Fredonia success story: Keah Brown
Keah Brown’s fate was sealed as a teenager when she got lost; in words, in characters, and in stories.
“I first knew I wanted to be a writer in high school,” Keah said. “I always loved reading about people and things I could identify with or love to hate.”
It was that passion for stories, along with a naturally inquisitive personality, that led her from Fredonia to her career as an entertainment writer. Keah, a 2013 graduate with a major in Journalism and a minor in Creative Writing, is currently a Senior Entertainment Writer at Cliché Magazine, where she writes TV and movie reviews and interviews celebrities about their shows and lives, including notables such as Tia Mowry, Justin Baldoni and Keith Powers. “I’ve been very fortunate to have people open up to me about their character, and what they’re like off-camera,” Keah said.
But her writing doesn’t stop there. “I get to write articles about shows I love and interview those actors during the day, and then at night I write essays,” Keah said. “I’m doing two things I love and thought I would not get to do, and I’m speaking to literary agents who want me to sign with them.”
Keah has had her essays published in ESPNW, Lenny Letter, Essence, Catapult, and Literary Hub, to name a few. She just finished a piece for Essence Magazine. “They (literary agents) want to eventually publish a book of mine. I’m doing things that far surpass anything I thought I could do. It feels magical, really, because I get to share pieces of myself, and pieces of other people.”
Her talents for sharing those stories were nurtured at Fredonia, and Keah credits her professors with supplying her two valuable things; feedback and encouragement. “The professors at Fredonia really get to know you. You’re not just another face in the crowd. They want to know about you and what you love, and what you want to do with your life.”
Keah’s development as a writer also took shape outside traditional journalism classes. “I took a Greek Myth class and a creative writing class, and they helped me in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” she said. “They were instrumental in helping me become the writer I am today.”
Ironically, Keah’s professors say she is the one who inspires. “When other people may have given up on their dreams, I've seen her persevere and keep going through major obstacles,” said Associate Professor Elmer Ploetz of the Department of Communication.
The obstacles were not trivial, but Keah made sure they were not an obstacle to her dreams. Keah was born with what she describes as a mild case of cerebral palsy. “It took me awhile to get to a place where I was okay with it,” she recalled.
She credits the inclusionary spirit at Fredonia for helping her. “I spent a lot of my high school years embarrassed about it, and then I got to Fredonia and nobody cared. So I realized this is the body I was given and I’m just going to roll with the punches.”
Keah did more than just accept her situation. She embraced it and, in the process, inspired others across social media. She started a hashtag on Twitter – #disabledandcute – that went viral this past spring. “I started it with a bunch of pictures and had people with disabilities share pictures of themselves and talk about why they love themselves,” Keah said. She was interviewed about the social media push in almost a dozen countries around the world.
“I wish I could bottle that drive and give it to other students, but it's something that's pure Keah,” Mr. Ploetz said.
Keah brought that drive and spirit back to her alma mater in April, when she was a guest speaker at this Fredonia’s “Writers@Work” series. She told current students to have faith in their future. “I told them that sometimes success or a job doesn't happen overnight. But if you keep working hard and believe in what you're doing, it will happen when it's time.”
So by working hard, Keah has proven that getting lost really can help you find your way.