Welcome back to another installment of the Rooted Minds Spotlight Feature, where we shine a light on creatives, artists, and entrepreneurs that are making strides to take their careers to the next level.
This creative is based in Los Angeles and has recently release a book of poetry, “Yellow: A Collection of Poetry and Prose.” Ravina lends a unique perspective and has a powerful voice, used to share art from her vantage point. Sharing a combination of lived experiences, dreams, and everyday thoughts, we get a glimpse into Ravina’s world. From afar her social media page depicts her connection to community, versatility, and love for the art.
We love being able to offer our platform to creatives who are taking the right steps in their careers and looking for new ways to connect. This a space where we can celebrate the success stories of members of our community, friends, and newly discovered creatives. Be sure to check out their art, business, and content.
Let’s meet Ravina Wadhwani:
RAVINA is a Los Angeles based spoken word poet, mental health therapist, and educator who made her way to the West Coast by way of the East Coast. Ravina was born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands and embraces her South Asian roots and multicultural upbringing. YELLOW is her first collection of published poetry and prose published by World Stage Press in 2021.
RAVINA is a first-generation South Asian American woman who uses writing as a tool for understanding identity, processing trauma, moving through experiences of struggle, empowerment, growth, joy and healing. Ravina credits her family’s immigration history as the catalyst for experiencing the world, and finding multiple homes all over the globe. She honors and deeply cherishes the incredible chosen family she has made along the way. Ravina has lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Canary Islands (Spain), the United Kingdom, Massachusetts and California. Ravina often reflects and hold space for processing issues existent in the South Asian diaspora. She has performed poetry from the East Coast to the West.
RAVINA is also a facilitator of trauma informed healing circles for survivors of gender based violence and communities of color affected by systemic issues of oppression. Ravina sees healing and art as a lifelong commitment and journey to honor the well-being and liberation of this generation and the generations that come after our time on Earth.
RM: Rooted Minds
RW: Ravina Wadhwani
RM: What has been your journey to being an artist OR owning your own business and what has been the most impactful lesson that you've learned?
RW: I am a spoken word artist, poet, and a published author. I was actually born and raised in the US Virgin Islands, on the beautiful island of St. Thomas. Growing up in the islands, but having heritage as a South Asian first generation woman, heavily influenced the way I saw the world. I always saw the people, and the places around me, in two or more lenses & I am grateful for all of the ways in which my family's migration patterns have allowed me to see the world. I grew up visiting family all over the world & my passport tatted from a super young age. My family exposed me to different music, media, food and textures since I was three years of age. They taught me to be focused, resilient, and to pave my own way. However, I also struggled with trying to find my voice in a world where so much fit into boxed in. Most of my parents generation, spread their wings, after leaving their cities in India, and settled in their own respective cities around the world. Many of those cities, from the East to the West, were places I too, stayed for extensive amounts of times. After picking up three different languages, and an affinity for many flavors, I found myself using writing as a way to make sense of all of the stories inside of me, and all of the stories passed down. Moreso, my generation's task was to find our purpose, follow our paths, and make a name in the world- which was a very beautiful yet intimidating mission for a girl like me, with no roadmap. Writing and poetry and art were the places I felt most seen in, because these avenues don't require that I walk in a staight line. I was able to embrace the chaos and layers inside of myself and write my own way out. I started writing in a creative writing course in high school, but like many artists, I remember writing for what felt like the longest time. Writing allowed me to be soft, be tough, and be all things in between. I stopped devoting time to it when I attended school on the East coast, and was also working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Poetry found me later, after I had finished my degree in psychology and sociology and then found me again, more intensively after grad school when I made my way to the West coast to pursue my career as a mental health therapist. Poetry, activism, and education in communities of color soon became my niche. I was using my skills and degree to pursue a life in mental health , and I still actively practice as a therapist during the daytime, but poetry became a second career, and what often feels like a primary one at times. I found my way through open mics, consistently and rigorously wrote, attended poetry publishing classes, then taught poetry, and now, my time is spent performing and touring after my debut book "Yellow" was released in 2021. I intentionally gave myself permission to get lost (and then found) when I moved to Long Beach & later, I crossed paths with some of the greatest mentors who have become family.
RM: For those that may not know, how did you come up with the name or concept for your business or project?
RW: I came up with "Yellow" for the name of my book. due to a multitude of factors. It was actually birthed as a concept, from a conversation I was having with my dear friend Michael Masters. I was in the middle of the year I spent editing and tying up loose ends before book production. I knew my book was about the themes of healing, resilience, identity and strength, but I couldn't quite figure out the title that would become the cherry on top of an almost finished cake. I went through 4 or 5 working titles and asked Micheal what words he thinks of when he thought of those themes. He threw out names of objects, places, textures and colors, and "Yellow" immediately stuck out. I realized in that moment how perfect that would be. Not only did it remind me of the color associated with the types of imagery and themes of the book, but it reminded me of the meaning of my name. My parents named me Ravina, which means "ray of sunshine" in our South Asian language. I realized how many themes and stories hidden within this poem were really alluding to the ownership of who e are as people. Naming it Yellow, helped pay homage to the stories of my ancestors, the poems in the book, and ultimately the overcoming/ finding light in the darkness. My poems came to me at a time of great hardship, spanned over years of learning how to overcome my hurdles. They encompass heartbreak, loss, identity, empowerment and womanhood: all themes that made realize how tied together poetry and mental health are, for me. Since then, I realized I wanted to combine poetry and healing together. I started facilitating poetry as healing workshops and designing curriculum inspired by the themes the book encompasses. My work has taken me as far as Tokyo and India, where I have been able to spread my message and shed light on my purpose as a poet and artist; healing is where inner and outer change happens. It is where we learn to put ourselves first in order to heal through our traumas to move from surviving to thriving under the yellow of the sun.
