Today’s Notable Young Professional is Stephanie Braganza, a Toronto-based singer-songwriter and animal rights activist. We caught up with her to find out what inspires her and what advice she would share with other young professionals…
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I am a recording artist and animal activist. I am focusing on creating and using music to spread awareness about speciesism and animal rights.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
I would have to say my high school teacher, Mr. Bernie O’Connor, really inspired me. I felt like I would see him at his happiest when he was performing or talking about music, and I realized that it was the same for me. He encouraged me to pursue getting a degree in music, and by that time, there was just no other option for me. I think it’s really important to be passionate about what you want to do before making it a career choice. I would say that my biggest musical influences growing up were Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston. Currently, I’m a big fan of Journey, Heart, Paramore, Amy Winehouse, and Sia, to name a few.
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
I think singing in front of a former United States president and getting an opportunity to sing on MuchMusic really stands out to me from the past. More recently though, I feel like my most memorable milestone has got to be releasing my latest song and music video, “Chains of Silence,” because it’s the first time I’ve released music written with activism in mind, and I released it knowing there’s the potential that it will turn off some viewers. The lyrics and video were created to spread a message to the public… a metaphorical commentary on the meat and dairy industry, using the female body as an analogy for how cows are treated.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
I try to take it one day at a time. So many amazing, unpredictable things have happened in the last few years and my plans continue to evolve. I hope to continue to continue to grow artistically and find more ways to positively affect the community through activism.
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Never stop learning and gaining experience. Be brave, take the risk, and jump.
6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I support the Toronto Wildlife Centre – they are the only provider of critical services for wildlife (such as emergency rescue and rehabilitation at their wildlife hospital) in the Greater Toronto Area. It’s so comforting to know that there is a place to contact if you see an injured wild animal. I am also a huge supporter of Toronto Pig Save – a grassroots, animal rights, and vegan group that uses the strategy of bearing witness to animals in their final moment as they approach slaughterhouses, three times a week. Attending their vigils has changed my lifestyle for the better, and they’ve given me a strong purpose in my life and in my music.
7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Freeing myself of self-doubt. My music education from private lessons and Humber College gave me the opportunity to learn many skills, but it wasn’t until I was actually working out in the music scene that I felt my limits were pushed and I was forced out of my comfort zone. After winning a Toronto Independent Award for Best Live Artist, I began to embrace my self-confidence and started trusting my capabilities.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
When I think of the word “notable,” I think of ‘inspiring.”
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Hogtown Vegan and Vital-Life are my top two favourite places to eat in Toronto. Hogtown Vegan has Southern-style comfort food, my favourite being the “Un-Chicken and Waffles”. Vital-Life is a Caribbean take-out restaurant that has an array of organically grown, vegan Caribbean food. Super tasty and super healthy!
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
The most visited website on my browser is YouTube and Netflix. I have a song from almost every genre on my phone, but right now the most played songs on my iPhone right now are pretty much everything by Big Wreck.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Vegan Gains is one of my favourite YouTube channels. He really knows his stuff when it comes to health and fitness. He leaves no stone unturned when backing his arguments with rock-solid scientific evidence. I love how passionate he is about getting his message across, to the point where he doesn’t care if he offends his viewers. He has his own style of humour which I enjoy and I don’t take it too seriously like some might.
4. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Not being able to travel as much as I’d like. As a freelancing artist and music teacher for hire (along with creating original music), I’m keeping myself busy all the time and investing money for future music endeavors and emergencies. Tokyo, Japan, Goa, India and Los Angeles, USA are just a few of the many places I’d like to visit one day!
5. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Video games. Maybe at first glance, you wouldn’t think I was a gamer, but I actually love them. Action Games and RPGs are abundant in my gaming collection. I’m a huge fan of the “Tales of” series.
6. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I’m a total coffee addict. I hate to think of how much money I could have accumulated if I didn’t give in to the urge to drink a good strong coffee to start my day! If I had all that money back, I would put it in my savings!
7. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success, to me, is finding and fully living your purpose in life, and leaving a legacy of having made a difference in the world.