Media and Entertainment Visionaries
Bri Steves, KLN ’16
For hip-hop and R&B recording artist Bri Steves, an invite to a professional recording studio in South Philadelphia one night during her junior year was all it took to find purpose.
Pawning the beloved viola she’d had since grade school to purchase recording equipment, Steves, whose real name is Brianna Stevenson, made the decision to pursue a career in rap.
Just two years after earning her degree in public relations, she landed a multi-year deal with Atlantic Records. Steves’ debut single Jealousy peaked at No. 15 on the Urban Mainstream Charts.
“Temple is where I discovered how I wanted to sound.”
Rafael Logroño, KLN ’17, ’19
Rafael Logroño has always felt driven to push powerful institutions to be more inclusive and representative of underserved communities. It’s what has inspired him to take action, like starting the first Spanish-language talk show on Temple University Television and helping to organize NYC Pride in 2017.
Logroño recently completed a master’s degree at Klein College of Media and Communication, where he teaches Latinx media courses.
“My goal as a journalist is to find great stories, have meaningful conversations and give voice to communities that are underrepresented.”
Kalen Allen, TFM ’18
When Kalen Allen decided to flip a camera on himself in late 2017 and document his reaction to (read: scathing critique of) a cornbread-focused cooking video, comedian Seth Rogen helped cast the then-Temple senior’s video into virality.
“Thank you for this,” Rogen’s tweet response read.
A year later, Allen had secured a role in a movie with Rogen, one about a man who is accidentally brined in a pickle factory.
Expect to see more from Allen.
Following Rogen’s tweet, and even before graduating, Allen became an online sensation, moved to Los Angeles and landed a job with Ellen Degeneres’ EllenTube, where his “OMKalen” video series expands upon his success speaking truth to cooking-video power.
Allen, who trained in stage acting, envisions himself returning to those roots at some point. Perhaps on Broadway, or maybe he’ll host his own show.
His advice to others looking to enter the industry: “It’s all about visibility; it’s all about marketing,” he says. “If you don’t have that, then you have nothing.”
Sofiya Ballin, KLN ’14
Writer. Activist. Educator.
All of these words accurately describe Sofiya Ballin, but her passion for storytelling has been the defining force in her life.
This former reporter’s work has appeared widely, including in Huffington Post and Essence Magazine. In 2016, she created Black History Untold while at the Philadelphia Inquirer and left in 2018 to produce it independently. From the beginning, the annual project has featured legendary community leaders, including MC Black Thought, Philadelphia Eagle Malcolm Jenkins, actor/activist Jesse Williams, TFM ’03, poet and professor emerita Sonia Sanchez, Grammy-nominated singer Jasmine Sullivan, iconic dancer Judith Jamison, and everyday people sharing black history knowledge that has changed their lives. For the project, Ballin has won a host of accolades, most notably Digital Journalist of the Year in 2017 by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.
“I love black people and I love telling our stories,” says Ballin. “I have always loved exploring our culture(s) and who we are as a people.”
Today, she is preparing to unveil a series entitled HERSTORY. The new project profiles the lives of close to 40 different women of color, conveying these stories across a host of multimedia platforms.
Growing up in a Jamaican family instilled in Ballin an awareness of the importance of diversity in black culture and her desire to tell Pan-African stories. Temple provided Ballin with an environment where that understanding could flourish.
“At Temple, we interacted, we debated, we protested.” says Ballin. “It definitely shaped me on this path I’m currently on.”
“I want to tell our stories in a way that people from all walks of life can understand.”