Writer/speaker and Chief Creative Officer at IDEAS xLab
Family: Daughter Brianna Wright; Three cats Susu, Mittens, and Karma; and one dog, Peanut Butter
By Carrie Vittitoe | Photo by Kylene White
Hannah Drake has loved words since she was three when she first learned to read. They’ve just always made sense to her, and stringing them into powerful paragraphs felt like connecting puzzle pieces to form a complete picture. She tinkered with the idea of becoming a lawyer but ultimately decided she would major in communications and use her words in a different way to, as she says, “shake a nation.”
When is your best time to write?
I tend to write early in the morning when thoughts are flowing before I start all the other things. Sometimes there is something going on in the world I should address.
What is your work at IDEAS xLab?
My work there is centered around the (Un)Known Project. It’s about finding the names of Black men, women, and children that were enslaved in Kentucky and beyond. Most of my writing is about racism, politics, and humanism in some way.
What is your professional dream?
I really want to see the (Un)Known Project become a national project. I think it’s important for this nation to recognize its role in slavery.
What is the most challenging thing about being a writer and speaker?
I believe if you’re good at what you do, you’re going to have to say things that people don’t like. But I’m a firm believer in speaking the truth. If people don’t like it, that’s OK.
What are the rewards of being a writer and speaker?
When you do this type of work, the rewards are very few. Sometimes people will come back to me and say, ‘You helped me think differently about that’ or ‘I understand this better now.’ I love to speak to young people because they just get it. To know I’m impacting young people is always a good thing. With this type of work, sometimes you’re planting seeds for a harvest you’re just not going to enjoy.
What was a pivotal moment in your writing journey?
I was watching Bill Clinton’s inauguration, and a beautiful Black woman got up and read a poem. I said, ‘Who was that?’ It was Maya Angelou. I knew it immediately: that’s the thing I’m supposed to do.
What is an important lesson you’ve learned?
Everything begins with self. Any change you’re going to make in life will never start outside; it will start inside of you. Loving yourself in every aspect will always start inwardly. Dealing with tough issues – racism, homophobia, sexism – it’s an inward thing. Nobody likes to look at themselves; it doesn’t feel good.
How do you get out of a creativity slump?
My friend taught me this: Go outside and write about your block. Writing is everywhere. Change your scenery. Something in nature will always give you something to write about.
What is your all-time favorite food?
Pizza. I can eat pizza before bed, as I sleep, when I wake up.
What is a mundane topic that you have a very strong opinion about?
Mint juleps are nasty. I wanted to like them, and I just couldn’t.
If you could live in a movie, which one would you choose to live in and why?
I would probably live in The Matrix. It’s one of my favorite movies. I love the stop-time action where they can dodge bullets. I love that they are helping people see the truth.
What would we find in your car right now? Is it clean or a mess?
It’s a boiling hot mess. I have artist stuff, a lot of pens. I went to Costco, so I have toilet paper still in my car. My dog’s carrier.
What do you most value in your friendships?
Honesty, truth, [and] reliability.