Being a boss is not merely a position, but a mindset that you must adopt. From working until early morning hours to sacrificing beauty sleep for broadcasted segments, Danielle Young knew that no one was going to take her further than she could take herself. While interacting with celebrities can be memorable, the questions that Danielle asks are what linger in the minds of audiences. Whether she is hosting red carpet events or virtual talk shows, Danielle understands that captivating an audience is reliant on one’s intentions.
Her Agenda recently got the opportunity to chat with the content creator, and host Danielle Young about maintaining productivity during a pandemic, establishing her own award show, and the blueprints that she follows.
Her Agenda: During the pandemic, a lot of creative professionals have been experiencing a creative block. But, I see that you are on a roll. What steps do you take to maintain productivity?
Danielle Young: For me, I have never been shy about being diligent and working without an end in sight. Especially during the pandemic, I realized that I have been conditioning my entire career. Throughout my journey, I had to do so many things despite what my title was. Being a journalist and red carpet reporter meant that my day was not over at 6 PM when everyone was packing up to go home. I used to say that I worked a second shift because I was still working at 1 or 2 AM. I know that a lot of people subscribe to the anti-sleep ministry, which can definitely be necessary. However, at some point, overindulgence in self-care and rest is necessary as well.
I also lost my job at the beginning of the pandemic, so there was a lot of sitting still. While I sat still, I realized that I was going to have to motivate myself. You do not know how many times that I do not want to do an interview five minutes before it begins. I am tired, I do not feel like it, I am going through a pandemic. Then, I sit down, start talking, and my spirit is fulfilled. In regards to what keeps me productive, it is myself and the desire to feel like I am contributing to something. It makes me feel alive to create, connect, and bring different elements together.
Her Agenda: I want to talk about your series, Real Quick. You are a true innovator because you took your career into your own hands and created something special. What is your process for curating these episodes?
Danielle Young: For Real Quick, I specifically designed it to be quick. I wanted segments to pop into social media feeds causing people to stop scrolling because something grabbed them.
I have always been like that when it comes to interviewing. Getting the privilege to sit inside award show pressrooms is hard, but you have access to stars without the hectic and rushed nature of the red carpet. It is a time in which stars can catch a breath and it follows a significant moment where they just won or lost.
My first experience in a space like that was the 2019 Emmy Awards Show. Honestly, I went into the press room because I was tired, the red carpet was hot, and I wanted water. Then, the winners started to cycle through and I started listening to the reporters. I am a consumer and I look at these moments like I am a viewer watching from home. I remember a moment when I asked a bold question and the room was shocked. Would it be better for me to be in that room and ask a generic question? No. To be able to package those types of moments and ask questions that have something to give to the people, are always my intentions.
With Real Quick, I wanted to be able to carry that groove and curiosity. It does not have to be sensational like Wendy Williams, but it can be interesting and something that you would not have found out elsewhere. I aim to create interviews in which we hear people that we love speak in ways that we never heard them speak before.
Her Agenda: You created your own award show, The Culture Awards! Can you please tell us how that came to be?
Danielle Young: This is the kind of stuff that I have been doing and building for years. Shoutout to The Root, because being there was the first time that I felt free in creating. When I first got there in 2016, I created an award show experience for Black people to interact and talk about our classic films together on social media instead of watching the Oscars. I partnered with Black & Sexy TV on Youtube, which was growing with Black creatives. I worked with Numa Perrier, who has gained so much success and created a bracket of Black films for a discussion. I was always interested in celebrating us through our own lens.
Her Agenda: On the road to building your brand, were there any mistakes that you made or things you wish you did differently?
Danielle Young: Yes, I constantly make mistakes but I appreciate them because I am learning. I am always going to be a work in progress. I know that the internet is very fast and I sometimes allow that to control my pace instead of giving myself time to grow as a journalist. That is something that can lead to a mistake as I have to be careful with how I approach things and do research. A potential mistake that people can make as they build their brand is not handling the business side of everything. From your LLC, trademarking of your name and business, etc. It is a common mistake made by creatives because you are not thinking about it, rather you are focused on creating.
Something that I wish I would have known is that you cannot do everything. I was the girl who did all of the jobs and took pride in that, but a boss cannot be someone who does everything. You need to take stuff off of your plate. Learn how to surrender. If you do not, you will get to a place where you will not even want to do it all.
Her Agenda: Growing up, who were the icons that you looked up to? How have you incorporated their legacies into your career?
Danielle Young: Oprah! I love her for the sake of creating and possibility. Her beacon of being genuinely good to people and building an empire is a blueprint. I would not dare mimic her results because that is impossible. But, I love the blueprint that she has set out for being a mogul, multimedia creator, and establishing a network. She is a journalist that has her own network! If that is not me, I do not know what is. I appreciate seeing her because she represents the lack of limitations that exist. She created something outside of herself that is a machine and benefits other people. That is my dream. I want to create something larger than me and will benefit other people. Oprah is the beacon of all beacons for me. Also, Khadijah James from Living Single is another icon for me. In that role, I saw Queen Latifah make her own magazine, which is a bomb blueprint. She told stories in her own way, created something on her own terms, and provided opportunities for other people. Those are my beacons.
Her Agenda: As your elevation continues to rise and stardom continues to grow, what is one thing that you will never sacrifice?
Danielle Young: One thing that I will never sacrifice is my connection to God. I am working hard on staying in my spiritual walk and moving from that spiritual place. I want people to know that with me comes the light from God. It does not come from me, but I am walking in the path that is lit for me. I hope to never lose that. And, honestly, I do not want to lose my connection to anything. I know that great things are a possibility for my future. I do not want to get lost in ego, money, or anything that comes with it. I am very attached to staying the human version of Danielle.
Her Agenda: If I saw you on my screen when I was younger, I probably wouldn’t have doubted my capabilities. Seeing representation within every career field, especially media, is extremely important. What do you want future generations to take away from your existence?
Danielle Young: If you had seen someone like me on your screen, and now you do, I pray that permits you to not doubt yourself. I pray that you see someone like me who does not fit the mold. Early on in my career, I was told that I did not belong on screen. When you see me, know that you matter and that you can do it. No one can determine that you are unworthy, imperfect, or undeserving to be heard because of your size, appearance, or how loud you are. My biggest goal is for other people to see me and know that you can literally do anything. I represent the impossible.
[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]