Christina Mazzi: ProjectWOC

1.) What first compelled you to create ProjectWOC? And what did it mean to you at the time?

I went through a hard time in middle school. To put it simply I was not confident in myself, the color of my skin, or my heritage. Now mix this lack of self confidence with the everyday things a prepubescent girls goes through and  you can properly gage what my life was like at the time. But this stage did not last forever. I survived middle school and come high school I was doing so much better. I began to dedicate more time to my studies and as my grades reflected the hard work I was putting in I reached a state of pure content. I joined lots of different extracurriculars and made friends from different walks of life. Come high school I became happy. What compelled me to start ProjectWOC was the realization that not everyone got the chance to overcome the feeling of low-self confidence come high school. The realization that even though I had reached the light at the end of my tunnel, there were others who hadn’t. And i felt it would be unfair of me to not turn back and help others reach their light. Almost like the quotes “empowered women empower women” and “be who you needed when you were younger” (my two ALL time favorite quotes) So ProjectWOC was basically an idea that I thought I as a young girl of color could have benefited from in middle school. I decided that creating it would help the thousands of other girls who were unfortunate enough to be experiencing what I experienced. At the time when i first launched ProjectWOC it felt like something that was sitting on my shelf waiting to be executed. (If that makes sense). From a young age I have always told my family that I wanted to me a CEO, so founding something felt- definitely scary- but also natural. Launching ProjectWOC meant to me that through a simple snapchat account I had the opportunity to reach and impact even one girl’s life for the better.

2.) How did your own identity fuel the project?

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Like i mentioned before being a young woc growing up in America wasn't exactly easy. Therefore, making something I thought could impact girls of color going through what i once went through is my number one motivation. My past experiences and my identity as a black woman in this country push me to do more for my community.

3.) Why did you feel this project was necessary to create?

ProjectWOC was necessary to create because of the cycle of life. Once i put into perspective the fact that ‘however much older i grow and however much happier I am at the moment, there are still girls in middle school going through what I once did’ everything changed. I acknowledged that if I didn’t do anything to stop - or at least alleviate- the issue the cycle would never end. And I- a bystander - would have simply watched and done nothing. It would have been hypocritical of me not to start it. After starting it I then realized that the bigger issue was representation. ProjectWOC was necessary to create because the lack of representation in media of successful WOC was impacting the younger generation terribly. I did not see it this way at age 12, but if I had know of more than 1 or 2 successful african women succeeding in the field I strived to succeed in I promise you middle school would have gone  a lot smoother.

4.) What does the project mean to you now? How has it changed over time?

To me, ProjectWOC means every young woc getting the opportunity to dream. Being presented with successful woc after successful woc (who by the way are more than willing to lend an ear or a hand and even offer advice) is bound to give viewers the idea that they too can get there to where these young women are. The meaning has not changed much. I guess I just went from seeing it as a way to impact someone’s life for the better to witnessing firsthand numerous girls watch it and admit that they benefited from it in one way or another

5.) How does the world affect your project? How does America affect your artwork?

The world affects my project for the better. It pushes me to try even harder to make projectwoc something that can benefit everyone. It pushes me to make projectwoc more diverse (in terms of the people we showcase). It pushes me to grow projectwoc from simply me, to me and five other people that are working day in and day out to make it a better platform. America fuels my energy to continue bettering projectwoc. Especially with the political and social climate, girls of color need something that passes on the subliminal message that they can and should dream


Zehra Naqvi