St. Pablo Tour stops in Grand Rapids

Considering I haven’t been to a concert since, B2K was a thing. Going to the St. Pablo
Tour was another great experience for 2016. I was able to see why people pay the big bucks for the closer seats, although my seats were just as great. The concert took place in the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI., where the streets flooded with people from all over West Michigan to experience Mr. West and his hovering stage.

img_6657

Kanye hit the platform at 9:21p.m., and the crowd went crazy. I’ll be honest, I enjoy Kanye as an artist and producer, but I really wasn’t a die hard fan–until now. The energy in that arena was amazing, I enjoyed every bit of it.

He performed several hits like, Jesus Walks, FourFive Seconds, Can’t Tell Me Nothing and several songs from Life of Pablo, obviously. Opening  with Father Stretch My Hands.

As I said before, I hadn’t been to a concert since watching Omarion glide across the stage at Joe Louis Arena, or maybe it was Lloyd…I’m not sure, but it has been a while. Of course, me being “Jill the camera lady” I wanted to capture so many great moments, for this post specifically. I had my phone out the entire time, recording and taking pictures.

I joked about how the set up and lighting made me feel like I was standing in the middle of Zion in the Matrix movie, because that’s exactly how it felt. The yellow lights gave it a real ambient touch. Listening to the crowd sing all the lyrics as if they were on stage performing. Needless-to-say, I had a ball and I need to learn more Yeezy songs new and old.

img_6648

 Follow me on Instagram @j.levaeepr and Twitter @jlevaee

Women of Color Wednesday: Sydney Bowden

I met Sydney when we had Digital Video Production: Nonfiction together last Fall. Her spunk, poise, and confidence was very evident. She definitely stood out, and I instantly knewunnamed (2).jpg that I needed to get acquainted with her because she’s definitely going to be somebody and do amazing things (more than she already has!).

Sydney Bowden was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Or as Bowden says, “Motown…Home where the Pimps and Players are born.”

I laughed at that one. That’s one of Bowden’s many attributes. Smart, beautiful, and witty!

Bowden received her Bachelor of Arts in Film, Video, Media Studies with a minor in Fashion Merchandising and Design from Western Michigan University, class of 2016.

When she’s not jamming out to her favorite motivational songs “Grown Woman” by Beyoncé and “When Jesus Says Yes” by Michelle, she is working within Corporate America for a multi-billion-dollar property restoration company. Outside of that, she is the Founder and President of The Social B., L.L.C., a social entertainment production company.

12046626_10206944348782595_9098044993370623958_n

Bowden’s life mission is “to reinvent digital media by doing away with the negative connotations and stereotypes held within media. In doing so, I have developed the mission of my company to showcase the talents and hard work of young entrepreneurs, artists, and awesome everyday individuals while empowering them to become leaders within the communities they serve.”unnamed

I resonate with this message so much. From the inspiring words of Ava DuVernay, “if your dreams only include yourself, they’re not big enough.” I love how Bowden wants to showcase the talents and hard work of others and encourage them to be leaders in their communities. We need more people with life missions that include showcasing the best in others and their stories.

Bowden’s motivational words to other women of color are, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. Failure is beautiful to endure and once you accept it and use it as motivation towards a successful future, you will begin to reap the benefits. Just remember to feed your faith, and your fears will starve to death.”

13103364_10208420681289985_5996945771446542839_nBowden’s greatest accomplishments thus far are graduating in four years at the age of 21 as the sole proprietor of her own business. “This is only the beginning towards a very bright, rewarding, and successful future,” she says.

Absolutely! I believe in the Law of Attraction. When you speak positivity into your life, you will have positive results and life experiences. So far, Bowden has been a living testimony of that!

Bowden encourages others to continue to visit The Social B. and please, please, please share our wonderful stories with your family and friends!

