Hearst Magazines and Oprah Daily have launched the latest iteration in their Project Tell Me series this month with Future Rising, a storytelling initiative celebrating the profound impact of Black culture on American life.
The collection features 34 profiles, videos and essays with over 50 Black trailblazers and changemakers, from the visionary Hollywood director Lee Daniels and acclaimed stage and screen actress Sheryl Lee Ralph to NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins and U.S. Congresswoman Cori Bush. Future Rising is running digitally across a dozen Hearst brands: ELLE, ELLE DECOR, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Harper's BAZAAR, House Beautiful, Men's Health, Oprah Daily, Road & Track, Runner's World, VERANDA and Women's Health. Lexus is the exclusive sponsor.
"There are Black visionaries making history at this very moment because they have grand dreams of what our country and our world can be," Oprah Winfrey says in the initiative's launch video. "These trailblazers are continuing to move not just Black people but whole industries forward with their innovations, their ideas and influence in everything from country music to medical research to climate activism and so much more.”
Future Rising marks the third entry in Hearst’s Project Tell Me series, which first launched in June 2021 with Lift Every Voice, which shared conversations between young Black journalists and the oldest generation of Black Americans, followed by The Power of Us, which showcased the multiple facets of Latinx and Hispanic American culture last fall during Hispanic Heritage Month.
"Having kicked off last year with stories of history and tradition and culture -- wonderful explorations of where we've come from -- in this newest offering we are thrilled to celebrate Black Americans who are creating the future," Alison Overholt, Oprah Daily General Manager, told MediaVillage. "We hope these profiles, essays, interviews and pieces of art spark something special in readers and viewers, perhaps offering them the aha moment, or the creative inspiration they need to ignite their own opportunity to create a new future."
Among the 30+ pieces of content, Overholt shared that one piece in particular was a personal favorite of hers, a fascinating interview between Gayle King, Oprah Daily's Editor at Large, and NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins while Jessica was literally in space calling in from the International Space Station. "I couldn't believe it!" Overholt said. "Both my kids are endlessly fascinated by all things space-related, and I couldn't wait to tell them all about her -- which I did, the second I got home that day. It connects directly to what she said in the interview about having childhood role models."
Overholt then spoke on how individuals like Watkins inspire children all over the world because they see themselves represented in every field and industry imaginable. "Watkins is the first woman of color to spend an extended time in space," she explained. "My daughter wants to be an astrophysicist, and she never thinks twice about goals like that, because she sees role models like Watkins doing incredible things every day. I hope Jessica Watkins knows that she inspired another child that day, and that's what Future Rising is all about."
When asked about what she looks forward to most for readers and viewers to see and experience through the content collection, Overholt replied, "Big storytelling efforts around underrepresented communities can often center on activists and politics, which is important for telling the story of social change, but is only one slice of experiences, accomplishments and people. What I love about Future Rising is that it involves 34 pieces across a dozen brands that span every genre imaginable. So, you will meet people in these stories who are creating, innovating, and contributing across every industry: an artist and an astronaut, a marathoner and a Michelin-star chef, a country music star and the co-creator of one of the COVID vaccines. The breadth and depth of Black excellence showcased in Future Rising should be an inspirational light for us all."
In Hearst's eyes, it's just as important to have Black journalists sharing these stories as it is to showcase Black Americans who are helping to pave the way to greatness across every industry and facet of society. "Diversifying who gets to tell great stories is as important as diversifying the stories that get told," Overholt concluded. "So, a huge benefit of storytelling flights like Future Rising, Lift Every Voice and The Power of Us is the opportunity to connect with emerging talent, with writers and photographers of color, and bring them into or elevate their presence in the community of contributors for Oprah Daily, for all Hearst brands, and for the media community at large."
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