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Having now had the opportunity to interview her, be interviewed by her, and be photographed by her, I can tell you that Riley Blanks has the glow of a woman who is bursting with gifts to share with the world. Riley is a fellow Austinite, and her business, Woke Beauty, is a force in our local community and beyond.
Riley joined me on the podcast to talk about her experiences as a Black woman and artist in Austin (a city experiencing declining numbers of Black residents), her personal takes on beauty and storytelling, and so much more.
- Riley's unconventional upbringing and journey to founding her business, Woke Beauty.
- Riley's Manifest photography series and how it ties into the erasure of people of color that is happening in Austin.
- The bind BIPOC find themselves in when trying to decide whether to stay in Austin or leave.
- What beauty means to Riley and how her personal view of beauty differs from the mainstream.
- How you can use photography to capture internal beauty even though you're photographing the external.
- The duty that photographers carry to not make the photos about them.
- The tokenism of black folx in photography and media.
- Storytelling as a way of revealing truth and how to unlock the stories we all have within us.
- The tension between being an artist and being an entrepreneur and how Riley deals with it.
- How Riley defines health and wellness for herself at this moment in her life.
Mentioned in This Episode
- Shohreh's interview on Riley's podcast, Woke Beauty
- Riley's Manifest self-portraiture series
- Black flight in Austin
- The racist history of I-35, which runs through Austin and divides its residents
- Riley's Beyond Skin Deep column with Camille Styles
- Owning Your Mistakes and Using Your Culture-Making Power with Kelly Diels | #55
- Riley's piece in Tribeza
Featured in This Episode
Riley Blanks (she/her) is a storyteller, artist, and the creator of Woke Beauty—a photography movement dedicated to female profiles of resilience with entities inclusive of therapeutic photography, personal branding, and community integration. Her view of the world is informed by the 15 cities and six countries she's lived in since birth. Riley's work and self-portrait series, Manifest, explores her biracial identity and its relation to earthly elements as a reflection of what it takes to undo the injustices toward people of color in America’s communities at large. She continuously uses artistic expression to share her unusual perspective in an effort to create awareness and stimulus. You can learn more about Woke Beauty on Instagram, through the Woke Beauty website, or by listening to the Woke Beauty podcast, and you can learn more about Riley on her Instagram and personal website.
Did you benefit from this episode? You can show your appreciation by supporting an organization that Riley holds dear. Donate to local Austin non-profit, Fresh Chefs Society.
The Queer Agenda
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