Be honest. Be humble. Be you. Everyone should aspire to live within those words, just as you do, Sydney. Keep shining! Continue to chase your dreams and encourage other women of color to be unstoppable.

unnamed1

Time waits for No One, So use it wisely

Fall is here and the world has never been busier. Students are back to school, Parents are working double time but the days are getting shorter. It’s almost as if we run out of time during the autumn season. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your work days with you as a focus.

Being a student is hard work, whether you are in high school or college, there never seems to be enough time for you no matter how many planners you have. “Students are working an average of 30 hours a week, Georgetown researchers found. However, about 25 percent of working students are simultaneously employed full-time and enrolled in college full-time.” Considering this study was done in 2015, I’m sure that number has increased since then.

If this is you…KEEP READING.

“Having great time management” is something that has been preached to you since about 11th grade. Getting a planner and writing down everything you have to do for that week and sticking to that to-do list. Though this tactic is great, you’re still in shallow waters in the sea of time management. Let’s take this habit a step further. What in your to-do list is major priority?

update-1672363_640

These are the task that have to get done ASAP. They usually have a time stamp on them. This can include papers, responding to emails, scheduling appointments etc. Contrary to popular belief, not all task have to get done at that very moment. Find out what is important and needs most of your attention, tackle that first.

Learning how to allocate your free time wisely is the most important skill for managing time. Outside of work and class, what other activities do you have listed that are worth your time? For example, when I was attending Western Michigan University, I purposely scheduled my classes for Tuesday and Thursdays only. That way Monday, Wednesday and Friday were days for work and anything else I wanted to do.  The weekends were days I would do homework and things I personally enjoyed. Moments where I had free time, I made sure I allocated it to something I would be the primary beneficiary.

Most of the time, I took naps but you get the point. Free time shouldn’t be completely spent doing things like studying. Mental health should always be your number one priority.

When do you work best? Are you a rooster or a night owl? Once you find out when you do the best work, you’ll be able to work more effectively and efficiently. Time management is important but never forget to work in a way that’s best for you.

 

 

Women of Color Wednesday: Domonique Freeman

Domonique Tiera Freeman…there’s so much I could say about this girl. I met Domo in high school, and I’ve always noticed this glamour and confidence about her that I strived to attain for myself. She is the ultimate go-getter. Plus, she’s a highly educated health advocate, which I think is strikingly impressive.fullsizerender

Freeman was born in Franklin, Tennessee and raised in Saginaw, Michigan. She currently holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Science from Saginaw Valley State University, and is currently working on her Master’s in Public Health at Georgia State University. Freeman is a health advocate, a contracted health educator, and administrative assistant to the Director of Nursing at East Lake Arbor Nursing Home.

When asked what her life mission is, Freeman stated that it was to, “help individuals realize and live up to their full life potential. This includes improving their well-being and livelihood, helping them to see the importance of seeking and working to be in harmony with themselves, nature and others around them. I frequently talk about nutrition because it impacts all of this.”

Loving the positive vibes from this message. I think that it’s important for black women and all women of color in general to help bring out the potential in others, and help each other live fulfilling lives.

She continued, “I want people to know that in taking these fake, chemical and hormone-filled foods keep your vibrations down and alter your wellbeing. On a more professional note, I plan to help low income populations have access to healthier, safer foods and equal health care by changing and writing policies at the local, state and federal level.”

Not only does Freeman promote healthier lifestyle choices, but she also motivates others to use those choices as a guide for better self-care. She encourages other women of color to, “Love yourself. Get to know yourself, who you truly are. You are more than just a being in a body but you are a spirit with a soul that is here for a purpose. Ingest high nutrient img_0749foods that feed your soul and block anything that doesn’t come from the earth, that only helps to alter your state of wellbeing. You lose nothing valuable in letting go of what does not serve you. Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t always easy and it’s even harder to get started after generations of wrong teachings but it starts by incorporating good habits into your life, adding high nutrient foods to your diet, and drinking lots of water!”

