Lana Adams

Lana talks about her web series, "The Singles Rant," the inspiration behind starting it, and some of the details that go into its production! She made a move from her Philly hometown to further her career and discusses how it has been beneficial to her and gives advice to others looking to do the same...


Please share the inspiration behind starting, "The Singles Rant."

I had been wanting to create this interview-style show for a few years now. One day my roommate and co-producer were talking about dating and all of the fun, and not so fun things that come along with being single, and we thought we should merge our ideas and create the show. About 2 weeks later, we were already filming the first half of Season 1 with the Atlanta cast. We had a hard time booking our first guests but it ended up working out so that we had just the right amount of people and talent! God's favor!


What is the process like? What all goes into making one video?

The process is fun but tiresome because we don't have a full team, yet. Myself and my co-producer, Lex Chappelle are the Creators/Producers/Writers/Editors/Everythingers :-). We do have a few good people that assist with videography that we are so grateful for. Shout out to Lucky Brand Productions in Philly.

We generally begin pre-production for each season by shooting enough footage for about 5-10 episodes, or rants as we like to call them. A new rant premieres each Friday and we split the editing responsibilities down the middle, so we each have one episode to edit every week.  We came from very humble beginnings. Season 1 was filmed in the living room of our Atlanta apartment using a green screen and my camera and we finished the second half of the season in my sister’s apartment in Philly.  


What are your plans for next season?  How do you plan to take The Singles Rant to the next level?

Well we are actually planning to launch a campaign with IfundWomen Maryland in the near future.  We are so excited for this partnership. We are going to be raising money to cover production costs to shoot Season 4 of The Singles Rant in the DMV area. This money will also help us market the show to a broader audience so we can increase our viewership and expand! Our immediate goal is to get The Singles Rant’s Youtube page to 10k viewers and 1k subscribers. We are asking that if you enjoy the show, please watch and share with friends!

We have already added a scripted portion to The Singles Rant by adding skits, and we plan to step our game up with those in a major way; mainly producing more thoughtful and entertaining skits to mix into each rant and making our episodes longer. We are also developing a marketing plan and have spin-offs already in the works as well as plans to expand to other cities.


You will be casting for next season, where can we find more information regarding that?

The easiest way to find out about castings is to sign up for our email list. Here’s the link: The Singles Rant Newsletter. Don’t worry, we do not spam!

You can also  follow us on Instagram/Twitter @thesinglesrant to stay abreast of all news and updates. Also please subscribe to our youtube page!


You made a big move from Philly to Atlanta and now from Atlanta to Baltimore? What was the inspiration behind that and how has the move been beneficial so far?

I am excited about contributing to the arts/culture scene in Baltimore because there are so many talented people here and the film/media market is growing. There is so much to explore here and it's less saturated like some other large cities. Not to mention the amount of funding available to women and people of color, like the IfundWomen program. There are so many incubators and accelerator programs to help young entrepreneurs here. I will say that Atlanta was great! It’s a great city for ambitious filmmakers, but what I am learning is that what matters more than your geographical location is your mental location-- meaning your state of mind. I thought I had to make a big move to make my dreams come true and while I met amazing people in Atlanta, the move was more helpful in me realizing that God has already given me everything I need to succeed. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to find out what God has been trying to show you.


What advice would you give someone looking to make a big move like that to further their career?

I'd say just do it! Also, keep in mind that as a creative, you can make something happen wherever you are. Don't feel like you have to move your physical location to make things happen. Just make a decision to start, set goals for yourself, and delete all excuses from your mind. Thoughts become things. ( I learn and re-learn this daily, so be patient with yourself!)

I also want to add that it is easy to look left and right and try to compare your journey with people around you or try to mimic what they have done to get to your own level of success. Always remember that what's for you is FOR, you! Do what works for you and what makes you happy.

What are some of your goals for 2018 and beyond? What can we expect coming from you in the new year?

I have finally launched my portfolio website and revamped the look of my company, LA Multimedia. The site was designed by Eric Warner's Creative Studio and I am so pleased with it!  I offer copywriting, video production and creative consulting.  I am finishing up a feature length comedy script and hope to be in pre-production this Summer. I am also working on a short film about mental health issues among black women.


Thanks Lana, for being unapologetically YOU and creating amazing content for us to view weekly! If you have not already, check out an episode of, "The Single's Rant," below... 

Nafessa Williams

Nafessa talks about how she got started in the entertainment industry, who she would like to work with, where she gets her inspiration, and how she would like to be remembered when it is all said and done...



Tell us a little about yourself… what led you to pursue acting and modeling? How did you get your start?

