turn you into the ingenue that the academy can vote for right? … Because a campaign is necessary, you have to conform. I hate the fact that as a Black woman, I could never make a point like this. Like I can’t, because the moment someone sees me talking to Julia Marshall doing this, they wouldn’t think I’m just trying to make a salient point. So I can’t do this. I had to teach women and myself that if I’m going to make a point I have to often do this. It’s literally that simple.  I can’t, I can’t say Julia. This is important. Because there’s so many stereotypes that come from a woman of size and Black, pointing her finger right? I change it from this finger to this finger, automatically sociology I look very intelligent if I’m making a point. Now you just see seriousness right? You don’t see attitude. Like it is what it is, it is what it is. Like, I have had to lower my voice when I get angry. When I get angry, I can’t raise my voice…  I have to talk like this. Because if I if I get like an angry black woman, right?”

Sabrina also points out how this occurs within her own family, with her older brother. She told me how he tries to “mansplain” information to her and doesn’t let her have a say in conversations. In addition, he tried to tell her that “Black women have it easy in society.”

“Even within my own family. I was on the phone with my older brother this morning for an hour. He was telling me “Oh, you know, black women have so easy in society.” And the thing is every time I would talk he would mansplain and say “No, no, because this is the situation. No, this is what you think.” The way he behaves, I’m a problem. If I cut somebody off every time they talk and tell them what they feel and tell them what they think. I can’t do that.”

After reflecting on this portion of my interview with Sabrina, I noticed that the sentiments she expressed relate to an article what “What are you,” where the author sometimes feels as if she is a “question mark in a room full of periods.” I think this quote relates to Sabrina’s experiences she shared with me because I’m sure there are moments when Sabrina doesn’t know how to behave, due to the need to conform and be accepted. I can’t even imagine how frustrating and exhausting it must be to wear a “mask” every day while not being able to fully express how one is feeling. 

To learn more about how Sabrina has to wear “masks” listen here:

“White men see me as no threat because of my size which is a bad mistake for them to make. They look at me and say “You know I can rest my head on her bosom… Believe it or not, white women are a little more, you know. But Black women clearly know I’m a threat…Black men don’t see me at all.”

When Sabrina told me about how different races and genders perceive her, it saddened me that people make these assumptions about her based on the way she looks. I believe it is also dehumanizing that Sabrina gets this treatment from others and I think it is especially harmful the fact that Black men “don’t see her at all.” 

She also points out how there is a character on the “A Black Lady Sketch show” who is a secret agent, and her special power is that “she’s a thick black girl.” In the scene, she is asking people for help, but no one sees her. This reflects how she is “invisible” to people around her as if she isn’t even there. When I heard this, it upset me that the woman isn’t “seen” or “heard”- especially because I feel that each voice and person matters, no matter what they look like. 

“There’s a character on a black lady comedy sketch show. But there’s this woman she plays a secret agent. And her secret agent power is just that she’s a thick black girl. She’s like, no one sees me. And they’re like this. So they’ll come in and be like, “Is there anyone here who needs help?” And she’ll be like- They’ll be like, “Anyone?” Because we’re invisible to a lot of people.”

Sabrina doesn’t know what a “setback” is because she overcame it. How you ask? 

One of the challenging experiences that Sabrina overcame was moving to Los Angeles and continuing her career in the West Coast. She wanted to move from Boston because she felt like a “big fish in a small pond. Since Sabrina had a lot of success in Boston with her career, the Mayor, and relationships with other people, she thought that she would have the same experience in Los Angeles. Although when Sabrina got to LA, she had a stark difference in the way she was treated by other people and felt fear for the first time (in a long time.)

“I felt like a big fish in a small pond in Boston, I felt like, Oh, well, the mayor loves me, I have police in the palm of my hand. Everywhere I go, people know me, I’m fabulous. But I knew my passion at that point very early on was still entertainment. I loved media, I devour it. Never felt like work. So I felt like if I just go to Los Angeles with all of this experience and all of the success and fame that I have here in Boston- the streets are going to be paved for good with gold when I get there right? Because people aren’t gonna wait to want to meet me. I got to LA people were like, “Who the hell are you?, and “who do you know in Los Angeles?” …  Um, but I never experienced fear like when I moved from Boston to Los Angeles for the first- I would say 40 days.”