This is so, so important. We live in an age where food and cooking has become a chore and something that’s supposed to quick, fast, and cheap. We no longer care about where our food comes from, or what we put into our bodies. We’d rather get the $5 fill-up at KFC instead of preparing natural, hearty foods that are good for your body and overall wellbeing. You really are what you eat…which is why America is so obese. But that’s a whole other conversation. Fundamentally, I think these types of conversations need to be had more often, especially in black neighborhoods. It’s time that we start taking care of our bodies, and Freeman embodies that statement to the fullest. Take notes.

Additionally, Freeman encourages women of color to, “Teach your children the importance of a happy lifestyle. If you truly love your babies, you will work to break the attachments to toxic foods and beings. Learn to unlearn the wrong that has been passed from generation to generation, acknowledge ways that we cause our own sickness, and make changes in order to heal not only yourself but the generations of black beings to come.”

Freeman’s biggest accomplishments are being a CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholar, which gave her the chance to intern with minority children in the Detroit area, teaching them healthy habits that they will be able to pass on to their peers. Freeman has also taught workshops to adults and children in the Saginaw area on different health topics such as the dangers of sugar and the obesity epidemic in the United States.

fullsizerender-2

How amazing is that?! It’s ALL about the youth. Freeman passing on her message to children at such a young age is how you begin to change the current situation. Teach them young so that they can be the change for the next generation. Bravo.

Freeman says that she started out as an insecure, quiet, shy, awkward black girl. However, she explained that, “Through this journey to living a healthy life, I have learned who I am, what I have to offer the world, and gained a sense of security within myself and love and value for myself that I want all black women to have regardless of whatever they’ve been through in the past, whatever flaws they may have.”

I can relate to this. I still think I’m shy and quiet, and I am definitely awkward (lol); however, I, too, have learned who I am, what I want in life, and I am a 100% unapologetically carefree black woman and proud of it. Finding your true sense of self is when you can fully be confident throughout your life journey.

The soon to be Yogi and Holistic Wellness Practitioner is also a transitioning vegan, and helps people who are interested in transitioning to make that switch.img_1021

Freeman has a website coming soon that will consist of weekly health-related blogs, recipes, videos, and more. It will also be a way to book her for workshops, one-on-one training, and grocery store tours. So be on the lookout for DomoniqueTiera.com. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @Domoookunn, and check her out on Facebook.

You’re an intelligent black queen, Domo! You encourage me to make healthier lifestyle choices, and you inspire me to be a part of this growing movement of self-care and self-love! Your unique talents, positive energy, and deep understanding of current issues that matter most to you will get you so far! Continue to do great things, pursue your dreams, and excel in your passions. Lastly, thank you for being an inspiration to me and other women of color!

Women of Color Wednesday: Brittany Wright

When I hear the name Brittany Wright, three words instantly come to mind: driven, goal-oriented, motivated, confident, fearless, and bold.ae8923_1505148ae0aa4a0c9d8db23ac62a27c9

Okay, that was way more than three words, but three words just aren’t enough to describe all the Black Girl Magic this girl possesses.

Wright, a native of “the dirty mitten” was born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan. Upon graduating from the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy in 2011, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Columbia College Chicago in the Spring of 2015. She is currently one semester away from completing her Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communication with a prospected graduation date of December 16, 2016. She won’t stop there. A Ph.D. in African American Studies is on deck!

Not only is Wright an educated Black woman, but she is also multitalented. “I am so many things, and the majority of which I am not paid for monetarily,” she said. Professionally, Wright is a Media Associate at an international public relations agency where she currently services the clients Walmart and Tylenol. Additionally, Wright is a storyteller, aspiring freelance writer, aspiring blogger, and public speaker.

What’s even more impressive is Wright’s ability to be there for others. “I am a shoulder to cry on, someone who gives strategic advice, a voice for the voiceless and above all, my sister’s keeper.”

