“My biggest barrier was my colour, but not how people saw me, but how I saw myself. Now my TEDx Talks inspire others to live limitlessly” – Shaun Flores
We at BoxHuman are passionate about highlighting and celebrating inspiring humans; especially the ones who are inspiring, helping, and bringing light to the world. We do this to rebalance some of the negative messages we often hear, see, and receive daily. We met up quickly with one of these amazing individuals…
Without further ado, let’s start this BoxHuman Inspire Series interview. Can you please tell me a little bit about you and what you’re especially known for?
Hi, my name is Shaun Flores, I am a model, actor, journalist and a PhD candidate. I currently run my own podcast called “Flower Hour”.
I chose the name “Flower Hour” as when we think of flowers we associate them with being pretty, nice to touch, but something we should not take out of the ground. However, I used it as juxtaposition because we forget how important flowers are to the ecosystem and the various layers of a flower.
Flowers are not just pretty, they are strong and something we often do not remember as essential to the world, as they encourage biodiversity in the environment.
In my podcast I ensure I speak to a diverse range of people, from all walks of life, with differing political opinions because I feel conversations are rarely being had. Although I may politically, morally and ethical disagree with someone they are still human. I want people to be exposed to as many people on my podcast and in turn, broaden their own horizons.
I hail from Trinidad and Tobago, but currently, I am situated in London. As an aspiring journalist, reporter and presenter, coming from a black Caribbean British background. I have also written articles for the guardian young reporter scheme.
Graduating with my master’s in the race, media and social justice, and a BA in criminology and sociology his knowledge of the topics of social justice race, and the media are perfect for a role in the media. Celebrating diversity to add to the plain field of media.
In 2018 I had the rare, but coveted opportunity to deliver a TED X talk on the field of black academics. An emerging field in the calling for a decolonization of the education system.
What a great introduction and start to this interview. Can you please tell us in your own words how did your inspiring journey begin, from what age, and what happened?
I learned from when my father died from a heart attack on Christmas Day 2000 when I was 6 years old, that life was not easy.
As a kid, there is a beautiful naivety in not understanding life, but I had to grow up quickly. Growing up with a single mother is not easy, as my mother is a great Mum. On the other side, she is not emotionally nurturing simply due to her background. I learned more about myself as I got older, however, I was always a kid who strived to learn more, do more and be more. I think inspiring myself was the first step I had to take.
I believe boys are born and men are made. I am still coming into my own sense of masculinity and manhood. What I feel is healthy and beneficial for me and those around me. If I followed the destiny that I was told to. I would work a 9-5 and that would be fine. I would have been married with kids and that was the end of my life. I want to do more, be more and want more for myself.
I remember that to obtain the first job I applied to Waitrose 73 times, I counted each application until I finally got the job I wanted. Then I studied and applied for more projects to teach whilst studying and working.
I taught in schools and to see the passion in young children’s eyes is beautiful. Education should be a liberating experience, not a traumatic shackling one. Education is there to liberate.
I applied in 2018 to give a TEDx talk, and to my utter surprise, I was accepted. I remember I became overwhelmed with stage fright, so much so I had to improvise the whole speech, which was so far out of my planned speech. I just finished my second TEDx Talk in March 2022.
As with life, we can have some barriers that are thrown at us. Can you please share… What has been your biggest challenge so far and how have you overcome it?
My biggest barrier has been my colour, but not always how people see me, but how I saw myself and the perception I felt others had of me. I was hyperconscious of my skin colour anywhere I went when I was young.
I remember I went to Devon with my mum, we were the only black family. I hated being black I WAS ARGUING WITH MY MUM THAT I WAS BROWN NOT BLACK. I couldn’t understand why my mum would have taken me to an area where I was the only black kid.
My Mum came to London during the era of “No Dogs, No Black’s No Irish”, she overcame and saw it through that is strength. My mum never allowed her skin colour to stop her, simply because she was determined with a mindset that could not be beaten.
I ensured that I have carried it through in life. Now I go into rooms being the only back and I AM HAPPY BECAUSE I AM bringing a new experience and who I am.
Thank you for sharing that. Let’s lift up the mood now and move on to the next question… What has been your biggest achievement and proudest moment so far and why?
My proudest achievement has been my son.
It has been hard to see him and to be a father when I lost my dad so young. I am proud of my son although I do not get to see him much at all, I am proud of the times when I do finally get to see him. He has grown in height, intelligence and confidence. It’s the small things that matter. The one day a week I see him I ensure I take pictures, I am even making a photo album for him so he can see all the people I know and he can never say his dad was not there for him.
If you were to go back in time, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?
I would advise myself to never give up athletics.
I gave it up thinking I could not work or train at the same time. It set me back physically and mentally, it made me think about what I wanted to do, and I needed to continue pursuing it.
Money is great, but it’s important to have a healthy mind as well as a healthy body, they work synergistically.
I would also advise myself to trust the process, as the process is so important. At the end of feelings are nothing, but at the end of a principle is a promise. The promise I made to myself was to never give up on my dreams because they were and will become a reality.
We’re nearly halfway through our interview so it’s a great time to start our BoxHuman Inspire questions. So without further ado, let’s go… 1.) What makes you smile and inspires you to be you on a daily basis and why?
What makes me smile is a good Nandos, it is so simple, but beyond my sensory pleasures! I would say helping people is the most important above anything else. To see people thrive brings me internal joy, as to give is to receive. I have had so many blessings in life that it is better to give than it is to receive.
2.) What is your favourite quote and why?
My favourite quote has to be…
“if you are already in pain you may as well keep going to get a reward from it!”
To finish our inspire questions…”We believe that sharing inspiring words can inspire others.” If there was one positive thing you would say to someone to inspire and empower them what would it be and why?
NEVER GIVE UP, keep going, for glory is coming, it is so important, that you can overcome the hurdles in life. we are all capable there is no special formula but think about the end goal and when you get there you can say you have done it.
And lastly…What future life goals do you want to achieve and why? And in three words how would you describe yourself.
I want to achieve so much more.
I hope to become a Doctor or Professor Flores. I hope to influence the world in a way that allows me to leave it in – a better place than I found it. I hope if I hope to leave a legacy that is positive, beneficial and meaningful and that inspires a wave of societal change.
This is important, especially in the time we live in, it’s not easy to understand the world, however, if I can contribute to it then I AM MORE THAN HAPPY TO.
Ideally, I would like to retire back home to Trinidad the land of milk and honey where the mango is sweet and the streets are neat. I want to be able to give back to the motherland of Africa as well. I feel Africa has so much promise and I promise to give back.
I would describe myself as audacious, ambitious and resilient.
Finally and to conclude this interview…A BoxHuman is an individual that believes in empowering themselves and others to transform the world for the better. Can you please tell us what makes you a BoxHuman?
I am a BoxHuman because I am not defined by boxes simply due to the things I have done. I was told I should be a basketballer or an athlete. I did not do that instead I chose to achieve greatness through my mind, meaning I am not limited to my body. It is so important to live outside of your limits and others’ limits as well.
I have modelled and people have asked me “Shaun are you gay?” no my masculinity is not just defined by what I wear, I am more than my clothes, although in some senses they are a second skin. I know who I am, I am limitless and live in the box, out of it and all around it!
“Thank you, Shaun.”
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