RM: Tell us about your inspiration behind an upcoming project and what do you hope the audience takes away from it?
RW: I love collaborations! I am hoping to continue to turn my poems into soundtracks, and direct visuals and videos to my poetry. I want to expand to collaborate with artists on workshops and education around poetry as a form of healing. I want people to feel seen, validated and heard in the art so that they can unleash the most vulnerable pieces straight from the heart. I believe that through teaching people the power of storytelling and honoring vulnerability, that this creates changes within community by bringing us in closer & expands our connection. I believe connection creates the change we need to see in order to bridge together communities & foster social change. Right now, I am also working on my upcoming audio book release & my second book! I am currently in the process of writing it & hope to have it out late next year. My other focus is performance: I actively perform with the NeverSpeak Long Beach crew & our focus is to bring voice and poetry to Long Beach.
RM: What have been some effective ways that you've marketed yourself in your space and industry?
RW: Honestly, I've found that there's no perfect formula except for consistency. Leila Steinberg taught me the importance of consistency and continuing to show up to do the work. Through this lens, I've grown to be ok with trial and error. Sometimes, it is about pushing past self doubt to self promote and sell your work. Other times, it is using your network to help post, promote, and support you. I have leaned on people that are amazing at the things I'm still learning to master& vice versa. Staying humble and hungry enough to keep learning marketing and promotion is where I feel I have grown the most. I have found that in poetry, marketing online is as important as marketing offline. That means, showing up for your work in person, attending events, and making yourself visible is just as important as visibility on social media & platforms like IG, Clubhouse, live streams and youtube. Most of my current networking and promoting is from in person events.
RM: How have you grown as an entrepreneur or creative in the last 5 years and who's been influential in that process?
RW: I credit a lot of my development as an artist to a space called AIM 4 the Heart, founded by Leila Steinberg (former manager of Tupac Shakur) and Philosophy (founder of NeverSpeak Long Beach). In AIM, we learn the importance of using art to promote emotional literacy & the art of using our message and work to reach critical mass. Leila's artist development workshops have helped me reach heights as great as the Unitied Nations FPA (United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency) where I performed for their fundraiser hosted at the BMW headquarters to support girls' rghts. NeverSpeak has become my home, and my crew! They're the best when it comes to the performance aspect of my development & have been so pivotal in my creative writing journey as well. Philosophy, Shy But Flyy, Dr. V, and Tommy Domino have all taught me the ins and outs of this trade. Hiram Sims, founder of Community Literature Initiative (CLI) and cofounder of World Stage Press (WSP) saw the promise in my work & helped me bring my poetry into the form of a published book. He taught me so much at the time I needed to believe in the power of my work. Tommy Domino, is the bridge between my NeverSpeak, CLI, and WSP family. He is visible in all three communities. He is the reason I pushed to believe in myself. He saw it before so many people did and is lovingly crowned as the godfather of Yellow.
RM: What are some short-term goals that you are working towards, that friends and supporters can help you with?
RW: Some short term goals that I have are continuous performances around the area as well as as community workshops for my poetry as healing initiatives. My friends, family and supporters' presence are the most sacred gifts.
RM: What are one or two things that keep you grounded? How do you practice good self-care or how can you practice it better (if you've been lacking in that area)?
RW: Being outside in nature, and creating micro goals are helpful in managing projects when they get busy. Google calendar is my best friend! Balancing poetry and life as an artist with time for myself is so crucial. I enjoy good food, and take pleasure in things like a simple cup of coffee and the warm laughter of friends. Remaining in my gratitude has kept me anchored through the storm of the artists' life. I also find grounding in keeping in touch with loved ones who live far away or out of state. They keep me in awareness of who I am & where I come from. I have been lacking in stillness & down time at times because I always am on the go in some way shape or form. I am working towards slowing things down and managing my creative pursuits a few projects at a time.
RM: What are some words of wisdom or encouragement for upcoming creative entrepreneurs that you'd like to share?
RW: Things get busy, stressful and overwhelming but the key is in remembering the blessing and joy of being around love and support. Being around laughter is medicinal. Another important thing I try to remember is that every artist has their own style, lane and process. So when comparison or self doubt kicks in I try to remember how far I have come, and how no two journeys are the same, ever! Trusting in your own timing is everything. Remembering the importance of your gift, and your role as a vessel will carry you through the toughest of storms.
RM: What has been the best piece of advice you have ever received in reference to your career and industry?
RW: Every day will not look the same but CONSISTENCY is key! As long as I am consistent in my craft, it will always lead me where I need to go next.
Thanks for your support and for checking out this feature. You can check out her work, positive affirmations, and poetry here https://www.instagram.com/ravina.340/
It’s not easy for emerging creatives so when you see a video, remember to like, share, or leave a comment. Thanks for reading!
LINKS to the Ravina
I Am Root®
Check out more features at www.iamrootco.com/features
Subscribe to the I Am Root® Youtube Channel www.youtube.com/c/iamrootco1
Peep our last feature with London James
More Features: www.iamrootco.com/features
More about Dom Root
I am from Inglewood, California, and currently working in Phoenix, Arizona as a Sound Engineer (Live, Recording, and Mixing). I am a Music Producer and Creative Artist looking to build a portfolio and for live performance opportunities. I graduated from Arizona State University studying Creative Writing and Philosophy. I later studied audio production technologies at Mesa Community College, before taking on more freelance work.