There were two moments with Zykera Tucker that I’ll never forget.
The first was a silent interaction that brings me to tears just thinking about it.
Hugh: Are there people that you think like, “I’d like to grow up to be like that?”
Zykera: … [silently pointing around the room] … Everybody in the room.
What the transcript doesn’t fully capture is the intention and eye contact she made with each of us as she pointed at us. Her aunt, her teachers, a creative from her neighborhood and a stranger from the prairie. It was stunning and I’m not certain I’ve ever felt so seen, known and loved.
The other moment didn’t make the final feature, so I’ve decided to share it here.
At the end of a full day of photo shoots and questions from a stranger, Zykera was exhausted and clearly all she wanted was a cup of hot chocolate and a ride home.
I insisted on just a few more questions about her future. She patiently answered every one. And, when she knew I was done, she asked if she could ask a question.
Zykera: How was your day? How was this for you?
Hugh (Managing Director, TGD): Hmmm…well, my family spent all of our savings to buy this magazine. It was the last 10 years of my work — all of the savings we had. There’s zero in the savings account after buying this magazine. Telling your story is the biggest bet I’ve ever made in my life, and I made it because I believe it’s that important. And you’ve proven that true 10 times over. So the biggest risk I’ve ever taken creatively was today, on this story. It’s proven to me that I need to trust my heart. So it’s a pretty good day.
Mr P (Director, The Creative School): What do you hear him saying?
Zykera: If I keep going on this path, I will succeed. But what about your day? How did this go for you?
SPN (Head of Operations, TGD): I’ve spent enough time around you to know that you’re special. And I’ve spent enough time around kids to know that they can think in special ways, but sometimes we choose not to hear them speak. You’ve always brought me laughter. And today you brought me to tears of joy. You made me really proud to be a part of this. You’ve got some special powers, girl.
Zykera: That’s my secret.
Mr P: Same question to you. How is this for you?
Zykera: Amazing because everybody was telling me how good I was and how this experience was good for them. I didn’t just want me to be the one having fun while you were all tired and feeling like you didn’t want to do this anymore. You’ve gotta think about humanity.
We’ve only conducted a couple interviews, but a common thread is already starting to emerge: we’re all in this together, friends. With Zykera on our side, I feel good about our shared future.