Well I am a Fearless Dreamer. Born and raised in Philly.  I'm the oldest of four. Acting and modeling is my passion. I booked my first gig in Philly as a stand in for Eve for one of her music videos, "Anything I Want." From that experience, I knew this was something I wanted to do. 

What are some of the projects that you have worked on.. what was one of your favorites and why?

I played a doctor on CBS's CodeBlack and that was an awesome experience. I would have to say my favorite role to date is Toya in my lastest film "Burning Sands" currently streaming on Netflix. Toya is fun, bold, fearless and unapologetic about who she is. She's empowering and I learned a lot from her.

What is your dream role?  Who would you like to work with that you have not already?

I would love to work with Martin Scorsese, in an iconic gangster film of his.

Who are some people that you lookup to/admire in the industry and why?

I love Denzel Washington and Viola Davis I'm always inspired by how passionate they are about the craft. I love Issa Rae, she's the ultimate GirlBoss. She's starring in her own TV show which she executive produces...that's definitely inspiring.

What is the best piece of advice that you have received from an industry mentor?

The best advice I received is to always remain a student of the craft. Always stay in class and eager to learn. Whenever I'm not working on set I'm in class, even if I'm just there to watch. You'd be surprised how much you can learn just from watching other actors. 

What advice/insight would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career in modeling and acting?

I would say find an acting class that works for you and the rest will fall into place. Surround yourself with other actors, directors, etc and learn the business. 



Talk to us about your Fearless Dreamer brand and workshops. What can aspiring actors/actresses expect to learn from attending them?

My Fearless Dreamer workshops are designed for new and inspiring actors. I started these workshops so that I could teach new actors everything that I've been learning and experiencing in the industry. And to share some of my mistakes, in hopes they won't make the same ones. 

In addition to your acting/modeling, you recently launched a online boutique with one of your childhood friends.. Congrats! How did that come about and what has the process of starting the business been like?

My partner Michelle Savage and I both have a love for fashion. It has always been my dream to have my own Forever 21 and together we created Saturday Dreaming, affordable fashion for the Fearless Dreamer, for the GirlBoss. Saturday Dreaming is truly as dream come true. 

What would you say is your life's motto and what do you want your legacy to be long after you leave this earth?

I believe that "Life Begins when you follow your dreams and encourage others to follow theirs."  I want people to be encouraged and inspired by my work. I want to be remembered as Fearless Dreamer and a risk taker.

Be sure to follow me on all social media to stay updated with everything I have going on. 

Instagram: @NafessaWilliams

Twitter: @NafessaWilliams

Facebook: Nafessa Williams

Also catch Nafessa in Black Lightening on the CW Tuesday evenings at 9pm! Congratulations! 





Amanda Levie

Amanda details her journey in high school and college that led to the discovery of her love for theatre production.  She gives details about the “No Peeking Theater,” which “takes away the element of sight by blindfolding the audience..” to create a very one of a kind theatrical experience…

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in theatre production? 

I actually stumbled into Theatre production by happenstance.  I had been an assistant director, follow spot operator, prop master in high school, etc., but I originally was interested in Musical Theatre Performance.  That changed once I took design and production courses at the University of Oregon.  I seemed to have a knack for design and Lighting Design in particular fascinated me.  One day we were discussing color in light.  They shined red and green light on a white wall and it made...yellow.  I was hooked.  It changed everything I knew about color and once I started working with the equipment and technology, I just had to finish my degree in Theatre Production with a focus on Lighting Design. 

That was up until senior year at Kean University.  I was about to graduate and for my final Capstone Presentation, I had to create a business model that would theoretically revolutionize theatre.  So I imagined theatre without the most basic facet of what I create: visibility.  And I combined it with the shortcomings of the theatre industry as a whole so I prioritized accessibility, universality, consumption and waste, and visceral provocation. 


For those that do not know, explain to us what the, "No Peeking Theatre," is and the inspiration behind starting it. 

No Peeking is a 'Blind' Theatrical Experience.  We take away the element of sight by blindfolding the audience so they can experience an immersive show of sound, smell, touch, atmosphere, and even taste.  This allows the audience to absorb the content of the show in the most honest, creative, and "tailor made" way possible for each individual audience member.  


What experience/feeling do you want viewers/participants to leave the theatre with? 

There are several objectives that each show has depending on the content of the show.  The common thread for every show is that each audience member experiences their very own show inside of their minds.  They have their own intimate reactions and are safe to do so by placing themselves in such a vulnerable position.  Furthermore, it gives more of a perspective on how others experience things either through post show discussion, the realization that others are currently having a different but equally visceral experiences during the production, or even by audience members placing themselves in the roles they traditionally are only witnesses to in standard theatre.  


