Three Questions with Kiana Chase-Mercer '09

Kiana Chase-Mercer '09 is co-founder of Brilliance in Black, LLC, an organization dedicated to supporting and highlighting the positive actions and gifts of those in the black community, and founder of Kiana Eboné Dance, LLC.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I couldn’t pick one. This last year I’ve really stepped out of the box, and I am extremely proud of the success that has come from it.

One of my proudest professional accomplishments came from the success of my organization’s first Black Wall Street Festival. In August of 2017, Brilliance in Black, of which I am the co-founder, hosted a vendors’ festival with more than 30 vendors and over 200 patrons. That was the first time I had ever curated such an event.

When it comes to my professional dance career, my proudest professional accomplishment came from the When We Were Poetry event that I was asked to choreograph. We did five pieces choreographed to live poetry and music.

What is most challenging about what you do?
Besides always being busy, the most challenging part is having to choreograph so many dances throughout the year and keeping them innovative and fresh.

What’s the most important lesson you learned from Garrison Forest?
The most important lesson I learned from Garrison Forest is how to operate not only as a woman, but as a black woman in a society that often sees you as less than. Garrison Forest taught me to stand my ground and stand firm in what I believed, no matter who did not agree. Many times described as “acerbic” because of my outspokenness and often opposing opinion, it was in high school that I really learned how to assert myself and unapologetically express my opinions.