Born and raised in Decatur, Nia Symone has been playing basketball since she was four. She continued to play through the collegiate level for Alabama State University, where she graduated in 2019 with a degree in Communications.
Symone initially wanted to go into sports media, but decided to deviate from the norm and create her own platform, Purpose to Be Heard Productions LLC. While Symone is also a host for Nike’s online series, “Come Thru,” she realized the pivot she made was exactly what was needed for her career.
“People always say, ‘if you want to be in the sports media room, you’ll have to go the traditional route- go be a sports reporter in the middle of nowhere Mississippi, and be there for two years and climb your way up,’” Symone said. “I quickly realized that’s not what I wanted to do. And so I just kind of made a pivot. And here I am now, I have not left Atlanta at all since I’ve graduated and my career has been off to a great start.
Purpose to Be Heard is a digital storytelling platform with the intent of creating a safe, community environment for former and current athletes. Symone decided to create her own company because of the lack of resources available for athletes.
“I just saw the gap when it comes to resources for athletes like me,” Symone said. “Imagine doing something [for] damn near half your life. And one day you wake up, and you’re no longer doing it anymore. No one’s telling you where to go, how to do it, where to do it, when to do it.”
Knowing that the majority of athletes don’t make it to the professional leagues, one of the things Symone wanted to help people with is the transition of retiring athletes. She read once that an athlete dies twice, once in retirement and then their actual death. She sees this as a side of sports that isn’t always discussed and created Purpose to Be Heard to fill that gap.
“Fewer than 2% of us actually get on the professional athletes … So what does that other 98% do? A lot of us don’t know, a lot of us didn’t have time to get jobs or internships. Some of us majored in stuff that we didn’t care about in order just to be eligible to play on the collegiate level. There are no resources, absolutely not one resource or a safe space for athletes, to number one, connect, but number two, to get non-athletes and society that understand that we are humans, just like everybody else.”
Purpose to Be Heard will feature both short and long-form content in the future. This digital platform allows for Symone to have a chance to combine her love for sports and storytelling, as she will be producing the documentaries.
She plans to attempt to tell the stories of all athletes, regardless of sport of the level they play at because to her, their stories are not so different.
The platform will also include content that promotes mental health and overall wellness. To Symone, it’s just as important for athletes to not only train their bodies, but their minds as well.
“If we take the time, 15 minutes out of our day to do some guided meditation, some quiet time, some yoga, whatever works best for you, or even talking to a therapist once or twice a week- That’s working out your mind.”
In March, Purpose to Be Heard will have a community wellness and yoga session in Atlanta. For the future, Symone hopes her company will continue to expand to allow it to reach athletes all over the world.
“I can’t Google right now and say, ‘Is there a mental health spotlight strictly for athletes to call and talk to somebody?” Symone said. “Just shaking the table being a Black woman in this space, and creating these films, directing these films … I see this platform growing into being a multi-million dollar digital platform to just help curate content as well as also making sure that we are taking care of our community around us and eventually expand into other parts of the country and then eventually globally.”