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