Nallah Brown finds a new calling post-FAMU

Nallah Brown wants to help people of the African diaspora connect with their inner self. Photo courtesy: Nallah Brown

Nallah Brown has always felt a deep spiritual connection to the world around her. Every day she finds a new way to connect with the world whether it’s through dance, writing or documenting the lives of people from the African diaspora.

Brown was born in her parents’ house in Houston, delivered by a midwife her mother sought out. Shortly after, her family relocated to Atlanta, where she spent most of her childhood. She described those years as “blessed and filled with activities.” Before her freshman year of high school, her family moved back to Houston.

“I was a competitive swimmer, I was a dancer, I was a basketball player — I have two siblings who are older than me. I’m the youngest so I went to a lot of their sports games as well,” Brown said. “We traveled, had family reunions going on, my father’s from Florida and my mom’s [hometown] was 30 minutes outside of New Orleans, so we always traveled there as well so I really got the chance to see the U.S. through my parents’ eyes.”

Growing up, she aspired to be an actress. All her essays and class projects were geared toward her dream of becoming an actress. She was a theater kid who gained an appreciation for the performing arts. While in middle school, a parent came to her about a younger child she had who she had trouble understanding. Although Brown was relatively young, she felt like her advice would be beneficial to the mom because she was also the younger sibling.

“I remember feeling like, ‘Oh my god, I really like this!’ I have a vivid image of that moment and I feel like my mind, my soul captured that moment for a reason,” Brown said. “I feel like it was foreshadowing for me becoming a licensed therapist.”

Brown uses a holistic, spiritual approach to therapy compared to the traditional western approach. She uses embodiment, bodily movement and semantics to help others connect with themselves, combat trauma, or find a sense of empowerment. Brown regularly attends dance classes at Soulaira Studios, a dance studio in Atlanta that promotes physical and mental wellness through body movement.

Brown graduated from Florida A&M University in the spring of 2020 with a degree in broadcast journalism. During her time in J-school, Brown was a mentor and vice president of print for the FAMU Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Noella Williams, a senior broadcast journalism student, describes Brown as free-spirited with a love for uplifting the Black community.

“Nallah was one of the first people I met when I transferred to FAMU,” Williams said. “I took a trip with her to Curl Fest, and she is definitely a free-spirited person, a creative. She’s just a great person to meet and be friends with and she is all for supporting all kinds of Black people.”

During her time at FAMU, she documented many of her peers and campus activities. In 2019, she traveled to Marshall, Texas to attend the Nate Parker Film Institute at Wiley College. Brown spent over a week cultivating her own short film and attending screenwriting workshops. In 2020, she won first place for Best Coverage of LGBT issues from the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Outside of the classroom, Brown reached out to community members about documenting their lives in Tallahassee. Listening to other stories and sharing them through photography helped connect her back to her purpose, she said.

“I’m very thankful and blessed for what I learned at FAMU,” Brown said. “Sometimes I just cry because of all the good, happy memories I have from there.”

After graduation, Brown had to come to terms with what she wanted to do next. She still felt a connection to people and helping them navigate through the world. She took a leap of faith and applied to the family therapy program at Mercer University. There, she would continue to nurture her desire to listen to people tell their stories.

“I feel like stories are what helps bring us a clearer vision of who we are as individual, complex, multilayer, multifaceted human beings — and with being in therapy that’s the first thing you tell the therapist, your story.”

Nandi Brown, Brown’s sister, says Nallah was a ball of expressive energy as a child. She was always the most outspoken, on top of being bright and sassy. She also says her best traits include her love and empathy for people.

“You will rarely catch her engaged in small talks,” Nandi Brown said. “It’s usually conversations regarding existential experiences and deep emotions that she can make the newest people she meets comfortable to speak about.”

Nandi Brown added that her sister is the ultimate navigator as an adult pursuing her goals.

“She may be my little sister, but she teaches me big lessons,” she said.