Producer, filmmaker, and writer Kareema Bee on pregnancy, mothering, and learning to pivot.
– KEYS SOULCARE
Content creator, filmmaker, and producer Kareema Bee is a mother first and a creative always. While anyone would be in awe of the hustle, grace, and humor she puts into balancing all these roles right now — from a new community platform The HiveMind Unified to film projects like A Rose By Any Other Name — we were equally curious about what it took to nurture her creative energy while preparing to be a first-time mom. Read on for sage wisdom, no matter which role you find yourself in these days.
When and how did you find out you were pregnant?
It’s May 2019. The world was threatened by short-range missile testing, and mass shootings were [just as] prevalent. So, I wasn’t thinking about bringing someone into the world. Plus, I was still in recovery from the greatest health battle of my life. I was told by my doctors that conceiving would be troublesome because of my rigorous chemo treatment.
Professionally, I had just finished a gig producing a short digital project, and shortly thereafter, had taken a last-minute trip to Jamaica. Months later, I had trouble tasting anything. I worried I was becoming sick again. I took a pregnancy test just to rule it out before going to the doctor, only to find out I was pregnant and had conceived with my husband naturally.
How did finding out you were pregnant change your mindset about time and self-worth?
I knew time was never going to be truly mine again — ha! So, I considered everything I wanted to do before becoming a parent. More importantly, I had to get over myself. That is probably my favorite saying for good reason. At times, I had let my fears dictate the narrative of my dreams; some of those fears not even being my own. But, I knew deep down if I had been chosen to bring forth life, I could have no personal regrets so I could look at my child every day with a heart of gratitude.
You’re not just a content creator, but also a producer: It’s a job known for juggling many people, projects, and personalities at once. In the midst of it all, you created one of your biggest projects to date — the award-winning short film, A Rose By Any Other Name. What was that like?
Making a film and starting my production company while pregnant was insane — that’s what it was! But, committing to making something was extremely satisfying. I finally took ALL that energy I had given to other people and projects for the past nine years in the industry and focused [it] on me. In film school and along the way, I tried my hand at it, but this time was different. (Just ask my savings, LOL.) What’s more is that I wasn’t striving for perfection. I believed in A Rose by Any Other Name because the story is bigger than me and the hands that worked on set were 99% women. I was hella nervous and tired, but excited!
What are you working on now?
Currently, I am developing some projects and working as a freelance writer and producer. I recently wrote for the 52nd NAACP Image Awards pre-show, [which was] a great honor. I also created The HiveMind Unified, which is a resource hub for professionals of color in the entertainment industry.
What is being a new mom teaching you about work, your capacity, and your limitations?
Being a new mom has taught me — and I repeat — that my work is not my worth. Knowing that I am responsible to someone motivates me to do the things that scare me even more, but not without considering its effects. Opportunities have come my way that I’ve been waiting for my whole career. And, for the first time, I am accepting my right to say no. Being a mom is the most important job. [My daughter] is the greatest reward. There are no limits, just pivots.
What physical, mental, and spiritual rituals are supporting you?
A nice shower, a fervent conversation with the Lord, some good music, and writing whenever I can are my jam. Some of my favorite products are Keys Soulcare’s Golden Cleanser [and] Miracle Butter Cream. Oh! And, Trader Joe’s Lemongrass Coconut Body Oil with almond and jojoba oils. I know. So good. Who knew?!
How does your daughter feel about your work? Based on what she knows as a little one, of course.
Well, she’s not a fan of me on Zoom because she can’t always join me to press the buttons on my laptop. But, I recently wrote [for] two shows for children that I can’t announce yet, but let’s just say [that] she approves!
Does viewing yourself through her eyes give you a different perspective of yourself?
Seeing myself through her eyes reveals my biggest flaws, and all I want to do is work on them. I temper my desire to “have it [all] together” by remembering there is no one way to move. I also recognize it in my pursuit to help others. [Also in] the need to consider myself unapologetically, across the board; whether it’s something as small as having an extra cookie or reevaluating how I navigate certain relationships in my life now.
Are there any parallels between launching a creative project and stepping into new life roles?
It’s funny. Handling schedules, wrangling talent, drafting pages, developing an idea, executing a concept — it’s all relative. I’m shifting more of that energy into my personal life, because it has been reserved for work for so long. I’m still getting to know a part of me that was always there, [but] I never knew. The more I learn to process through this gift of being called mother, the more she benefits. So, I keep trying.
What advice do you wish someone would have given you?
A lot of people say, “You only get one shot.” However, there are just some things that are just meant for you. I wish someone would have told me, “Kareema, pay attention to the moments that are reserved for you – not the moments that you think you need to reserve. There’s a difference.”
Where are our career and life-lovin’ mamas at? What advice do you have for new moms looking to nurture themselves and their littles?