What are some of the productions that have featured there?  Are they all your original productions or do you feature different writers/stories? 

The theatre company has actually premiered in several venues in New York and New Jersey.  We have created 4 total original productions, each with original independent writers.  These are produced one or multiple times and showcased at different venues.  Some of the writers' works have been previously produced and some have written specifically for No Peeking Theatre and were presented for the first time by us.  


What future plans do you have for yourself and the theatre? 

I am so glad you asked!  We have a very busy year up ahead! We are premiering a compilation of works entitled "IN LAK' ECH" (you are the other me) in May in Jersey City at Grassroots.  We are still showcasing BLACKOUT in various venues in New Jersey and New York and will continue to do so as long as people wish to showcase it.  No Peeking is also developing a "Artist's Mind" project that depicts the thoughts of famous artists as they are creating historical Masterworks.  Lastly, we are working towards a long term goal of producing a traditional musical in the No Peeking Theatre structure.


How can those interested visit or even have their production featured at the theatre?  

They can always look for Open Calls for work on our website, facebook page, twitter account and Instagram.  Anyone interested in creating their own work as a No Peeking Production, can email me their full length work at  We are always on the lookout for new work!   


Melissa Jenaye

Melissa Jenaye talks juggling being a mommy and wife all while growing her business, children's clothing line, Honey Child & Co.  She gives advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and gives deets about how she landed her first celebrity client...

Tell us a little about your brand and how it got started.

Honey Child & Company is a boutique lifestyle brand created for children who like to make a bold statement. Honey Child & Co. was born five months after giving birth to the love of my life, my son Mason. At the time, I was unemployed and I wasn't sure what my next career move would be. One evening after a long day of feedings and changing diapers, I looked over at Mason and said to him, "I need to create something you will be proud of." Then, I looked at the onsie he was wearing and said to myself, "I can do better!" Fortunately, I taught myself the basics of graphic design while pregnant. So, I put my son to sleep and whipped out my laptop and immediately started designing! 

How do you successfully tackle being a "mompreneur?" What are some challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

My small business was booming while I operated as a stay-at-home mom and I was so proud. Although it helped, the profit I was making wasn't putting a dent in the big bills. So, after two years of freelancing I decided it was time to get back to work and put my degree back to use. Nine months after having Mason and five months after starting Honey Child & Co., I started working as a Digital Marketer for a company in Philadelphia. Since working full-time, it has been a real struggle juggling work, my business, my son and my husband but these three have helped me stay above high water. One, I leave work at work. Second, I dedicate Saturday mornings to my business. Although, I communicate via social media throughout the week, I've let my customers know that shipments and anything else they need will happen on Saturdays. Thankfully, just about all of my customers are understanding mothers. Last, I tell my husband constantly how much I appreciate him. He is an amazing support system. He cooks, cleans, and takes care of our son when I need a nap or attend a networking event after work. He's awesome so, I sing his praises so he will continue to be awesome.


How important has social media been to the success and growth of your business?

Social Media is very important to my business. Every single sale that I've made has been through Instagram alone. I chose Instagram because it's super visual which is perfect for clothing brands. Also, the mommy community is so strong on Instagram. It's a tribe I had to be apart of. The moms on Instagram support each other like none other and they shop small. It's amazing! I've built great friendships on Instagram. The platform has allowed me to go beyond the sale and that's what Honey Child & Co. is all about. 


What advice would you give to someone looking to start an online business? 

Just do it! Don't over think it. Put yourself out there. However, do your research. Scope out the trends, get to know your competition, and engage with your core customers. 


You recently just gained your first celebrity client! How did that opportunity come about? 

I knew I wanted to take my small business to the next level and elevate my brand and to do so, I needed to get a celebrity child in my t-shirts. I sat and thought long and hard about what moms in the spotlight exemplified the Honey Child & Co. mom. That mom is beautifully nurturing, entrepreneurial and is all about setting bold trends for her littles. That led me to Latisha Tankard of Bravo's Thicker Than Water. I began interacting with her on Instagram. She is super sweet. We gushed over each other sons and she complimented my designs. I fell in love with her and her family and knew her son had to have Honey Child & Co. in his closest. So, I asked and she was kind enough to let me send her a package. What's been so great, is that she's been taking photos of her son in my designs. Every time she posts her son in one of my tees, I get over a 100 new followers within hours. I couldn't be more grateful to her for exposing my business to a new audience and even more amazing mothers.  


What is your ultimate goal/vision for your company? Where do you see yourself and it in the near future? 

