John Legend's Get Lifted Books Aims to Uplift Marginalized Creators (Exclusive)

Just in time for Earth Day, Get Lifted Books from John Legend, Ty Siklorius and Mike Jackson has published a memoir by wildlife ecologist Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant

<p>Fran Collin, Get Lifted Books</p> The founders of Get Lifted Books and

Fran Collin, Get Lifted Books

The founders of Get Lifted Books and 'Wild Life' by Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant

John Legend rose to fame with his 2004 studio album, Get Lifted, which went double platinum and cemented him as a star to watch. Since then, he's become the first Black man to win an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony), which he achieved in 2018.

With his latest venture, Get Lifted Books, an imprint of independent publisher Zando Projects, Legend has teamed up with Tony Award-winning producer Mike Jackson and Emmy Award-winner and CEO of Friends At Work, Ty Stiklorius to give marginalized voices a chance to shine. The team also runs the production company Get Lifted Film Co.

"All three partners at Get Lifted love great storytelling, great books and we saw an opportunity working with Zando to expand our ability to really uplift great creators and great writers," Legend tells PEOPLE. "Doing so through books just fit right in with everything else we've been doing over the years, whether it's in film, television, theater and now, books."

"We want to highlight great storytellers, great stories, especially from people who may have been marginalized in the past and need that opportunity to shine and get their stories out," he continues. "We wanted to be a conduit to helping them do that."

One of those stories is Wild Life: Finding My Purpose in an Untamed World by Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, the third title out from the imprint, which hit shelves on April 2.

Wynn-Grant is a wildlife ecologist who grew up dreaming of exploring the world like the White male adventurers she saw on TV. But as a kid from the concrete jungle of the California Bay Area, she felt worlds away from the actual jungle and didn't have any role models to help her see the path forward.

<p>Get Lifted Books</p> 'Wild Life' by Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant

Get Lifted Books

'Wild Life' by Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant

Wild Life tells the story of Wynn-Grant's journey carving out that road for herself, as well as the challenges she has had to face and lessons learned along the way.

"The adventures and the wild side of it would have been exciting enough, but then she was also so generous, sharing her personal life and her story to really round out the complete picture of who she is as a human being," Legend says of the book. "And we just found that super compelling."

For Jackson, the most compelling part of the book was how doggedly Wynn-Grant followed her dream, even though she didn't have any examples who looked like her. "She actually used that as motivation and inspiration to parlay her own life into this beautiful career," he says. "You don't have to be a wildlife ecologist to gain inspiration from her journey."

Wynn-Grant explains that she grew up in a community that was "completely separate from nature and the environment."

<p>Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant</p> Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant

Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant

Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant

"I didn't have role models. I didn't have exposure. I didn't have mentors," she continues. "I went to kindergarten and I went to college saying, 'I wanna be a nature show host when I grow up' and I had no idea if I was talking about something that was possible or impossible."

She still didn't know whether that dream would come true when she landed her book deal at Get Lifted. But after she submitted her first draft to her editor, she was able to make an exciting phone call.

"I got to go back to my editor and say, 'You're never going to believe this, but I am now hosting one of the shows I wrote about in Chapter 1," she shares, of landing the co-hosting spot on Wild Kingdom: Protecting the Wild. "I now know Black women who are wildlife ecologists, but I don't know any who are mothers. I don't know any who are hosting shows. It's still just me using myself very visibly to represent a group of people who have experienced a lot of barriers to leadership in the environmental field."

That ethos is exactly what Get Lifted Books is all about. "It just shows the power of having that vision for yourself, imagining it's possible, even though you don't see someone like you doing it, and then going out and doing the work leading up to that and actually achieving it," Legend says. "It's pretty amazing."

Wynn-Grant's vision for the book? "I really hope that no one else like me ever feels like they don't belong in this space," she says. "It's just really special to me that it happened, that it's happening and it's going to continue to happen."

Wild Life: Finding My Purpose in an Untamed World by Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant is available now, wherever books are sold.

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