By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Aug 31, 2021 at 5:01 PM

Black Is Beautiful is a series of interviews with interesting, intelligent and immersed-in-their-passion local African American women.

The struggle has been real for Milwaukee's Sorrina Beecher. Even though she knew since a child that she wanted to be a writer, her journey to get there was challenging.

Today, she runs her own business, continues to work towards her creative dreams and has almost raised a caring and hilarious human being.

She also pops up in Charlie Berens videos now and again.

OnMilwaukee: Where were you born and raised? Also, where did you attend high school and college?

Sorrina Beecher: I was born in North Carolina and raised in Ozaukee County. I lived in Saukville/Port Washington for nearly two-thirds of my life. Today, I live in Saint Francis. I attended Port Washington High School. Started college in North Carolina, and moved back to attend MATC Milwaukee, and later – after working as a newspaper reporter in North Carolina – transferred to Marquette University, where I majored in Journalism and minored in Political Science.  

What do you currently do for work?

I am a content strategist and an SEO consultant. During the pandemic, I left my full-time job and launched The White Agency, a Content Strategy and SEO business, where I use storytelling and SEO analytics to guide content strategy, brand positioning, growth marketing and multimedia production across a wide range of industries. I also work as an independent journalist.  

How is this work fulfilling for you? 

I like to say that I was born with book ink in my veins. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to tell stories. My first dream was to become an author. I used to keep a box of books at the foot of my bed and took many trips to the Oscar Grady library, where I would check out 10 books at a time. I would spend hours reading my Dad’s giant dictionary and his encyclopedia collection. And he would always share his copy of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel with me. Later, a healthy obsession with Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters officially piqued my interest in journalism. 

It’s hard to explain why writing is so fulfilling for me. First, I have an innate interest in sharing and writing about the human experience — and I believe certain people are destined to serve as documenters. Everybody has a story and I always want to know what it is. It’s an unexplained compulsion, really. Second, stories have power. I once wrote a story about a home for people living with AIDS that was on the brink of closing. After the story ran, it received a donation large enough to stay open. In another instance, I wrote a story about a domestic violence shelter that was able to do the same. Occasionally, I’ll walk into a business and see a story I wrote posted on the lobby wall. Knowing the stories I’ve written mattered to someone or gave someone a voice is extremely fulfilling. 

With my background in journalism, SEO, and PR, my career as a content strategist was a natural progression. I have a passion for helping organizations craft and share their business story. I feel like I have the best of both worlds.  

Lastly, becoming a writer wasn’t an easy task. Choosing journalism as a career path as a young, single mom was hard. In my first week of college, an instructor pulled me aside to tell me that I should choose something more practical, such as healthcare. But I was determined. Deep down I knew I was a writer, and I fought through a lot of adversity to arrive here. I’ve had amazing support from my family and wonderful mentors along the way. I’ve been a writer now for about 15 years. I can’t imagine being anything else. There's satisfaction in knowing I made it happen.

How does your work move Milwaukee forward?

A byline doesn’t mean much to me at the end of the day, but I hope the stories I do get to tell leave a lasting impact — whether it's shining a light on an under-funded non-profit or introducing readers to a new business that will help fuel the local economy. Over the past few years, I have intentionally sought out a diverse range of subjects to share their stories, with the goal of increasing representation in the media and beyond. 

In my current business, most of my clients are out of state but occasionally I work with local organizations to help boost their visibility in the region. 

How else are you involved in your community?

I am a proud member of Emerging Women Leaders (EWL) through TEMPO, and serve on the leadership committee. I am really proud of the work taking place within the organization and hope to contribute to growing its diverse representation. I am also a volunteer and “friend” of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. As someone who struggled financially in the past and knows personally how it feels to choose between putting gas in your tank or eating lunch, hunger is a cause close to my heart. I love everything they do. 

Additionally, I’ve served on committees for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Press Club, and EWL.

Have you ever thought about moving from Milwaukee?

When I launched my business, I definitely had the realization that I could go and work from anywhere. But I truly love living here. It’s not as pretentious as the coasts, has beautiful parks, a stunning lakefront and a vibrant Downtown. It’s also changing; there’s an energy in the city that’s undeniable, and I can’t wait to see where that gets us. 

How old is your son and what would you like to share about them?

My son Trevon is 17. He just started his senior year and I bawled like a baby in the dropoff line on his first day of school. It feels like yesterday that I dropped him off at kindergarten. He’s an amazing, hilarious kid and I feel so blessed to be his mom. He is my motivating factor, through and through. He has an interest in writing, but he’s still undecided about his college goals. But, I’m excited to see how his story will unfold. 

Creative writing is also a passion of yours. Can you share more about what you write "on your own" time?

When I’m not writing for work, I am writing non-fiction essays, bits for my stand-up comedy or satirical essays. As a bi-racial woman who grew up in the suburbs, became a teen parent and ended up working as a pregnant waitress in the rural South, among other shambolic adventures, there is a TON of material to work from.

What writing recognitions are you the most proud of?

At Marquette, I won the Ann Powers Writing Award for a novel I was writing, and in 2018 I won a scholarship from The Sun literary magazine. Writing for a weekend in the Appalachian Mountains with other authors was definitely a turning point for me. Since then, I’ve been working on my book proposal and seeking a literary agent for my collection of satirical essays. 

When I was starting out as a journalist, I pretty much begged editors to give me a chance. I wrote letters. Sent emails. Made phone calls. And submitting to literary publications and seeking out an agent feels like I’m starting that process all over again, which is super intimidating but also incredibly exciting. I’ve achieved many of the goals I’ve set forth for myself — going to college, becoming a journalist, starting my own business — so I’m hoping becoming an author is in the cards for me, too.  

What is one thing you love about Milwaukee?

I love our traditions, our people, and our unique brand of humor. Whether it’s rooting for the Brewer’s over brats, taking in the music at Summerfest, going out for a beer, or just sitting around a bonfire exchanging banter, it’s home.  

What is one thing you don't love about Milwaukee?

When it comes to providing equal opportunities, Milwaukee still has a long way to go. I believe we’re moving the needle on change, but those efforts must extend beyond Downtown. Frankly, I am still one of the only women of color in the room, far too often. I used to think this was normal, because that’s the way it always was for me. But it should never be normal. I never realized the depths of systemic racism in Milwaukee until I moved to the area. The segregation is jarring. It’s easy to ignore when you live 30 miles north. And that’s part of the problem … It's on all of us to step out of our bubbles, confront the truth and steer our time and resources toward change. Milwaukee will be a better city — for all of its residents — because of it.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.