In this installment of a new and occasionally occurring Creators for Good series, Lina Renzina – who handles Talent Relations and Partnerships at the Ad Council – will sit down with creators to learn more about how they’re using their voice to make a difference. And for more on the What and Why of the series, check out the first installment right here.
Today, black women in the U.S. are about 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I sat down with Ebony (whose over 200,000 YouTube subscribers will know as one half of the adults on the family-friendly Team2Moms YouTube channel) to discuss her journey to creating content as a two mom family and her work as a breast cancer risk awareness advocate through our Know Your Girls campaign.
Ebony is a mother of three kids, Olivia, Jayden, Lucas. Ebony and her wife have been together for 12 years and married for 8 years. They love recording family-friendly videos and sharing their lives with the world. Ebony hopes to inspire, inform and connect with people who can relate to her story and might consider sharing their own story of “coming out.”
Coming out is a journey of self-acceptance, and Ebony hopes to inspire the courage in her viewers to be authentically who they are. Team2Moms would like for their viewers to realize that the life they envision living is in fact possible. That having a partner, career, and family is possible, in spite of being stigmatized by society.
Lina Renzina: Why is social activism important to you?
Ebony: Social activism is important to me because when you feel very passionate bringing about social change and awareness to matters of inequality, one must not stay silent or complacent. Being a Mom has also given me a greater passion to fight for a better future for our kids and generations to come.
LR: How did you get started as an LGBTQ+ YouTuber?
E: How I got started as an LGBTQ+ YouTuber was actually quite accidental. My wife and I uploaded a video (thinking at the time it would only be one video) about our excitement for President Obama being re-elected for his second term in 2012. When we filmed that video, Olivia, my daughter, was sitting on my wife’s lap. Once we uploaded that video, the comments, to our surprise, were ALL about how can she have two moms. This immediately informed us that there was a need to share our story about same-sex parenting.
LR:What made you decide to take to YouTube as a platform?
E: What made us take to YouTube as a platform was its ability to reach a large diverse audience across the world through video. In addition, the freedom and control you have as a creator to upload.
LR: What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome throughout your journey as a YouTuber and how did you grow from it?
E: The biggest obstacle I have had to overcome throughout my journey as a YouTuber was the realization that not everyone is going to be accepting of how our family was formed. There is still a huge part of society that feel same-sex parenting is not in a child’s best interest and that a child should be raised under the influence of their biological father and mother. I’ve been able to grow from this because it gave me an even bigger purpose and reason to keep sharing our story and advocate for LGBTQ+ parenting.
LR: What types of things do you have to take into consideration given that your entire family, children included, are such a big/visible part of your channel?
E: The most important thing we take into consideration given that our entire family is visible online is our safety, especially when you cannot possibly know everyone who is watching your videos and their intent. We have become very cautious with sharing our location in real time, displaying any personal information such as our address, and even withholding our last name from social media. Another thing we take into consideration is the type of content we upload. Because we have children, we like to make sure that our content is family-friendly, free of profanity, and something they would be proud of when they are older.
LR: With so many different brands/partners coming to you with content creation asks and opportunities, how do you decide which issues/partnerships to take on?
E: We decide which partnerships to take on by two factors: their messaging and if it aligns with us. It is very important in advertisement to see a diverse representation and inclusiveness of all types of families. We love when brands identify this.
In addition, we genuinely have to support or have used the product we are partnering with, which creates an organic relationship between our audience and that brand.
LR: What has been one of your favorite brand partnerships to be a part of and what made it so special?
E: It’s so hard to choose just one but one of our favorite brand partnerships to date would be with Johnson & Johnson‘s and their Care With Pride initiative, which strives to openly champion love, equality and care for all people within the LGBTQ+ community. This truly resonated with us and aligned with our values. In addition, my wife and I were raised using their product and our children use it today.
LR: Why was taking on breast cancer awareness and the Know Your Girls message important to you?
