The following insight came from my podcast interview with Mita Mallick, where she shared her journey as a storyteller.
Storytelling has been big in my life; my career includes over 15 years as a storyteller, leading iconic brands, being a contributor to entrepreneurial media, and recognized by LinkedIn in 2020 as a LinkedIn top voice. Storytelling isn’t new in my life. It comes from way back in the beginning.
I’m the proud daughter of Indian immigrant parents, my younger brother and I were raised outside of Boston, where we were three families of color growing up. I didn’t feel very much like I belonged in the community; I was bullied a lot, both physically and verbally, by my peers. I didn’t feel like I belonged in the world because the world didn’t reflect me, whether that was products or services, or content. I didn’t see myself reflected in stories.
It was a dove when the first time when I saw the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I’m a Will Smith fan, but even more, Tatiana Ali. Seeing someone like that, in that role, really spoke to me as a little brown girl to see someone on screen that looked like me. I was reflecting on this; I read a lot, and I wrote a lot. That’s where it started. I think there was always a passion or a drive in me to share stories and highlight voices that were being muted and not amplified, and that’s where my love for storytelling started.
I can think about early in my career. Starting on and helping to champion for one of the first times we included black talent in a multimedia campaign or working in color cosmetics. I was thinking, well, this eyeshadow and blush doesn’t show up in my brown skin. One of my career highs is signing Viola Davis to be our Vaseline healing ambassador for the brand. It was great working with her and knowing Vaseline’s history; how it was built with the love and trust, and respect of African American households across the country. I always thought about that and what voices we are not including, and how we can include them.
What’s fascinating about stories is they’re always being rewritten. Last year, I would say that for many of us, the stories are all rewritten. Also, in the story that I share about bullying, I have grown, I’ve come to terms with it, and I’ve seen the gift in it. I’m comfortable sharing that story. Sometimes we all have great stories to tell. We have to realize that maybe by sometimes telling the story, we’re healing ourselves and allowing others to be healed by hearing.
One of my spaces is diversity, equity, and inclusion. In storytelling, you’re going to make mistakes. Especially when you’re trying to be an advocate for underrepresented groups, advocacy will cost you something; it’s not for free. It’ll cost you your pride; it’ll cost you your comfort; you make mistakes. And it’s important to keep trying and to learn from those things. I’ve had exciting debates or dialogue on LinkedIn so often, but you haven’t thought about this perspective. I don’t see it as an attack on me or what I posted; I see it as an opportunity for me to grow and learn from what someone else is pushing me to think about in a different way.