I'm definitely not a fashion designer and I don't want to design t-shirts forever. I've always wanted to write a children's book so, that's next! Also, I want to create a digital line of birth announcements, baby shower and birthday invitations. My creativity surprises me with every passion project. It's good for my soul so, I want to continue to create. 


How can we keep up with you and all that you have going on?

You can find Honey Child & Company on on Facebook at Shop Honey Child & Co. at If you want to get to know me as a woman, wifey and mommy, feel free to follow me on my personal Instagram and Snapchat accounts both @MelissaJenaye. Thanks in advance for your support.

Ayana Iman

Ayana Iman is a Certified Life Coach and is passionate about helping others create the life they want using their thoughts.  She is also the creator of the #AuthenticConvo series which serves as a platform for purposeful conversation to inspire others to live out their dreams and learn from people doing it.  You can attend her next #AuthenticConvo event this Sunday, July 31st… 

Please tell a little about yourself and your background.

I am 25-years-old, and I was born and raised in Trenton, NJ. I’m a mother to a beautiful baby girl. Recently, I graduated from Rutgers University with my Masters in Strategic Organizational Communication, and also became a Certified Life Coach (CLPC). My goal in life is to help end the poverty mentality, and create an abundance mentality.


What are some of your passions and how did your #AuthenticConvos series come about? 

I’m passionate about teaching people how we can create the life we want using our thoughts. And everything that you need is within. #AuthenticConvos was created to help create conversation around mental health and self-love. It now stands as a platform for purposeful conversation to inspire others to live out their dreams and learn from people doing it.


What do you hope that participants learn and gain from attending the events?

My hope for attendees at every conversation is to walk away with their cup filled with love, gratitude, and most importantly, faith. I believe faith to be lacking in many peoples lives. Through faith, it empowers people to believe in themselves, their innate ability to create peaceful environments, and with action, monetary gain.

Tell us a little about your "Guide To Gratitude," that is available for download on your site. What inspired you to write it? 

A “Guide To Gratitude” is a free gift to everyone that visits my website. I share personal accounts from my life and how I created an attitude of gratitude while being homeless, and a newly single mom. I think it’s a great tool to help people believe they too can change their circumstances when they’re mindful of their thoughts. It was created out of necessity, and a marker of what I learned in my life, as it was released around my 25th birthday in December of 2015. I wanted to use transparency as a tool to reach the masses and be a light.


All that you are involved in, from your #AuthenticConvo series to your speaking engagements, and community activities, promote positivity and always reverts back to motivating and inspiring others. Why are these things so important to you? 

It’s very important to me to be a mentor and teach others that they are powerful, and to believe in themselves. I know what it feels like to have everything taken from you, to feel worthless, sleeping pregnant on a mattress on the floor, and fighting for relationships that are not worth the time or energy. I get it. I understand how are thoughts can keep us trapped. However, some people can’t break the cycle, and that’s where I come in.

 I’ve been fortunate enough to create a safe space online with people around the world, and learn from them, as they learn from me. To be a leader you must follow. I’m grateful for every interaction.

Looking back on your own life and all that you have been through, what is some advice that you would give your former or younger self?

I would tell my younger self that it’s okay to be me. I don’t have to be sugary sweet, and phishing for approval; I am enough as I am.  When I was younger I didn’t understand this, hence, looking for the love I needed to give myself from other people. However, I do acknowledge that those lessons helped me become the full woman I am today. 


How can others support and keep up with your events and all that you have going on? 

That’s easy. Follow me on all platforms at ‘Ayana Iman,’ and visit my website and subscribe to my email list.


** The next #AuthenticConvo event is this Sunday, July 31st.  You can purchase tickets here: 


India Jones

India Jones has been dancing since she was 7 years old and has danced on the 76ers dance team as well as served as the captain for the  “Honeybees,” the dance squad for arena football team, the Philadelphia Yellow Jackets.  She talks about how she prepares for auditions, what she does to hone her skills, and even gives advice to those interested in becoming professional dancers… 

How long have you been dancing and how/what got you started?

I have been dancing since forever, because it has always been naturally in me. I have always been active and participating in sports and cheer/dance. I began my career in cheerleading and dance at the age of 7 and I also played basketball and ran track. I didn’t begin formal dance training until the age of 13. So I've been training and performing as a dancer for almost 15 years. I have always known I wanted to spend my life on stage and entertaining, but it wasn’t until I entered high school and that is when I solidified my dream of being a star!


You were previously a dancer for the 76ers, please tell us what that experience was like.

