Talking GOOD with Sam Boyd

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I met Sam Boyd recently at an event called Baltimore unWIREd. Lots of people spoke that day, but Sam had a standout presentation, in large part because of the powerful video that she shared. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Sam Boyd is an artist, teacher, mentor, storyteller, and proud Baltimorean. While growing up in the neighborhood of Hampden, Sam participated in an upstart nonprofit program called Wide Angle Youth Media, providing Baltimore youth with media education to tell their own stories and become engaged with their communities. For Sam, the experience was transformative.

After attending the Baltimore School for the Arts and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (where she obtained a BFA in Comic Art - how cool is that!?), Sam traveled around the United States. Coming full circle, Sam spent the past two years as an AmeriCorps member with Wide Angle through the Maryland Institute College of Art. According to Wide Angle: "Young people are often silenced by their age, but we believe their stories are valuable and need to be heard."

I could not agree more with that philosophy. At the end of this blog post, I've embedded several of the student videos that Sam helped to produce. Thank you Sam for sharing your story with us this week in the Talking GOOD spotlight!

1. IN JUST ONE SENTENCE, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE? To spread the love, fight the power, and do the impossible.

2. WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU “EXPIRE?” Before I’m done, I would like to have created a comic series that reaches out to many people with a message of loving each other. Comic books are one of my passions—I got my BFA in comics!—and I think they’re a great narrative tool, as well as a great media platform. I’d like to make a successful comic that a lot of people enjoy, but beyond being entertainment, it will also have a message of love and understanding that can reach those people who enjoy it.

3. IF YOU COULD MEET WITH ANYONE (ALIVE), WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM? This is challenging. I think I would like to meet Lady Gaga. If we could have an honest, off-the-record, no worries about publication talk, I'd ask her about the decisions that she made which lead to her having such a persona, and how she feels about her success as a celebrity. I love how she sings songs about acceptance, and that she challenges a lot of concepts of gender, sex, and sexuality, and I’m curious about her thought process and what challenges she’s faced.

4. WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK BE? Since I am working on writing a fantasy novel or two, I’ll answer this for a hypothetical autobiography. I would probably title it something completely awful and egotistical, which I would think was very witty at the time of publishing, but then I would wince any time I saw it on a bookstore shelf. “SAM: A HERO TO US ALL.”

5. WHO WOULD PLAY YOU, IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE? Johnny Depp. He and I have the same jaw line. Although he’d have to wear a bit of padding to get a figure like mine, I think he could work it.

6. WHAT IS A BELIEF THAT IS CORE TO YOUR BEING? There’s good in most people. Sometimes we lash out and hurt others without thinking what their situation or feelings might be, or we might judge somebody harshly because they’re different or they come from somewhere else, but if we had been a little more patient and understanding, it might have gone differently. Also, if every young person can get the same kind of chances and a good support network, they can shine.

7. WHO ARE YOUR HEROES? When I was growing up, a lot of my heroes were fictional characters, which I think really speaks to the power of the media. Now that I’m a little older, my heroes have become the creators of those characters, so Tamora Pierce and Sharon Shinn are definitely big role models of mine. They’re both female authors who have enjoyed success writing fantasy novels which feature really fantastic female characters, and ultimately have good messages at their core about acceptance and treating other people well regardless of things we’re born with, like race and gender. I’d definitely recommend that everybody try out a book by either author. 

8. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? I really have no clue. I can’t imagine myself doing something that isn’t related to art or media in some way, and teaching is such a satisfying thing that I would probably seek it out no matter what.

9. TELL US SOMETHING SURPRISING ABOUT YOURSELF. I am a huge scaredy-cat, and cannot watch horror movies or play zombie video games. No lie, I have been playing video games with my friends and actually shrieked as if there is a murderer in the room when something in the game startled me too badly.

10. WHAT QUESTION DO YOU WISH I HAD ASKED? I wish you had asked what message or advice I’d want to send to the whole entire world. That message is, the next time you have a harsh thought about somebody you have never gotten to meet face to face or speak to in person, take a few moments to think instead about what you know or don’t know about them. What was their day like today? What is their home like? What kind of dreams for the future do they have? And why are you having harsh thoughts about this person or group of people you’ve never met before? What do you really know about them and their heart and their existence as a person just like you? I think if more people took a moment to think, the world would be a little easier to live in.

ORGANIZATIONAL LINKS: Wide Angle Youth Media's website, Facebook page, Twitter page


In Our Shoes- Baltimore Youth Speak Out About Their Challenges & Joys from Wide Angle Youth Media on Vimeo.

An Education in Apathy from Wide Angle Youth Media on Vimeo.