Tamora Israel Entrepreneur Spotlight

We have something special for you this Entrepreneur Saturday, Cape Cod. First, a personal note from Amplify POC founder Tara Vargas Wallace: I’ve known Tamora Israel, or “T” as she likes to be called, for almost 2 years now.

March 13, 2023

5 min read

Amplify POC Cape Cod

I first met T when she attended a public hearing for the Cape Cod and Islands Commission on the Status of Women, but I knew OF her before then. In fact, I had watched her TEDxProvincetown talk and stalked her a little on social media. Then I was happy to find she was in my leadership class at the Leadership Cape Cod. I knew right away that I had to meet her. And as I suspected, when we finally did meet, we just clicked. There’s something about T’s energy that brings out the best in people. She’s such a bright light and a gift to this world. I’m both elated and honored to be able to share her story with you. “It’s weird to be on the other side of the interview,” she says as we begin.

Tamora Israel is a poet, performer, podcaster, public speaker, and freelance writer. She studied theater and communications at Cape Cod Community College and participated in the college’s “Be Powerful” Campaign. She’s performed in numerous stage plays and hosted events on and around Cape Cod. She wrote, performed, and filmed a TEDx Talk in Provincetown, is a 2020 graduate of the Cape Leadership Institute, and co-produces and hosts two podcasts. She’s also a member of the Board of Directors for Amplify POC, and is one of our talented Saturday Entrepreneur writers. She spoke with Amplify POC founder Tara Vargas Wallace.

Amplify POC: Tell us about yourself.

Tamora: I’m a huge advocate for Mental Wealth. Growing up, my family didn’t talk about mental health. You know how it is in the Black community, it’s looked at as a weakness. People just don’t talk about it. But I’ve always dealt with depression and feelings of being “less than." In high school I wrote a poem about suicide. My teacher contacted my Mom and she didn’t know what to do. The school provided resources for therapy. In therapy I learned I needed to pay attention to my body and my feelings. I overthink a lot, so it’s been important to learn how to navigate those feelings and learn that your feelings aren’t always right. As I got older, and life got harder, I relied on therapy even more (I wasn’t able to be consistent with it because therapy is expensive and I didn’t always have health insurance) — and therapy helped me to have the tools to get through it; to learn how to get my power back.
Now I’m out here breaking the stigma and showing the world there’s strength in vulnerability and conquering your fears. Talking about your feelings and mental well-being is actually a boss move and it ain’t for the weak! It’s also literally lifesaving!

Amplify POC: What inspires you to write?

Tamora: People. Inspiring stories. I find people so incredibly interesting. Peoples' stories of challenges and fortitude. Tell me what your blueprint is. There was a time when I needed it. After I hit 30, everything inspired me — even commercials make me cry! I love watching sports stories too! Some people just need you to believe in them and those are the kind of stories that inspire me the most.

Amplify POC: What is the one thing you try to get out of the people you interview?

Tamora: I love writing and sharing people’s stories. When I interview you I don’t want to know who you are, because I already know who you are. It is my job to know who I’m interviewing. What I want to know is how are you, you? What made you become that person? What inspired you? Who inspired you? What kind of Hell did you have to walk through in order to come out on the other side? I don’t just want to know what makes you tick, I wanna know how you got your battery. No one reaches any amount of success by themselves. I wanna know who helped you get there.

Amplify POC: Let's talk about TedX Ptown. What? When? Where? How?

Tamora: I'd been doing a lot of plays and open mic nights and poetry events at Provincetown Theater and one day my buddy Ian approached me and ask if I’d be interested in doing a Ted Talk. And I was like, Would I?! Hell yeah, I would! I LOVE Ted Talks! They’re so informative. Ian heard I was a good writer and he knew I had a story. So we met at a local restaurant to brainstorm topics. I showed up to the meeting with an idea about white people touching my hair, but Ian said that idea had already been done. He suggested I think broader or smaller and be more specific. We came up with the topic of consent and boundaries. Because white people touching my hair without asking my consent is a boundary issue. And then from there we decided on consent and boundaries with hugs. And how you should always ask permission before you hug someone. All in all it was a great experience! I met some great friends who I still talk to today.

I remember being insanely nervous before going on stage but the second my foot touched the stage all the nervousness just went away. I can fuck up all the time on stage but I never feel more myself than when I’m on stage. And once I’m up there, I can do the things I never thought I could do. I don’t’ know how I did it, but I got through the entire Ted Talk and didn’t mess up once. I have this thing that once I’m done performing, I’m off stage lickety-split! I don’t know why, but I can’t hang around for the clapping and the accolades. It feels weird.