My time dancing for the 76ers was so awesome. There is nothing like dancing in your hometown, in front of thousands of people, and many people that I actually know. It was like a dream come true to be able to do what I love combined with a sport I have always loved. It was like a real life love and basketball moment for me lol.  The best part of it all was the moment I told my mom and dad that I made the team. The joy I felt sharing that news with them stills gets me emotional even to this day. They were so excited because they are my biggest supporters and they shared this journey with me and invested just as much as I did. Most people don’t know that I actually auditioned for the 76ers dance team twice before I actually made the team on my third attempt. It really showed me the importance of trusting and listening to what God led me to do.. which is far more important than leaning on my own understanding and choices. I also learned the insurmountable amount of perseverance I have that allowed me to accomplish one of my biggest goals at that time. I enjoyed learning all the different routines we performed at the games and appearances. I also built friendships with many of my teammates, which made the experience even more exciting. I enjoyed all the community appearances that we attended. It allowed me to interact with all types of people and make a lasting impression in the community while representing such a prestigious organization. It has taught me many life lessons that I will carry throughout my career and life.


You recently became a dancer for another sports team, congratulations!  How has that experience been so far?

Thank you so much! I most recently had the honor of being an official dancer for the newest Philadelphia indoor football team The Philadelphia Yellow Jackets (Arena football). I am also the captain of the squad. It has been such a positive experience. I enjoyed bonding and creating lasting friendships with my new teammates, sharing my knowledge and experience with them, and just showing out with all our new choreography at the home games. 


What is a normal audition like and how do you normally prepare?

Auditions vary depending on the type of audition you are doing. Dance auditions are usually long and require you to learn choreography, sometimes free style, and sometimes type casting occurs in order to make cuts based off appearance and what that specific group, artist, team, or company may be looking for. Also, there are usually rounds of cuts, too, if there is a large number of people auditioning. Acting auditions can be long or short depending on the directors and producers and what they want to see from the actor. Usually, you must come with a monologue prepared and they may even give you the script for a cold read. Again, it all may vary depending on the project or role.

I usually prepare for any audition by praying, claiming it,  and making sure I get a good night’s rest. I also make sure I do my research about the actual team, or artist or role I am going out for to be better equipped to go in the audition prepared and confident. As a dancer or actor I have to constantly stay ready and train often. I believe when you stay ready, you never have to get ready. One of my favorite quotes/sayings is “ Success is when preparation and opportunity meet.”


What do you do to continue to hone your skills?

I workout and try to eat healthy, although its hard at times. I also take dance classes and i attend dance and acting workshops when possible. I always stay involved with my craft in some form whether its watching youtube videos, dance movies/shows or documentaries, and going to live shows. It keeps me motivated to always strive for bigger things and platforms.  I also make sure I am up on the latest dance trends. I gotta make sure I keep up with the youngins lol.


What hindrances have you experienced and how have you over came them?

Just like many people, I have experienced many obstacles and hurdles that have at times effected my confidence in myself, and at times made me doubt if I was good enough. I have been told I was too short, I have been rejected because of my skin color, and even for things that until this day I still don’t even know why. When I did not return back to the 76ers dance team, it hurt me to the core. I didn't understand why, and I actually began to think it was something I did. I was embarrassed and felt like I let everyone who believed in me down. It wasn’t until God revealed to me that sometimes he removes us from situations that we may not choose to remove ourselves from on our own. He removed me from that platform so that I can work harder to push myself to follow the path that he has destined for me and to create my own platform for myself and those that look up to me. He is intentional and I am more humble and grateful from that experience and it equipped me to have a testimony to help others deal with hinderances they may face in this business and life period. But the only way I was able to overcome all the obstacles that have been placed in my life, has been based off my faith in God and the support system he has blessed me with. I will always keep it moving and never stay down.


What advice would you give someone who is interested in becoming a professional dancer?

The advice I would give to someone that wants to become a professional dancer is to always work on your gift and yourself as a person. You have to know who you are and trust in what you believe in, so that you stay grounded in this business.  Its a must to develop tough skin, because you will face a lot of rejection in this industry and you have to trust that God is only preparing you for your time and your season and not someone else’s. You must certainly train and learn as many different styles and techniques as you can to set you aside from others. Never go into an audition thinking your competing against others. Just be confident, and know that if this is God’s plan for you, its already yours! No matter what, having faith, perseverance, and to never be complacent is key!


What can we expect from you in 2016 and in the future? What are you doing now to prepare yourself for you future goals?

