Five Friends You Need In This Industry

“I’m Only As Strong As My Team.”

Creating content is not easy especially when you’re on a tight budget. However, it’s not impossible. That’s why your community is so important. Here are five friends you need in order to excel in this industry. Of course the list varies depending on what you’re doing, but these five friends helped me get to where I am today.

BRAND MANAGER – when I first started my brand I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had part of a vision; God didn’t reveal the other part until I was fully surrendered to Him (that’s a whole other blog post). My friend, Sahirah Johnson @blackis_mymelody, met with me weekly to discuss my brand. A brand manager is able to step outside the content to ensure that it resonates with the audience, and that any content created is in line with the brand.

My biggest issue was I didn’t have a brand. I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to turn that into a brand. That’s where Sahirah came in. She’d often take my words and formulate it into content. It was brilliant. She helped me conceptualize my website, set me up on my first photo and video shoots, taught me how to relax and helped to bring out my authentic self. She also told me “No” when the content didn’t fit the brand. Til this day, I’ll post something and if it’s not good enough she’ll message me, “Don’t post that again.” On the contrary when I post something good she’ll say, “This is good.” Lol I love having real friends.

 

STYLIST – I’m fashionably impaired. I’d love to say that my looks are all me, but I often ask my friend, Sade’ Solomon, @sadesolomon, to style me for important events. For a long time, I didn’t know my style, I wore very bland colors, and I wouldn’t take risks with my outfit. She’d often ask me, “What’s your style?” And I’d reply, “Plain Jane.” As my brand grew, I needed to create a lot of content and that included more photo shoots. How was I going to shoot all the time with limited clothing? Sade’ told me about Rent the Runway. I was hooked once I got a taste . She’d pick out bright colors, unique tops, and outfits that made my shape pop. People took notice, it enhanced my brand, I even got a new job (check out my blog post How God and Rent the Runway Got Me a New Job). Til this day, I’ll send some of my clothing options to Sade’ for approval if I feel unsure or if I want to take my outfits to the next level.

 

PHOTOGRAPHER – My Ex used to be my photographer. He had a way of capturing my beauty and memorializing it. When we broke up, I was heartbroken and afraid to work with another photographer. I was awkward in front the camera and feared that I would waste another photographer’s time because I needed a lot of direction. But God is not mocked. He was the one that led me down this path; therefore, He was the one that would supply my every need. He opened the door for me to meet Debbie Lemonte @thelocdbella, an amazing NYC photographer. The first day I shot with her I wanted to cry. In fact, I think I did. She just doesn’t know it. I talk about this more in my Inspo, “A Beautiful Trip.” She was confident, happy, and unbothered by my awkwardness. She captured a part of me that was lost in my unhealthy relationship. She captured the real me. My true identity. And til this day we still work together and I can trust that she will capture my vision.

 

HAIR/MAKEUP ARTIST – I clearly don’t know how to beat my face, nor can I braid to save my life, but my friends Rachel Auguste @cheveuxauguste, Phillissia Fields @Phoenixgwenbeauty, and Britnee Kristine @britneekristine, are my saving grace. When I went natural I had to re learn my hair texture. I was forced to face the coarseness and thickness of my hair. It’s something I ran away from for so long because I was teased for it. But Rachel styles my hair every chance she gets. She specializes in natural hair and protective styles. Britnee maintains my hair whenever I’m in Bayonne, NJ at her Black Owned Hair Salon [check out my IGTV for my experience with her]. She is a celebrity hair and make up artist and slowed down to become an entrepreneur. Phillissia is my forever makeup artist whenever she’s in town. She’s self taught, specializes in special effects make up and she always has me looking like a snack at my photo shoots. The best thing about Philli is she’s self taught. Her raw talent is inspiring and powerful and her passion shows in her artwork.

