In Conversation with Luvvie Ajayi | Marki Lemons Ryhal

Luvvie Ajayi was not born a writer, nor has she always been so outspoken. Growing up on the South Side, she spent a considerable amount of her childhood self-conscious about her Nigerian accent. By the time she was 16, she had become so accustomed to hiding it that left altogether. Writing and speaking her mind didn’t become part of her life until she was fired from her job in 2010. “I didn’t grow up saying ‘I’m going to be a writer,’” she said. “That was for Toni Morrison or JK Rowling. I basically got pushed into entrepreneurship.” Faced with the opportunity to make her own path, Ajayi prioritized formalizing her business by bringing on an assistant and LLC-ing herself.  A self-proclaimed truth-teller, Ajayi now makes a living sharing her voice. “I don’t know how to lie well,” she said. “I figured if I’m going to get in trouble for what I was saying, it might as well be for speaking the truth.” Ajayi says it’s vital for women to build one another up. “I didn’t want to be the reason someone who looks like me doesn’t get a book deal,” she said. “I knew if I was going to write a book, it was my responsibility to go above.” Her thirst for excellence came from a sense of duty. Ajayi struggled to get her book deal – she was told books and writers like her were too big of a risk by several publishing companies. After debuting her book at number six on the New York Times “Best Sellers” list, she’s proud that she won’t be the reason the next person who looks like her doesn’t get a deal; in fact, she might be the reason they do. For any truth-teller, their job is to shine a light into the darkness. For Ajayi, that means sharing with other women, speakers and writers how much she charges to speak at events, because the more women know about each other, the better they will be able to conduct their own business. “We have committed to each other that we will not be silent with each other.”