Luvvie Ajayi Jones breaks down her new book ‘Rising Troublemaker,’ giving teens tips on raising their voices

Jones is featured on the latest episode of theGrio's podcast, Acting Up, ahead of her book, which is published this week.

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Author and podcast host Luvvie Ajayi Jones is back with a brand-new book. Rising Troublemaker, described as a “feat-fighter manual for teens,” was officially published this week, and Jones sat down with theGrio’s Cortney Wills to break down the inspiration behind her latest book, the importance of taking control of your mental health, and more.

Jones is no stranger to giving great advice. Her previous books, Professional Troublemaker: The Feat-Fighter Manual and I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, are both New York Times bestsellers that help readers examine some hard truths and face their biggest fears. With her new book, Rising Troublemaker, Jones is shifting to a new and younger audience: teens.

13th Annual ADCOLOR Conference and Awards – Awards
Host Luvvie Ajayi Jones speaks onstage during the 13th Annual ADCOLOR Awards at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on September 08, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Erik Voake/Getty Images for ADCOLOR)

“Not enough people are using their power and their voice to really make positive change,” Jones told Wills when asked about the inspiration behind the book. Outside of just donating to important causes, starting nonprofits, or marching, Jones really wanted to focus on the things people can do in their everyday lives.

“What would have happened if we had gotten the message in our teen years that we are supposed to figure out how to make the world better than we found it? We’re supposed to do the things that are audacious and scary because they’re usually what’s necessary,” Jones said.

Honoring the late Congressman John Lewis, Jones shared what she learned from him. “He said, ‘Be ready to make necessary good trouble.’ I want teenagers to get this information now that, in a deeply unjust world if you’re somebody who is looking for justice, you are going to be making trouble. So it’s OK to be a troublemaker for good…actually, we need you to be a disruptor for good so we can see fewer moments like we are seeing, so we can have fewer villains in the world who take up space.”

“Now is especially the right moment that teenagers should get the information that, ‘we need you,'” Jones added.

Despite the large and often daunting topics such as facing your fears and raising your voice, Jones credits her personal writing style as the key to making her work land. “I’m speaking specifically to somebody when I’m writing, and I think that really makes it relatable because it feels like you are really in conversation with somebody…I think that’s really what makes my writing stick.”

“Every chapter applies to a certain thing about me, and I think that’s what makes it feel personal which then makes it feel universal,” she added. “I wrote Rising Troublemaker to the 16-year-old version of me, who needed to be affirmed when she was using her voice.”

Hello Sunshine x Together Live - Chicago
Luvvie Ajayi Jones at Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on November 12, 2018, in Chicago. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Hello Sunshine x Together Live Tour)

The conversation also dived into the importance of mental health, and how we have evolved as a society. “Now we talk about mental health more, but 10 years ago? We weren’t talking about wellness, therapy and self-care publicly in a big way!”

“I am grateful for the louder conversation about mental health, about depression, therapy, self-care, about the ways in which the world gaslights us into these moments,” Jones continued. “I’m grateful for that and I hope it starts normalizing more people being able to say, ‘I’m going to seek it out.'”

The entire episode of Acting Up with Jones is available to stream now.

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