We had the good fortune of connecting with Antoinette Lee Toscano, MBA and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Antoinette, let’s talk legacy – what do you want yours to be?
As an adoptee given up for adoption at birth and an adult having served eleven years in the United States Army, my life is the story of great pain, suffering, tragedy, trauma, and resilience. Yet, somehow, with each experience that some might view as an adverse event, I managed to maintain happiness and even thrive. And as I have said in my upcoming military memoir, “Four Hours to Live — Memoir of a Female Soldier” (working title), my deep connection to nature is at the center of my success.

Increasingly, outdoor recreation is becoming the pastime of six-figure income earners. Of course, every human has a right to nature. But we do not all have equal access to it.

I hope my legacy is that I have helped others connect, reconnect, or deepen their connection to nature through outdoor recreation and extreme sports. And I especially want to help the most vulnerable Americans of every ethnicity–people with differing abilities, women, people of color, low-wage earners, middle-income families with little disposable income, veterans, and the LGBTQIA+ community.

These underrepresented people miss out on the health and social benefits that translate to other areas of their lives.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am both the executive Producer of WhitewaterTV and its host. When I realize that I am the only black multicultural woman to produce an adventure travel channel and only the second person of color to host one, the pressure to succeed can be overwhelming. Because when a member of a formerly marginalized group does not achieve, networks, sponsors, advertisers, and viewers sometimes condemn the entire group. The result in the past is to say, “We can’t back a black woman again because the last one failed.” But I do not allow myself to dwell on the pressure to succeed. Instead, I put my attention and intention toward growing a brand that empowers all people to get outside and adventure.

Creating a brand or anything else from nothing is challenging. And when the brand is primarily built on your own image and life’s passions, it is precarious. The lifestyle, adventure sports, travel channel that is WhitewaterTV essentially helps others to adopt my lifestyle. A minimalist life of deep connection to nature, managing health challenges through outdoor, organic living, and finding ways to practice resiliency and self-sufficiency while living in a state of unconditional happiness. Unconditional happiness is experiencing happiness despite your circumstances. In developing the WhitewaterTV brand, I ran the risk that channel sponsors, advertisers, and the global public would not understand or appreciate my lifestyle. And possibly would not connect with me as the channel’s host. But these concerns did not stop me.

When you are living authentically and following your passion—happiness and good health through outdoor recreation — all you need seems to flow to you. The work is hard, but the achievement is easy because what we offer on WhitewaterTV is authenticity. And the public supported us from our initial launch in November 2020.

We had our first channel sponsor before publishing the premiere episode. And viewers that can afford it subscribe to WhitewaterTV monthly and receive access to premium content and discounts. Others purchase a single episode that interests them. At the same time, the rest of the viewers access free content. And two-percent of our subscription fees is donated to nonprofit organizations introducing the most vulnerable Americans to outdoor recreation. In addition, WhitewaterTV is a proud sponsor of free outdoor recreation programs at Vibe Tribe Adventures and Diversify Whitewater — a national nonproit I co-founded in 2020.

WhitewaterTV is hosted on the XOTV.me platform and some smart TVs. The channel is where paddlesports and other extreme sports professionals, enthusiasts, competitors, and those curious about adventuring gather to create a community, share knowledge, and be inspired to live a big life.

The content we create fills a gap in outdoor recreation.

Affinity groups like Diversify Whitewater, introduce Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to sports like kayaking, rafting, and stand up paddling through free annual regional events.

And affiliate organizations are offering year-round outdoor recreation and adventure sports to black youth and adults like Vibe Tribe Adventures.

But what happens to members of the affinity group who want to become competitive and professional athletes, guides, and entrepreneurs—they essentially outgrow the affinity group’s mission.

And what about people who do not qualify for an affinity group? The white coal miner’s child in rural West Virginia and the black construction worker on the Southside of Chicago share some of the same barriers to safely entering and excelling outdoors.

I want to change that and close the outdoor recreation gap in the United States and around the globe.

On WhitewaterTV, we are developing content that provides an equitable representation of all people of varying ages, abilities, ethnicities, and body-positive imagery. WhitewaterTV centers on the people, places, and products you use in your adventure sports lifestyle. And we highlight natural resource conservation and land and water stewardship. Because the more time one spends in nature, the more invested one becomes in preserving it for the future.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

When friends visit me here in Colorado, I love giving them the whole Colorado experience. From the elegant city life in Denver to the mountains and rivers of the Front Range and higher elevations.

First, I would start with dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange in Denver for a fantastic elk steak. Because when you have tasted wild game, you will never view store-bought meat the same again.

Next, we would make our way up to Golden Colorado to surf a river on a Badfish SUP stand up paddleboard at the “parking lot hole” rapid.

Then we would head further up the mountains to run a section of the Arkansas River in Buena Vista, Colorado, in some Dagger kayaks.

I would bring my guest back down to the Front Range to go rafting on the beautiful Cache La Poudre River outside Fort Collins, CO, with Rocky Mountain Adventures.

And we would end our excursion at LoveFest—Loveland, Colorado’s annual Sweetheart festival.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?

I dedicate my shoutout to:

My late father—Joe Nathan Bracy. My adopted father—Joe, told me I could be anything that I worked hard enough to become. These were incredibly empowering words to a little black, multicultural girl growing up in a society that tries to tell you who you are rather than supporting who you might become.

Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky and her happiness research. Her book—“The How of Happiness,” helped me understand it is so easy for me to go through incredible trauma and suffering and then bounce back to a state of happiness. And now I can teach others how to obtain unconditional happiness in their lives.

My partner — Professional Photographer and USMC veteran Matthew James Berrafato — MBerrafato Images. Matthew’s love, support, and heart for philanthropy and helping others allow me to manage my health challenges resulting from my military service and serve my country as a civilian philanthropist.

Team River Runner — a national 501(c)(3) providing the free use of paddlesports gear, training, and trips to disabled veterans and families like me. Team River Runner is where I learned to kayak. And this organization helped me to overcome the cultural baggage and limiting beliefs impressed on me by society and family. These beliefs prevented me from pursuing my love of nature.

Jessica Newton — CEO and founder of Vibe Tribe Adventures — an international and national 501(c)(3) organization helping people connect to nature through adventure sports. Jessica’s passion for helping others and future vision of the outdoor industry made her the ideal collaborator to partner my WhitewaterTV brand to create the free American Adventure Sports Club under the Vibe Tribe Adventures’ family of outdoor recreation programs.

Website: https://antoinettetoscano.com/about-me/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/antoinetteleetoscano/ and https://www.instagram.com/whitewatertv_xotv/

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/antoinettetoscano

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AntoinettesPen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/public/Antoinette-Lee-Toscano

Other: https://xotv.me/channels/359-whitewatertv

Image Credits
WhitewaterTV episode graphics (Wheelchair explorer–Melissa Simpson, I am My Body, Sadat Kawawa) Credit: WhitewaterTV. All other photos: Credit Matthew James Berrafato–MBerrafato Images Photos: Executive Producer WhitewaterTV–Antoinette Lee Toscano Credit Matthew James Berrafato–MBerrafato Images Photo of Antoinette with another woman: (L) Founder–Vibe Tribe Adventures–Jessica Newton. (R) American Adventure Sports Club Architect–Antoinette Lee Toscano Credit Matthew James Berrafato–MBerrafato Images

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.