D.C.-based musician-filmmaker Be Steadwell discusses her journey as a Black queer creative and how she has stayed the course.
Like a great many artists, Be Steadwell has faced down that nagging ghost of self-doubt. For Steadwell, however, the voice that likes to decree “you are not good enough” is actually much more a societal product premised on an inherent history of racism and systemic inequality.
“Imposter syndrome, I think, is really sexism, white supremacy, homophobia in your body manifesting,” she said. “There are systems that tell us we’re not supposed to be in places. We’re not supposed to play instruments.
“All of that feels intentional; it’s not some [innocuous] thing that just happens to us.”
As a Black queer musician and filmmaker, Steadwell knows this issue well, which is why she has worked so hard to dull its sting by pressing on—and telling that naysaying gremlin that she is not only deserving but thriving.
As a teenager, Steadwell joined the jazz band at D.C.’s Field School. The band leader was flabbergasted at her audition when she sang a standard called “Solitude,” made famous when performed by, among others, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday.