Mar 08, 2021
For International Women's Month, we look to celebrate the everlasting bondage within sisterhood. We caught up with a few of our London sisters including Ghadir, Mya-Louise, Jessica, Vanessa, Jojo, Nnenna, Stephanie, Holly and Mei-La Daley.
We spotlight our long time friend Stephanie Okoye. Founder of charity initiative ‘Girls Like Us’, a safe place for women while sharing workshops that address social issues and wellbeing amongst the black community.
Can you first tell us a bit about you?
My name is Stephanie Okoye of Nigerian descent, born and raised in East London, UK. I’m now a Casting Director, Director’s assistant, DJ and charity founder.
Tell us about your business and how you founded it?
Girls Like Us started in July 2018 intending to uplift a new generation of young black women, through re-empowerment, social education and encouraging self-awareness. Unfortunately, from my own experiences and research I found that young black women face many barriers before they enter the schooling system, after and during.
For Girls Like Us, empathy and understanding for black girls are vital for them to negate negative stereotypes, mistreatment, voice silencing and othering that are often the lived experiences of black girls and women. By providing group discussions that inspire critical thinking and allow participants to question their assumptions, black girls can make sense of the world around them in an open and non-judgmental space.
We deliver workshops through a series of small creative and interactive group sessions and additional 1-1 conversations where needed. This is huge for me because it started as a call out for regular meet-ups in a coffee shop!
What inspires you on a day to day basis and where do you find inspiration?
Connecting, listening and learning from other black women and maintaining sisterhood between women who share the same values and experiences as myself. It reminds me that I’m not alone (and/or crazy) in this world that was designed to reject my being as divine or important.
As a woman in 2021 what do you think are your biggest challenges?
I think as a woman my challenges haven’t really changed, being heard, being seen, feeling safe and feeling supported have been some challenges for a long time.
As a black woman, my challenges are slightly more complex due to the nuances as a result of intersectionality. I am continuously battling against societal boxes, generalisations and stereotypes that shape how people perceive me and therefore treat me, saying that what others think of me is none of my business.
What ambitions do you have for this year?
Building a team for Girls Like Us, and expanding the business across the city and reaching more black and mixed girls.
First thing you're planning to do post lockdown?
Playing an indoor full court game of basketball with my girls.
3 songs that would describe your current mood, personality and roots.
Need it – Masego & Kaytranada
Meditation – Goldlink, Jazmine Sullivan & Kaytranada
Weekend – Samething Saweto
If you could create 1 new law what would it be?
Reparations for my people!!!