Meet the Staff: Marley Dias


Marissa Edelman

Q: What is your age and grade?

A: I am fifteen years old and a junior in high school.

Q: How old were you when you started your campaign?

A: I was 10 years old when I started my #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign, which is an initiative to collect and donate 1000 books in which black girls are the main character to promote diversity and intentional inclusion of the stories of girls like me. Over the past four years I have collected 12,000 books in which black girls are the main characters.

Q: Has there been any teachers in West Orange that you feel have inspired you?

A: I would not say that any teachers in West Orange have inspired me, but I do think my freshman year English teacher Mr. Nelson is the teacher I learned the most from. He was the first person to challenge my ways of thinking and I experienced exponential growth as a writer. He was also an extremely fun teacher. 

Q: Has there ever been something you wanted to give up on but persevered and it paid off?

A: I definitely had moments when I wanted to give up on #1000BlackGirlBooks especially because of the lack of recognition I felt in school. Especially in middle school, my peers paid more attention to my online fame and follower count than the content of my work. I knew they cared about the work I did, but I never felt that school was a welcoming environment for my ambitions. Now that I’ve received recognition, I feel undying support from my friends and family. 

Q: How would you describe your experience at West Orange High School?

A: It’s been a lot of fun. I do think it’s been very stressful at times and unmotivating, but overall I am happy to be in high school. As you get older you learn more about who you are and what your passions and aspirations are, and West Orange has helped shape who I am.

Q: Do you have any hobbies or sports that you play?

A: I really enjoy knitting for my friends and family because it’s a fun hobby that takes some time off my hands. I also like solving puzzles like the Rubik’s cube and making videos in my spare time. 

Q: How do you balance everything that you do?

A: Balance is very important and difficult for me, but my mom and I try our best to make sure that my calendar is organized so that I can focus on the task at hand. I definitely get feelings of being overwhelmed, but my hobbies and resting time balance things out. 

Q: What are your plans for after high school?

A: I’m not 100% sure what I want to do after high school, but I am interested in storytelling, whether that’s journalism, film, or production. I think that the fight for representation is not over in popular media. I am also interested in marketing because the messages we send through products and brands affect the way audiences see themselves or others. 

Q: Who is your biggest role model?

A: My mom is my biggest role model. She is a Jamaican immigrant turned academic, and she’s taught me the importance of perseverance and valuing learning. She was the person who pushed me to start #1000BlackGirlBooks.

Q: What do you think is the key to success?

A: I think that patience and gratitude are important steps towards success. Trying to remain calm and remembering that growth is a process can help ease some of the eagerness for materialistic gains. Gratitude also helps because it allows us to show the best version of ourselves.