CultureCon Founder Imani Ellis on the New York Conference, a ‘Celebration of Joy and Freedom’

Imani Ellis has created a safe area for younger professionals and creatives to study and develop in their industries.

After running her manner up from the NBC page program to vice chairman of communications at the media agency, Ellis organically dreamed up the idea for CultureCon — a conference for changemakers of coloration to connect of their personal careers — in her Harlem condominium.

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“I think for me, I was seeking out community,” Ellis tells PEOPLE. “I had a process that I cherished, however I become trying to find where I may want to form of speak approximately all of the different elements of my existence, so I invited 10 buddies and I cooked for them.”

As the daughter of preachers, she loved attending bible studies all through her life and being part of comforting, secure spaces. And via her profession working in publicity, she had a natural passion for speaking with others. She replicated these experiences in her N.Y.C. Home — with a trap for her pals before they might come over for the get-together.

“The best rule for this invitation turned into that they had to bring someone that they might vouch for,” she says.

“It turned into supposed to be a one-time factor, however at the cease, everyone turned into like, ‘Great, when’s the next one?’ ” This revel in supplied the framework for Ellis to not best create CultureCon, however to also observed the Creative Collective NYC, a community of specialists devoted to developing courageous spaces for Black and Brown creatives.

Ellis and TheCCnyc have hosted CultureCon considering that 2017 with the main undertaking to help people community as evidently as viable.

“We virtually do invite young specialists and creatives to come back and be curious to satisfy different humans [and] to study different industries,” she says. “It’s fueled from being genuine; whilst you’re being proper, it takes the stress off networking due to the fact you are now not thinking about what I can get from this character. It’s more so, if I just show up as myself and they’re showing up as themselves, what magic are we able to create together.”

CultureCon New York is the final forestall of the summit’s three-town excursion, the first two being in Atlanta and Los Angeles earlier this yr. The New York City convention will include CultureCon Week from Oct. 2 to 7 with exceptional occasions and appearances from Dwyane Wade, Jidenna, Marcus Samuelsson, Smino, Nana Kwabena and Dawn Davis.

CultureCon Week will lead into CultureCon New York on Oct. Eight, welcoming the likes of Taraji P. Henson, Lena Waithe and Angie Martinez to the Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn for a day full of conversations, activities and activations from sponsors. Attendees at this very last day of the cultural powerhouse occasion will be capable to take part in various stories, together with shopping at a small enterprise marketplace — powered with the aid of Cash App and Square — and attending ability-building workshops.

The event will middle on the Culture Stage, wherein sponsors including HBO Max, Netflix, Google and Prime Video will energy conversations where “you could get inspirational gem stones and conversations that drive the subculture,” says Ellis. Here, you can pay attention from different celebrities attending the occasion, like Tracee Ellis Ross, Meagan Good, Elaine Welteroth, Kendrick Sampson, Kenya Barris, Terrence J, Lexi Underwood, Phoebe Robinson, Kalen Allen and Winston Duke, and extend your community along the way with different creatives.

“If you’ve got in no way been, it appears like you have been before as it’s such a celebration of pleasure and freedom and you are no longer constrained on your title,” says Ellis.

“That’s what makes us very one of a kind from other conferences, because we genuinely are very invested in the totality of who you’re.”