Britnee Kristine

Rachel Auguste

Phillissia Fields

 

IT – One thing I hate is when my computer freezes, a hard drive crashes or I get a new computer and need inexpensive software. I create a lot of videos, which means I need the latest and greatest software and hardware there is for cheap. My friend Denisha Wilson @msmcfierce, helps me with this. A woman in engineering, she’s a two-time Emmy Award winner for her work at NBC, she simplifies technology for me. She’s knowledgeable and always offers tips and tricks I could use to optimize the storage on my computer, or apps I could use to write scripts. Her advice saves me a lot of time and money.

Those are my friends. And trust, God has blessed me with so much more. It’s amazing whenever I get to work with my friends. It takes the pressure off and reminds me that I don’t have to do it all. Having a supportive team helped me elevate my brand and took me to the next level. Their presence, their work reminds me that I’m not in this alone.

Platonic Friends Pt 1: Unequally Yoked

I asked my bestie, Kevin Spann, to join me in this conversation to debunk the myth that men and women can’t be friends. Although we come from two different worlds; I’m a Christian he’s not; I’m a woman he’s a man; I’m cautious he’s spontaneous, the basis of our friendship is love and respect. We’re sharing our journey and how we were able to make 12+ years of friendship work.

Camera A – Aksoia Selvin
Camera B – Kevone Cox
Music by: Youtube Library

Jamaican Easter Dinner

“Happy Bun & Cheese!”

That’s usually what we say in my family on Easter Day. Easter or Resurrection Sunday is one of my favorite holidays. It represents the ultimate example of love. There’s so many people who use the word “Love” loosely, and don’t innerstand the meaning.

Whether it’s a sacrifice of pride, or a sacrifice of self, or a sacrifice of finances (yes I’m talking to the fellas contemplating a marriage proposal) to truly love is to sacrifice. Don’t get me wrong; sacrifice is NOT giving up your purpose for someone else. That’s settling! HUGE difference. Someone who truly loves you will never ask you to give up your purpose or passion for them. If they do then that’s a red flag and girl you need to run 🏃🏿‍♀️.

I’ve heard of Crazy Love, Lazy Love, Dangerously in Love, but there’s no greater love than the one who laid down His life for His friends – and that’s what Jesus did for us – an undeserving people, who He knew would disown Him, and find ways to disprove His existence. Despite His pleas not to go, Jesus went to the cross for us. He displayed a great deal of courage, self control, and discipline. How many of us would die for the people we know hate us?

Because of Jesus’s sacrifice, we choose to remember Him on Easter or Resurrection Sunday. In my family, after celebrating most of the weekend in church, we have family dinner. Easter is a holiday rich with Jamaican Traditions. The traditional Jamaican Easter Dinner comprises of Escovitch Fish with rice and peas, and bun and cheese for appetizer/dessert.

This year, I had the honor of making the fish again. Last year, I didn’t do such a great job, so this year I decided to search the web for the best recipe. But I couldn’t find it. So I relied on a source that could never go wrong. My mom :-). My entire family loved the fish so much that I’m most likely going to make it again soon. Below is my process; there are no measurements because Old School Jamaicans showing you how to cook tell you to use your discretion lol (if you’re a fellow Jamaican then you know what I’m talking about).

Preparing & Cooking the Fish

First I cleaned the fish. Then I seasoned it and laid it out to dry for 24 hours. When it was fully dry, I boiled the oil and fried each fish 3 at a time. When the fish was fully fried, I placed it in a large baking dish – one on top of the other.

 

The Sauce

The sauce is actually very easy. I sliced one large onion and one large red pepper. Usually the recipe calls for carrots, but my brother is allergic, so I didn’t add it. In a skillet, I added some of the remaining oil that I used to fry the fish, added some vinegar, a little bit of water, and brown sugar. Once the sauce was thick and began boiling I added the onion and red pepper. I let everything simmer in the sauce until the onions were soft. Lastly, I poured everything on the fish and voila!