When asked what her life mission is, Wright said that it is simply to help others “whether that be to help people actualize their full potential, help people take their brands to the next level, or at work where I help our clients strategically reach their target. Another extension of this could be, by publicly living my truth in hopes that another brown girl, from my hometown perhaps, can see that there is more for her, that she, too, can achieve and reach her level of greatness. Or with my latest project, Bbad Bits: The Podcast Series, where I help elevate Black voices and conjure up possible solutions for Black issues. See the essence of it is still the same, it’s all about helping people. I’ve just found many ways to extend/work on that mission.”

FullSizeRender 3

Yes, yes, YES! Selfless, noble, self-effacing. What every human being should be. I’m here for it.

Wright encourages other women of color to not be selfish with their talents. “There is another brown girl somewhere looking at you as the charter of territory in which they only dreamed of uncovering. Find a way to share your story and your talents, your battles and what eventually allowed for you to prevail.”

Exactly. All of us should be able to see ourselves. Visual identity and representation matters. People need to see themselves in all walks of life, not just their stereotypes. Wright is getting into a space that we hardly see: Black women succeeding in corporate America. It’s women like Brittany Wright that people need to be looking up to. Because of them, we can. I see you, Brittany. Because of you, I can!

She continued, “So often in the Black community there are those who find comfort and eliteness in being exclusive or having some knowledge that is exclusive. Now forgive me for being pro-Black, but they walk through life as if their ancestors passed down a book on how to utilize white privilege to its greatest potential. How to run businesses, how to get the most out of college and so on and so forth. There are a few of us who are passing down this information for free to those who are willing to listen, but there needs to be more of us doing that. We can’t reach a level of success and close the door behind us, but instead look back and reach out.”

Truth! That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Ava DuVernay: “If your dreams don’t include others, they’re not big enough. Include others in your dreams.” Why dream alone when you can dream with your community, with people who have similar aspirations, even with the world? Including others not only makes your dreams stronger, but it also makes them limitless.

11064273_10152709038286851_5864064407383275242_nWright also encourages other women of color to “just do!” She is a strong advocate of a small world that has so much power and meaning. “A lot of Black women and people in general count themselves out before even allowing the ‘approver’ to count them out. So what if you fail, so what if people aren’t rocking with it, so what! You will have to hit so many nos until you get to the yeses that will really turn the game around for you. Be proactive, make a plan and be meticulous by not wavering from that plan. Don’t let someone or something stop you from meeting your end goal. There are a many of people who don’t want to see you make it, but instead of taking that energy and turning it into how to prove them wrong, work on proving yourself right, because in that instance you’re all that matters!”

Preach it, sista. Count on your fingers how many times you’ve been told no, denied, try again next time, you almost had it, you’re not good enough… What number did you come up with? Now look where you are and how those nos has shaped you today. Being told no makes you better, makes you stronger. If everything came easy, you wouldn’t appreciate the process. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, the paths you’ve walked and the steps you’ve taken to reach your objective. Personally, I’d rather be strengthened by a struggle than unchanged by an easy breeze.

When asked what her greatest accomplishment is, she explained – like myself and many other people I know – that she struggled with this question quite a bit. “I even had to reach out to some of my girlfriends like, I’m stuck right now. Part of that is because I’m never content with what I have/am doing now, so I’m constantly looking towards what’s next, leaving no time to focus on the ‘successes’ and ‘accomplishments.’”

Raise your hand up high if you’re the type of person that’s never satisfied, always hungry for more, and always aiming to achieve greater! I know I’m never satisfied; I’m always aiming to do more and be more instead of appreciating what I have accomplished and been successful at. That mindset just comes from the fact that when you know that you were cut from a different cloth, you feel like you have to live up to those expectations of being unique and being the best.

She continued, “After some thought (help) though, I would have to say moving to Chicago, for multiple reasons. Before actually moving, everyone was petrified, but me, because only I could see the vision I had for myself. Prior to moving I had a laundry list of things that I wanted to accomplish here in Chicago and to my surprise, three years later I’ve blown past that list and have done things that my 19-year-old self would not have believed.FullSizeRender Also, prior to coming to Chicago is when I gave birth to bbadpr, which has served as a platform for me to inspire and create change. Bbadpr has opened me up to give workshops, speaking engagements, blogs, podcasts, freelance writing, career consulting, and more. I think for me, the biggest accomplishment was being unafraid and fearlessly conquering what I knew was meant for me.”

