By: Rashida Ashley
Photography: Mo Cee
Singer, Actress, Host and Activist Malynda Hale uses every ounce of her voice through not only her music but also through her podcast We Need to Talk and her photo and video series Black Voices Heard. Hale is an ambitious black queen who has made it her goal to see people from all walks of life understand our narrative in the black community. Her music uplifts the heart and makes one want to continue the journey of this thing called life. She is noble, resilient, and open as a leader. These traits have propelled her path to having important conversations concerning change with social justice, female empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights, veganism, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Hale’s dedication to her music and life mission have made her work hard to earn impressive awards such as “Best Female Vocalist” at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, Best Pop Music Video at the Indie Music Channel Awards, a headliner for the NAMM show on the main stage and for the Sennheiser stage. She has opened for performers including Tyrone Wells, Ernie Halter, Levi Kreis, OTOWN and Smokey Robinson.
In a recent conversation with Hale, we gain a deeper look at what motivates her as someone who is talented in so many different areas of her life.
You are a singer/songwriter, activist, podcast host, director, mom and so much more. You also stand in solidarity for many important causes such as female empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights, Black Lives Matter, and veganism. Among your many talents and the causes you stand for, which one made you say “Okay this one I have to do first!” to get you started on your career and why?
The first cause that I really was involved in was veganism. I’ve been vegan for the last 17 years and my stance on animal rights has definitely grown, as I’ve gotten older and learned more about it. In terms of just my art content, I definitely think that the main cause and movement that I’ve used my voice to support is Black Lives Matter because being a black woman in America is where my experience lies and that’s where my voice, I think, is needed the most; in sharing my experiences and helping to amplify the experiences of others. I’m passionate about a lot of things and a lot of causes, but it’s Black Lives Matter and explaining the necessity behind the movement and why we’re crying it out is what I’ve really been using my voice and my platform for.
This year, you’ve launched your Black Voices Heard Project, which is a series of photos and videos to amplify Black voices across different fields and life experiences. Being that this is such an important project, especially during these times, what experiences of your own have led you to embark on this creative and profound endeavor?
I think just in conversations that I’ve had, it’s really the misconstrued perceptions of black Americans that has made me realize there are so many people in this country that have simply never even met or been around a black person and their view of them is really based on a control by the media, entertainment, and certain narratives and stereotypes that are depicted through these types of mediums. When you don’t have a personal connection or you haven’t really gone outside of your circle, your perception of any type of people is very skewed, limited and reductive. So, in talking to people, they are always surprised by things that I’ve experienced or things that I’ve even accomplished, and it’s always surprising to have these conversations because people really have no idea what the black experience as a whole is. They haven’t taken the time to learn what it is, have a conversation or just hear other people’s stories. So, I think sharing people’s stories is really important to me but also just sharing my own as well.
In your One-on-One Talk with Tanaye White, where the two of you discuss her modeling journey, natural hair, and more, you briefly talked about how you grew up and the kind of neighborhood that you were raised in. You said “It takes a certain amount of strength to not allow the experience of growing up in a predominately white space to affect your trajectory and it takes even more strength to become the thing you didn’t have growing up. “Can you speak more on that and how the way you grew up has impacted the woman you are today and your craft?
Yeah, absolutely! Well, I definitely will say that despite growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, I was very lucky to have a close family unit, and parents that were very pro black, very pro excellence and always wanted my sister and I to be exposed to things that make us the best no matter what was brought our way in terms of adversity, specifically racial diversity. More often than not, I would say at least 95% of the time I was the only black kid in my class. I was the only black kid involved in theater, music, and choir and things like that. So, I always stood out like a sore thumb no matter what, but I tried to use it to my advantage as much as I could because I would be noticed, but I would always make sure that I worked hard to get the grades and the awards that I wanted to have. Any form of achievement, even in proving that I worked very hard, I would always come across comments like “Oh she probably only got this because she’s black” and things like that. When you grow up around white people that think they deserve things over you, when you achieve things, they don’t think that you have earned it. They think you’re almost a charity case, but I learned to work past that because I knew what my truth was growing up, and I knew how my parents raised me, especially my mom because she was an educator. She was a counselor in both high school and college fields, so she put a huge emphasis on education and extracurricular activities. As a result, I was in school all the time because she would always be teaching us summer school programs, etc. But I’m very grateful for having that background and having that type of leadership in the household that I grew up in, because it helped me to be strong. As I got older and no matter what was thrown at me, I knew that whatever I achieved I did it because I worked hard, and I earned it.
During the pandemic you gave birth to a beautiful bi-racial baby girl. How has your daughter impacted the work that you do and your views on female empowerment and Black Lives Matter?
I’m very grateful to have the husband I do because he is completely understanding that even though she’s biracial, our daughter is a black girl that we’re raising her together into a black woman, so I am doing my best to be the best role model and example for her. I’m also so lucky to have my mom helping me as well because my daughter has another strong black woman who is influencing her every day. It has really made the work that I do, and the impact that I want to make even greater because I want to make sure that I lay down a good foundation for her and whatever she decides to do; while knowing she has parents that love her and encourage her. We’re raising her to be a strong black woman because society is going to do whatever they possibly can to try to strip that away from her. It’s just a sad reality, which is why I am teaching her to always be the best version of herself no matter what.
Why is LGBTQ+ rights important to you?
I have always been around a progressive church setting, and it wasn’t until I got to college that I really was exposed to more conservative Christian views, which was very shocking to me because I just wasn’t ever surrounded by that. So, in terms of speaking out for the LGBTQ community, I truly believe that to live the way that Christ did you have to just love others and to me it is just a basic simple thing. So, I love everybody for who they are. I am a firm believer that love is love and if the way someone loves and who they love is not affecting anyone else, then they should be left alone to live their life and be happy.
To keep up with Malynda:
PHOTO/VIDEO SERIES: “Black Voices Heard“