 

Jamaican Bun & Cheese

There are many cultures that celebrate Easter with a feast. The Jewish eat Matzah, the Greek eat Lamb, Jamaicans, we eat Bun & Cheese. It’s a specialty and we eat it as the appetizer, dessert, and pretty much all weekend. We could eat bun and cheese all year, but for some reason during the Easter weekend it’s so much sweeter 😬.

If you haven’t already check out my post on What Easter Means to Me check it out here.

Black Girls Rock 2018

“Finally, God told me to speak and fire came out of my mouth.”

Last year and all my life, I felt hidden. I had all these gifts inside me and I had innovative and ground breaking ideas, yet no platform. When I spoke, it was as if I were a ghost. I could flourish one day and the next day people would forget. I would work so hard on my projects and only a handful of people would see it. I helped so many people, speaking into their lives, coaching them through difficult situations, yet I felt unappreciated. When would it be my time to shine? I felt under valued. Over looked. Forgotten. I wanted to give up. But God wouldn’t let me. Instead, He sent me signs to show me that He had me hidden and my reveal was about to happen.

The first thing God did: He sent people to encourage me when I felt like I reached my breaking point, people started DMing me and telling me how inspirational my content was. They told me to keep going because I helped them so much. They shared testimonies about how I helped transform their lives, and how I inspired them to keep going when they wanted to quit. I really appreciated the feedback. It’s hard to stay focused on purpose when you think you’ll never succeed.

The second thing God did: He sent a pastor to speak into my life. By way of YouTube, Pastor Mike Todd, of Transformation Church, preached a series entitled, “Planted Not Buried.” It was perfect timing. He talked about being planted so that God could nourish us, build us up, and then reveal us. What stood out to me the most was the Bamboo plant. It’s planted, and for three years nothing happens above ground. Everything happens underground out of the Public’s eye. But when it sprouts it grows 3” every hour. The Bamboo plant is one of the stronger durable plants. You could build a house with it. I’ve been hidden so long I thought I was buried. I thought my dreams, passion and purpose would die in me. That’s why God tells us to renew our minds daily. The enemy had me believing that this is how my life was supposed to be. Producing shows that will never go anywhere, producing events that very few attended, working at a job that diminishes females and uplifts white males even if they don’t have the experience (that’s another blog post).

The third thing God did: He used me in a dynamic way to speak directly into the lives of a few women. My good friend, Sade’ Solomon, hosted “Talk & Tea” an intimate conversation for women digging deep into what’s holding them back from being purposeful. I heard a lot of fear in the room. Doubt. Shame. Hesitation. Inconsistency. Some didn’t know their identity, others were too afraid to dream, and a few were too scared to speak the vision for their life. God was brewing something inside me. I always know when He’s about to speak through me. My stomach felt like it was on fire and I couldn’t contain it. Finally, God told me to speak and fire came out of my mouth. It burned fears, ignited dreams and visions, and lit up dark areas exposing inconsistency in their walk with God. I was shocked. They were shocked. At the end of the event the women asked me for more info on my ministry. But I didn’t have one. That was just a glimpse of how God was going to use me. During prayer, I said to God, “I wish that I could have someone speak to me the way you just used me to speak to these women.” And He responded. “Why? I speak directly to you and you’re my mouthpiece.” I cried. He was right! God and I have a direct connection that people yearn for, yet I wanted to replace it.

The last thing God did: He gave me a glimpse of what was to come. He opened the door for me to attend Black Girls Rock (BGR) 2018. He made it very clear that I was to go ALONE. I was nervous and I didn’t know why. It’s not like I was performing or receiving an award. Why was I so nervous? When I got to BGR, I stood in a long line of beautifully dressed Black Women. One of the Producers scanned the line asking, “Who came here alone?” Then looked right at me and asked, “Are you here alone?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Come with me.” This was the God moment. I, along with 19 other women, were selected to go on stage with Queen Latifah. I couldn’t believe it. Had I not heeded God’s command to come alone I would’ve missed out on this opportunity. As I sat in reserved seating in the balcony watching the show, I looked out at all the celebs in the audience, all the celebs on stage and God said to me,

Mind blown 🤯. This is where purpose will take me. He continued, “You’re unseen right now because I have you planted, but I’m getting ready to bloom you. Let me continue to work on you, hold on to the promise, a new season is coming.