I can relate to this in so many ways. Sometimes you have to do what’s best for you even if no one else agrees. You have to take control of your life, execute your plan, and seek to make the visions you have for yourself a reality even if no one else can see or believe them.

Through the good days, and the bad, Wright encourages herself to, “Dream into the unknown. Pray. Spend a lot of time alone, and in your thoughts. Understand who you are, what your purpose is and where you want to go. Help people, let people help you, and always remember to help yourself.”

If you’re feeling inspired and want to continue following her journey, check out Brittany Wright’s website, blog, and podcast!

Thank you, Brittany, for all that you do and all that you are. You embody everything that a Black woman should be. I’ve been looking up to you for years now. Thank you for continuing to be an inspiration for Black women like me that want to make a change and motivate others to chase their dreams. Your brilliance, wisdom, and vision for yourself is going to take you so far. I can’t wait to see all of the astounding goals that you will continue to accomplish, and never stop being the voice and the representation that women of color need.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 3.10.50 PM

Get Edumacated

enhanced-24316-1431971977-57

It’s 7am, and first hour has just begun. Sleepy eyed and groggy with a bag full of books, we were probably dreading the rest of the day and counting down the days until graduation and also thinking how the Pythagorean theorem or the periodic table of elements was going to help us in our everyday life.

How many times have we promised ourselves we were just going to get a factory job to avoid the stress?

Who has ever joked with their friends about finding a “sugar mama” or “sugar daddy” to support their lifestyles?

First start. Preschool. Kindergarten. Elementary school. Middle school. High school and, not to mention, latchkey and day care.

Education is so important, and it would be a relentless job to stress the many reasons why.

So many people argue that school isn’t for everyone. And though, this much is true, considering the 300 million people in America, chances are there’s something for everyone.

According to Findlaw.com, compulsory education is the requirement of all children in the United States to be educated, at least until the reach of high school, then the child has the “choice” to continue on or not.

I went to a public school within my hometown. The school received an exemplary status from the city’s school board but I wasn’t too moved by it, I thought the teachings were pretty common and that we all knew the same kinds of things…but I was wrong.

Coming to college has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as well as an experience that has widely opened my eyes. Sitting in the student union one day, catching up on an assignment while I wait for my next class, I overhear a conversation. Someone asks what country the Olympics were being held in. The other said “the one with the blue and yellow flag”, “ooh, you mean Portuguese”. My face instantly drooped; I was dumbfounded.

Firstly, the 2016 Olympics are being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Their flag’s colors are blue, green, yellow, and white. Portuguese is NOT a country, but it is the language that the Brazil natives speak. Portugal is a country located in Europe, next to Spain, that colonized Brazil and… UGH. I could’ve gone on and on inside my brain. Social media has made it a game to post math problems relative to 5th grade learning that so many people have failed at answering. Some of the comments people post implore that their answer is right and that they know P.E.M.D.A.S and other math tools. Having conversations with people can be frustrating as well. They may try to include more complex words that they may have heard or possibly have read up on but they use it or pronounce it so incorrectly, its horrifying. “He had the odacitely (audacity) to ask me that”, but they know every word to Future’s new song, and can tell you how to “cook and move work” and go “OT” providing Young Dolph and Gucci Mane’s instructions.

Sure, others paid more attention in history class than others, but these things are common knowledge that I thought everyone had. Sort of like comma usage, proper grammar practice, the differences between to, too, and two-their, they’re, there- rather, whether… UGH there I go again…I could go on.

Some argue that college is a conspiracy and that they’d just prefer to become an entrepreneur and open their own business. While you don’t need a degree to do so, higher education provides classes, training, and networking opportunities for the fields of interest. How can one be a business owner with no known knowledge of a business plan or how to manage nonetheless keep track of gross and net income?