WOW 2016, where do I begin? I just feel like skies the limit. I am continuously working on my craft, so that I am always ready for my next move.  2016 and beyond is dedicated to branding India Jones. I have been in a stage play that I debuted in March. I am building my business and brand as a choreographer. I will still be dancing of course, and just ended the season working with the Yellow Jackets as captain of the squad. After the season ended, God has lead me to one of my biggest moves for my career thus far. I relocated to Atlanta, Ga. This is a start to the next level of “ME.”  I continue to perform as a background dancer and creative director.  I am always thinking about my next move and what I will accomplish even while I am working on one at the moment. I am always busy and I have been blessed with many opportunities throughout my life. You can expect to see me on a larger platform very soon… Television, film, world tours are in my near future.

I am continuing to train and push myself to do things outside of my comfort zone. I am consistently teaching myself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. God has lead me this far and I will continue to follow his lead. I am destined for greatness and I refuse to stop, deter, or settle until I reach my goals and thats my promise to God, myself, my family and my dreams.


You can keep up with India via her Facebook: India Jones and IG: @im_indiajones

Congratulations on all of your accomplishments, India! The sky and beyond is the limit for you! 














Sakita Holley

Sakita Holley is the Founder and CEO of House of Success, a New York City based Public Relations firm.  This year marks her fifth year in business and she talks about how she got started as a student at Howard University, challenges she has faced and overcome, as well as gives tips to those who may be interested in the public relations field.  Sakita has also started a podcast, Hashtag and Stilettos.  Dedicated to covering topics sure to appeal to the millennial career and businesswoman, the podcast has been dubbed by many, including Black Enterprise, as one you definitely need to listen to! 

Tell us a about yourself, your background, and what you do.

I am the Founder/CEO of House of Success PR, a New York based beauty and lifestyle public relations firm. We work with brands to help them shape and share their story with consumers and other audiences through media and influencer outreach, events and experiential marketing, content creation and social media.


How did you get started in the PR Business, what sparked your interest?

I actually got started when I was still a student at Howard University. My initial major was pre-med with a minor in public relations by the second semester of my freshman year I knew I wanted to switch and focus on PR full-time. When I did switch my major to PR, I selected entrepreneurship as my minor because I was always very business-minded and driven.

While at Howard, I did about 7 different PR internships and started freelancing under my current company name 'House of Success' during my Sophomore year to get additional experience. I was doing press kits, writing bios, planning events and whatever else I could do (mostly for free) to hone my skills. However, I didn't decide to focus on the business full-time until about two years after graduating from college. I quit my PR job in corporate America and took a leap of faith.


You have been in business for 5 years, what are some things that you attribute to your success thus far?

Well, the biggest thing that I attribute to making it to this milestone is not giving up. There have been many moments when things have gotten tough when I could've easily thrown in the towel and found a job (and yes, I have seriously considered this), but I just keep going.

And the thing that I've learned about "success" is that it's pretty subjective. For me, I view my success not as an overall triumph but rather a series of successful or fruitful moments or results. I'm pretty hard on myself, but I'm also very realistic and know that there is so much more that I need to learn in order to grow as not only a person but a business owner. There's a lot more milestones that I hope to reach in this business.


What are some challenges that you have faced and how did you overcome them?

There have been many challenges. I launched the firm full-time in my early 20s and was pitching reputable brands and entrepreneurs who've been in business or in their respective industry longer than I've been alive, so there was a bit of a credibility challenge on their end and I think they saw it as "what could she possibly know." 

One of the ways that I was able to get past that was by having a blog very early on, which still exists (, where I would share my opinion on different PR and business topics. This enhanced my credibility immensely. 

Another challenge that I've faced and that many entrepreneurs or young professionals will encounter is the lack of financial resources. I literally started the business with $0 and a dream. I had just quit my job and still had bills that I needed to pay, whatever I had in savings was gone within a month and I didn't come from a family who could loan or gift me money. Starting out that way was ROUGH and I actually talk about this in an episode of my podcast ( But again, I was determined to make it work. 


You not only are the CEO of your PR Firm, House of Success, you also operate Hashtags and Stilettos, and add in your Podcasts, you are one busy woman! How do you manage everything and what do you do to decompress?

Not to sound super old, but when I was first started the business five years ago, I had the blog then too but I also had way more energy and pulling all-nighters 3-5 times a week was easy because I could just bounce back. I didn't mind the sacrifice.

These days, I still work long hours and sometimes find myself opening up my laptop in the middle of the night but I'm more inclined to choose a nap or an early bedtime over doing more work. Not only do I not have that same energy, I realized two things: 1. the work will always be there and there will always be 'one more thing' you could do and 2. I made a deliberate decision to work on building more balance in my life and I don't want to work around the clock anymore.

