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Here at The Forum, we believe the arts are an essential connector for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). So each quarter, we highlight an artist that we feel is a conduit between the arts and DEI. This quarter, we’re meeting with comedian, speaker, voice actor and social instigator Miss Shannan Paul from Minneapolis, MN.

Featured image: Shannan Paul emceeing at The Forum’s 34th annual conference, Solving for X: Tackling Inequities in a World of Unknowns.

Have a suggestion for an artist that we need to include in our next edition? Let us know at workplaceforum@augsburg.edu.


What do you do in the space of art and/or music? What’s your unique story?

I am a comedian, speaker, voiceover artist, and event host based in Minneapolis, MN. I consider myself a Social Instigator, and I help bring energy to the events that I am a part of. I also work as a Radio and TV host, and Benefit Auctioneer.

What are you currently up to as an artist?

I am currently working on comedy and storytelling shows that allow me to share a message and be funny in the same space. I use humor to spark conversations and spotlight complex situations that we all navigate. I also enjoy using my speaking voice as an instrument to spark imagination.

I’m fortunate to be able to also work with a variety of nonprofits, community groups and charitable organizations.

The majority of the rest of my time is spent hanging out and advocating for my 14 year old son who is on the Autism Spectrum.

shannan paul with heidi batz rogers

Shannan Paul (left) speaking with Heidi Batz Rogers (right) just before going live at the 34th annual conference, Solving for X.

What do you bring to the art and music space?

I bring myself….  When I started in comedy 20 years ago I received a lot of feedback on “what kind” of performer I should be, and what I should do if I wanted to make it big. Well, maybe I didn’t “make it big,” I have made it my full time profession. And I’m able to provide a quality, stable environment for myself and my son. So, I’m blessed to be able to do what I do everyday.

Providing laughter is a major part of my art.  I use my art to care for my son and make the lives of other people better. Difficult things in life aren’t usually funny at the time. We can use humor to help us get through things, and aid us in processing things.

Why is DEI important to art and music?

When we’re told that only one prevailing viewpoint is what should be funny, then we need people to speak out and say different perspectives in different voices matter. Having a variety of voices in performance spaces, hopefully, allows people to be exposed to a variety of experiences and viewpoints, through the authentic eyes of the performances.

group photo of 5 people on stage

Right to left: Heidi Batz Rogers, Shannan Paul, Steven Humerickhouse, Minal Bopaiah, David Cole pose for a group photo at the conclusion of the 34th annual conference.

What’s your connection to The Forum?

I was honored to act as the emcee for the 2022 Forum

Why did you decide to work with The Forum?

After learning about the Forum, from a contact at the Inclusion Action Collective, I greatly appreciated the broad group of talent and experiences that showcased throughout the DEI professional community.

What was your favorite part of the 34th annual conference?

I loved sharing the stage, both virtually and in person, with a host of talented professionals, who navigate the DEI space in varied ways.

What was your favorite presentation? Why?

Oh my. This is my first Forum, so I loved everything and was excited to see it come together.

That’s a really hard question.  I’ll say the session with Cassandra Worthy on Day One. And the session presented by Minal Bopaiah on Day Three. I resonated with both presenters’ use of humor and real life anecdotes.

I’m happy that The Forum exists, it’s something I hope to attend again in future years. 

What’s one thing popular culture is getting right with the DEI narrative?

Making more ways for artists to monetize their work is great. Being creative and doing what you’re passionate about shouldn’t always equate to being a “starving artist.” [But] creatives still don’t get enough credit for the work that they create.

Where can people go to learn more about you and your work?

I’m available via my website www.missshannan.com  on LinkedIn as Miss Shannan Paul. Or on Facebook under ShannanPaulComedy and Instagram as @MissShannan .

If you’d like to learn more about Kimber’s work or if you’re in the Minneapolis area and would like to tour her extensive workshop and studio, you can find her at artbykimber.com.

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion®
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workplaceforum@augsburg.edu
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Photos by Sarah Morreim Photography
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