UNITE: Regan Aliyah On Why Not?
The poet co-signs Russell Westbrook’s mantra and talks about using words to inspire others.
The UNITE stories go deeper on Jordan Brand’s new film series celebrating the power of basketball culture. UNITE is a rallying cry for inspiring and empowering the next generation to never fly alone.
20-year-old Regan Aliyah Dennis-Jones is a fourth-generation entertainer who writes, raps, sings, dances and performs. The L.A. native, who’s lived in Inglewood, South Central and Sherman Oaks, began rapping at 12 years old and broke onto the major stage when she became a member of the Mickey Mouse Club in 2017. An alumnus of the L.A.-based Jordan Brand WINGS programs, Regan wants her creativity to instill confidence and ambition in young people.
Part of Regan Aliyah’s motivation to help others through her writing comes from the sentiment of Russell Westbrook’s mantra: Why not? “The phrase ‘Why not?’ is the greatest answer to any question,” says Regan Aliyah. “When people are doubting you and telling you that you can’t do something, say ‘Why not? Why can’t I do that?’ It’s the perfect answer to all the people who fear your natural ability and what you can achieve on your own.”
One of Regan Aliyah’s many natural abilities is poetry, which she says has been a positive, reassuring outlet — a way to release her thoughts and make good choices. Her community also encourages her to connect with others on-stage. “The people around me are constant inspirations, in terms of why I continue my craft,” explains Regan Aliyah. “When I write, I think of how many people are going to relate to what I’m saying. Maybe they have gone through the exact same thing and are too afraid to talk about it. If they hear it or read it, maybe it will help open up a conversation.”
Like Russ, Regan Aliyah wants the younger generation to know their potential. “It’s important for young people to grow up with the ‘Why Not?’ perspective,” she says. “From a young age, you have the wildest dreams, but people are telling you to tame those dreams, to fit into a box they place on you. That box means nothing. That box is a hypothetical. You and I can achieve all of these things if we really want to.”