How does New York City inspire you?
NYC reminds me of all my layers and really has helped me with empathy. I know that it has brought a lot of people the curse of impatience because of the number of bodies here. I get it, but I feel like God can bless every mess.
I like the East Coast because of the seasons and I'm so happy that I have grown up with that life analogy. We often think the destination is the goal. Like that's the only thing that shines bright, the final product. People will be like "Oh my time will come, my time will come" and I say your time is right now. Everything is required and also every step just recycles itself. Literally like a tree. I'm sure if these trees had their way, they'd keep their leaves for 365 days, but we only have summer for a short period of time and the reason we love the summer so much is because of the winter. So the city is very humbling and there's a lot to learn about yourself at every corner.
Would you consider yourself a lover of words?
Yes, absolutely. I discovered I was a lover of words as a child. My first memory with pen and pad is being in the third grade. I kept a journal for quite a long time where I just analyzed earthlings. I would go to class and look at tendencies, habits, patterns, postures, tones, inflections, then go home and create stories based off of the evidence I was able to gather about someone's character.
I went to high school in Jersey and I couldn't hang out with friends all the time. My mom was watching Oprah when she was doing mad episodes about child abductions. So it was always about creating this other world for myself. The only way I could make sense of things that I couldn't see but could feel was by putting them on the page. And I've always been all about disrobing the surface of myself and others.
You started your career as a writer and editor for major pubs. How would sum up your experience during that time?
I interned in PR every single semester throughout my college experience, then the summer before senior year, I went to a conference for women in communications. It was there that I was like whoa, I like journalism more. My head said no but then my soul said yesss. So I allowed myself to be lead and decided to see if I can get a journalism internship.
I got into this weekend masterclass simply called "Writing For Magazines” taught by Denolyn Carroll, the managing editor at Essence at the time. It wasn't even something an undergrad was supposed to take. But there are people who went to real journalism school and I had to figure this out! I got an A in the class and landed an apprenticeship at Vibe. I was the only intern who they requested to be interviewed for an editorial assistant position, which was like the jackpot straight out of college but I didn’t get it.
I pivoted to freelancing for Vibe then XXL and Complex. I had a short stint at Marie Claire and was also an editor at Honey. I ended up working at Vibe when it looked like they were folding but were resurrected under Jermaine Hall. It was a lot of work but I was so fulfilled. Then the .com storm came and I got a bit conflicted. Hip-hop was becoming the number one genre and mass publications were now interested in our artists. Then social media came, which gave artists more autonomy. It felt like we had to pander a little bit to make sure someone would be cool being in the magazine. Sometimes things evolve and you don't always evolve with them and that's totally fine.
Can you tell us about your journey to "Sway in the Morning"?
I had an epiphany that it was time to shed this skin and radio entered my head but I was like nah, that's weird. Something about it felt egotistical. It was like why does your voice deserve to be on a mic? To find my way in, I decided to see what was around me. I remembered this kid Shad who I went to college with. Us working together on his online radio show then a podcast opportunity went super well. Then, almost out of nowhere, one of my mentors Amber asked me if I’d ever thought of radio. It was so serendipitous that I had to follow the rabbit.
She told me she knew a programming director and would set up an informational meeting for me. I had a meeting with Reggie Hawkins and he put me through the test but it went really well. He didn’t have anything at the time but said he liked me and to reach back out in six months. I went back to write for Vibe and also put together some pitches for radio segments. I don’t even know if Sway read them but fast forward another six months and Sway is having auditions for another co-host. He had the driver’s seat but wanted someone younger. Sway wanted to get through about 30 people he already knew first but something still wasn’t right. I auditioned for two days and was mainly responsible for the entertainment report. Then he asked me to come in for a third day and that's when I was like whoa is it possible I'm about to get this job? And I got it. It's been a very fun ride.
What would you say is your value add to the show?
Sway always said it's the "zany factor". He doesn't know what curveball I'm going I throw. I'm very quirky. And connecting the dots looking backward, remember what I told you about that notebook where I was always analyzing people. Well, that came in handy. I don't want to be the radio personality who makes you more of a celebrity. Who hypes you up. Let's get beneath the layers, beneath this fucking Gucci vest right down to the emotions you have that other humans have.
Who was the most memorable guest you've had on the show and why? And who would be your dream guest?
Iyanla Vanzant. She's human sage. We were having a conversation about the whole R. Kelly documentary and she came with a completely different P.O.V. that really resonated with me. And she was just fully fucking grounded. No word out her mouth is of waste. She reaffirmed that I was walking on the right path and that I was with the right team too.
The ideal guests are Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert. She's an author mostly popular for Eat, Pray, Love. I love people whose work is already deep, not that I have to figure out how to get there. I'm sure it would be really fun to have Rihanna. I would also love to have Sway's mother as a guest because he is one of a kind. He holds himself like a mayor, but then he carries himself like a gangster. But at the same time, he's like an angel. And his level of self-awareness means he can interview anyone and remain true. It's just really, really beautiful to see and study, so I would want to have an in-depth conversation with the most influential person in his life.
What was your motivation for launching "She's Beauty and the Beast"? Do you feel like you've stayed on the path of your original vision for it?
