Interview of Nomi Leasure by Andy Reyes
Nomi, thanks for this interview, could you tell us a little about yourself, and what you do?
Hi Andy, thank you for reaching out. Romana is such a cool site, I’m honored to be a part of it.
I’m the daughter of two social-workers who met on the Great Peace March for Nuclear Disarmament in 1986. My dad is black and my mom is white, and I’m the youngest of six on my dad’s side. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and went to art school for seven years for musical theater. I’ve lived in LA, Philadelphia and now New York, where I currently call home!
I currently work as an Account Director at an Experiential Marketing agency in New York. I also run a blog called Peek Mag and pen the advice column “Dear Nomi” for Taylor Magazine.
What do you enjoy most about your job as an account director and what does being an account director consist of?
Being an Account Director means, in a lot of ways, leading the charge. You’ve got to have a long view of a project and be able to assess and understand the various moving pieces. Part of the job consists of overseeing internal teams–a graphic design team, a production team, a design team–to make sure that project deliverables are on track and meeting client expectations. The other part of the job is connecting with various brands and clients to understand their needs and objectives–and keeping them happy!
I love collaborating with a team of absolutely kick-ass individuals. It truly is like a family where I work and I continue to learn and be inspired by the people I work with. We have a riot together.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me means leveraging the best parts of yourself and creating something to call your own; establishing something that no one can take away from you. I also think success is when you stay true to who you are and manage to make the world ever so slightly a better place.
We would like to focus on your writing (which we love). You have a column in Taylor magazine, have you thought about creating your own magazine in the future?
Yes! Creating my own magazine is my total fantasy. I would love to do that someday.
What or who inspires you when writing?
I am very much inspired by the subtle nuances of human behavior. I like to look within the crevices of everyday life–to peek under the covers, if you will–to better understand who we really are, and what makes us tick, and what motivates us, and how we relate to each other and the world around us.
I’m inspired by the complexities of my own emotional world; of what it feels like to finally be able to articulate something I’ve been experiencing that I’ve struggled to put words to; of the capacity of words to translate intangible emotional realities, and then the shared humanity that exists around those words. And by music! And the place music can take you. I always write to music, and that music will take a piece in a certain direction.
And I’ve continuously been inspired by love, heartbreak, and romantic relationships. I think being in love is one of the most complex and disorienting states of being.
Have you ever had a creative block? How do you get out of that block?
I feel like I’m in a continual state of creative block. In fact, I’d say that my normal creative state is generally blocked with rare moments of clarity and inspiration.
Creativity is like a muscle; you’ve got to continually work it so that when you need it it’s just there, prepped and ready to go. I feel like the only way to get out of a creative block is to go through it; is to just keep talking, writing, dancing, whatever and eventually something will click. You’ll be sitting there typing complete crap, but just keep typing, and sooner or later a flow will develop and you’ll get something good. Maybe it’s only a single sentence, or one small idea, but it’s something!
What do you think of the writers on Instagram?
Depends on what writers. There are a few poets I follow on IG that I truly love (and no, none of them are Rupi Kaur), and there are a lot that I think are more marketers than writers, really.
Ultimately, Instagram is a social media platform. It’s inherent purpose is to share images and promote a very specific aesthetic. Writing is not really something I’d turn to Instagram for. It’s not where I’d evaluate a writer’s worth. It’s not where I think a lot of talent can be found.
What are you most excited about at this moment?
Summer; getting tan; quarantine being over and getting a pedicure.
Could you recommend some of your favorite books?
In terms of all-time favorites THIS list is still pretty relevant.
Recently I’ve been on a classics kick, and have been going back and reading the books I pretended to read in high school. Crime and Punishment was great; I love Russian literature for some reason? I’m currently reading David Copperfield which has been a real treat, though the language is difficult to get through. And within the last few months I also read 1984 and Catcher in the Rye.
Sometimes the best are in fact the best for a reason.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting to write and wants to do it professionally?
I would really take time to develop an authentic voice. I cannot overstate the value of journaling. Journaling gives you an opportunity to understand how you feel about something, how you feel about yourself, how you process information. It gives you space to develop a point of view and a voice without the pressure of publishing anything.
Also, if you’re not genuinely interested in what you’re writing, don’t expect anyone else to be.
Developing a unique point of view is critical, and oftentimes we think our ideas are novel and it’s only because we haven’t read enough to realize that they’re not. Don’t trip over your own feet by rushing to publish a half-baked idea. Your reading practice is as important as your writing practice; know what else is out there that has been said about the topic you’re looking to write about.
Finally, understand what sets you apart and lean into that.
It seems like you have managed to care for and love yourself before anyone else. Do you think that, as a generation, we are succeeding in focusing on ourselves and putting our needs first?
Ha! I suppose I have managed that.
Yes and no. I don’t think most of us know what our needs are. I don’t think most of us can decipher our own goals, aspirations, and wants from what we’ve been made to feel like we should want. I think most of us get lost at the first step of that process, which is introspective self-analysis. I think even the most self-evolved of us get caught in a trap of social media and performative identity.
I do think there is a greater emphasis on individual goals and aspirations, but now I worry that has made us into navel gazers who don’t place our lives in a greater context of the evolution of humanity.
I think where our generation has succeeded is forcing open the spectrum of representation and clearing the way for many more seats at the table and voices in the conversation. That work is the most impressive to me in terms of what our generation has accomplished.
To conclude, is there anything extra you’d like to talk about?
I think it’s time we had a really honest discussion about why, in the age of streaming, any show would still be putting out episodes on a week-by-week basis. Especially in quarantine. Like… if you have filmed the entire season by the time you are airing episode 1, put the shit out in its entirety. It’s infuriating.