Black History Month: Leading the Way

Luvvie Ajayi Excels at Throwing Shade – and Built a Career on It

Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Pennsylvania Conference for Women

Everyone has opinions, but not everyone’s opinions turn them into humor icons.

When Luvvie Ajayi first started blogging almost 15 years ago, she had no idea where her writing would take her. The self-described “professional shade thrower” is known for her witty takes on everything from politics to last week’s “Scandal.” The humorist has half-million online followers on her social media platforms and her personal blog Awesomely Luvvie.

An early adopter of writing online, Luvvie got her start blogging about her life on campus at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “I was kind of peer-pressured into doing it because my friends were like, ‘You should get a web blog.’ I said, ‘OK, l guess I will,’”she tells NPR. “So I did, and I was talking about all things: my life, undergrad, whoever I was beefing with that day, exams I didn’t study for. So it was pretty boring.”

But in 2006, Luvvie started broadened her scope and started taking on popular culture, race and gender. That’s when her blog took off. She bounces seamlessly from hilariously skewering Facebook oversharers one minute and galvanizing activist communities around injustice the next. “Humor is this great equalizer,“ she told The New York Times. “It gets people’s defenses down, and once they’re down, you can discuss some really difficult topics.”

Her first book, “I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual,” was an instant New York Times bestseller, debuting at number five. The witty collection of essays challenges readers to be our best selves, both online and off.

Ajayi’s writing has earned her some very powerful fans. After reading her hilarious “Scandal” recaps online, Shonda Rhimes garnered a deal to turn Ajayi’s book into a television show“Frankly, she’s not only hilarious, she’s also intelligent and insightful and speaks for a group of people and a generation that don’t get heard often in powerful circles,” Rhimes said of Ajayi’s work.

When she isn’t busy making people do spit takes with her writing, Ajayi is giving back to her community. She is the co-founder and executive director of the Red Pump Project, a nonprofit that seeks to raise awareness about HIV/AIDs and its impact on women and girls.

You can donate to the Red Pump Project here.

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