The world and wonderful things happening inside of it are shaped by women just as much as men. Several countries, including the United States, dedicate the month of March to remember those who made huge sacrifices or contributed tremendously to the shape of our travel lives during Women’s History Month. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering to count or have a chapter dedicated to it in a history text. Yet, these women shattered something, whether it was a sexist cultural custom or the shackles of self-doubt to create a new chapter in their lives and the community in which they live. Here is part of their story in their own words.
Kellee Edwards is the first African-American woman to have her own travel show on the Travel Channel, Mysterious Islands. She’s been featured on magazine covers and television promotions around the 2020 Ford Expedition are dedicated to her adventures world-wide.
Also, did we mention she’s a licensed pilot?
WhereverFamily: Did you feel any fear that your passion to succeed wouldn’t be accepted by your family and/or friends?
Kellee Edwards: No, because I honestly have never cared what others expected or accepted of me, I always know what the end game is. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of supportive people in my life and that’s a blessing in itself.
WF: What do you feel were your biggest obstacles?
KE: Getting out of my own head. I do a lot of physical and mentally challenging things. I had to learn to do everything scared and no matter what amount of success I’ve reached, I still find there is yet another experience I’ve yet to have, face the unfamiliar and make a true effort to overcome. I also had to learn the art of patience, it took a lot of time for people to understand what I was on a mission to do. It was so clear to me, that I had a winning combination of attributes in the adventure travel space, but it took years for others to see beyond the typical white male explorer and adventurer.
WF: Can you share a funny moment that happened as you proceeded to succeed?
KE: I remember meeting Josh Gates at a convention he and I were both speaking at, and after chatting for a bit, a mutual acquaintance made a comparison about us and he was like, “Hey, I can’t fly airplanes!” As if I one upped him, I proudly grinned from ear to ear and offered to take him flying.
WF: Can you share any inspiring moments that kept you going even when it got tough?
KE: I remember being pretty exhausted from my adventures and travels last year, while speaking at a conference, an almost 60-year-old black woman stood up in the audience and said she had started taking swimming lessons from seeing me on TV. I definitely cried. What started as a singular journey for me has inspired so many women, my culture, little girls and others in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined. I no longer operate for my sole benefit, I do it because others are watching, learning and doing from me.
WF: What words can you share with other women and girls who want to achieve your success?
KE: My overnight success happened over 7 years. It is far from easy being the first and a lot of responsibility comes with it. Be ready, stay mentally focused, know that you don’t fail, you learn and then move forward with the same goal, yet different plan. And that’s okay. Don’t give up on yourself, even when others don’t understand what you are doing. Believe me, they’ll come asking for the blueprint later, as you succeed. Share the cliff notes version and encourage them to forge their own path.
Check back tomorrow for part two of our three-part series, spotlighting incredible women in travel.
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