Mavens: Kayleen Morgan, The Dynamic Storyteller

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Kayleen Morgan also better known among her peers as Kaylo is a young, vibrant and phenomenal 22-year-old that has captured the hearts of many as she makes a name for herself as a multimedia journalist, photographer and videographer while capturing people’s stories for broadcast news. She is also the owner of IetsKaylo.co.za.

“I give people a platform to tell stories, mainly those in the African creative space and predominantly femmes who don’t have the platform or means to curate their own stories,” she said.

Although Kayleen is still figuring herself and gifts out, as she navigates through her twenties, she says her top 3 greatest achievements thus far are getting through varsity, getting into her dream industry and being acknowledged by some of her favourite artists like singer/songwriter King Thandiswa Mazwai for the work she has done with them.

The creative industry is not an easy one to break into, let alone make a lasting mark, but Kayleen has seamlessly found a way to push the boundaries and create her own signature.

Photo: Provided

“At the moment, I’ve noticed that there are not a lot of women in the news space documenting. At times you’re met with a cold shoulder being young, female and black in a space that is widely dominated by older men. I plan to not only continue my work but encourage more women to get into the field and break the cycle,” she said.

“I know people are told to have 5-year, 10-year, 100-year goals but in all honesty thinking ahead like that gives me anxiety. I have a bucket list of things I want to have been, seen and done in the end but I focus more on where I see myself in the short term and my short term is 3 months. So, before I overshare and jinx myself, all I’m going to say is we’ll all see future Kaylo and be surprised by her together,” Kayleen added.

It’s always a nice surprise speaking on the phone with someone and answering the ‘so can we have the name of the camera crew’ with ‘I am the camera crew’

Kayleen says she is greatly inspired by the women who raised her as she grew up in a home predominantly occupied by strong, successful and fiercely independent women. “That’s my main inspo, you can see it in the way I look, behave, dress and dream. You can feel the people who inspire me through my actions. The company I keep also inspire me in many ways, I believe that when you see the people that I engage with and am surrounded by, you see me.  Characters in African literature for some weird reason and in general, there are too many other things that catch my attention,” she said.

Photo: Provided

Growing up in post-apartheid and still infant democratic South Africa is not an easy space to navigate, especially as a first generation born free South African black woman. The anxiety and stress to live up to certain expectations and become something greater than the generation before, whether it be from your own folks or society at large – it can all be a bit a minefield at times. However, Ms. Morgan seems to be doing a great job, one story, picture, success and lesson at a time. Thinking about her childhood, Kayleen says  she would tell her 16-year-old self, “Can you see? Told you it would all work out!

Worst fear? Failure – failing myself, I’m afraid of standing in my own way,” she said.

“The industry is extremely small and though there are several well-known femme faces in news, there aren’t enough of us doing camera work, narrating black female stories through the lens or directing and producing. It’s important in a space where women are looked down on or expected to be at a lower level. It’s always a nice surprise speaking on the phone with someone and answering the ‘so can we have the name of the camera crew’ with ‘I am the camera crew’,” she said.

Photo: Blossom Lovely Photography 

“I think people will always know me for being genuine, God didn’t bless me with acting skills or a poker face. I also hope that someday my work will speak for me and that my name will become synonymous with the process of documenting stories- our stories. There is never a dull moment EVER, I’m grateful for that, not only in terms of news but in general there is a sea of stories to be told. Sometimes I’m in a space for one thing and after talking to people, I get inspired and think of ways of telling those stories. That’s why it’s always so important for me to be open to listening, when people talk, they are giving you a piece of themselves and if that’s worth sharing then I am always happy to do that,” she added.

As a lover of stories, telling and creating narratives, Kayleen said writing was like second nature and therefore believes the path of journalism and being and content producer chose her.

Photo: Provided

“I can’t sing, can’t draw, can’t count, scared of the police so can’t steal but because I’ve always liked things (and when you like things you always have information) and when you put the two together journalism makes sense. I only began to love the idea of really telling people’s stories around 2014, though I’ve been interested in journalism since grade 10,” she said.

“Journalism isn’t as sexy as its made to seem on the movies, yes there’s coffee, new locations and people every day but no one really speaks about how taxing journalism can become if you don’t take care of yourself.  There are many instances where you go to a story that’s emotionally taxing and you feel helpless because you can’t really change the situation, you can only relay the story. Sometimes you’ll feel like a vulture invading in people’s space. It’s also a lonely space many a times, you give a lot to your craft and a busy person isn’t a very attractive selling point but despite that in life everything is a give and take, if you love what you do, there’s satisfaction at the end of every day that your byline rolls at the end of your work,” she added.

Feminism may be in these days and seem cool but for many women like Kayleen, it is a way of life, being and a personal journey of discovery. “It is something I’m still learning about every day. It’s about the freedom to choose without being boxed by societal norms or systemic obstacles that enable those norms. Basically, it’s being able to do as you please with an equal playing field.  I’m also still customizing my feminism but in general I try to be myself and do what I want and like to do every day. One of these things is choosing to look ladylike in a job that one is apparently supposed to dim oneself down for. Of course, I aim to look appropriate for the circumstances I’ll be working in but I ain’t gonna be looking like someone who doesn’t have nice clothes in their closet for a press conference. I am also learning not to doubt myself so much in the work I do, but remind myself that I am damn capable, there’s something empowering about practicing confidence, you believe before achieving and I think that’s extremely important,” she concluded.