Can you spot me?

I was in awe. God did not forget me. He was working on me for many years. As I reflected on my season, Planted: I overcame depression, healed from trauma, and discovered my identity. God revealed my gifts, my purpose, and removed people from my life that were draining me.

If you’re feeling forgotten or overlooked, know that you’re in a season where God is growing you. Heed His direction and let Him work on you. Because when the Glow Up season arrives you’ll enjoy every bit of it – free.

How God and Rent the Runway Got Me a New Job

I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Write down your thoughts and touch up your make up.”

I’m a TV producer working for a major cable network. Fashion in the media industry is pretty casual. Replace the suit and tie for jeans and sneakers instead. Depending on what area of the industry you’re working in, you can either be on your feet for over 16 hours in a day or sitting on your butt for 8. So comfy is our style, and I really embodied that. Why would I dress up if I’m either at my computer or in the edit suite? Yet, around November 2018, I got the urge to dress up. I traded my flats for heels, T-shirts and jeans for layers and prints. Okay, not really prints. I haven’t mastered that yet.

At first, I was reluctant to dress up, but one day I sat in the audience for The View, Tiffany Haddish was the guest, and she explained how important fashion was in the world of media/celebredom. I knew God was speaking directly to me because days before I kept asking my friend why do I need to dress up? I’m a TV producer my work should speak for itself. The reality is, our work speaks, but what gets us noticed is our appearance and how we carry ourselves. That old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover,” is now outdated. People aren’t checking for you, unless you look like your successful. So I started dressing up. The more I dressed up the more confident I felt. People took notice. I received comments like “she’s so fashionable.” “She always looks good.” It even inspired my friends to dress up. We were the “Too Fly Crew.” Ok, not really lol.

My VPs took notice and one of them requested a meeting with me. I’m not saying it’s because of how I dressed, but I do believe it’s because I stood out. I was a breath of fresh air. In the meeting, I had a list of things I wanted to discuss, but I felt too nervous to say it. However, the Holy Spirit nudged me, “Just say it.” So, I told my VP that I wanted to create my own job. I wanted to work in a space where I am creating content and bridging the gap between digital and broadcast. My VP was impressed and recommended I meet with the VP of Digital.

The same day I had my meeting with the VP of Digital, I got invited to sit in the Audience of Good Morning America. I always take it up a notch whenever I’m going to be on TV. Hair done, make up done, and my outfit on fleek. I wore a beautiful gray jumpsuit. I received so many compliments, even Robin Roberts complimented my outfit. However, when I got to work I put on a blazer, so I could look a little more professional.

My meeting was fast approaching and I felt a little unprepared. I had so many ideas. How could I communicate it without rambling? I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Write down your thoughts and touch up your make up.” I knew I had to oblige. Finally, I walked into the meeting and I only had thirty minutes to communicate my thoughts. I said hello, and jumped right in. We vybed the entire time. The VP explained that I had great ideas and the team was already implementing some of it. Towards the end of the meeting, I said to the VP, “I wish I could help your team.” And that’s when the VP told me about two openings on the team. The VP told me that I should look at both and select which one best suits me. The VP also introduced me to the Manager on the team whom I spoke to for an hour and a half and we hit it off very well. I walked out feeling so confident. I had no idea that my informational interview would turn into an actual interview. I dressed the part; therefore, the part was presented to me. 2 weeks later, I was offered the new position and I accepted it.

This opportunity came at the right time. I was feeling stuck at my job and I was ready to grow. My obedience to God is what got me the new job. He used Rent the Runway as an outlet to supply my needs. After all, God doesn’t give a vision without provision.