We had the good fortune of connecting with Jemila Pratt and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jemila Pratt, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but my family is from Sierra Leone, West Africa. Growing up in an immigrant family has undoubtedly impacted my values, perspective, and experiences in life. As part of the first generation of Americans in our family, I have the unique experience and appreciation of both worlds, as I have been able to thrive within two vastly different cultures. The importance of culture and pride in West African culture has been one of my most valued influences. Rich dishes that reflect our tribe, rituals paying homage to our traditions, and music are some aspects of our culture that help me connect to my family here in the U.S. and abroad. This connection allows me to easily relate to and respect other cultures, and has inspired a love for international travel. Heritage is infused in everything I do, including my writing and business ventures. I craft stories that highlight my homeland and go beyond the doom trope that can often be associated with Africa as a whole. In business, all my body and hair care products are made with very few ingredients, which is a nod to living simply and using elements that come from nature.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I enjoy teaching middle school students by day and am a creative by night. I love to write and first fell in love with the idea of being a writer at the age of eight years old. After writing and illustrating a short story one afternoon, the dream of becoming a writer began to blossom. I am currently finishing the first draft of my novel, which has not been easy. The work is a fictionalized version of a sexual assault I endured in high school. Writing about this subject, for so many years, felt overwhelming and sometimes impossible. There were many times that I vowed to quit. However, the desire to tell my story and connect with other people who may have had the same experiences has been a catalyst for me to complete this project. Aside from writing, I also enjoy expressing my creativity by designing greeting cards, decorating calendars, and making body & hair care products. All of these feel relaxing (I often lose track of time, because I get so immersed) and they are the perfect outlet for stress.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend were visiting, we’d have an excellent week eating our way through the city and exploring different neighborhoods. On Monday we would visit Venice Beach and grab lunch and spend time watching people, get our fortunes told, and purchase tiny bikinis just for fun. We would walk to Santa Monica Pier in the evening to enjoy a cool breezy stroll and dinner at the Promenade. Tuesday morning, we would go hiking in the Malibu Bluffs then drive up the coast for more scenery. We would spend an afternoon at the Getty for more views and delicious lunch. On Wednesday my friend and I would take a cooking class at HipCooks then have drinks and listen to live music at Janga in Culver City. Thursday would be a rest day. We would enjoy a late breakfast and coffee at Hilltop Café before exploring clothing shops in downtown Inglewood. Friday we would hang out in Leimert Park for the day after writing at the Metaphor Club. Saturday morning we’d head to the Farmer’s Market in Torrance and enjoy fresh pupusas and agua frescas. For an easy Sunday, we would sit on the grass to eat our protein-style burgers from In N’ Out watching planes fly overhead before her send-off at LAX.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to shoutout to my mom and sister for their support with all my endeavors and creative projects. They are usually the unofficial testers of all my zany ideas. Both of them keep me grounded when I get become uncentered. I also appreciate their willingness to listen and keep me calm when anxiety attempts to derail me.

Website: https://jemilada.wordpress.com/ (writing) https://positivecreativeenergy.com (greeting cards and body products)

Instagram: @jemilada (writing) @pcreativenergy (greeting cards and body products)

Twitter: @jemilada (writing) @pcreativenergy (greeting cards and body products)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jemilada/ (writing) https://www.facebook.com/positivecreativeenergy/ (greeting card & body products)

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.