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Why Representation Matters in Storytelling

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

In Episode 65 of the Power Your platform Podcast, I'm chatting with Michelle McDonald, a dedicated child protection worker who is also an enthusiastic YouTube content creator and a passionate lover of children’s literature.

Michelle is a busy mom of two young children who recognized a need in her own city. That need stemmed from her own experiences as a Black woman in a mostly white community.

What she discovered was that the books on her children’s bookshelves and in school and public libraries across her region lacked cultural representation. And so, she took it upon herself to step up and find a solution.

As a result, Michelle launched a YouTube channel in 2019 called Ruthy’s Reading Room. The children’s story channel features primarily Black authored books being read out loud by Michelle herself under the name of her YouTube alter ego, Ruthy.

Each episode of Ruthy’s Reading Room is designed to provide children everywhere with an accessible story time experience. In her experience as a child protection worker, Michelle knew there were many kids who didn’t have anyone to reach them a story at the end of the day. And so, Ruthy’s Reading Room helped address that need as well.

In this interview Michelle and I talk about how she built her YouTube channel from scratch and the challenges she’s had to overcome along the way. Michelle’s passion for what she does is so clear and I love that she’s building her message using YouTube as her purpose-driven platform of choice.

Here are my Top 10 takeaways from today’s conversation with Michelle:

1. Don’t wait for someone else to step up and solve the problems you see around you in the world – make a bold move and do it yourself!

2. Start messy. Don’t worry about getting it perfect.

3. Representation matters because it allows us to see ourselves in the world around us.

4. When you take on a new challenge, be sure to draw on the strength of your own network to help you get the job done.

5. Don’t worry about knowing how it’s all going to turn out; just make that first move.

6. Remember that everything is "figureoutable" to quote Marie Foreleo. There’s nothing we can’t learn on the Internet or ask someone in our network.

7. Choose the platform that’s right for you and then go all in.

8. Show up consistently and create quality content to ensure steady growth and customer loyalty.

9. There’s always a steep learning curve when we try something new. Do it anyway.

10. Infusing our lives with diverse voices will help us create a more inclusive and respectful worldview.

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