A woman of many talents and trades, Rashan Ali continues to set the bar high for herself and encourage the next generation of women in media, sports, and philanthropy.
From taking over syndicated radio airwaves, delivering headlining news, to captivating viewers as a daytime television host, the Ali is no stranger to hard work and is a great example of the cultural idiom, “what is for you, will be for you.”
Living by her newly minted mission statement, “I do media differently,” Ali has made her mark with the intent of being recognized as an authentic and genuine figure in the media industry.
Unapologetic about her upbringing in Decatur, Georgia, Ali makes it known that while we see her in the public being poised, there’s also a very cool side of her and she’s not afraid to share that with the public.
Having had the pleasure of interviewing well-known rappers like Waka Flocka alongside notable public icons like Michelle Obama, Ali said she strives to lead by example.
“I was able to make both of those interviews be relatable to whom they need to be relatable to,” she explained. “People are always going to have opinions but the way that I do media is the way that I want to see media. Just be you.
“If there is something inside of you that wants to turn up when you hear Juvenile, that’s okay,” she assured. “But then you can also deliver a news story about what’s happening with President Trump and DACA, being able to be versatile, and I think that’s the beauty of what I mean by doing media differently.”
From radio to daytime television, we’ve seen Rashan work her way to the top, be knocked down, and rise again. Being transparent and sharing that she is no stranger to hardships and enduring closed doors in the media industry, Rashan shared that one of the most rewarding lessons during her was learning to fail.
Beginning with her career in radio, Ali said that radio made her the woman that she is today and she will forever be indebted.
“I love radio, the art of radio, being able to be quick on your feet and get the interviews, and gives you the true foundation that you need. Radio just taught me so much, it taught me how to fail, it taught me how to get fired and get back into another situation, but it taught me mostly how to be resilient.”
Acknowledging the foundation that it gave her and allowing her to be the best that she can be in the media industry, Ali shared a key piece of advice to those that are wanting to obtain success in the field: “The work that you put in really prepares you for where you’re going to be.”
Being able to rebound from the heart breaks she experienced in her career, Ali is now one of the hosts on TV One’s daytime television talk show, “Sister Circle Live.”
Describing her time on the show as a full circle moment for her, one of her favorite parts of working on the show is experiencing the growth and acknowledging how she has become a better leader.
Working as the moderator of the show, Ali acknowledges her role but is also very humble and knows that God didn’t create her to just be in that light and run with that title.
“I know He gave me that assignment, but he also gave me the gift of knowing how to navigate and make sure that no one ever feels like I’m talking too much or I’m thinking I’m this and I’m that, because I don’t roll like that,” she said.
Ali lit up when mentioning her co-hosts and how she enjoys bringing out the best parts of them and knowing what their best attributes are when it comes to conversations on the show.
“I know what makes Syleena feel good, I know what’ll get Quad riled up to give the best sound bite ever, I know how to alley-oop to Kiana to come in with a punchline, and that’s why I’m in this role,” she said, smiling. “I’ve learned to be a better leader and even a better friend.”
Embracing the three new friends that she’s made on the talk show, Ali said that as you grow older as a woman, so do your needs. Everyone that one grows up with or has known since college days, won’t always make it with them to the finish line, and that’s important to know.
“I’m 42—and about to be 43 in June—I still have friends from elementary school, but I can call Syleena and tell her about things that are happening in my day today, I have a friend in her,” she said. “It’s all about growth.”
Being a friend, a talk show host, as well as a mother and a wife, maintaining balance was not always easy for Ali.
Ali was surprisingly candid and honest about going through a period in her life where she’d put her career first without giving her husband, Brian Smith, the love and attention that he always deserved. In fact, this subject is a major theme of her upcoming book, “I Would Have Left Me,” a part autobiographical, part self-help opus that focuses on teaching women how to balance their careers with their family lives.
“I would have left me because I was so engulfed in the life,” Ali admitted. “Being in the club on Friday night, and I knew I was bringing money into the household .. that was my excuse. But all he (my husband) wanted was time, so now I understand that you can’t take any of this with you when you die, all you have is time and those precious moments.”
As learning balance was a work in progress for her, Ali explained that now she quickly says no and is unapologetic when she cannot be as available as she once was for others.
Getting to a place where family and her spirituality is her priority and everything else falls second, Ali still serves and keeps that as part of her brand, but she knows that it is okay to fall back and take a break.
“If it hurts someone’s feelings that’s okay but I’ve lifted and mended hearts prior to your hurt feelings,” she said.
As a mother of two daughters, Ali said she is working to raise them into strong black women. No stranger to mistakes, Ali admits that she is human and makes it a point with her girls to never be afraid to apologize and vulnerable with her daughters.
“I have two young black girls who are looking up to me and seeking guidance and I hope that I can give them what they need,” Ali explained. “You know, our parents didn’t really apologize but I want them to know that I am human and I make mistakes.”
When Ali isn’t delivering daytime topics on The Sister Circle, she’s out in the community with her nonprofit organization, “Sporty Girls Inc.” or chopping it up with fellow Greek organization members on her podcast, “Cool Soror.”
With her non-profit, Ali expressed that her love for athleticism started at a young age when her father taught her to swim and she began to swim competitively at the age of 5. Quickly noticing the lack of girls in the water, furthermore, the lack of other black girls in the water, Ali knew she wanted to make a change.
Sporty Girls Inc. was created to encourage young black women to take part in non-traditional sports, like swimming, soccer, tennis, and lacrosse.
“When black girls do anything, we do it well,” she said. “It’s just … we stop right around the age of 14, or 15, especially now with social media and these other distractions.”
Ali said she was inspired to set up her nonprofit when she considered the importance of young women of color earning scholarships to offset the costs related to attending colleges and universities.
Serving over 1,000 girls in the metro-Atlanta area, Sporty Girls has program alumnae enrolled at Grambling State, Princeton, Howard, Georgia State universities and so many more.
Whether it was sports or academic scholarship, the girls who have participated with Sporty Girls have gone on to further their education and become better leaders and all around better women.
Continuing to impact those around her, Ali encourages community engagement with her podcast, “Cool Soror.” As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Ali acknowledges the amazing women in all black Greek organizations across the board.
Spreading the love, Ali has now expanded the brand to “Cool Bruhs” and “Cool People;” both platforms acknowledge and engage in conversation with those outside sororities as well as people who are not in a greek organization.
“Almost 600,000 downloads later, I think I made the right decision with that.”
You can catch her on TV One weekly hosting ‘The Sister Circle’ at 12/11C and keep up with her on social media @rashanali.