Kia Miakka Natisse (B.A. ’05) has a knack for telling stories, relying on her own innate curiosity to identify topics that resonate with listeners. As cohost of “Invisibilia,” a podcast created by National Public Radio (NPR), she spends her days discussing whether rich white elites should surrender their wealth to Black individuals as a form of reparations or about a Summer camp designed to confront race.
These days, Miakka Natisse’ days are spent “over-communicating” with her team and looking just about everywhere for new features other outlets haven’t covered. According to Miakka Natisse, that discovery happens when looking for a certain subject leads her to come across another idea. Essentially, it’s her childlike curiosity at work and her habit of questioning everything. The intention is to capture the information, understand it and illustrate it to her audience.
Take reparations, for example. Miakka Natisse felt like reparations was a solution and remedy to a lot of modern problems that, for a long while, seemed fringe and unlikely. She had a hunch that someone would try to make reparations happen on their own, so she set out to research individual reparations efforts in 2019, but never found anything substantial enough for a story.
A year later and by chance, Miakka Natisse was researching stories and came across a reparations effort in Vermont. Not only was she taken aback by the conditions and scale of what activists created but also by how unapologetic they were about what they were asking for and why.
“It made for a compelling story that I view as sort of a petri dish experiment of what reparations in America might feel like,” Miakka Natisse says. Howard set the foundation for Miakka Natisse’s storytelling.
Being the only Black person in her high school classes back in Buffalo, New York led to isolated moments of the Black experience. Howard, however, was a place where Miakka Natisse could explore her identity. Seeing others with similar backgrounds contributed to an invaluable, foundational confidence she wouldn’t have received anywhere else.
Natisse started her career in reality television. However, she felt “morally bankrupt” and “siloed from reality,” leading her to walk away after three years in the trade and enroll in graduate school. In 2015, she earned a master’s in individualized studies from New York University. After stints in art residencies working on digital narratives, her penchant for storytelling began to take shape. The pride she developed at Howard has persisted and continues to catalyze the stories she tells today.
“It’s not just what you tell but how,” she says. “Perspective is everything when it comes to storytelling, and it’s important to have experiences normalized and [to] establish the baseline of reality.”