When we first saw Naomi Wadler take the podium at the March for Our Lives last year, we knew this was a child destined for big things. The then 11-year-old spoke eloquently about not only the power and awareness of the youngest members of our society, but also the need to ensure black women and girls aren’t lost in the shuffle of conversations around gun violence. Her jaw-dropping poise and presence was a much-needed reminder that there is indeed hope for our future.
The first anniversary of March for Our Lives was last Sunday, and in the past year, Wadler’s voice and impact have only grown, garnering her bookings on the international speaking circuit and honors from the Tribeca Film Festival and Black Girls Rock!, to name a few. In fact, the now 12-year-old has most recently been named one of The Root’s 2019 Young Futurists, announced on Wednesday.
Now, Wadler has a new platform, thanks to media mogul Ellen DeGeneres, who featured Wadler on her hit talk show last year. DiversiTEA with Naomi Wadler premiered on Friday as part of the Ellen Digital Network—with help from a very special guest. The approximately five-minute web-series puts Wadler in the hosting seat, and Serena Williams was her first guest.
Though greeting one of her heroes, Wadler didn’t hold back on direct questions, asking Williams about what she wants girls of color to know about their power, how little white girls can be better allies, and addressing the gun violence that has tragically touched Williams’ own life, with the 2003 murder of older sister Yetunde Price.
“I think we need to get comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations,” Williams said, noting that Price’s death had compelled her (and sister Venus) to start a charity to provide a resource to those affected by gun violence.
Also on hand for Naomi’s first episode? The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil, who spoke about the rising representation of women of color and ended Wadler’s first ep with some very sage advice.
“Every time that you feel content with yourself, and you feel powerful, and you feel like you are good, just as you are, that is an act of feminist resistance. So, I implore you to do that,” Jamil said.
Is this the beginning of the next Oprah-level empire? It’s likely decades too early to say, but as a release on her new venture notes, DiversiTEA with Naomi Wadler “is one opportunity for Naomi to further her mission to provide a platform for diverse voices, particularly black girls and girls of color.”
“I’m so excited about this opportunity to be a part of the Ellen Digital Network and to share these stories,” Wadler said in a statement. “By putting a positive spin on spilling tea, my goal is to uplift, inform and inspire other girls and women, and I hope these conversations help to do just that.”