Dream Career: Attorney
Hometown: Washington, DC
WISE WORDs: "I long for the day where little black girls can just be girls. Too many of us grow up too fast or have to take on responsibilities that children simply aren’t ready to handle. I wish we all had time to just be girls coming up. I see some teenagers that look as if they’ve lived a thousand years already and it makes me sad....."
I remind myself that my lane is my own and that to get stuck in comparison is to live without joy...
- O.T. Walker
Founder, The Walker Collective
Chatting with O.T. Walker was like catching up with an old friend. You know the one you haven't talked to in months, but if feels like y'all haven't missed a beat! O.T. is a DC-based attorney and founder of The Walker Collective. The firm provides a wide range of services to clients including helping creative entrepreneurs and small business owners protect their ideas and products.
O.T.'s warm personality is matched by her quick wit, sharp intellect and rather interesting background. She spent her childood in Germany, had a stint in the television industry, and imagined a career as a part-time astronaut! We discussed everything from pop culture, to black girl empowerment, to why protecting your brand is critical. Check out her interview below.
Self-care is critical for entrepreneurs. How do you define self-care? How do you balance work and time for yourself?
Self-care is critical for everyone. Women are so naturally giving to everyone else, even when we aren’t planning to give we somehow end up giving, so I define self-care is that time that I pour back into myself. Self-care is being unapologetically selfish and self-indulgent for the betterment of your mind, body, and spirit. I balance work and time by setting hours for myself and arming myself with the word NO. Sometimes you just have to get your NO on.
Growing up, what black woman inspired you the most and how?
Janet Jackson was everything to me growing up. My earliest career aspirations were to be Janet Jackson and a part-time astronaut. The plan was to tour half of the year and sit upon Saturn’s rings the remaining half. I was very Saturn obsessed when I was young lol.
From your perspective, how has the image of African American women in media and pop culture evolved/devolved over the years?
I think that black women continue to set the precedent for what is cool in media and pop culture. I think that media is still learning that there is more than one way to be a black person, let alone a black woman. 2016 was the great year of options. I’ve seen black women of every complexion, hair texture, and body type on the small and big screen and I’ve never seen that before. We still need to do more. The representation for women who are dark skinned is lacking. Even lighter skinned black women have been replaced by mixed race women. I think there is room for everyone. If we can cast every shade of black man in a movie, why are we so stumped when it comes to the women? I want to see more women who look like me in leading roles. I want to see unambiguously black women cast as love interests as well.
Reflecting back on your childhood, given what you know today, what advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
Lay off the eyebrow razor, girl!
What is your personal philosophy for life? Any inspirational words of wisdom to share?
Comparison is the thief of joy. I think now, especially in this age of social media and people doing it all for the gram, that it’s very easy to look at your own life, heck, your own body or hair, or whatever it is, and think that it just sucks. You NEVER know what someone else is going through or how they are living when the filters are removed. The things people show us are just highlight reels, no one is going to post the time that their life just sucked. So I remind myself that my lane is my own and that to get stuck in comparison is to live without joy.
What are you hobbies? Things that bring you the most joy?
I love to write, just for me. Maya Angelou was the first black woman writer I ever knew about. When I discovered that a black woman was writing books I started writing short stories just for myself. I love to travel. I love movies. I love to read. I love going to brunch. Being with my friends and line sisters brings me great joy. We eat and cut up!
If you had to give your life story a title, what would it be?
A Blessed Mess: The Life and Times of a Moody Chocolate Girl Wonder
Please share your background: Where did you grow up? Siblings? Interesting/funny facts about your upbringing?
I am a southern girl who went from second to twelfth grade in Germany. I am the only child of my parents multiple unions (yes, they married each other at least twice).
Tell us about your company, The Walker Collective. What was the inspiration behind its launch?
I have always wanted to work for myself and after a string of abusive legal jobs (lawyers can be cray cray), I decided that if I were going to put up with mistreatment, I’d rather receive it from me – at least I love me! The Walker Collective is a group of creative entrepreneurs who perhaps like me, don’t always fit the mold. I wanted to create a home for people who are doing their own thing. I represent a lot of colorful people with funky hair who do everything from cooking to creating apps to writing erotica to rapping. My law practice is virtual. I offer services between New York and Maryland without having to charge my clients an arm and a leg to pay the rent on a building. The service they get is personal, we video conference, they have 24/7 access to me via their client portals to upload contracts even when they are traveling on the west coast or overseas, and I am available in person as needed. It just works!
What sparked your interest in becoming an attorney?
Working in television production particularly when you’re producing sports highlights, the law comes into play with what you can show in your pieces and what music you can air, for how long and for how much. When I was working in television it kinda hit me that someone was getting paid a lot of money to negotiate rights to what was aired on tv and just cutting very large deals. I love to negotiate so off to law school I went to learn about contracts, and more than how to make them, I wanted to know how to break them!
What advice would you share with girls looking to mirror your career path?
Wow. It took me a while to get here but my practice reflects the interests that I have always had. I was hired as a radio producer while interning at a station while still in college. My first job out of college was as an assistant public relations director for a wnba team and from there I went to cut sports highlights at the world wide leader. I’ve always been into the idea of representing people that didn’t have the words to do so for themselves and I’ve done that through media and now with my voice and pen. My power has always been in my voice.
Why is it important for creative professionals/entrepreneurs to protect their work?
Your creation is your child. Would you let anyone just walk off with your child? No… well I hope you wouldn’t. If you are going to put your blood, sweat, and tears into your business, it is beyond important that you do the best you can to protect your creative and financial investments.
Black Girls Unscripted
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