Ebony Stewart Sets Her Own Standards of Greatness, You Should Too
As we continue to celebrate influential women, we celebrate diverse individuals who actively participate in supporting, uplifting, and empowering women. Sexual health instructor and poet, Ebony Stewart, is devoted to doing just that. In giving her audience the truth about the social and emotional aspects of sexual health through spoken word, she is the only woman to be crowned the three-time Slam Champion in Austin, Texas. Through her art, she aims to inform and engage others in conversation about sexual health.
Below, Ebony shares her story of overcoming insecurities and why she chose to be a sexual health instructor.
How was your childhood? What experience negative or positive helped shape the person you are today?
My childhood as a whole was very happy and full of love with reminders of sadness and a strong longing for something missing. I've dealt with depression since a very young age but perseverance and survival made me headstrong, made me focused, made me keep going.
My mother and grandmother are the people and two most positive experiences that shaped who I am today. Without them I would not know love, forgiveness, wit, or fight. Their nourishments, their directions, their prayers, their reminders that I am enough and can do anything are the voices I wake up to in the morning.
My father and my poor choices in relationships will always be a negative reminder of what not taking care of myself looks like and that there are people who are only in my life for taking and giving nothing. Though their behavior has had a negative effect on me, it also makes for a beautiful story about healing.
Did you experience any insecurities growing up? If so, how did you overcome them or how are you currently dealing with them?
Everyone deals with insecurities. Mine came in the waves of backhanded compliments or toleration rather than celebration.
I never received the "you so dark..." jokes, instead I was, "pretty for a dark skin girl" or "I didn't know black girls had long hair, it's so pretty." I grew up being reminded I'm pretty for a dark skin girl, still less than, still not enough if standing next to a light skin black or white woman.
Professors either told me I wasn't a good writer or they were shocked by how "articulate" I was, maybe because I'm black... maybe because I'm a woman.
I overcome those things the same way I overcome and deal with everything: I prove people wrong. I make my tongue slick and wet with wit. I call people out. I get major awards, get featured in magazines, online, in journals. I keep a smirk and unfuckwitable focus about me. I be my own hallelujah. I remind people the Universe answers me back in 'Yes" and stay the story of the black girl winning.
What inspired you to become a sexual health instructor?
If we were all homeless or loveless guess what, our bodies would still be the only place we have to live every day. Sex is more than just the plumbing. I'm not so interested in the act of sex, as much as I am the removal of shame and teaching positive body image, compassion, boundaries, respect, and consent. Those components of sexual health are just as important as math, science, and reading. The social, physical and emotional aspects of sexual health are so deeply rooted. If I can be a part of the learning and relearning or undoing, I figure I'm actively doing something worth living for.
With so many different titles, I can only imagine how busy your life must be. How do you balance your career and social life?
It does get busy and even harder to balance. My focus is a dedication to my art. I surround myself with people who love me enough not to need anything from me more than I need myself. I go where I am celebrated. I let people love me. When I'm on the road I religiously smudge, meditate, and randomly say out loud (even if no one's around and to no one in particular) “Thank you” so the universe hears me. I make time for the people I want in my life and appreciate. If and when I don't, I am never too full of myself to apologize. I have a list of "Go To For Happy" like massages, a coloring book, and cupcakes. Socially, I decide how much of me I want to give at any given moment. It's easy to complain or even pretend to be happy. I depend on the people who allow me to both complain and have whatever honest emotion I might be enduring. The best days are when I wake up and I'm not angry or afraid or self-conscious...I just get to BE.
What are your goals for 2016? What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I love this question. I'm already thinking about 2017! Right now I'm so focused I feel untouchable. My goal is to stay patient, persistent, hungry, and grateful.
I have some shows in Canada coming up. Also my first ever one-woman show that has won several awards goes back up in December. I'm currently working on touring that show and creating another one-woman show, manuscript and contemplating releasing a new EP.
The goal is the same as it has always been: get out of my own way, learn from everything, be unapologetically black/woman/gully/princess & set my own standards of great.
To learn more about Ebony visit her sites thegullyprincess.com and thecollegeagency.com, or follow her on Instagram, @gullyprincess. To be featured, contact us.