The thing I appreciate about social media is following people that inspire me and seeing them win. And that’s the case with my next guest for Portraits and Conversation.
Bee Quammie is a writer, radio host and public speaker. Her articles have been published in publications like Chatelaine, Men’s Health and the Globe and Mail to name a few. She is the co-host of the Kultur’D podcast on Global News Radio. And she has appeared on TVO’s The Agenda, CityTv’s Cityline and CBC’s The National. But these things didn’t just happen overnight and that’s what I appreciate.
In this episode of Portraits and Conversation, we chat about Bee’s transition from healthcare to media. But this wide ranging interview is more than just a side hustle turned second career success story. We also talk about authenticity, standing up for your work, Black motherhood and the privilege of fulfilling the dreams our immigrant parents could not afford to dream. Thanks to the all encompassing experience of having a child begin teething, it’s taken me a little bit longer to post this interview which has given me extra time to rewatch and enjoy it for myself. And I have to say this interview gives me life! Bee is a wise woman and imparts so many insightful nuggets. We could have talked for hours and I was particularly moved by the portion of our chat where she explained how her daughters inspire her work. It’s a matter of reciprocal energy.
It’s no surprise that this capacity for storytelling has translated into a prolific writing and media career that has done nothing but grow since the inception of her blog 83toinfinity.com in 2011. I had fun going back and reading her old blog posts from what Bee calls “the before time” aka anything before 2020. What I found interesting was how she tackled a wide range of topics like pop culture, race, identity, womanhood with such honesty. And this is a characteristic that has carried over into her current work. From her Globe and Mail piece on the history of Black Canadian activism, to her Chatelaine article on the pandemic of anti-Black racism, Bee’s voice has been a necessary and refreshing presence in mainstream media. But don’t take it from me, her writing portfolio speaks for itself.
I met Bee a few years ago when she hosted the first (and okay only) panel discussion I participated in. One thing I remembered from that panel was the story she shared about visiting Little Jamaica as a young girl. So I thought it would be fun to use this Toronto landmark as the backdrop for our photo shoot. And it did not disappoint. Even with the threat of rain, it was a lively location filled with a built in audience of bystanders cheering Bee on with every pose. And as we walked from one corner of the block to the next, Bee recounted her childhood memories of taking weekend trips to Little Jamaica from London, Ontario for visits to the hair salon and the Black beauty supply store.