After Sabrina got oriented with Los Angeles, she filled out an application for Paramount and Warner Brothers but they told her that she needed more connections and to “come back.” After that, Sabrina started working at film festivals because “everybody goes to a film festival,” so it was the perfect way to start building relationships. Even though she started at smaller ones that didn’t pay well, Sabrina eventually started building up her credits with: The Gay Lesbian Film Festival (LA), Los Angeles International Film Festival, the Pan African film festival, AFI, Sundance, and Cannes. 

“ I remember I went to both [Warner Brothers and Paramount] and filled out an application for work but both of them were like, “who are your local, you want to do PR here in Los Angeles, but you had to have media relationships what media really should have here” and I was like, “I don’t.” They were like, “get to know somebody and come back.” But I felt like a big fish in a small pond so I just wanted to, but that was, that was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done… But I started working at film festivals, believe it or not, because it was film festivals that pay like crap. And it’s seasonal work, but these studios both Warner Brothers and Paramount told me. “If you want to work in PR in Los Angeles, you better get to know people” And everybody goes to a film festival, whether it’s the actors and producers, the film financers, the distributors… So I started working at every film festival I could. Because I had done Boston pride out Fest, The Gay Lesbian Film Festival in Los Angeles hired me first and then the Los Angeles International Film Festival, then the Pan African Film Festival. But then, AFI came, and then Sundance came, and then Cannes came.”

Once Sabrina did all of these film festivals, Paramount (ironically) begged her to work for them. This full-circle goes to show Sabrina’s fearless spirit, tenacity, and willingness to be open to new opportunities. It also demonstrates how she took a “no” and eventually turned it into a “yes,” which I believe is very powerful.

To learn more about how Sabrina overcame obstacles listen here:

“Authenticity always wins”

One of my favorite parts of interviewing Sabrina was hearing her talk about authenticity and how important it is to embrace who you are. Even though it took some time for Sabrina to love being a Black woman, once she embraced it, her confidence increased and the world “quickly fell in line.” 

“I love being a black woman but I didn’t always. I will tell you, It took me to my late 20s to enjoy. I hated it until that point, I was very unhappy… The moment I embraced my blackness and stopped trying to assimilate-  The moment somebody really starts embracing what makes them so different and unique, the world quickly falls in line… And my confidence Julia is crazy… Because when I’m in the essence of who Sabrina is, It is admirable. I don’t care who you are like literally, I am the shit. Um, and I think that, um, that’s why I love being but I love the skin that I’m in.” 

While we were talking about authenticity and self-love, Sabrina brought up a model, Winnie Harlow, who has a skin condition called vitiligo. She talked about how Winnie used to “cover-up either all the brown or cover up all the white.” Once she stopped doing that, everything changed for Winnie and the world “opened up to her.”

Winnie Harlow

“Have you ever seen that model? … With the white splotches, dark splotches, you’ve seen her?… Black people have skin vitiligo… Some people are born with a really bad case of vitiligo…She’s one of the most working models out there and people think she’s gorgeous. But she used to try to match and cover-up either all the brown or cover up all the white. When she stopped it just the world opened up to her.”

Another person that Sabrina mentions is named Amber Rose, who started the “slutwalk.” I didn’t know who she was, so Sabrina told me that Amber used to date Kanye West, and when Kim Kardashian showed interest- Kanye dropped Amber. During the breakup, Kim and Kanye called Amber a “slut” because she was on a stripper pole, but they didn’t know the reason why she did it. Sabrina explained that Amber started stripping at 15 years old to raise money to finance her mother’s stage 3 cancer’s medical expenses. 

“ I don’t know if you remember, but she used to date Kanye West. And when she stopped dating Kanye West, the only reason she stopped dating Kanye West was because Kim Kardashian gave him a chance… This is all juvenile crap and, but it matters to me because they kept calling her a slut, used to be on a stripper pole and you’re just nothing but a slut. Now what people didn’t realize was Amber Rose’s mother had debilitating cancer that was like stage three cancer, was supposed to die. When amber was about 13-14 years old, Amber went to her mother and said, “there’s a strip club opening up down the street. If I go and strip, I could make money.” Her mother was like 13-14 years old, there’s no way you’re going to do it. Amber Rose went started stripping at 15 years old.” 

