We had the good fortune of connecting with Natashia Deon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natashia, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
What’s most responsible for my “success”—if that’s what we call it—is that I can’t imagine doing anything else.
I’m a working writer and “working” in my life is a broad term. I’m a lawyer, professor, mother of two, non-profit CEO, wife and caregiver. This isn’t a brag, I have no choice. Or, want no others. Writer is my other job. And being a “working writer” is like being a fertile woman and having reckless sex with whorish men who leave you with another baby and no child support so in this way, I’m a single mother with all these kids and I’m determined to support them. I want to be a good mother and how they got here and who from is of little importance because I’m worthy. And it’s unimaginable to give these children up, these stories. Well, one or two of them I would, indeed I’ve tried, yet here they all are, hanging off a tit or sitting at my feet asking me to sing another lullaby.
So, there’s that.
And also, I’ve been trained in skills that can help people in times of crisis but I’m not a doctor. I’m a lawyer, as terrible as it sounds, and I’m on the ground with people, with families, preventing children from being taken away, staying evictions, helping families manage the crimes of their intelligent but hyperactive (or addicted) teenaged sons and daughters—it affects everybody—and I help people to be empowered through the courts to move on from a questionable past. I founded my nonprofit REDEEMED to help do that. I mostly work for the poor and working poor, like me, and for spiritual leaders who, in certain times, are poor in spirit. And it’s true what’s been said: that writing for a living has a gambler’s income. You never know which stories might pay you, but you write them anyway and even for this I’m grateful. Because writing professionally, as a career, even semi-part-time, is a privileged activity so I consider myself among the privileged poor.
With lawyering, I’m sometimes paid in tamales and my needs are often met. My wants are not but I’m often full and I can’t say that for everybody. I take different jobs because there’s health insurance to pay, a student loan, a mortgage payment to not skip…this month, and my car needs to be alright.
As a teacher, I love connecting with students and I’m a mother of two heartbreakers, a wife of a man who loves me—actively—a daughter of a beautiful mother, and they are the secret sauce behind my success and I’m most grateful that God let’s my family—and me, as part of that family—be the answer to somebody’s prayer…sometimes as others are answers to mine. I can’t do any of this alone. And there are those who came before me.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us?
REDEEMED is a criminal reentry project that pairs professional writers and lawyers with applicants in order to clear criminal records and that’s not all. We provide a pathway for applicants to work, free of charge, with lawyers and professional writers to formally petition the courts to recognize a person’s new life since their crimes so they can be deemed “rehabilitated” by the state, or to have their crimes expunged, or sealed. This opens up jobs, travel, and financial freedom. We have expanded in 2020 to include REDEEMED’s “Clemency Project.” Clemency applies to people who are in prison now, serving time. It gives a redemption opportunity to exceptional inmates who, over the last several years, have done extraordinary work while imprisoned. They will be given a chance, through a Clemency application prepared by Redeemed writers and partner lawyers, to have a commutation of their sentence by the governor, meaning a chance to be freed before the end of their sentence. We are investing in a world where all people who want to do better and be better than their pasts suggest can do that.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to Downtown L.A. to wurstkuche for a grilled rattlesnake and rabbit sausage and beer, or maybe to Little Bear for a burger and beer.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to Jamie Wolf of the Rosenthal Family Foundation, to PEN America, to my husband Lee, to my mother, Millie, to Higher Vision Church, and to the L.A. Literary Community.