Somali media executive Hodan Nalayeh is on a quest to show the global world that African stories are nuanced and varied, and not at all how we’re accustomed to seeing them in the mainstream. A 13-year veteran in the media and marketing industries, Nalayeh has worked on some of the biggest American shows, including American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. But it’s her work with the Cultural Integration Agency, a full-service media firm where she serves as president, where she is able to curate and support multicultural programming. A 2014 partnership with Cameraworks Productions International enabled the two entities to produce a television format of this programming, setting in motion Nalayeh’s half-hour Somali community show Integration: Building A New Cultural Identity.
Through her travels, Nalayeh connects with young storytellers, entrepreneurs, and creatives; most notably, she has showcased the youth culture of the Horn of Africa with thought and care. “Our stories that are not just about suffering are valid and should be told more often,” she posted on Twitter, where she often shares snippets of her stories. “We are more than our pain. We are living and thriving.”