E: Taking on breast cancer awareness and the Know Your Girls message is important to me because of my experience of losing my aunt to breast cancer. This is something that I know my aunt would be proud of. She always wanted not only the women in our family, but for all women (and men) to know their risks for breast cancer.
LR: How has your audience responded to the message? Is it resonating with them?
E: Our audience has responded very well to the message and it’s amazing to see them share their own personal experiences with breast cancer. Here are just a few of their comments:
All About Joey Sings: “This is why we LOVE you! You are making a difference and saving lives with every video you post! And I’m sorry about your lost! Hold your head up high and continue to make a change… love you!”
Dab on Unicorns: “This hit so close to home. Like seriously. My grandmother had breast cancer, and she beat it twice. I’m so proud of her. She still gets chemo, but she no longer has cancer, which makes me so so so happy and proud to call her my grandmother. My great grandmother also had it. So that means it’s a hereditary disease I am likely to get when I’m older. This is so important to know these things and understand your breasts before it’s too late to have that understanding of yourself and your body. Thank you so so so much for spreading awareness ❤️❤️❤️”
Sydney Blue: “I am so happy you came out with this video. On February 22 of this year my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and it literally scared me to death. This woman has been a huge part of my life and I love her dearly and I can’t imagine my life without her right now. Thankfully we had found many organizations who helped us learn more about breast cancer and the signs of it and what I can do myself to prevent it. I can happily say 4 months later my mom is still going strong and supporting me and my brother and she was even able to see him graduate from high school yesterday.”
Angel N: “I want to thank you so much for working with this organization because this is a cause that I’m currently dealing with, I found a noticeable lump in my breast possibly at the end of last year then a few months ago in March I made an appointment with my OBGYN who confirmed that not only did I find a mass but he found a second one in the same breast. I was scheduled a week later for a mammogram and ultrasound that also confirmed the masses then in April I had my biopsy’s done, I received the results almost two weeks later at this time I don’t have breast cancer but one of the masses has become bigger and I have been in pain more frequently so I had another appointment with a surgeon a few days ago where they scheduled me for another ultrasound and we’ll go from there. Because I’m dealing with these issues I’m at higher risk for breast cancer so I’m doing whatever it takes to stay ahead of the process. A few days ago I received a call that my aunt who had already had cancer and beat it now had a lump in her breast but she got her results and it was just extra tissue so I am happy to say she is still cancer free. I love you Ebony & Denise you ladies are amazing!! Stay blessed”
LR: You’ve shared your aunt’s story and how her story made you and the women in your family aware of your own risks for breast cancer. What would you say to a woman who hasn’t been prioritizing her breast health or who doesn’t know where to go for support?
E: I would say to that woman that loving yourself and your breast should be a priority. Loving yourself means taking care of yourself. Knowing your risks for breast cancer can save your life. To get support and more information, they should visit KnowYourGirls.org.
LR: What does being a Know Your Girls ambassador mean to you and how does it impact your channel?
E: Being a Know Your Girls ambassador means everything to me and has given me the opportunity to not only be an advocate within the LGBTQ+ community but to advocate for multiple causes. It has impacted my channel in an uplifting way. When I read all those comments from the video sharing Know Your Girls messaging, I connected even more with them. It created an additional perspective for our channel and a purpose to educate about other issues.
LR: What is one thing you want others to take away from your advocacy?
E: One thing I would want others to take away from my advocacy is that ANYONE can use their voice to educate or fight for a cause.
LR: What has your advocacy taught you about yourself?
E: What advocacy has taught me about myself is to never be complacent or silent on issues of inequality.
Lina Renzina leads the Ad Council’s talent engagement program (Creators for Good) that matches and maintains rich partnerships between traditional/digital talent and 40+ national fully integrated PSA campaigns. Her previous experience in talent management at ICM Partners, theatrical producing and marketing is testament to a passion for the arts, accessibly reaching audiences and digital innovation.