Savage Gazelle: Sirita Wright Interview
by Evan Jackson
In my time speaking with Black Enterprise Digital & Social Media Marketing Manager Sirita Wright I noticed in the background an inspiration board. It was filled with fashion cutouts, ideas for potential projects, and a mix of articles. This almost represents Sirita in a way. She draws from her inspirations around her and is a collection of many talents. She tells me more about her imprint and site Savage Gazelle, her career as an actor, and lifelong lessons she’s gained in each experience. What makes Sirita this juxtaposing phrase? I would say Sirita savagely goes after her dreams, with a hunger for knowledge and an endless curiosity that helps her connects to the world. This is exemplified in her career at Black Enterprise where she thrives and leads in many ways. She is graceful and elegant like a gazelle when it comes to her fashion, acting, and personality. She has a style that makes a statement every time she steps into a room and an energy that is inviting and warm. Sirita Wright is a taste maker, a trendsetter, and someone you need to know going forward. She is a savage gazelle who is hunting for a new adventure and has an appetite for more opportunities.
How did you get involved with Black Enterprise Magazine?
It was that old saying ‘your network is your net worth’. I had a friend that was working there and she knew my background in fashion. She reached out to me when they wanted to develop their lifestyle content and I was there contributing writer for their lifestyle section. So I would write about fashion, music, and I would interview executives who were people of color behind the scenes in the fashion industry. That’s how the relationship started.
I use to call Black Enterprise “The Enterprise” because it is so much bigger than me or one person that works there. Growing up, my mom had Black Enterprise and my dad would read Black Enterprise, that was the place to be. You wanted to be in Black Enterprise, it was black people doing it. I felt a sense of extraordinary sense of power, energy, and enormous pride when I joined Black Enterprise.
How have your experiences being an online content producer to Digital & Social Media Marketing Manager at Black Enterprise help you grow as a writer and as a business woman?
It definitely has helped me grow as a writer because most of our writers have to produce content very fast with each writer posting at least three stories per day. Not only posting stories for the dot com but for the magazine as well. I learned how to produce content quickly and effectively. By managing the social media and looking at the analytics I also have an insight in what people on our site are particularly looking for and I can meet that need. As a businesswoman it’s helped me learn how to prioritize because Black Enterprise is a magazine that has a digital footprint and also has several events throughout the year. All of that socialization has to be managed. We have twitter chats, we have Google hangouts, and we’re learning and building as we are growing because these areas are really fresh areas for us. I had to learn to prioritize. Someone may come to me with a great idea, but the first thing I’m looking at is will we have a campaign. So how can I fit your idea into what we have an obligation to fulfill. I’ve gained a keener sense of focus and it’s helped me learn how to delegate. When you start and you’re an army of one, you know what works and it’s hard to pass it on but you start getting more responsibility. Then you’re like, I need some help and I need to pass this on. So it’s helped me learn how to be a leader and how to empower someone else.
What is the significance of a Black owned business in 2015 and beyond?
For me it’s just another symbol of success. Owning your own business as an African American you feel a great sense of pride and ideally it should give you a great sense of freedom. We come from a people that had to build something from nothing. With all the negativity that is thrown our way, owning your own business or having a piece of real estate it really does instill a sense of pride and a sense of power as well. You started something, you finished it. It is a catalyst to move to the next level. It’s also impactful for future generations. It is important to see people that look like you and a similar background as you because if I didn’t see Oprah I would of never thought I could attain that. You see someone doing it and I think that’s awesome. That sense of pride is woven into the DNA of African Americans.
Tell us more about the 10th annual Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit?
It was amazing being in the presence of so many extraordinary African American women I was familiar with and admired. Melody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments & the Chairman of the Board of Directors of DreamWorks Animation, talked about how you have to be humble and hungry. It was just so much wisdom that was shared there. It was great to be at this Summit with over a thousand women in various industries who sole purpose is to go onto the next level with their careers and business ventures. This was also the first time a male figure spoke at the Women of Power Summit. So we had McDonalds outgoing CEO Don Thompson doing a one on one with our CEO. To have an African American male be the CEO of the juggernaut that is McDonalds sitting there and having him speak was extraordinary. I’m still looking through notes and I’m still in contact with the wonderful women I met there. It just shows the power of when black women come together for something as powerful as this Summit we can work together, we can build together, we can grow together, and we can conquer together.
Having the pulse of social media, what can companies and organizations do to reach Millennials as well as keep them engaged?
I think organizations need to meet millennials where they are. They have to ask millennials questions because sometimes there is a gap in social media. You might have a huge audience of 18-35 and a huge audience of 40-50. How do you merge those gaps? The only way to merge and learn how to leverage the audience you have and grow you’ll have to ask your audience specific questions. You have to make sure the content you are producing meets those needs and educates your audience. I think it’s easy to ask a question, meet those needs, and then feel like you’ve done it but you have to educate so that you can elevate the minds of the person so they want to come back. It’s about repeat business at the end of the day. You definitely have to ask questions so you know what your audience is looking for. It’s not enough to assume that we know, everyone is different.
In the post “SlayYour Giants” on your blog savagegazelle.com you talk about your acting journey and dream roles. What metaphorical giants have you slayed in your life that in the end made you feel stronger?
