Name: Valerie Morales
Business: The Committed Generation
Industry: Media & Publishing
Location: Los Angeles, U.S.
Reason for starting: I needed to see myself in my work. I was drowning in someone else’s vision of me despite the productivity. While I had been dissatisfied approaching digital sports writing through the narrow lens of rebuke or praise, I hadn’t linked the separate pieces of my discontent until I realized I was waiting for me. I’ll admit to you, I didn’t know if this was the road less travelled, one of those leap and the net will appear moments, but I heard something that resonated: you have to listen to yourself and be okay with no one understanding.
How do you define success? The simple answer is independence but there are so many levels that complicate the basic prescription of autonomy. Internally, I ask myself, what am I creating? What am I building? It is this self-reckoning that anchors me even as there are days of second guessing when I find myself in eclipse mode. Then I can’t create, I can’t build because I’m immersed in an exaggerated reality that incentivizes stress and hinders production. When I am present within myself and thrust in the moment and affected by my own light, that is success. I can move and work and instruct and create. I can trust. Trust lends itself to giving.
Biggest Success: I value the phrase: Each One, Teach One. Foundationally, it is the core truth of the Internship Program I developed. Purely from a design perspective, I wanted the right interns in concert with my vision for them. I wanted interns who were dedicated and committed, absent of a narcissistic crush of themselves whereas critique and collaboration were viewed as punishment. I wanted interns who were willing communicators. I reviewed a lot of applications. The interns had to go through several steps in the application process where I challenged them. I wanted to see grit. I wanted them to fight for the position; that was character revealing, that they didn’t expect easy. But also, I wanted them to work with me, as much as for me. I am proud of everything they produce as their development gives me great fulfillment.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? The first thing was just hanging in there. Digital sports media is wide as the sea. My entry as an independent, a woman doing a thing that men are the supposed experts at, automatically inserted me into a debate. Where do women really belong? And then the natural follow up: why can’t they stay there?
Secondarily, the embracing of mistakes and learning from them and not beating myself up was/is critical to the process of adaptation. I had to be okay with the occasional misstep. When I had to write an e-mail with ‘I Apologize’ in the subject line, I learned to rest between breaths. And then grab chocolate.
We are the beauty that has happened to us, and we are the damage that represses us. My mother-in-law was murdered. Does that level of chaotic devastation affect my running The Committed Generation, in charge of 8 writers and invested in every decision? In a way, no, not at all. But in all things that bypass the surface, yes. My mother-in-law’s murder reintroduced me to inequality and violence against women, and of course, cruelty. It ended my marriage. It thrust my son into a separate household paradigm. It reasserted my independent, must be born that way, nature. It forced me to live in grief. So, I suppose that every significant personal situation that has happened to me has blessed me with something that in its own way impacts decision making.
Who is your most important role model? Awareness of my sister ancestors has led me here, one step at a time. These brave women of talent moved forward, poetically, into their own ambitions, they didn’t accept the word no, or, you can’t, or, don’t read, or, stay a slave, or, cook for me, or, you just don’t matter. Their commitment was indestructible. It was Sojourner Truth asking, “Ain’t I a woman?” It was Madame C.J. Walker saying, “I got my start by giving myself a start.” And Dorothy Height noting, “I want to be remembered as someone who tried.”
Edited by The Story Exchange