Ever since Ella Mai broke into the music scene with 2018’s lovestruck anthem, “Boo’d Up,” the 26-year-old star has become a powerful public advocate for the Black community.
Most recently, the singer teamed up with Mastercard’s Strivers Initiative to kick off its multi-city, virtual educational road show in partnership with Create & Cultivate, the women’s online community and digital platform. The campaign aims to raise awareness on the state of women and minority-owned businesses in four U.S. cities.
A grant contest was also launched in collaboration with Fearless Fund, a venture capital fund built by women of color, to award grants to Black women-owned businesses. In Los Angeles, Fearless Fund awarded two local Black women business owners, Megan Smith of Megan Renee and Angela Stevens of Conscious Curls, each with $10,000 to help support and their businesses.
Though the Strivers road show already took place in Los Angeles on Saturday (March 13), it will continue in Atlanta, New York and New Orleans throughout the spring. Each event will include local small business experts, community members and small business owners.
“It’s really important to me to support and align myself with an initiative like what Mastercard is doing in this space because it’s about uplifting Black women-owned businesses and highlights the importance of ownership and job creation, which are crucial to our community,” Ella Mai, who performed at the Los Angeles show tells Billboard. “Black-owned businesses were the hardest hit during the pandemic and we can’t let this continue. I’m honored to be partnering with Mastercard who is reinforcing its investments to support Black communities with the introduction of a platform that spotlights the impact of businesses owned by Black women. Initiatives like this aren’t done enough and I am happy to lend my voice to highlight and support my peers and the great work that they do.”
As for why it’s important, now more than ever, to have role models in the Black community, Ella shares that “representation matters.”
“Women that have gone before me served as examples that my dreams were possible,” she added. “In turn, I hope that I can serve as an example of what is possible for aspiring singers and songwriters. It’s important for our community to see people like Twy and Brea from Braid Bar LA, who are shining examples of business owners and Black women who are at the top of their field and creating jobs for others. Along with Mastercard, I encourage you to shop your local women of color owned businesses, share their stories and their businesses and shout them out on social media and support their efforts.”
The “Trip” singer also shared some of the brilliant women she looks up to. “Some of my role models growing up, and still to this day, include my mum and grandma because they are both strong, resilient, and independent Black women,” she shared. “Michelle Obama is another one of my role models because she’s intelligent and carries herself with such grace. Another important role model for me is Billie Holiday who refused to be silenced and stood up for what she believed in.”
As for her advice to big dreamers in the Black community, Ella revealed, “This may sound cliché but my advice to those who are dreaming big in any industry is to stay true to yourself, remember your why and never let anyone else make you believe you can’t do something. Whatever you believe for yourself is possible so remember to keep dreaming bigger.”
RSVP to the upcoming Atlanta, New York and New Orleans shows here.
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