Akilah Hughes

“Obviously: Stories From My Time Line” written by Akilah Hughes is one of those very insightful and very, very funny books that make you wish that you and Akilah Hughes were friends, good friends, you know the kind of sisterhood friends where you text just because you can.

Hughes is also one of those friends that would inspire you to get up and get going. She follows Nike’s mantra, you know—just do it—and does not allow the proverbial grass to grow under her feet. To wit, she currently co-hosts the daily news podcast “What A Day for Crooked Media,” considered a funny and an incredibly informative news sourcemaking, Hughes one of a very few women of color hosting a daily news podcast because she’s determined to help change the face of political media and podcasting in particular.

If you have not heard her podcast here is a link with her co-host Gideon Resnick. They interviewed presidential candidate Julian Castro: https://crooked.com/podcast/look-julians-talking/ . She’s also a recurring guest on HBO’s Pod Save America.

What I really like about Hughes is that she’s a smarty pants—a compliment—fighting for justice using logic and humor to make her point. She’s on our side. She’s one of us and in her touching and relentlessly funny, recently published memoir by Penguin Random House, “Obviously: Stories From My Time Line,” she dares to share the gritty incidents what shaped her life.

Hughes is only 29-years-old. She grew up in a very small, very White town, in the very White state of Kentucky. She was a spelling bee champ (not a surprise for a smarty pants), graduated high school at 15, and made her way to New York to pursue her dreams … by Greyhound. From Kentucky which she describes as “a delight.”

Making boss moves in the entertainment industry she’s cultivated a loyal audience with nearly 150k followers on Twitter and over 160k subscribers on YouTube with some of her videos receiving over one million views. You may remember her first viral hit the video “Your First Black Girlfriend.” MTV noticed and hired her to punch up some writing with her jokes which lead to her making videos for MTV. She’s clear stating “I Owe my entire career to YouTube.”

On top of her aforementioned book she has an overall deal with Viacom where Hughes is developing two web series.

Now, to her book …

“Obviously stories from my time line” is only 272 pages and it’s a fast read. It begins like this: For my friend, Oprah. Yes, that one. Her book has 31 chapters that I believe is a clear blue print to shaping a television show (pay attention Viacom executives) the chapters are: A Note, What’s In A Name, Marilynn, George, Where To Say Your Dad Lives When He’s Dead, The Little Cheerleader that Couldn’t, Fifth Grade Is A Scam, Birthdays Are, Too, I Don’t Love Animals, Internet Person, Racism To A Fifteen-Year Old Girl, Best Friendship, Bad Skin, Disney, The South, Colleage Years, Getting Too Good At Your Plan B, How to Literally Get TO New York, Eight Movies That Gave Me False Expectatins About Living in New York, My Clothes Suck, Starstruck, New York, End of my Relationship, Weight, Anxious Energy, How to Make A YouTube Video, BB and Jennifere, Flirting At Every Age, Being Sick, Karoake Is Cheaper Than Therapy, Sundance Kid and finally Acknowledgements.

But before I begin to share a few of my favorite passages of Hughes’ book.

I will refer to page four in the chapter entitled What’s in a Name where she took the time to help the reader learn how to pronounce Akilah Hughes. Here it goes—UH-KEE-LUH SAH-EE-DUH KAH-MUH-REE-UH HUES. In case your curious her name is Swahili, Arabic, and Irish respectively.

Taking a serious turn, she pulls herself inside-out when giving the gritty details of her challenging relationship with her father. She does not like him and based on his behavior she should not like him. In WHERE TO SAY YOUR DAD LIVES WHEN HE’S DEAD she offers the following: “Underground.” “Depends on what you believe.” “On a farm update with all the other dogs.” “Bad memories mostly.” “He doesn’t.” That’s the chapter.

In the chapter, THE SOUTH you quickly get a picture of what she feels about living there. It reads: “WHAT’S BEAUTIFUL ABOUT IT? Biscuits. WHAT’S BAD ABOUT IT? Racism.” That’s the chapter, I was laughing for five minutes. Why? Because she simmered it down to the truth of the matter. Love it.

I’ll leave you with Jon Lovett, Pod Save America’s review of “Obviously: Stories From My Time Line.” “This book is like Akilah: vulnerable but tough, positive without being annoying, and so, so funny. Through all of the stories—some happy, some sad, some insane—there’s always a message that said don’t give up. Boyfriendss let you down. Racoons fall through ceiling vents. Sh*t happens. Keep going.”

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