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FunTimes Magazine

Sofiya Ballin

The graduate of Temple University has covered major news events like local Ferguson and Baltimore protests, photographed and produced digital fashion features and opinion pieces that speak to millennials.

Ballin’s work led her to being named the 2017 National Black Journalists Association (NABJ) Journalist of the Year (online) and a Caribbean American Thirty Under 30 Emerging Leader. She netted the NABJ Award for Best Features Series in 2017 for her project exploring the importance of a comprehensive Black history education, through a collection of essays.

How do you feel about being nominated? This nomination is very special to me. I’m very passionate about unifying the African diaspora, so to be nominated as a change agent by a magazine that celebrates the entire diaspora is an amazing feeling!

What is your inspiration to accomplishing so much so young? My family is from Jamaica and from a very early age I was able to witness their work ethic and ambition up close. I had no choice but to work just as hard. In my house, we weren’t allowed to say we were bored; my mom would say there’s always something to do. She was and is right. To this day, there’s always something that needs to be done, innovated or changed. Due to this, I’m always moving and planning. I’m inspired by our stories — the stories of Black people across the globe. We’ve contributed so much to the world, past and present. My goal is to create a future where the world knows that too.

What are some of the things you are currently engaged in? I am a journalist, formerly for the Philadelphia Inquirer/The Philadelphia Daily News/ I’m producing a project called Black History Untold. It’s an identity series that explores the power of a comprehensive Black history education through personal essays. I’m also the creator of The Electric Lady Series, a collective dedicated to celebrating all interpretations of womanhood, especially women of color. I plan with my team throughout the year.

What are your plans for the future? In the future, I see myself telling stories in different mediums: writing, photography, documentaries, poetry, short film, feature films.

What does being part of the diaspora mean to you? I love being Black Being Caribbean … Being African. Our culture, in its entirety no matter where we are, is vibrant. I feel like I’m a part of this brilliant, beautiful, prideful network of people who have managed to excel and find joy even when the world dictates otherwise. We’re relentlessly beautiful.