A four-year university is not the end all-be all like our families, teachers, or media has lead us to believe. There are shorter-term education options that can still give us a desirable outcome. Community colleges, trade/vocational schools, realty classes, culinary schools, CNA or other medical licensing, schools for beauty and barber… the list goes on and on.

Education is important. There are no ifs ands or buts. Education allows for learning, growth, new opportunities, networking, chances to earn better pay, flexible schedules and programs, online options, and great experiences are just some of the pros for seeking a higher education. Even if you don’t finish out, or seek a degree per se, but simply desire some new useful knowledge and skill sets, there’s something for everyone.

In the world of today, with Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump running for president, the #blacklivesmatter movement, as well as the police brutality epidemic at large, why wouldn’t you want to #staywoke and educated?

What do you think? Is school worth the hassle? Should there be a law requiring everyone to receive education? Have you found yourself constantly correcting others?

B Educated!

Among other things,

B Honest B Humble B You!

-domo.dub

 

NO GMOs

Mark your calendar, folks! The very talented Alfield Reeves and Keyon Lovett will be having their first art exhibition collaboration at the Black Arts and Cultural Center as a part of Art Hop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The project is entitled, “NO GMOs.”IMG_4707

“We live in a society that is losing its authenticity, so much that we have to add to ourselves instead of being who we are at the core and who God created us to be. NO GMOs is aimed to highlight that authenticity in its rarest form.”

Reeves, with his gift of photography, will be highlighting his #MelaninatedNaturals series, which focuses on encapsulating chocolate ladies of all shades and their natural hair.FullSizeRender

“My project is entitled #MelaninatedNaturals. It entails individual and group portraits of black women highlighting all their eclectic shades of skin, natural hair styles, and an array fashion senses,” Reeves explained.

Keyon, with his gift of illustration, will be highlighting his #BlackCinema Series, which takes viewers down memory lane by revisiting movies that would be considered staples in the African American community, adding a twist that you — the viewer — will have to point out.

“I just thought it would be cool to recreate some of the iconic scenes from the films. Then I started to make connections to us as black people,” Lovett said.

Authenticity is the core of the two projects. NO GMOs means nothing artificial. The artwork that Reeves and Lovett created identifies the realness of black essence and black culture.

When asked what his favorite part of the project was, Alfield said, “I’ve always been someone that loves the process and seeing the transformation of things. So in saying that, my favorite part is the process of getting the ladies together for each photo session, their interactions with each-other, the positive vibes, and of course going through the portraits sorting and editing, and seeing the transformation while being amazed at the final result.”

FullSizeRender

Reeves continued, “I wouldn’t say I have a least favorite part, but probably the most difficult part will be selecting the ones that will be in the exhibit while trying not people please, but instead choosing the ones that are the most excellent and fully portray my idea.”

Similar to Reeves, Lovett explained that his favorite part is always creating, and that his least favorite part “will probably be selecting which pieces make the cut.”

Though the creative process is the most fascinating and exciting part about this collaboration, it can get a bit difficult at times. Reeves mentioned that there was an influxFullSizeRender 4.jpg of ladies interested when he put the project idea out there, so having to plan each group session and making time to select and edit the pictures was a bit tedious.

Similarly, Lovett added, “The process has been exciting. Al and I have had the ability to live with each other and with that we’ve been able to understand how we think creatively. His organization meets my spontaneity.”

For additional information about the event such as dates, times, and social media followings, check out the Eventbrite link!

Oh, and it’s FREE! So if you love art and want to support this amazing collaborative project, be sure to check out the exhibit September 9th!

 

#FilmMajorFriday: Why Ava DuVernay is My Greatest Inspiration

Ava DuVernay is everything that Black Girl Magic encompasses. Being a film major, she is my greatest inspiration and really motivates me to pursue a career in film and be on the frontier for bringing more diversity into Hollywood.