I'm still working on my decompression methods, but last year I took a lot of trips which really did wonders for my mental and spiritual well-being, I like getting massages although I don't go enough. And on a smaller scale, I play games on my phone to try to take my mind off of the day or on rare occasions I'll watch a movie on demand.


 Sakita's podcast was featured on Black Enterprise as one you should be listening to. (Pic taken from her IG)

Sakita's podcast was featured on Black Enterprise as one you should be listening to. (Pic taken from her IG)


What is the best advice that you have received from a mentor or someone you have admired?

The best advice I've ever been given always comes from my grandmother. My friends and I jokingly call her the prophet or oracle. Two things that she's told me that stand out the most at this moment in my life are: "One Thing at a Time," and "You need to create a beginning, middle and end for your day."

As an entrepreneur or any driven person, there's so much that we want to do and it can get overwhelming when you realize that you can't do it all at one time or when you've put too much on your plate. So when it does get overwhelming, I just remind myself to focus on the one thing that's right in front of me and then move on to the next because really, that's ALL we can do.

And having structure in your day whether you're working for yourself or someone else while pursuing passion projects on the side is super important. Structure helps you create balance in your life. Having more of both is a big goal for me this year.


What advice would you give to anyone looking to break into the PR business as well as anyone who may be an aspiring entrepreneur?

Do your research. PR is a field that touches any and every industry that you can think of so there's a ton of different ways you can break into the industry. Take whatever you're passionate about and find PR opportunities in that industry. For example, if you love animals you can get a PR job at your local zoo or Humane society. The possibilities really are endless because everyone needs PR.

If you're thinking about starting a business, make sure that it's something that you really care deeply about. If you have access to money or can raise money, do it because this will remove a lot of obstacles out of your way.

  Sakita shares a "PR Tip of the Day," via her IG:    If the only thing you have on your website's 'Contact Us' page is a contact form, you're sending a message to prospective clients and customers that you don't actually want to be contacted.   There are a lot of things wrong with contact forms (namely, messages don't always get delivered) but the main one is that they are inefficient and off putting. Add an actual email address or phone number where you can be reached.  If you don't want your personal email address public, there are a ton of programs (check with your current email provider) that will allow you to create an alias address that will deliver messages to your private inbox without creating a new account. Bonus Tip: If you're running a blog with multiple contributors add a masthead!     

Sakita shares a "PR Tip of the Day," via her IG: If the only thing you have on your website's 'Contact Us' page is a contact form, you're sending a message to prospective clients and customers that you don't actually want to be contacted. There are a lot of things wrong with contact forms (namely, messages don't always get delivered) but the main one is that they are inefficient and off putting. Add an actual email address or phone number where you can be reached. 
If you don't want your personal email address public, there are a ton of programs (check with your current email provider) that will allow you to create an alias address that will deliver messages to your private inbox without creating a new account. Bonus Tip: If you're running a blog with multiple contributors add a masthead!


What would you say your life's theme is for 2016?  What words/mantras are you living by?

Great question. My life's theme for 2016 is a constant reminder to myself that it's okay to live. The initial revelation for me came as I was reflecting on all of the amazing things I did for myself in 2015, like travel and enjoy the fruits of my labor in other ways. And now, the notion of not just being alive but truly allowing and giving myself permission to live is even more poignant because my aunt who I was very close with passed away a few weeks ago.

One of the things she would always tell me to do is stop worrying, stop stressing over things that aren't in my control and to really be present in the moment and enjoy myself more in whatever way I wanted. We're never going to be this young again and I want to begin creating the type of life right now, right where I am, with what I have that is enjoyable and fulfilling so that I'm not looking back 5, 10, 15 or more years from now wondering and wishing about what could've been.


How can we keep up with you and all that you have going on? (social media, website link, etc.)

You can find me everywhere as @MissSuccess. You can find House of Success PR on Instagram as @HouseofSuccess (, the blog, and the Hashtags + Stilettos podcast on Soundcloud ( and iTunes (


Fatima Scipio

Fatima Scipio is a published author and contributor for the Huffington Post. She is also the CEO of Young Enterprising Sisters (YES), an organization dedicated to helping young girls become leaders and change agents within their communities.  The YES organization hosts events yearly including the YESpreneurship conference, and the Girls Have Power Summit, among other initiatives...


Please tell us a little about your organization, Young Enterprising Sisters and also about the conferences that the organization holds each year.

Young Enterprising Sisters is the premier forum for girls 8-17 to learn about entrepreneurship and wealth building strategies. Our goal is to help girls become leaders and change agents in their community. We host events such as our YESpreneur Conference, Ice cream Networking Social, Girls Have Power summit and other empowerment events to educate, empower and energize the next generation of business leaders as well as expose girls to women who are excelling in their careers and assist them in connecting with other girls in a positive manner.

