16 year old Angela King can light up an entire room with just one of her signature smiles. She is a singer, songwriter, music producer, activist and a high school junior. A seasoned BAYCAT student, Angela is an indispensable role model to our younger students. Yet from an early age she struggled to find role models in the media. She was disappointed to find time and time again that people who looked like her were often represented as “loud and ignorant”.
“Media representation is not authentic, what you see in media does not parallel what you see in real life.” Angela talks about the internalized oppression she’s experienced as a result of how African American youth are portrayed in the media, “you start hearing things about yourself and you start believing it, and you think you’re supposed to act the way you’ve been told to act. You start to take into account how people view that image of you.” Though Angela defies the negative stereotypes that she sees represented in the media, she says, “It almost gets to me.”
As the only African American female in her entire AP Geography course, Angela admits that she used to feel that she had to fit herself into the stereotypes she saw on the media: “I wanted to hide my intellect. I wanted to hide my knowledge. I didn’t want to seem intelligent. In order to fit in with my community, I had to dumb myself down and that’s something I felt I had to do because that’s how I have been represented. What does that say about misrepresentation?” Angela says, “I ask myself why there isn’t more people like me represented to look educated? Smart?”
Before coming to BAYCAT, Angela had big dreams about one day being a superstar. Think: Beyonce. Unfortunately, she had no idea how to make that dream a reality. At 11 years old, she walked through BAYCAT’s doors, admittedly introverted and unable to look anyone in the eyes. Immediately she realized that BAYCAT was going to be really special. “I knew this was a place where I’m comfortable being me”, she says.
Angela recalls her first solo song that she made at BAYCAT, about moving outside San Francisco and not having a space of her own to write music. Angela’s family, like so many others, had been displaced by skyrocketing housing costs, but she says, “writing that song helped me get that stress off my mind”.
Though women and people of color are grossly underrepresented in creative media roles, the lack of diversity in media is something Angela knows we can change, “I’m 100% sure that not just white men can make media. I make media, and I’m not a man or white.”
“BAYCAT is giving opportunities to people like me, to represent me, in the right way. BAYCAT has brought tons of joy and inspiration into my life. I used to see myself as somebody who wasn’t musically gifted enough. Even though I had big dreams, I lacked self confidence and now after seeing what I have already done at BAYCAT, it gives me a lot of pride.”
Remember Angela’s dream? That pop star dream? In just a few years it’s molded into something radically bigger, and much more authentic. Wise beyond her years, Angela explains, “It’s not about becoming the next Beyonce. It’s not about becoming Drake. It’s about becoming YOU. Honestly, be yourself. I’ve faced a lot of internalized oppression about myself, and I won’t be labeled as anybody else but me.”
Even after all she’s accomplished at just 16 years old, Angela reminds us, “you can’t put a due date on art.” What’s next for Angela? She wants to record more solo music that takes a stand against misrepresentation in the media. “I hope more people get to see the wonder of BAYCAT. I hope people stop seeing people who look like me as people who don’t care about education.”