Morriah Young has been a fan of “Survivor” since she was a kid; she grew up watching it with her mom and sisters, and it was her mother’s dream to be a contestant.
When her mom passed away, Young did a few things to honor her legacy. She became a teacher like her, and she scattered her ashes in Hawaii, a place her mom always wanted to go, but didn’t get the chance. The last thing on the list was to be a contestant on “Survivor” — a dream now realized as the West Philly-based entrepreneur is a cast member on Season 43 of the show, which premiered Wednesday night.
“I’m just really blessed, really lucky,” Young told Technical.ly. “That it is a goal of mine that I was able to do and also was able to do for my mom too.”
Young said the experience on the show was a once in a lifetime opportunity. She compared the feeling of actually being on the show to when you’re a kid and you get exactly what you want for Christmas.
“It’s similar to that feeling of opening that present,” she said. “And be like wow, this was really what I wanted. It’s what I’ve been saying I wanted the whole year and I finally got it. That much joy.”
Young’s day job is as a performing arts teacher for middle schoolers, but her side hustle is her business, Reignbow Room, which opened in West Philadelphia at the end of July. Reignbow Room is a selfie museum filled with colorful backgrounds and art for people to come create content and take photos in.
A graduate of University of the Arts, Young said she’s always been an artist and a creative. One of her favorite things to do is dress up colorfully, take interesting photos and create online content. But she’s struggled with finding cool places to take photos in Philly, so she sought out to create one herself.
“I love color. I love bringing people joy. I love creating and so that’s kind of like the premise of why I created Reignbow Room,” she said. “It’s something I’m good at, something the world needs … something that I enjoy doing, which is taking photos, whether it’s me or other people creating content, and I’ve been making money.”
Folks can make a reservation to visit the space and are charged per hour. Young said the benefit of making private reservations is a more intimate, uninterrupted experience, and users often feel more safe with a private space because of the pandemic. Young said that since she opened, business has been pretty steady — some visitors have come to shoot music videos in the space, birthday photo shoots and even engagement photos.
You might not expect entrepreneurship and “Survivor” to have similar life lessons, Young said, but both opportunities have showed her the importance of listening to her gut and taking risks.
“That was probably the biggest risk I ever could have taken, and I got on. And I think the same thing applies to playing the game, like you have to take risks. You have to make big moves,” she said. “And I think the same goes for my business. I saw an opportunity to create something that I never saw in Philly and I did and while it’s taking a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of money into growing my business. I know that in the end, the risk is definitely going to pay off.”
Catch “Survivor” on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.
Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.