Nina, Talk Show Host, East Village

Nina’s advice to her 18 year old self: Don’t listen to your parents. I wish someone had told me that my parents were crazy. That they were setting me up for failure.

Go out and find a group of people where you feel comfortable. People who won’t judge you. People who aren’t necessarily hand-picked by your parents. People who are ambitious, who have similar goals and aspirations, who are able to take you seriously, who aren’t in competition with you. In my case, it was a matter of deciding on a race of people I felt most comfortable with. My parents were in a segregated black community. The people who were around me weren’t necessarily that nice to me, because I’m too light-skinned and my speech is too correct. Since I was going to a classical music conservatory, I found a lot of Asian kids I got along with, some of the white kids were nicer to me and, of course, some of the black kids who were also into music. I allowed my parents to make too many decisions for me regarding my social life.

That’s the first piece of advice I would give: Don’t listen to your parents.

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