Morriah Young was a fan of “survivor” since she was a child; She grew up watching with her mother and sisters and it was her mother’s dream to be a contestant.
When her mother died, Young did a few things to honor her legacy. She became a teacher like her and scattered her ashes in Hawaii, a place her mother always wanted to go but never got the chance. Last on the list was being 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 really blessed, really lucky,” Young said Technically. “That it’s a goal of mine that I could achieve and also do for my mother.”
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 being a kid and getting exactly what you want for Christmas.
“It’s similar to the feeling of opening that gift,” she said. “And be like wow, that was really what I wanted. It’s what I’ve been saying all year and I finally got it. Such joy.”
Young’s main job is as a performing arts teacher for middle school students, but her sideline is her business, rainbow room, which opened in West Philadelphia in late July. Reignbow Room is a selfie museum full of colorful backgrounds and artwork for people to come in to create content and take photos.
A graduate of University of the Arts, Young said she has always been an artist and creative. One of her favorite things to do is dress up in colorful dresses, take interesting photos and create online content. But she was having trouble finding cool places in Philadelphia to take photos, so she tried to create one of her own.
“I love color. I love making people happy. I love to create and that’s kind of the premise I created Reignbow Room,” she said. “It’s something I’m good at, something the world needs … something I enjoy doing, which is taking photos, whether it’s me or other people creating content, and I’ve made money.”
People can make a reservation to visit the space and are charged per hour. Young said the benefit of private reservations is a more intimate, uninterrupted experience, and users often felt safer with a private room due to the pandemic. Young said the business has been fairly stable since it opened — some visitors have come to film music videos, birthday photo shoots and even engagement photos in the space.
You might not expect entrepreneurship and “Survivor” to have similar life lessons, Young said, but both occasions have shown her the importance of listening to your gut and taking risks.
“That was probably the biggest risk I could have ever taken and I progressed. And I think the same goes for playing the game, that you have to take risks. You have to take big steps,” she said. “And I think the same goes for my business. I saw an opportunity to create something I had never seen in Philly and I did it, even though it takes a lot of time, a lot of energy and a lot of money to grow my business. I know that the risk will definitely pay off in the end.”
Catch Young on Survivor on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. CBS.
Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the Groundtruth Project that connects young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-