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A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Kéla Walker

Style Authority And Host

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Nov. 18 2019, Published 2:00 a.m. ET

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A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Kéla Walker
"No amount of security is worth the suffering of a life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams."Quotation marks
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No day is the same for the New York City living, North Carolina-bred, Kéla Walker. 

As a style authority and host, who’s hosted marquee events in Black culture like ESSENCE’s EssenceFest, The Creative Collective’s CultureCon, and Blavity’s AfroTech, Walker’s day ranges from ensuring she has the “key deliverables to engage an audience,” to putting on her producer hat to cover red carpet events to “brainstorming the next move for the following week.”

Commanding the stage, and capturing the audiences’ attention wasn’t something Walker learned in college. Walker is self-taught. Watching hosts from traditional media, Walker quickly realized their form of hosting wasn’t her style and that tapping into who she was as a person is what made her unique. This epiphany led to her being EMMY nominated. 

Walker’s journey to being, as she likes to say, “booked, busy and blessed” wasn’t always like that. Her secret to getting to where she is: character. 

“Be mindful of your character and your reputation will watch after itself,” said the entertainment host. “I’ve never had to officially apply for a job or go through some sort of application process in the traditional sense of the word. It’s always been word of mouth and people approaching me saying, ‘I think you would be perfect for this.’”

Now, the media maven has her eyes set on new goals for 2020: a major television network. 

“I want to get back into major television and syndicated programming,” Walker said. “Whether my family is in New York or North Carolina or in Canada, they can see me.”

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Her Agenda spoke with Walker to discuss whether or not she believes that she has a responsibility to the Black community as a content creator, the fashion industry’s progress on being inclusive, and how being herself led to a career breakthrough.

"Live out your dreams, and live your life because you really only have one. Don't get caught in the mediocrity of it all." -Kela Walker via Her Agenda
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Her Agenda: As a host, how do you sharpen your skills? Is there anybody that you look up to or a method to your hosting? What does that look like?

Kéla Walker: It’s so funny because I’m not formally trained. I’m self-taught. And I find that there are definitely people that I look up to, that I admire, and mentored me from a distance. But, I found that when I stopped looking at traditional media and people that I see in positions that I’d like to be in, that’s when I became better. 

Don’t be anybody else. Tap into that voice, who you are and really engage with others. 

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Don’t be anybody else. Tap into that voice, who you are and really engage with others. 

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Her Agenda: Do you as a content creator, and as a host feel like you have a responsibility to Black culture?

Kéla Walker: I’ve never thought that I have a responsibility per se. The interesting thing is I had this conversation with our friends and I said, “Do you consider yourself a woman first or do you consider yourself Black first?” And for me, I consider myself a Black woman. I am in, of, and about the culture. This is my life, you know? 

So, it’s not about having a responsibility. This is a life that I live, I’m a Black woman. I am a Black woman in America. 

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The interesting thing is I had this conversation with our friends and I said, “Do you consider yourself a woman first or do you consider yourself Black first?” And for me, I consider myself a Black woman. I am in, of, and about the culture.

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Her Agenda: You’re very collaborative in everything you do. In any lane that you’re in, you’ve always made it a group thing. When it came to fitness, you were doing group workout classes. When it comes to finances, [you’re inviting us] to get our lifestyle together. So that’s why I asked that. 

Kéla Walker: More than anything I believe that sharing is caring. If I know something good and informative who am I to keep it to myself? And that’s everything from a sale happening right now at Zara and you need to get in on it too — to this 28-day challenge works and I lost 20 pounds. Even if you see me with a designer bag, be very clear that I have money in my savings and other places. So while you’re looking at the ‘gram thinking that this is something that you should emulate, also be mindful of the things that you don’t see, but that you should be just as mindful of which comes down to the Currency Conversations. Those are things that I am genuinely sincerely into.

"I found that when I stopped looking at traditional media and people that I see in positions that I'd like to be in, that's when I became better." -Kela Walker via Her Agenda
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We talk about equal pay and equality for women, but I’m like no one wants to tell you, even in the blogger and influencer space, no one wants to tell you what they made on a post or no one wants to tell you what said brand pays you to do this work. But, meanwhile, Becky and Rebecca are like telling each other all the insider trading info and making sure that they’re both getting paid the same amount of money. If not, bringing the other one in the door with them. The culture tends to be secretive because we’ve been, as you know, trained that there can only be one of us. And that’s a lie. We’ve got to really debate that. It doesn’t have to [only] be me. It can be her, too. Just share the wealth, literally and figuratively, because there is more than enough to go around.

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The culture tends to be secretive because we’ve been, as you know, trained that there can only be one of us. And that’s a lie. We’ve got to really debate that. It doesn’t have to only be me. It can be her, too. Just share the wealth, literally and figuratively, because there is more than enough to go around.

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Her Agenda: We know that the fashion industry is trying to be more inclusive. But as someone who is actually in the game, do you think that it’s really happening as far as inclusivity or they’re just doing it for show?

Kéla Walker: I just think it’s a really slow crawl. Ridiculously, slow. It’s happening at a snail’s pace and it’s still mind-boggling that it’s hard to name five household Black fashion designers. We know Pyer Moss, and Fe Noel and I love their work, but we still have to seek them out. I can’t just go into a department store. I have to go and seek them. And, it’s insane to me that it’s still not readily available. And so while the industry is inclusive, it’s not inclusive enough. 

Her Agenda: What are you working on? You’re working with Currency Conversations, and it’s been [a few weeks] since CultureCon. What else do you have on your plate?

Kéla Walker: I want to get back into major television or just be on major television. It’d be great to do syndicated [national] programming. It’s something that whether my family is in New York, North Carolina or Canada, they can see me. 

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Her Agenda: My last question to you is what is your motto? What is a quote that keeps you going day to day even through the hard times?

Kéla Walker: “No amount of security is worth the suffering of a life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.” That quote I keep on my phone has really helped me get out of this perception of idealism and perfectionism. 

Live out your dreams, and live your life because you really only have one. Don’t get caught in the mediocrity of it all.  You look up and you’re like, sh*t, it’s five years later, 10 years later and I still didn’t do X, Y, Z and why didn’t I do X, Y, and Z? Because of some sort of fear or because of some sort of false sense of what? Live your dreams and if you fail then you’ll just learn faster.

"Live your dreams and if you fail then you’ll just learn faster." -Kéla Walker VIA HER AGENDA
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Her Agenda: At CultureCon week, in regards to failure, Will Smith said we should fail towards success or fail upwards. We have to start normalizing what failure looks like.

Kéla Walker: It’s a part of life, right? There are lessons in everything. Things aren’t perfect and we should hope that they aren’t perfect so that we can learn and level up to be bigger, greater, and better in the next areas of life.

[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]

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