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How Nia Symone Is Paving The Way For Change With Purpose To Be Heard

Nia Symone is a trailblazer. A young, gifted, visionary who is only just beginning to bless the world with her talents, while also using her gifts to bless and inspire others. I am also extremely proud to call her my friend. Nia is many things in one. An ex-college hooper now using her basketball expertise to help former, current, and upcoming student-athletes navigate life post-basketball through her company Purpose To Be Heard.

A storyteller and director, and the host of Nike’s Come Thru, Nia has had quite the year, and before leaving for Los Angeles to work on her next film project, she was kind enough to catch up with us to talk about her budding career.

ONE37pm: Thank You for speaking with us Nia! We wanted to first ask you about what you are building with your company “Purpose To Be Heard.”

Nia: Purpose To Be Heard is a digital sports storytelling platform. It’s a passion project that we are building to tell the real and raw stories of athletes, while also changing the way society views athletes. A lot of times the world doesn’t see the human side of athletes, and there are so many layers to us that people don’t know about. There’s a lot of pressure on athletes, and anxiety and depression have doubled.

What we are doing at Purpose To Be Heard is combating this issue through editorial-style storytelling. Outlets like Players Tribune cater to a certain demographic which are retired pros. With us, we are focusing on non-profit efforts, mental health, healing, and community. Most student-athletes are friends with other athletes, and once we’re out of that bubble, we don’t have a direction. Fewer than two percent of athletes go pro, and after college, you don’t really know what to do. It’s sort of an identity crisis that you struggle with.

ONE37pm: We’ve been seeing all the promo going on! When do you guys officially launch?

Nia: We are super excited to be launching in the spring/summer of 2022. We’re going to have Purpose To Be Heard community events. We’re going to focus on the importance of nutrition because food can really affect your mood, and so much more. We’ve got a lot of great things coming with Purpose!

ONE37pm: Tell about your experience with Nike’s Come Thru.

Nia: Come Thru has been a life-changing experience, and I have learned so much. This was my first time hosting a show, and from the first time I stepped on set, it was like I was going into a game. I wanted to show the world my capabilities. I was working three jobs at the start of 2021, and I was at my wit’s end. I was figuring out what I wanted to do, and I was actually considering becoming a flight attendant.

In early January, there was a tweet posted that was looking for former hoopers, and my friend tagged me underneath the post. I thought nothing of it until later on when I got a message from a woman with 44,000 followers on Twitter who was verified that worked for Nike. She said that she wanted me to host a show on the app! It took me a while to process, and as it turns out, they had been watching me the whole time on my social media accounts from the moment my friend tagged me underneath that first post!

The funny thing is that right before I got that message, I had a moment where I had to ask God for a breakthrough. I was a part-time radio producer with a crazy schedule, and I was working at Overtime as well as doing some freelancing stuff. My sleep schedule was crazy, and as I mentioned, a couple of days before I got the message from the woman at Nike, I asked God for a breakthrough. I got the job on March 1st, 2021.

ONE37pm: You mentioned before the interview that you are heading to L.A. to work on a film project. When did you first discover your love for film and storytelling?

Nia: I’ve always been a huge documentary geek. I’ve watched all of the 30 for 30 episodes to get insight on athletes and coaches. I love authentic storytelling, and I’ve always known that it was something that I wanted to do. Issa Rae is a huge inspiration for me in terms of how she was able to go from Awkward Black Girl to Insecure, and now one of the most powerful women in the entertainment and production world. I’ve always been very creative, and I want to write and direct all sorts of projects.

ONE37pm: Final Question for you Nia. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Nia: I love this question! In five years I see myself running my own production company and non-profit organization full-time, writing and directing creative stories, and giving back to the community because it takes a village. I’m just a girl from Decatur, Georgia where there’s so much black excellence. I want to live in my purpose and change the world in some type of way. 

I want to make athletes’ lives easier and change the narrative in the hopes that people will start showing more grace. Athletes are human beings who have real-life challenges. So my goal is to continue walking in my purpose and create art.

You can continue to keep up with Nia and her journey on Instagram.

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