Queen Smith is a storyteller and the founder of OpenSeat – a movement designed to gather women together to share meals and share stories. A West African native married to a natural born Texan, Queen grew up in a polygamous home where her father had six wives and more than eighteen children. Stories, she says, were how her father connected to all of them and it’s those same stories that set the foundation for her love of both storytelling and community today.
BGWP: Where did you get the idea for OpenSeat?
Queen: I’ve always had OpenSeat in my heart. I carried it for years. It [just] wasn’t called OpenSeat then. We eat and love on women. We tell them all the time, nothing happens here unless you want it to happen.
Our job is to create a space [for them]. In America, everything is so surface. You can have friends for years and never know who they are. I realized this when I was speaking at conferences. I’d come home unsatisfied and I kept asking the questions “How are these people’s hearts?” “Am I really changing them?”
It got to a point where I was depressed and carrying around a huge burden. One day when I was set to go into a counseling appointment, I was having a phone conversation with friends and by the time I got off the phone my husband had cancelled my appointment. “You’re not depressed, you’re grieving community,” he said. He told me to find my tribe and I realized I was looking for an OpenSeat, So [after running from it] we officially launched in 2016.
BGWP: What does it mean to you to be a black girl with purpose?
Queen: [Being a black girl with purpose means] I don’t have an opportunity to be silent. A lot has gone into me having a voice. I know that there is significant purpose that we carry with the fight. It means not taking that assignment for granted.
BGWP: When do you feel like you realized it and felt the weight of that responsibility?
Queen: Now that I’ve dived into storytelling I get to sit with women. I get the pressure from history. It comes from the stories of other people.
BGWP: How would you define your purpose?
Queen: Bringing glory to God through creating a safe space in a noisy world. Sometimes we get stressed out about the details of how to do that. We feel like it has to look a certain way. Sometimes it’s doing someone’s hair other times it may be speaking at a conference.
BGWP: What is the hardest part about walking in your purpose?
Not having the full picture. You just know you’re supposed to do “it” I’m very detail oriented but the Lord had to strip me away from that. I found myself not wanting to do things unless I could see what was around the corner but there is so much freedom in just jumping.
BGWP: What would you say to someone who doesn’t know where to start to find their purpose?
Just start where you are. I always hear people say find your passion. Passions change. Like an old boo. At one point you were in love with him and now you’re not.
It has to be not only passion but something you feel someone should do. Start there. Get to know who you are. Your story will let you know your purpose. It reveals what’s in plain sight but we never take the time to observe our story. We don’t take the time to look at that thread. You can’t find purpose, you awaken it.
You can’t find purpose, you awaken it. – Queen Smith
Purpose always give back. If your purpose here on Earth is only serving you that’s probably not your purpose.
BGWP: What are your go to scriptures when you find yourself needing encouragement?
Queen: Ezra 10:4 – Arise, take courage and do it. Courage shows up in the flow. It doesn’t have to be in the beginning.
Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.
Also the story in the Bible where Jesus turned the water into wine (John 2:1-11). When I look at that story I think “even on your best day, no matter how great you look or how much you’ve planned you’re still going to need Jesus to turn some stuff.”
BGWP: What do you find yourself grateful for in this season of your life?
Queen: Family, peace and community. I’ve worked hard to achieve other things but in this season it feels good to be peaceful.
BGWP: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Queen: Be present in everything that you do. We always live life waiting for that one day, time but you could be in the middle of a miracle and not even know it.
You could be in the middle of a miracle and not even know it. – Queen Smith
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Be sure to stay connected with Queen by following her on Instagram @queenk_smith and supporting Open Seat by praying for them and continuing the movement by creating a community of sisterhood wherever you live! If you check out the OpenSeat website and love what you see, please consider making a donation so they can continue to spread love in a tangible way.