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.
As a Virginia native and Howard University graduate, Freddie Ransome honed her production and on-air skills to become one of the original video producers and cast members of BuzzFeed Ladylike. Ladylike is a team of five women who make content about trends, style, beauty, pop culture, and career exploration. Freddie has an appetite for all things beauty and lifestyle, especially fashion and style, and takes pride in her curls – always looking for ways to further perfect her hair routine.
For National Minority Health Month this April, Freddie recently joined us in promoting our Know Your Girls campaign, in partnership with Susan G. Komen, which encourages black women to know their bodies and take charge of their breast health. Freddie is a longtime advocate for women, particularly women of color, and consistently uses her voice for good.
I had a chance to connect with her recently to hear more about her journey, why this issue is important to her, and what she hopes the future looks like for black women in media and entertainment.
Lina Renzina: How did you get started in the entertainment industry?
Freddie Ransome: I studied radio/TV/film with a concentration in TV production at Howard University. I bounced back and forth between majoring in broadcast journalism (because I wanted to be onscreen) and TV production (I wanted to learn the technical skills behind the scenes) and ultimately stuck with TV production because for my particular path it seemed like it would be more beneficial to know all the ins and outs of producing.
LR: How did your education at Howard University help you in your professional and personal life?
FR: My education at Howard University helped me a ton in my professional and personal life. The community there is SO supportive and they encourage the students to take leaps and dives into things that may have scared us. I entered an on-campus pageant (my first pageant ever) my freshman year and actually won (what?!). I also joined the yearbook staff even though I had never formally worked on publication before and I ended my college career with an assistant copy editor title! (so cool!) Being there really taught me that taking risks can ABSOLUTELY have an ending result of success. I’ve also gained lifelong friendships that I’m, so incredibly thankful for. I loved Howard because being surrounded by people that looked like me, in addition to having super dope, tenured professors who also looked like me gave me the confidence I needed to go out into the world after graduation.
LR: At BuzzFeed, you helped launch a YouTube Show called Ladylike. What was that process like of starting a show with five women with different backgrounds?
FR: The process of starting Ladylike at BuzzFeed was a cool one because we got a very broad directive- figure out how to make content that centers women, made by a group of women at BuzzFeed. We had the freedom to figure out exactly what the looked like and how we wanted to make an impact. It happens to work out well because the five of us have similar morals and values and that the foundation you need to create content that sensitive and impactful.
LR: What was the biggest challenge in getting that series off the ground?
FR: I think the biggest challenge is being okay with growing and changing as individuals over time and always hoping our audience is okay with those changes and that growth, because while we started Ladylike as five specific women with certain personality traits, interests, we’re also going through life like everyone else and evolving and changing. We’re not the same five women we were three years ago when Ladylike first got started—and that should be celebrated! —not scary.
LR: How have you been impacted by your work on Ladylike as a black woman?
FR: I think all of us on Ladylike are confident in who we are, how we identify and how we’ve evolved over the past three years. For me, I hope that women and girls can see someone who’s learned to love themselves despite traditional media and social media’s standard of beauty. By being on Ladylike, and in a sense, being pushed out of my comfort zone in a variety of ways, I’ve learned to love and appreciate my natural hair more and more, love my skin tone, and discover my sense of style. Being open about my body image struggles in the black community and learning to believe and feel like a bad bitch (most days) is something I feel my fans have also been able to start to feel about themselves- which is the goal!!
LR: Have you faced any struggles in the entertainment world?
FR: I haven’t been immersed in the traditional entertainment world. My world has been in digital entertainment, which I haven’t had TOO many challenges with. Digital is awesome because I’ve been blessed with a lot of creative freedom and have been able to carve out a place for myself in digital entertainment. I think the challenge will be crossing over from digital entertainment to traditional, which I definitely see for myself in near future- but I’m up for the challenge!
LR: Who are your top black female icons/role models?
FR: Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Quinta Brunson all empower me. Sometimes I feel like I’m not enough. Sometimes I’m like “is my personality entertaining enough? Will people even care?” Then I think about these women and how they’ve been successful staying true to themselves, which has manifested success in their careers.
LR: You are known for your amazing sense of style and beauty and hair tips. How has your style and knowledge of beauty evolved overtime?
FR: My style has had a baseline theme of “funky casual” since about 2013 and has only really changed in color scheme. I used to wear a TON of black because I was living in NYC and thought I was being edgy and deep all the time. Once I moved to LA and started exploring bold color schemes, it was LIT! I’m super into monochromatic looks these days.
Makeup has consistently been experimental for me and I’ve definitely mastered more than I ever thought I could, just with practice and YouTube. I also made a Ladylike video a couple years ago where I had to do Instagram makeup on myself for a week straight, which is where I really honed my eye shadow skills. Lately I’ve been doing weaves and wigs as protective styles because I want to give my real hair a break and an opportunity to grow and be “untouched” for a while! My natural curls will be back soon though J
LR: I’m so thrilled you’re a part of our Know Your Girls campaign! Why is this message important to you?
FR: I’m so excited to be a part of this campaign! The Know Your Girls campaign is important to me because women’s health, especially within the black community is SO crucial. As black women and women of color, we’re trained to take care of everyone else around us first, and then get to ourselves whenever we can. Know Your Girls is about knowing YOUR normal and being aggressive in making sure you’re on top of your breast health. It’s about being proactive instead of reactive.
LR: How do you think black women can become better educated on their breast health?
FR: I think black women can become better educated on breast health by getting yearly exams and initiating open conversations with friends and family about breast health. Normalizing the conversation around breast health is key.
LR: How have you otherwise incorporated social good into your online platforms?
FR: Implementing social good is something I try to normalize on my social platforms just with conversation. Equal pay day, Immigration injustice, LGBT rights, and police brutality (among many other issues) are all things I’m particularly passionate about and try to speak out about whether I go to protests, repost articles, wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts, or break down what certain issues mean on my Instagram. Twitter is where I really get in trouble voicing my opinions because it has the most trolls…but that gives me ammo to keep going!
LR: How has social good been incorporated into Ladylike?
FR: On Ladylike, we’ve given back to teen girls by styling them for prom. We’ve done breast cancer awareness content by giving each other breast exams (LOL) with the supervision of a professional, and Devin took her mom, who’s a breast cancer survivor, bra shopping. We’ve also done content around voting, and other trending news topics such as “Devin Wears A Modesty Poncho For A Day” in response to schools requiring this of students at prom who don’t adhere to dress codes and “I Wore Band Aids Instead of a Bra,” where Kristin does this in response to a school requiring a young lady to do this because she chose not to wear a bra.
LR: What’s been your favorite Ladylike video to work on thus far?
FR: My favorite Ladylike video I’ve worked on as of late is “We Shot The Ultimate Photo Shoot With Our Cats.” Chantel, Devin and I chose a theme for our respective photo shoots and it was AMAZING. I paid homage to Destiny’s Child and recreated the Say My Name music video through a photoshoot with my cat and it was epic. I’m also a crazy cat lady, so I was especially excited about it.
LR: What do you hope the future of entertainment looks like for black women?
FR: I hope the future of entertainment continues to SOAR. I think the last couple of years, black women have made huge strides in entertainment, from Issa Rae’s Insecure, to Ava Duvernay’s myriad of impactful, successful projects, we’re only going up J!
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. You can connect with Lina on LinkedIn.