Interviews with Dream Warriors Foundation Summer Spark Grant Winners

For Dream Warriors Foundation Spark Grant recipients Jasmine Williams and Dani Brockington, taking a leap of faith to change their lives — and the lives of those around them — has been no small task. With big plans and even bigger dreams ahead of them, Jasmine and Dani found themselves at a crossroads, each searching for a way to answer the call on their lives and shine a light on those living in the shadows. Jasmine, an artist, sculptor, and activist, and Dani, a writer and digital content producer, sat down with Dream Warriors Foundation Mag to talk taking chances, overcoming hardship, and the importance of having a tribe while changing the world.

Introducing Jasmine Williams: Artist, Sculptor, Activist

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photo credit: Carla Hill Williams

What pushed you to apply for the Spark Grant?

As I read through the website, the foundation was right in line with the body of artwork I’m developing. I am transitioning into sculpture and needed financial support. Also, my artistic practice has grown since graduating in December and creating a business structure is necessary. I felt the grant fell into my lap at the perfect time.

Do you think the Spark Grant will allow you to not only change your life but make a positive impact on the lives of those around you?

I believe it will. The body of work I’m creating is called Disruptive Black Girl. This work is honoring the legacy of black women, femme-identifying, and non-binary people who have been the catalyst for social change in the US, yet receive little benefit once a change is made. I will pull from the experiences of people from the past and present to create imagery that I [hope] will inspire more robust change in the future. While the Spark Grant will be used partially for art-making materials, I will be printing my work at Atlanta Printmakers Studio, co-working at TILA Studio, and using reference material from Charis Bookstore. I want to support local businesses that support people that look and think like me and the people I represent.

What does an organization like Dream Warriors Foundation mean to women, non-binary, and femme-identifying individuals?

This organization is all about empowerment and cultivating a safe space for people who boldly exist in the margins to tell their stories. It doesn't hurt that DWF is financially supporting women, non-binary, and femme-identifying individuals as well. Our ideas are valid and deserve to be presented to the world in the best way possible with a wonderful organization, like this, backing them. DWF supports a community of people that are regularly overlooked in many ways, especially financially. Many dreams die because of lack of resources. When people are free of that stress, magic is made. I wholeheartedly believe the more we tell our stories, the more robust the human experience becomes. It takes an organization like DWF to empower people financially and being specific in who they’re empowering to shake up the status quo. This is disruptive and I’m all about it.

If you could offer any words of encouragement to someone in a similar position, what would they be?

Keep showing up and keep applying. Your only job is to do your very best work and put your name in the pot. Dreams aren’t as abstract as they may seem. If you can see your goals clearly, they are absolutely attainable. It’s all about showing up every time and being prepared.

Where do you hope to find yourself this time next year, and do you think the Spark Grant will help you get there?

I will be coming off the heels of Disruptive Black Girl’s debut at the Southern Graphics Council International Conference in Texas, so I hope that I will be promoting a show in Atlanta and lining up other galleries to show the work across the country. The Spark Grant is the launch pad. This work is growing in a way I didn’t anticipate and these funds are allowing me to create freely and at my highest potential.

Introducing Dani Brockington: Writer and Digital Content Producer

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photo credit: Jonathan Cooper

What brought you to Dream Warriors Foundation and the Spark Grant?

A couple years ago, after a layoff, while I was looking for a new gig, a friend invited me to join Dream Warriors Opps, and that’s how I became familiar with the Dream Warriors ecosystem, so to speak. I’m a member of both that group and Dream Warriors of Color, and have made some really great friends and acquaintances. So I noticed all the posts about DWF as they were launching and that it was a great idea. I plan on becoming a member now that I’m back in the city and settled. The opportunity presented itself and I figured, why the hell not? I’ve been challenging myself to take advantage of opportunities more proactively and ask for what I want, so this was an exercise in doing that.

I’m a writer and digital content producer so sharing my adventures and experiences have always come naturally. Everyone who knows me knowsI’m always getting into something wild, and I always find a way to relate my experience in some interesting way that helps others relate, or who may have gone through something similar. People around me have been really supportive and also found my “rebuilding,” so to speak, inspiring, so I’d really been struggling to “package” the past 10 months and figure out how to approach telling that story. The idea of a larger digital project/web series just seemed to encompass my rhetorical and practical goals better than any other way I could think. The tagline for RePlaced (the web series I’m developing) is “A guide to getting your life back…together.” The entire framing of it is to give something back to people who’ve done and are doing so much to help me get back on my feet.

Why do you think it’s important for an organization like Dream Warriors Foundation to exist?

There are so many visible and invisible barriers to thriving. Space for the marginalized to pour into and support, and be supported by one another, is incredibly important.

We as a country are facing a lot of negativity in terms of sexual harassment, inequality, systematic racism, prejudice, homophobia, and sexism, but there’s a growing undercurrent of inclusivity, love, acceptance, and hope. How do you think an organization like the Dream Warriors Foundation and individuals like you and me can continue to spread love and hope to the people around us?

Hope and love are verbs, and we have to treat them as such. Consistently and actively. We have to continuously show up and confront the negativity in the ways we are equipped to actively break them down. I think that’s where the action is. Organizations and individuals have to be aware of privilege and intersections of privileges, and actively use them in service of others without them.

Why do you think it’s so important that we as women, femme-identifying, and non-binary individuals rally together to support each other?

Because we’re all in it together. We’ve gotta get out of it together.

Where do you hope to find yourself this time next year, and do you think the Spark Grant will help you get there?

I hope to still be working on the series and have expanded it far beyond myself and my furniture. I want to be done with my furniture by then. There are two other projects I’m working on and I hope to be fully in the swing of engaging those next summer. Being stable and comfortable and “placed” in my home, with the engaged network I will have built and expanded through this project, will be such big steps toward getting me there.