Vivian Ewalefo has always been a champion.
As a young girl, she set her sights on being a professional basketball player and realized her dream when she was tapped to play for the Nigerian National Team right out of college, where she was studying strategic communications.
It was during this time she realized her love for connecting to different cultures.
“I traveled all around the world while playing and discovered so much more outside of myself,” the proud AfroLatina said, also sharing her Nigerian-Mexican heritage offered early exposure to cultural appreciation. “We moved around a bunch when I was a kid too, so we spent time in Louisiana, and the culture there is so rich. Ewalefo said she was partially raised in San Antonio, TX and later relocated to Las Vegas, NV then Mandeville, Louisiana in her high school years. She said she also spent time in California growing up.
“That was a game changer for me,” she shared with Essence. “I learned about Chicano culture to Creole customs, then living on the West Coast allowed me to meet Samoans and Pacific Islanders and learn about Mormonism and different religions and fluid sexualities. It was eye-opening in the best way.”
That worldliness charted a path for a post-basketball career that ultimately led Ewalefo to step into a role created for her at the world’s digital melting pot itself: Facebook (Meta).
As the company’s head of cultural moments & product equity communications, she gets the opportunity to spotlight underserved communities that otherwise would’ve been overlooked.
“Honestly, it’s a blessing to be able to work for a company that leans into this special niche of capabilities and expertise of its employees,” she shared. “We’re in such an interesting time in the world, so to be on the forefront of that and do my part to bring diverse communities around the world along on this journey is really special. And if we’re being honest, these are the communities that drive culture and the vitality of our apps in general.”
An example of this intersectional work is Meta’s Metaverse Culture Series (MCS), a collection of VR experiences including celebrity interviews, panel discussions and other conversations that are accessible via Meta’s Oculus device.
One example of this is Pride Unbound, a series that launched in June celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and their contribution to global culture. One installment featured a discussion in the metaverse with famed stylist and designer Law Roach, Leiomy (cast of HBO Max’s hit series ‘Legendary’), Tess Holiday (pansexual body positive activist & model), Renee Montgomery (WNBA Champion & Activist), and David J Johns (Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition identity exploration and chosen family.
The series “is an effort to create a more accessible entry point into the future of technology for historically excluded communities,” according to a statement from Meta that was shared with Essence.
Ewalefo said she’s looking forward to anchoring more programmatic experiences around major cultural moments and platforming them.
“We have much more in store and I’m so excited about that,” said Ewalefo. “We’re all here to learn from each other’s commonalities and differences and I’m blessed to be able to champion that every day.”