Amplify POC: What made you start your podcasts?

Tamora: I started COFFEE WITH T after the pandemic hit and I was struggling with depression. At the time I was working for Cape Media News and we had to pivot real quick, so we started interviewing people virtually. I’m a people person! So being stuck home alone all the time with my dog and cats drove me into deep depression. And then with all of the racial unrest going on, I knew that I needed an outlet and I knew I needed it now. Writing poems saved my life. Coffee with T started off with me reading my poems every week on social media and a virtual check in. After awhile of writing and publicly reading my poems on the show I started feeling better and felt more grounded. By then though, that depression turned to anger after yet another senseless murder of Ahmaud Arbery. So my show morphed into activism and interviewing other activists and artists like myself. Putting something good into the universe gave me a sense of purpose. It helped me see that what I was doing matters. Black lives matter. And the fact that I was doing something about it helped my mental health. And now I co-host the show with my buddy, Twizzle.

If I’m being honest, UNCORKED WITH T started because I was drinking way too much damn beer! Then I found out that one can of beer equals seven slices of bread and I was like. “No more beer, bitch! Get it together!” Then I decided to start drinking wine, but I don’t know anything about wine! So I thought to myself, use your strengths, T! Interviewing is a strength of mine. So I decided interviewing people while drinking wine! And Uncorked with T was born. On Uncorked with T, we talk about talent, business ventures, and community contributions. I pick a new bottle of wine for each guest and I try to pick a label that reminds me of that guest. And I only drink red wine. It’s funny when I first told my best friend Marie she was like, “Oh you want to be a sommelier!”, and I was like, “ Hell yeah! Take it back to Africa, son!”

Amplify POC: Tell us about why you’re involved with Amplify?

Tamora: Like a lot of people I was not nearly as woke as I am now, and not as involved in social issues until all of the recent racial unrest. Up until then, I was just kinda like a zombie walking around in life. Like a storm trooper. Following orders. Living and surviving. Working and living on Cape Cod with all the micro aggressions is not easy! I can remember I used to work in a retail store and I had walked away from a customer to go get her something, and the lady asked my coworker if she could go find the “little black girl” that was helping her. I got tired of making people comfortable with my existence.

Working with Amplify feels good and it feels right. Like I’m making a difference. Also, I know I’m making my grandmother proud. I’m currently living in the room she lived and died in and I feel honored to be in her spirit every day. She’d be proud of the work that I do with Amplify. My grandmother. That is my why.

Amplify POC: How did you become involved in your community?

Tamora: It was while I attended 4Cs. I started to branch out and become more involved in community. I became the President of Unity Club. Originally, I wanted it to be an African American club, but was told it wasn’t inclusive enough. Can you believe that?! I wanted a place where POCs could just be themselves. And so my friend Kathy who works at the college, and who’s like a mother to me, informed me that if I wanted to start the club back up, I would need 100 signatures. So I went and stormed the campus and asked everyone I came across. I was back in an hour with all the signatures needed to get the ball rolling. That incident helped me realize that my actions have power! Since then, I’ve joined and been a part of so many other community initiatives.

Amplify POC: What’s next for you?

Tamora: Writing. And I'm still involved with the college. I just recorded an event/class on "The History of Black Cinema" and I'm a participant/spokesperson for the college's "Be Powerful" campaign. I know that I love media and I love to perform. I know there is a bigger plan for me. I just have to figure out what it is. My plan is to keep trying out the different parts of media and performance until I find the thing that I can't live without.

Amplify POC: What’s the last thing you want the world to know about you before we conclude this interview?

Tamora: Sometimes I feel my dreams seem to be further than my legs can carry me. I know that I want great things and I want to do great things. There will be great sacrifices and I need to be ready to deal with those sacrifices in a constructive way that doesn’t hurt people. I have to be ready to deal with the setbacks and not let them deter me. You are what you think you are. And I think I’m talented.

I keep this quote on my bulletin board: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” It reminds me that for the longest time I didn’t want to say out loud that I’m talented. I looked at it as a form of bragging. Some people are born to be doctors. I’m born with this gift to write and perform. I rely on this gift to inspire and help others. It’s not bragging; it just is. "She that dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.” -- Tara Vargas Wallace

On the Web: www.spreaker.com/show/uncorked-with-t and www.spreaker.com/show/coffee-with-ts
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tamorapoetry and https://www.facebook.com/UncorkedWithT and https://www.facebook.com/CoffeeWithTs
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tisreal83/ and https://www.instagram.com/uncorkedwitht/ and https://www.instagram.com/coffee.with_t/
On YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_WBdUZL4_uGaatZ_H1nJfg

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