Name: Shae McCoy
Job Title(s): Journalist/ Photographer (freelance)
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore’s own Shae McCoy has been consistently blazing platforms and leaving her media footprint within the DMV ( DC-MD-VA) area and beyond. At the ripe age of 22, she founded Uncommonrealist.com, a media source positively cultivating the minds of the public in not just the realest way but in a “realist” way.
McCoy’s deep passion for pop culture, the arts, and news has enabled her to expand her brand and be in the same room with the greats. Shae has had the honor to interview actors, activists, community leaders, and local politicians. One of the highlights of her career was interviewing the Michael B. Jordan, who starred in the Wire, Fruitvale Station, and Friday Night Lights.
Shae fell in love with words at an early age. She was enamored with its power to move, motivate, and inspire. As a young girl, she wrote personal narratives and short stories. As Shae grew older, she grew fond of journalism and realized that is how she would make her mark on the world.
She recently started Coy-Op Photos, a photography brand that caters to various types of photography.
Sapphire: Though you’re so young, your journey as a photojournalist has been a long one. Can you tell us how you got started? Which came first, your love of writing or love of photography?
Shae: I started this journey as just a blogger/journalist in 2013. Uncommonrealist really was something that was created in the same day that I thought about it. For years before that, I wanted to create a blog, but didn’t know where to start. I literally just had a day off from my retail job and got to work. The name of my blog came as fast as lightning, I didn’t have to put too much thought into it. I wrote my first article about Fruitvale Station and once I started receiving feedback about my article I knew that this was something I was meant to do and to keep it up.
I started doing photography in July of 2016. I originally picked up photography to be able to add photos to my articles so that I wouldn’t have to search for images via google. That plan didn’t stick too long because it was festival season, so I ventured out. I took my first collection of photos at the African American Festival and was pleased with results. That was also where I picked up my first paid gig.
Sapphire: Three years ago, you started your own company, The Uncommon Realist. What inspired you to launch your own brand? What did publishing under your own brand do for you as a journalist?
Shae: I’ve loved to write ever since I was a kid, I started out with creative writing. I always wrote the best stories, narratives and poems in my classes. Writing is something I can do with my eyes closed as long as it isn’t being forced, because no one wants to be forced when it comes to something they love. As I grew older I kind of strayed away from writing for a while because I was going through turmoil at home.
Once I got to college and saw that there were classes dedicated to writing, I picked it back up. I always knew that I would find a place in the media field, I just didn’t know where I would be exactly. News reporting always sparked my interest, but I didn’t think I was fit for TV so I gradually moved into writing in a journalistic style. I started Uncommonrealist in my sophomore year of college and then left school for three years. I didn’t think I was focused enough at the time. Starting Uncomonrealist definitely is shaping me as a professional and developing me as a person. As a journalist, it has presented me with plenty of opportunities.
Sapphire: You’re a contributing writer to the newspaper at the University of Baltimore, The UB Post; How long have you been writing for the publication? What are you majoring in at the University of Baltimore?
Shae: I have been writing for The UB Post since February of this year. My major is Digital Communications.
Sapphire: You recently wrote an article about the state of Baltimore’s inner city communities, focused on generational poverty and gentrification. What made you decide to write the story? What kind of response did you get?
Shae: I wrote that story because I am living that story as we speak. I am in a better space than I was growing up, but I am still in the same neighborhood I wrote about. The way that it is changing before my eyes is mind blowing and I had to express that because I know a lot of inner city residents can relate. The responses I received were mostly in concurrence with what I discussed. People were offering suggestions and trying to help.
Sapphire: There’s a huge LED billboard on Charles Street, a major Baltimore thoroughfare; it’s located practically right outside on Baltimore’s Penn Station which is a central transportation hub for the east coast. What does it feel like to have your work on a billboard with the capacity to reach millions of people daily?
Shae: It was a great feeling, a small success, but a great feeling nonetheless. It was just something on my list that I wanted to do. It was cool to see my work up that high and for people to stop and take pictures. I made sure that I included photos that I took of people I know so that they could see themselves up there as well.
Sapphire: Photographers tend to be shy, quiet thoughtful types. Who is Shae McCoy? How would you describe your personality and personal style?
Shae: I’m someone who appears to be very social, but really likes to be around a small amount of people or alone. I’m always shy in the beginning until I feels like she is comfortable enough to be open and fun around you. I’m outgoing and outspoken, which can appear as a contradiction to my usual laid back self. I just likes to be comfortable when not out working hard, that usually requires a loose outfit and a place with a great view.
Sapphire: Where do you see yourself five years after graduation from UB?
Shae: Working in a newsroom, but if print media is still relevant in 5 years I can see myself in that field as well. I see myself as a photographer for huge companies and both of my brands expanding in a major way. I never really answer this question too well. [lol] The world is forever changing I just hope to be on the good end of things.
Sapphire: I’ve noticed and have been enjoying your summer photo series. What can people expect from you this summer?
Shae: Thank you. I plan on having a book made for 2 of my photography collections, one old and one new. While preparing for that I will be around at some of the local events this summer snapping photos and doing shoots.
Sapphire: Where can people keep up with your work and find more of you?
Shae: People can keep up with brands by:
Visiting and subscribing to Uncommonralist.com
Liking “Uncommonrealist” on facebook
Following “Uncomonrealist” on soundcloud
Following “Uncommonrealist” on Tumblr
Thank you so much for having me!