DuVernay is a director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor of independent film. She’s most famous for directing Selma (2014), a chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015.

Based in Los Angeles, she is the founder of ARRAY, a community-based distribution collective dedicated to the amplification of films by people of color and women filmmakers. She is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and is on the board of Film Independent and the Sundance Institute.

What I appreciate most about DuVernay is that she strives to make change for women and people of color in an industry that is dominated by white men. She advocates for the distribution of more films by women and minorities, which is both comforting and inspiring since I’m both a woman and a minority. Not only does ARRAY focus on women and Black filmmakers, but also Latino, Asian, Native American, and Middle Eastern filmmakers and directors.

To me, one of her most notable acts of duty is when she and Ryan Coogler (Director of Fruitvale Station, Creed, and the upcoming Black Panther movie that comes out in 2018!!!), and several others supported a free Oscar-night event in Flint, Michigan to raise money for the Flint Water Crisis while boycotting the Oscars for its lack of diversity in the Academy. The #JUSTICEFORFLINT benefit gave a voice to members of the community who were victims of the choices that people in power made, choices that failed to protect the citizens of Flint. The event raised a total of $100,000.

She has taught me that if my dreams are only for myself, then they’re not big enough, and to include others in my dreams. She has taught me to pay attention to my intention not just in filmmaking, but in all areas of my life. Be grateful, appreciate others, and put others first. Take action in my craft, and that the only thing that matters is my work.

Most importantly, it is imperative that we continue to create spaces like ARRAY that advocate for the distribution of more films by women and minorities. Why? Because all of us should be able to see ourselves. Visual identity and representation matters. It’s important that we allow others to see themselves in all walks of life, beyond the stereotypes that we are subjected to.

Thank you, DuVernay, for all that you do. You are changing lives and inspiring young filmmakers like me more than you are credited for. Keep on climbing, and keep on shining!

 

Women of Color Wednesday: Viola Davis

This week’s #WomenofColorWednesday shout out goes to one of my favorite actresses, Viola Davis!

I’ve always been a fan of Davis, but I completely fell in love with this incredibly talented, intelligent, brilliant actress during her acceptance speech during the 2015 Emmy Awards.

Watch Davis give her speech here.

What stood out to me the most is when she said, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” I’ve never heard a truer statement than that. So many women of color miss out on chances to reach the peak of their potential not because they’re not good enough, talented enough, or educated enough, but simply because they lack the opportunities to do so.

Davis is one of the reasons why my life mission is to be a part of the change that the film/media/TV industry needs today: more women and more people of color. I want to be able to tell diverse stories by diverse story tellers, and create opportunities for those who would otherwise not receive them.

The fact that Davis is the first African American to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama (for How To Get Away With Murder) says a lot about the racial inequality in Hollywood and the lack of opportunities for people of color in the industry. There’s definitely a diversity problem, and that needs to change.

At this year’s SAG Awards, she said that “diversity should not be a trending topic…No matter what is going on in the business, I will find a way to practice my art, and all of the actors of color who I know don’t place any limitations on themselves either. So regardless of what is going on with the Academy, regardless of what is going on in Hollywood, they will find a way to be excellent. We always have and we always will.”

People like Viola Davis are the driving force to the changes that need to happen in the industry, and it’s important that people of color lead by this example and advocate for more opportunities for people of color — and women — in the industry. Our stories are just as valid as anyone else’s.

Viola Davis, thank you for being one of my greatest inspirations. It’s people like you that give me hope for diversifying an industry that is dominated by white men.

Command Your Excellence With Tracey Garley| EP.8|Season 1

Every job is a self portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence!

This week on The Social B. Show I had the pleasure of talking with CEO and Co-Owner of Zarkpa’s Purses and Accessories boutique, Tracy Garley. Tracy dished the latest with her business and we even spoke on a few ‘sticky situations’. Check out the full interview and tell us what you think!

Always remember… Be Honest. Be Humble. Be YOU!