No, the path is always shifting because I'm working on this with God. I started my audio vision boards because my internal dialogue was trash at the time. Because I was having imposter syndrome and I just needed to clean up the mess in my mind. The brand, a whole website nor being an influencer wasn’t where my head was at then. There was a time, maybe two years ago, where I had a really tight grip on how I wanted to monetize it, but it wasn’t as fun and became overwhelming. I was like, alright you need to just get back to the present feeling, not a feeling you're trying to chase after. So I am a long caption captain for sure, but more recently, if I really have some real shit to share, I do through my newsletter. It’s very intimate and cathartic for me, which lets me know it's going to resonate with who it needs to resonate with.
What's a typical day like for you?
I do my best to wake up at 5. My phone is usually far away from my bed and every night I uninstall Instagram because I’m addicted. I really want my day to be rooted in my faith. So I say what's up to God then go to the gym or do some yoga. I reinstall Instagram then hop on the train to get to work by 7:30ish and my show starts between 8 and 8:15. Before that, I'm doing research as I'm responsible for getting all the daily news bits. Once we have the show rolling, I'm there until 12 and then I go into a complete state of Tracy G and "She's Beauty and The Beast". I head home to Brooklyn and either read a book or listen to a podcast and take notes on the train. When I'm walking home, I try to use that time to call somebody instead of listening to music. That way, I don't have to worry about it being an hour conversation. Monday and Tuesday are my creative writing days. Wednesday is for brand outreach. Thursdays are for visually creating. Fridays are for relationship building and checking logistical things on the site. I try to shut down from all work at 7. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t but 9:55 is the latest so I can be up at 5 the next day to do it again.
I had to pause, look back and see when did I really thrive. College was it for me. I had internships every semester, I was someone's assistant as well. I was very active on campus, was also in an abusive relationship and still on the dean's list which tells me this: structure really works for me.
How have you grown into prioritizing self-work?
I definitely had to make adjustments to accommodate myself. When I first got into radio, I was going to events every single night and doing a lot of on-camera work. It depleted my energy. I grew up having Tae Bo sleepovers, so as for fitness, I'm really about this life. In my most natural state, I want to go to the gym. In my most unnatural state, I don't want to go and I'm probably making bad food decisions too often. Being in the business of being myself, my health is a business task. You need to promote neurogenesis, brain growth, and a healthy, active lifestyle promotes that. After doing the research I was like honey, I'm too young to be on a path of self-destruction. I'm not going to be perfect all the time but practice what you preach.
Most people who know you would say that you have a very bright and beautiful energy, but how do you protect it?
Stay at home and just because I’m at home, doesn't mean I’m available. I'm big on that. So if I don't got it for you, I'm not picking up my phone. If I ain't got it for you, I'm not leaving my house because I'm like Oprah where I have to be responsible for the energy that I bring into the room. Sometimes it’s just letting God deal with shit. You protect your energy by conserving energy. God’s is limitless, so why am I going to tell you off and be petty which just depletes me. Nope, return to sender with love.
What is womanhood to you?
Womanhood is embracing your duality. Your light and your dark. Your sensuality and your androgyny. Women have been on a journey of expression for a long time and are fortunate to be on a more fluid spectrum. You can go from heels to Timbs in the same day. You can love football and you can love makeup. There are just so many different places that our energy flows. I think it's standing tall in all of those options and never viewing your feelings as a weakness.
That doesn't mean that you let your feelings put a leash on you and take you somewhere. Because you can feel something but still say, I don't want to make this emotional decision. It's just all about alchemy. Which direction do you put these feelings in? If I make a decision to punch you, that doesn't mean I can't use these feelings to go home and paint something beautiful. So when I hear people say, "Oh, whatever, quit being too emotional” or “feelings are the problem” or “feelings aren't the facts," I get that all, I do. You should absolutely investigate your feelings, but you should never devalue your feelings.
What’s on the horizon for you?
Definitely putting out more audio vision boards. Sometime soon I'm creating an affirmation EP, which I'm very, very excited about. Continuing to bring good energy and conversation to "Sway in the Morning". I'm also working on this book and continuing to be comfortable as a content creator. I mean that in a sense of just navigating this wild, digital terrain. It can get really fucking weird, especially if brands are involved. Plus it’s new and we're creating the playbook as we play. Doing more live workshops but figuring out how I can not be there. If the only way I can deliver a message is through physical presence, that's not enough for me. And then putting a heavier emphasis on my love for working out. I feel like God is always burying these cheat codes to life in the sweat. There are just so many different life parallels. But in general, creating but leaving room for God's possibilities.
How do you stay motivated as you strive to achieve your goals?
I go back to my inner child and play. The first mission any human being had was to explore. So when I lack motivation and overwhelmed, I know that I'm being too much of an adult. I'll just pause, and ask what can I do that's fun? How can I learn? It depends on what I need motivation for-- it really, really depends. But if I'm feeling like what's the point, that's when I read some fiction to get into someone else's imagination. If I'm procrastinating, that's when I listen to some type of business or personal development podcast to get me revved up to remember what the goal is.