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Interview with Master Series Speaker - Natalie Morrow

ILEA – Minneapolis/St. Paul is thrilled to introduce Natalie Morrow, the speaker for our February Master Series. Natalie is the Founder & CEO of Black Fashion Week MN, Natalie Morrow. In this intimate conversation, we’ll explore the impact of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on her experience in the events industry, as well as the planning process for the 2020 Black Fashion Week MN Fall Show. We’ll explore why Natalie promotes embracing BIPOC voices as a necessity in the creative world – and how to make space for everyone at the table.

We sat down with Natalie to unpack that phrase – “make space for everyone at the table” – and how it shows up in her own life and work.

Natalie says that making space means not only making the needed room for diverse experiences and perspectives, but also showing up with a willingness to actively listen. Natalie says, “For me, that’s saying ‘We want to hear from everyone – we want to know what your thoughts are around this particular question or event.” It also means creating an inclusive atmosphere that gives people the power and freedom to be themselves.

Through her work on the Twin Cities Black Film Festival, Natalie managed a diverse staff ranging from college-aged interns to professionals. For Natalie, diversity isn’t necessarily a choice, but something that’s been engrained in her work ethic and perspective. She says, “It’s hard when people talk about diversity, because we have no other choice but to be diverse. I was raised that way. I never really notice it until somebody calls attention to it.”

And Natalie acknowledges that this concept has a whole new meaning after a year of difficult and complicated conversations around racial justice in the past year. “It really did start with George Floyd. I don’t feel like things have necessarily changed yet, but I think the way people are being given a platform to voice their opinions and share their experience has changed. Look at what happened with Amanda Gorman – she was given a platform and crushed it. This past year has been a wakeup call for the entire world,” Natalie commented.

You can learn more about how to create an inclusive environment where everybody has a space at the table during the Wednesday, February 23, Master Series. This program is free for members and only $5 for non-members.

Natalie Morrow is a Black Minneapolis-based leader and storyteller who uses her strength to live a life of listening, organizing, and sharing. In 2002, Natalie founded Minnesota’s first and only Twin Cities Black Film Festival (TCBFF) where she still holds the CEO/ Founder title. In 2018, Natalie added another signature event to her repertoire, Black Fashion Week MN. Because of her versatile and persistent work, Natalie received the FGI Phoenix Award for a Rising Star in the fashion community in 2019, and was recognized as one of Twin Cities Business’ “100 People to Know.”
Natalie continues to uplift Black and POC voices by building connections and communities, one space at a time.