CEO of Rolling Out Magazine, Munson Steed is venturing into the world of children’s literature through his new company, “Playful Genius.” “Playful Genius” is a company that specializes in creating literature and toys for African American children and other children of color. In a career that spans over 20 years, Steed has constantly been at the forefront of creating innovative concepts for African Americans and “Playful Genius” is no exception. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
On his journey of conceptualizing Rolling Out Magazine:
When I started Rolling Out, I wanted it to be more than a magazine. I wanted Rolling Out to be a brand. At the time, there was a need for an alternative weekly magazine that showcased African Americans on print and digital, so I set my sights on the marketplace. I also wanted a unique selling point for advertisers so Rolling Out could be circulated throughout the country.
In Atlanta, people like Ludacris and Usher were emerging, so they needed the right outlet to push their creativity forward. At Rolling Out, it was about being at the right place, at the right time with the right team. Now, we have sound stages, green-screens, studios, conferences and so much more. It’s been an amazing ride so far.
On his reason behind creating “Playful Genius” and children’s books:
I truly believe there’s an opportunity for all of us to tell unique stories. With my book, “Little Professor Skye,” I wanted to document my god-daughters experiences. I wanted to create a story around her because she’s been exposed to so much from visiting Morehouse College to seeing Michelle Obama. I wanted her to be a positive influence on young black girls because representation is extremely important.
While at a black author’s conference, a little black boy and his father told me how much they loved “Little Professor Skye” but wondered when I would create a book for black boys. This is how the book “Atom Smart” was born.
I used the word “atom” as the little boys first name because the book primarily focuses on his love for math and science. I used the word “smart” because I wanted that sediment to echo throughout the book.
Finally, in the “Plush Crew” book, I wanted to dedicate this book to children who are going through the development stages. It’s an alphabet book. I set this book with zoo animals in the safari, because of our roots in Africa.
In each of these books, the parents play a significant role in encouraging their children. There are many cultural influences throughout each book. Ultimately, I’m striving to create a world where children of color can see themselves as cultured, beautiful, intelligent human beings. That’s the goal of “Playful Genius.”
On if “Playful Genius” is his best work to date:
My best work doesn’t lie in how many businesses I run or the products I create. I measure my efforts from how many people I inspire through my work. In everything I approach, I pray I can be a stepping stone. I want “Playful Genius” to inspire the next generation. There is a genius inside of every child so we must cultivate, nurture and honor that.
In a society where our narratives are being re-arranged and misconstrued, Munson Steed is crafting words and images that will push the advancement of our black youth. All of the “Playful Genius” products are accompanied by uplifting music which is available on all streaming platforms.
Skye and the Highlights – Apple Music
Candles – Apple Music