Every day of elementary school, UM alumna KiAnna Nycole Dorsey would sit at the nut-free table by herself. As a young girl, her severe nut allergy made her feel isolated as she navigated birthday parties, school events and other gatherings as the only kid who couldn’t enjoy the treats.
Her experience led her to publish “Food Friendly,” a children’s book that promotes inclusion for kids with allergies. The book tells the story of elementary school students who learn about allergies during their lunchtime together.
A Stamps Scholar and Foote Fellow, Dorsey graduated from the School of Communication with a degree in motion picture production. She now works in Los Angeles within the entertainment industry, but her journey from filmmaker to author started during the height of COVID-19.
Dorsey originally developed “Food Friendly” as an animated series for children, but after her funding was cut off due to lockdown, she had to pivot and figure out how to make her hard work into something worthy of her time.
“One thing about me is that if I want to do something, I’ll get it done. I’ll find a way no matter what,” Dorsey said.
After getting a suggestion to turn her show into a children’s book, she dove into the process and learned all she could to make it a reality, from talking to artists and developing the visuals to writing the text.
“The only thing I knew going into it was the story,” Dorsey said. “That was the only thing I knew I felt comfortable with was the story and the characters, because that’s what I study.”
The story Dorsey paints is one of her own life: a girl struggling with an allergy and wanting to hang out with other students her age. She doesn’t want to be left out due to her disability, an experience that Dorsey relates to.
“I thought I was gonna be the only person with an allergy, like I just constantly felt different and it would have meant the world to just have a book with a character who looks like me,” Dorsey said. “At the end of the day, I just wanna build some awareness in my audience. Whether you resonate or you don’t, you walk away with something.”
A self-published author, Dorsey has sold over 100 copies of her book so far — an impressive feat for a recent college graduate.
“My long-term goal is to continue to make stories that cause people to think and build compassion and have a message…that’s what I’ll be happy with,” Dorsey said.