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Dare To Be Bold: Honoring Rule Breakers At The 2024 Matrix Awards

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May 24 2024, Published 8:10 a.m. ET

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The 2024 Matrix Awards, hosted by New York Women in Communications (NYWICI), celebrated seasoned rule breakers across the media industry. NYWICI held the event at New York City’s Ziegfield Ballroom on Tuesday, May 21. The night’s honorees were business, community and cultural leaders, including Kristin Chenoweth, Jill Cress, Nina Garcia, Meredith Kopit Levien, Jennifer Lowney, Nancy Reyes, and Rakia Reynolds.

The evening’s host, Ally Love, spoke on the importance of forging one’s own path to get to where they aspire to be. In her opening speech, she left the audience with an important rule to break: letting other people determine our worth. 

“If you are worth more, say it. Then, more importantly, go find it,” Love told the audience. 

Her Agenda spoke with Love during the VIP cocktail reception before the start of the ceremony. She attended a women’s empowerment event in this ballroom two years ago with dreams to host an event there, and that night, her dream became a reality. 

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Source: Michael Priest Photography

2024 Matrix Awards host, Ally Love, welcoming guests for the evening.

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Practice Confidence and Boldness In Safe Spaces

Along with working as a Peloton Instructor, Today Show on-air contributor, and CEO and founder of the Love Squad community, Love started an Instagram Live series called “The Basics of Bossing Up,” where she offers insight and tips on how to elevate one’s personal and professional life. Bossing up takes courage to break away from the status quo. This act of boldness doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Love acknowledges the fear this may bring for those who struggle with confidence. 

“Confidence comes through practice, and everyone has a first time. The first time you do anything is probably the worst your going to be at that thing, and so it’s okay to be scared,” Love said. 

Love sees conversations as catalysts for change and advises people to practice speaking up with two to three close friends. Checking in with confidants before facing a situation that requires boldness can help with facing the fear of speaking up head on.

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Dare To Be Unapologetically Authentic

Love’s tips aligned with honoree Rakia Reynolds’ takeaways from the evening. She told Her Agenda that she started to write her own rules in 6th grade. Teachers told her she was a hyper child and suggested take Ritalin and she challenged her teachers to understand that the difference in her brain function from other students in her class wouldn’t stop her from completing tasks.

“I think for me it was changing [the] perspectives of my teachers at a really early age and saying, ‘I can’t do what these five other people are doing that [have been] told to do [something] a certain way in the classroom,” Reynolds added. “I want to do things my way.’ And I think as I became older, I took the root of that and really helped myself to stay focused on being my original, authentic self.” 

Rakia Reynolds posing with her daughter, Skai Spencer Reynolds at the 2024 Matrix Awards
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Honoree Rakia Reynolds and her daughter, Skai Spencer Reynolds, posing on the red carpet at The 2024 Matrix Awards.

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As the founder and executive officer of Skai Blue Media, a full-service multimedia communications and marketing agency, she brings that authenticity to her job and gets to the nucleus of her clients’ stories. She prompts them to explain their “why,” and this understanding informs the personalized service her company provides to amplify that “why.” The services offered include but aren’t limited to brand strategy, influencer engagement, and experiential event production. 

Don’t Shrink, Fill Out the Chair

Reynolds understands that rule breaking looks different for Black and Brown women across media industries. She broke rules early in her career by wearing her natural hair to the office, a space where Black women feel pressure to straighten their hair to avoid workplace hair discrimination. Despite critiques, she stayed true to her choice.

“Some of us shrink to conform to others, some of us shrink so that we could let other people shine and for me, I would tell every Black and Brown person in this room to fill out the chair,” Reynolds said. 

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Skai Spencer Reynolds, a junior at Pratt Institute and Reynolds’ eldest daughter, accompanied the honoree for the evening and presented her award. She told Her Agenda that in times where she finds herself shrinking in the seats she’s in, she allows Rakia’s authentic approach to life to encourage her to do the same. Skai takes this advice with her wherever she goes. 

Break Rules That Lead to Great Change

It’s important to break rules leave an impact for those after us. It can be through authentic storytelling, standing up in spaces where you may feel that you don’t belong, or shifting workplace beauty standards, it’s important to break rules that inspire change. The status quo changes once we offer solutions to fix flawed systems. 

“It’s one thing to break a rule just to break it, it’s another thing to redefine it, restructure it, so that the folks that are coming after you, because you’ve altered that rule, it’s actually had an effect on things,” Love said. 

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By: Chinenye Onyeike

Chinenye Onyeike is an NAACP and Webby Award winning producer. She currently works as an associate producer for The Daily Show podcasts and a Her Agenda contributor. She is also a part-time student at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

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