Amber also turned the word “slut,” which is supposed to be a derogatory word and turned it into something empowering- with the “slutwalk.” By embracing this word, she created a space for “women of all shapes and colors” to embrace who they are. In 2019, she had over 1000,000 people for her “slutwalk.” 

“But Amber has said, “you know, what about me makes me a slut? Matter of fact, then I will embrace it. If you’re saying because I’ve used my body and I exploit my body and, and this is what I do. Then, yeah.” And so she’s like, I don’t have a problem with it and so she started something called a slut walk. It started with maybe 50 people, but not 2022, in 2019, it was over 100,000 people were downtown LA, for her slutwalk.”

To learn more about the importance of authenticity, Winnie Harlow and Amber Rose listen here:

 

Sabrina is motivated to create change, even with challenges ahead 

Nearing the end of my fantastic interview with Sabrina, I asked her what motivates her to continue in her career and life. One of the aspects Sabrina mentioned is how she is motivated to continue to do the work she is doing for the future generation so they don’t have to go through the “bullshit” she has to go through.  

“ I am fearful that the Julia’s, and my nieces and nephews of the world are going to have to fight some of the battles that I fight. And I’m motivated to make sure that you guys don’t have to do that. If I have to go through some of the bullshit, excuse my language, that I have to go through and sit in rooms with men who feel like they can toss out the N-word or, you know, I remember I had my own Harvey Weinstein encounter, nothing too tragic. I was at the Beverly Hills Hotel and he stuck his hand on my shirt in front of a bunch of guys. If I have to go through these obstacles or go to Paramount and be told that I, my braids are not, um, not sufficient. Then assures the sun will shine tomorrow I will make sure that you don’t have to do that or my nieces don’t have to do that.”

Sabrina also mentioned that she would rather stay in the room and “kick the door open” instead of trying to get in the room from the outside. She emphasized that since she gained “battle scars” to get in, she will stay in- even if she has to “fight” her way in. Sabrina would love if her niece Ashley and myself could say that we didn’t see “one sexist thing.” Hearing Sabrina say these words makes me feel honored to know her and inspired by her bravery to “stay in the room” for future change. 

“I have found I can make a bigger difference from inside the room kicking the door open than outside the room refusing to assimilate trying to keep the door in… Most people, are like, “Then I’m not doing it.” No, no, I’m definitely going to do it… If I have to get battle scars to get in this room and fight my way into a room, I’m doing that. So I can hold the door open. So you can just leapfrog over me. I would love it if the Julia’s and you know my niece, Ashley like I would love it if you guys turn around and say “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I worked on that studio lot there was no problem there, I didn’t see one sexist thing.” Great.”

To learn more about how Sabrina is a changemaker listen here:

My Point of View 

I really enjoyed interviewing Sabrina and listening to her talk about her childhood, her career path, and life lessons that I will always cherish. I resonated with her when she talked about being “misunderstood as a young person.” For a lot of my life, I also felt misunderstood by children and adults due to my maturity level. Growing up, I always looked young but carried a lot of depth, so I would sometimes feel more comfortable talking to adults than to children. Due to this, it was also hard for me to make friends growing up. Especially ones that would accept me. Therefore, I also relate with Sabrina when she talked about the “need to communicate,” because I also feel the “need to communicate” in my own life with words (writing) and my creative abilities (acting, singing). We also share a parallel with our love for the arts- since we both found theater as a creative outlet in our childhood. 

When Sabrina talked about how embracing who you are and being authentic, I completely agreed with her. I found that once I started embracing who I am, accepting myself, and practicing self-love- I started to attract a completely different realm of possibilities. My life changed. 

I want to thank Sabrina Taylor for her vulnerability and openness to share this precious information with me. Her story has inspired and motivated me to pursue what I love to do, uplift other women, and be true to myself. I encourage others to read her story, I’m sure it will keep you at the edge of your seats. 

To hear the entire interview, listen here:

Works Cited

Hooks, B. (2016). Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate politics. Brantford, Ont.: W. Ross MacDonald School Resource Services Library.

Jensen, Annie Mai Yee. “‘What Are You?”.” Whiter Asian American Women on Skin Color and Colorism, by Nikki Khanna, New York University Press, 2020, pp. 155–161.

Lorde, Audre. “‘Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.” .” Sister Outsider Essays and Speeches, by Audre Lorde, Ten Speed Press, 2016.