One thing that comes to mind is my first acting job which was for an off-Broadway play. I was in New York for six years and going into my seventh. A playwright had followed me on twitter and I had followed her back. She said that she was still casting for her play and something in me told me to ask her to audition for the part. She said yes and told me to come on out, at the time I had no head shots and no resume. I hadn’t done anything, I listened to that wanting side of me and I just did it. She sent me the script and I went to the audition and got the role. It was my first play and I slayed that giant because from the moment I sent that tweet, to where I had to get dressed and go, to go upstairs to do the audition, there was something in me that said ‘You are not an actress, don’t do this’ and then I got it! The director had gone out and then came back, saying that they really wanted to offer me the part. There were so many things that were way out of my control that landed me here and landed me that part. It kept me hungry and let me know that I can keep doing this. I just slayed that Goliath every step of the way and didn’t even know it.
How does your creative side assist your managerial side?
I get to be myself, I don’t have to grab for power. I know how to be a professional as well as being myself and get my point across. It doesn’t take away from my work, it doesn’t take away from my value, and I can go to my director’s office and my senior manager’s office for direction. In acting it’s a team effort. The best ensemble casts feed off of each other’s energy. Not just other actors, but the director or the producer you’re trying to make so many people happy including yourself and that just goes into the business world as well.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an actor?
The most rewarding aspect of being an actor is doing a play or a film and having someone tell you ‘The performance reminded me of someone I know’ or relating it back to their life, you did what you were supposed to do. For example Monique in Precious, she did a phenomenal job being that mother you’ve heard about but haven’t experienced. You had so much empathy for her and empathy for Precious, but you had people in the street that didn’t see Monique in that role. I really enjoy it when someone can come up to me and say ‘You really captured the character’. I had played a counselor for a play, and a woman came up to me afterwards. She told me she was a counselor and I had just displayed her life and what it was like every day for her and what she goes through. That meant so much to me because I didn’t feel like I gave a 100%. Just to know, despite it all I can get into that character and I can be that person for someone else. Whether it makes you happy, sad, or make you cry that’s my job. That means I did something outside of myself.
Having a BA in Fashion Merchandising and an affinity to being stylish how would you define your style?
My style is comfortable and classic. I have to be comfortable because I have so much stuff to do. I do take my time to plan out what I’m going to wear. I’ve always been like that; I use to write down every day in my notebook what I wore from middle school through high school. It helped me be more creative with the way I wear things. It’s definitely classic and minimalist. I’ve definitely had eras, I had a closet full of sequence and I thought I was living in 1976. As I’ve gotten older I have my go to pieces and my special vintage pieces. A lot of time people think actors are always extroverts, but I’m very much an introvert. So my clothes do have to speak for me and break down doors that I don’t have to. Not because I’m trying to but because I’m drawn to amazing clothes and things that are beautifully designed and well put together. I’ve always loved fashion. My mom has these amazing blazers and some of her jewelry is now in my jewelry box. She definitely has style. There are some clothes, blouses, and shoes that I see that are absolutely orgasmic to me and speak to my soul. One of my old bosses Andre Walker use to ghost design for Alfred Dunhill, Louis Vuitton and I’m here just watching him sketch and just looking at him go through fabric and it’s extraordinary.
Looking at your blog you’re also a foodie! What are some delicious meals that you’ve cooked that have your taste buds buzzing to this day?
I did some ribs in a crock pot and it’s on my blog. Those ribs just fell off the bone. I had stuffed pork tenderloin with feta cheese spinach, I’ve done a brisket, and my devilled eggs are legendary. That’s one of the first things that I learned how to cook when I was 12 or 13, that was my dish. I do all kinds of stuff with devilled eggs; I add crab meat and bacon. I use to want to be a chef, I wanted to go to culinary school, but my mother wouldn’t let me. I’ve always loved food.
You seem to be naturally inquisitive and a student of life, what do you attribute that to?
It’s probably because I’ve always been naturally curious. I’m the second eldest of seven but I’m my mom’s only child. My mom was in the military for 32 years, so she traveled and brought back so many interesting things from Germany, Paris, and South Africa. My dad use to take us to the arboretum and we had to dress up. As a kid you thought why are we getting dressed up and going to a place where there is nothing there but fish and plants. Over the years I use to love seeing the fish and watching the discovery channel. It always made me so inquisitive. I also hated to look the same. There was just so much more in the world and if I liked it, I knew I was going to share it and not be selfish about it, except for clothes.
What is the boldest thing you’ve done yet?
Probably the boldest thing I’ve ever done was going on Power105.1 FM Breakfast Club with Charlemagne, DJ Envy, and Angela Yee. I was there with my co-worker Alfred Edmond Jr., Senior Vice President/Chief Content Officer, and our intention was to go there to talk about the history of Black Enterprise and the importance of it.
What are your future plans?
Obviously working at Black Enterprise you have to have a foundation and a base. Eventually I won’t be at Black Enterprise but I will have my own social media consulting agency as well as acting full time and I’m sure I will still be writing. My biggest goal is to get an EGOT- the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, because that symbolizes excellence in those respective fields. You know, why go ahead and shoot for the sky if I’m not going the moon. I would also love to do some designing because fashion is definitely my first love. I have a couple of design projects that I’m sitting on. I’m just researching and developing. I also want to be immersed in some lifestyle content, being an ambassador for a company or consulting in regard to fashion. I will have my hands in many different ventures and somewhere in there will be a restaurant. Some place where I can walk into. I was a hostess at a high-profile restaurant where an actor was a partner in and to see him come in whenever he wanted and having to change everything around, I want to know what that feel likes. And whatever else God has out here for me and as long as he gives me the strength I can do it.
Where can people reach you?
You can reach me on Instagram: @SavageGazelle
And on my website: www.savagegazelle.com