We had the good fortune of connecting with Latoya Snell and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Latoya, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
My name is Latoya Shauntay Snell and I am from Brooklyn, NY. Living in New York City showed me that I can reinvent myself as many times as I desire in my personal and professional life. This city is exceptionally layered, full of personality and colorful. Growing up in different parts of Brooklyn – East New York, Bushwick, Crown Heights and Bed Stuy – taught me different lessons along the way. My neighborhood taught me community and the horrible things that people do when subjected to poverty; it was quite a juxtaposition that made a significant impact to my storytelling as a content creator, freelance writer and advocate. I told myself that if I ever was in a position of leadership where people would take my words seriously, I’d tell it in an authentic, non exploitative manner.

To be frank, I never aspired to be an athlete because I didn’t think it was for me. Most of the sports that garnered attention in my area was basketball, handball and football. I often joke that I have two left feet and cheerleading and dancing didn’t appeal to me. Despite having Boys and Girls High School track within my neighborhood, it was closed off for an extensive amount of time at one point because of repairs and their frustration from lack of upkeep. A neighboring track and field closer to my home wasn’t the best option at times. Things were much different growing up in the 1980 – early 2000s compared to now.

Despite our limitations, it was easy for me to remain a dreamer. I loved being a creative for as long as I can remember. In my youth, I’d use my humor and imagination for storytelling. This helped me avoid everything from being heavily picked on to listening to stories from an older generation. I took to sketching and painting around junior high school. I started cooking around 8 years old and fell in love with textures, colors and how food pulled out certain emotions. Reading, people watching and writing remained loyal friends to me even when I couldn’t predict my next movement. Life before sports immersed me in open mics, photography and communication careers.

Initially, I became an adult onset athlete because of the physical benefits but I look at it as an extension to being the artist that I always doubted that I could be. Through the advancements of social media, I am able to be a storyteller, artist and an athlete. I love that I am able to thrive telling my story in a raw way while making space for others to figure out their life path as they watch mine. I didn’t see many people that looked like me being celebrated in mainstream media doing the things that I do. I feel fortunate that this narrative is changing and I’m not alone in this act. I can only hope there’s several others that will light the way.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It is hard to label the various titles that I hold but I think I would call myself a Fitness and Food Content Creative & Storyteller. I’ve been fortunate enough to partner with over 50 major brands and small businesses over the last 5+ years. Being transparent in the public eye and on social media both invigorate and scare me daily. It is very hard being yourself when the world suggests us to be something else when we stare hard at the highlight reels of others’ work.

Initially, I thought social media influencing was super artificial and wanted no parts of it. Like many, people chalk up this career path as freeloading or an opportunity to conjure up fraudulent stories for the public. Instead, I saw an opportunity to tell real stories my way. This career path came by proxy of writing for The Root – an online magazine centering stories written by African Americans on their experiences. It was one of my childhood dreams to write for a major publication but I naively didn’t think that it would garner a lot of attention; the general public said otherwise. It pulled from the illusive safety of being in the restaurant industry with a predictable paycheck to being the freelancer that I wanted to be for years. This career is NOT easy and very far from predictable but I love my independence.

I love the ability to set my own hours, experience the world through my adventures and to be a muse for others to take chances on themselves. A great deal of my content centers around body politics. I focus on the physical, mental and emotional toll of thriving as a Black, plus-size and queer athlete with chronic conditions in the outdoor space. Despite the illusion of the fitness and outdoor community being welcoming to everyone, many fear participating in sports or doing simple things like eating in public because of societal stereotypes. Through my platform, I strive to disrupt those narratives through light hearted commentary and physically tackling those adventures. Once I acknowledged that these stories were larger than me, I knew this was the life and career path that chose me; I do not have to limit myself to one particular thing in this space.

Tacking grueling adventures like signing up for the Javelina Jundred 100K in 2018 and doing the New York City Marathon 6 days later taught me that I have a superpower. I don’t fear being vulnerable, failing forward at times or sharing things that some might whisper. When I partner with small and large businesses, I am able to introduce the public to a new activity, service and provide feedback about things that they may not feel comfortable asking their friends.

Through this work, I learned that whatever inside thought or question that you have, someone else is probably already thinking it. I love learning and experiencing things with my community. I may not have all of the answers to everything but I do my best to show people that they can invest in themselves.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
1. My Parents: Lenora Saunders and Leon Richardson – Without them, there would be no me.

2. My Husband: W. Eric Snell, Sr. – He is not only my life partner but my amazing photographer and helps me bring life into a lot of my disheveled thoughts. He’s been an amazing partner for the last 20+ years and I am fortunate to have him in my life. In this space, you need someone that will ground you.

3. Black Girls Run – An amazing organization that helped me learn the fundamentals to running

4. An amazing MySpace turned Facebook and now real life friend name Robert Covell – We have an almost 20 year friendship that started online through our common love for poetry. He signed up for a half marathon and this gave me the push to try one out. Sometimes the incentive to start something new stems from someone else’s transparency

5. Running Fat Chef Team – A bunch of amazing freelancers that help me behind the scenes (from my publicist, personal assistant, virtual assistant and manager)

6. My Son William Eric Snell, Jr. – He grounds me in a way that nobody else in this world managed to do. I can see all of my success, hiccups and reality checks through him. He’s compassionate, honest and a witty young man that makes me want to do better daily.

7. My Supporters – Inspiring people inspire other inspiring people: It is a motto that I’ve held onto for decades. Although I am a loner for most of my adventures, supportive messages fuel me to keep fighting the good fight.

PersonalLatoyaSnell_

Website: www.runningfatchef.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/iamlshauntay

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lssnell/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/latoyashauntay

Facebook: www.facebook.com/runningfatchef

Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@iamlshauntay?lang=en

Image Credits
All photo credits with the exception of the Javelina Jundred 100K finisher photo (arm flexing photo with race banner) go to the following: W. Eric Snell, Sr. E. Snell Design www.esnelldesign.com www.instagram.com/esnelldesign Javelina Jundred 100K finisher photo credit to HOKA ONE ONE sneaker company

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.