For more than eight decades, the Harlem Globetrotters have traveled the world entertaining audiences with their team of elite athletes that make basketball magic come alive with shows that combine sport, comedy, and pure fun. In the 1970s they even had their own cartoon, which is, like even cooler than an app. Over the course of their 88-year history, only twelve women have brought their mad skills to the Globetrotter court: Joyce Ekworomadu is proud to be one such b-ball badass. Basketball has taken this Texas native all over the world and back again as a professional for the Nigerian national team, (Joyce is first generation Nigerian-American), as a player for Texas State University, and now as a Globetrotter. The sport fuels Joyce, but impacting girls and young women to pursue their dreams and reach for their highest goals is what really fuels her. Whenever she has the chance to send positive messages—whether at official Globetrotter performances or by speaking directly to girls through her amazing BallArt video collaboration with fellow athlete Fatima Maddox—Joyce takes that responsibility seriously and is dedicated to paying it forward in a big way: “You never know who you inspire.”
If you could describe yourself in one hashtag, what would it be?
Tell us about a girl in your life who rocks.
A girl in my life that rocks is my mother. She is very inspirational because she has always been a hard worker and taught me how to be independent. I feel like she has unlimited energy and superhuman powers because she could work a double shift as a Nurse and come home and make a 5 course meal and clean the entire house without any complaints! She has also instilled some key principles in my life such as always keeping a positive personal image and using my talent to inspire others.
What are your dreams/goals/ambitions?
My goal is to be able to use my God given talent of basketball to inspire/impact young girls and women all around the world. In the next couple of years I would love to be a brand ambassador/spokesperson for a leading company outside of the Harlem Globetrotters that make a difference in our world and has a positive brand image. In fact, a teammate and I have started a female empowerment movement using some of our ball-handling tricks on YouTube!
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my accomplishments with my basketball career in the 18 years that I have played the sport. Starting at the age of 10 and using that passion to get a full scholarship to Texas State University where I graduated with a BBA in Marketing, then moving on to my professional career in the WNBA, overseas basketball in Poland and Italy and now to becoming the 12th female Harlem Globetrotter in the 88-year-history.
What piece of advice changed your life?
Don't ever give up because people will always disappoint you or say that you are not good enough. No matter what trust and believe in yourself and if it is in God's will then nothing can stop you from greatness.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I will be 38 years old so hopefully I would be a successful business owner with my basketball skills training business, an investor and also a spokesperson for a leading company!
What is the number one item on your bucket list?
The number 1 item on my bucket list would be to travel to Dubai and explore!
Who has been the biggest female influence in your life and why?
Actually recently I went to a Beyonce concert and saw the passion and energy that she gave to the audience 100% of the time and thought to myself Wow nobody would ever know if she was having a bad day, tired, etc.. because she is such a great entertainer and is passionate about what she does. Her performance inspired me to be a better entertainer and to work on my craft because people are always watching and you never know who you inspire by doing what you love to do.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what did you learn from it?
The biggest risk I've ever taken was starting my own skills training business in Dallas about 3 years ago. I learned that you should never let fear stop you from achieving your dreams. If you think you will fail, you ultimately will so never doubt your ability.
Why are you THAT GIRL?
I am THAT GIRL because I have a very unique story. I am first generation Nigerian-American raised by parents who came to America in their mid 20s for a better opportunity. I have used the resources and the opportunities given to me to inspire and impact thousands of people using the sport of basketball even when my parents thought that playing basketball was not going to be an ideal situation. Basketball has taken me to several countries and to places I never thought I would go and has taught me valuable life lessons that I pass down to youth looking to follow in my footsteps. At the end of the day, I want to know that I have served a purpose on this Earth and that people can say "I want to be like THAT GIRL" when I grow up.
*Interview conducted and compiled by Sheila Moeschen, IATG Senior Editor