What sparked your desire to start such an organization?

I have always had a passion for mentoring and empowering girls. I use to lead a dance group many years ago called Dimes Inc in the Bronx, New York. I remember putting “start a girls organization” on my vision board. So when the opportunity presented itself for me to develop a program for girls by the National Association of Black Female Entrepreneurs, I was more than excited to do what I have always dreamed of doing.


I noticed that you are a contributor for The Huffington Post, how did this opportunity come about?

Being a blogger for the Huffington Post literally fell into my lap. I responded to a post by the amazing Arianna Huffington and she emailed me thanking me for my response and asked that I blog. I was over the moon excited! My experience with blogging for the Huffington post has been a great one. I am able to inspire millions through my posts and hopefully make a difference in somebody’s life.


In addition to your day job and all of your entrepreneurial endeavors, you are also a published author.  Please talk to us a bit about your book.

I am the author of two books “ First Aid for First Year Teachers” and "Boss Lady ( Seven Life Principles to Reign in the New Economy)." I have also co-authored The Art of Activation with 23 other amazing women and Lucinda Cross. Each book that I have written had one goal in mind: To use my experience to help someone else. As an educator, I saw many things that were hindering our young people from being successful in school so it prompted me to write a book for new teachers. What I learned from my readers was the book not only helped novice educators but seasoned professionals as well. Boss Lady was intended to help women entrepreneurs, however in the midst of me writing this book I realized becoming a boss required some fundamental qualities that I needed to discuss such as renewing your mind, stretching your faith and the like. And Lastly, The Art of Activation contribution dives into a failed relationship that forced me to look deeply into who I was as an individual and propelled me to the woman I am today.


What plans do you have for yourself and your businesses in the new year?

This New Year I have some great things on the horizon, expanding Young Enterprising Sisters. My amazing team whom I have to mention Halima Moore, Tracy Tompkins, Alana Gardner, Narisa Sasitorn, Ashlee Wright, Karen St. Hilaire and Anisha Blumenberg. We will be launching our B-School for Girls as well as other events. I will be leaping into some other endeavors but mums the word right now (smile) I will let you know soon.

What is your life’s mission statement?  What do you want to be known for years after you are physically gone from this Earth?

My life’s mission is to empower all of whom I come in contact with.  My legacy will be Fatima was one of the pioneers in promoting girls to be their best selves and linking millions of girls to outstanding girl serving organizations.


Where can we visit to find out more about you and keep updated on all that you have going on?

You can learn more about Young Enterprising Sisters at and me




Sabrina "Sabre" Ocasio

Sabre is a former model whose career was affected due to complications from an illness known as Graves disease.  Despite that setback that tried to stop her, she persevered and has truly made a huge mark in not only the entertainment industry but also in her humanitarian endeavors.  She works with many accomplished stars who have been featured on networks such as TV One and TLC, including the Tiara Twins as well as Madeline Stuart, a model living with Downs Syndrome.  Of all the accomplishments in her career, one of her most rewarding has been starting a non-profit to support and bring awareness to those living with autoimmune diseases...

Tell us a little about yourself and how you were discovered and got started in the modeling industry.

I initially got started walking through New York from a famous photographer, Sean Andrade and my agent, Ms. Carolyn from Barbizion Modeling School.  Ms. Carolyn knows me better than myself and helped to guide my career.  Also, a man by the name of Dr. Jerry Murphy from Chestnut Hill was a huge inspiration and influence for me working with some top notch designers. 


Tell us about your experiences serving as the official modeling coach for TLC’s Tiara Twins, Madeline Stuart as well as mentoring the JMG Boyz.

I met and began working with the Tiara twins about 3 years ago and to see how much they have grown since then has been a phenomenal experience. I am so very proud of them!  Aly is an aspiring Designer, who will give any adult a run for their money and Gia is a supermodel in the making.  Working with Gia and watching her grow and win competitions on the runway… it just makes me shiver to see her do her thing.

When I met Madeline Stuart, her career was already soaring.  I knew that she suffered from an autoimmune disease (Downs Syndrome) like myself, and I really wanted to see her fulfill her dream of walking the runway in a Fashion Show… and why not be the first to walk in a Fashion Show that was raising awareness for autoimmune diseases in fashion’s capital, New York City?! That is just what happened and it was very fitting for her career. 

I met the JMGBoyz years ago and they were also already making a name for themselves in Atlanta and now they have moved on to Hollywood! Their family has shown me support with countless of my autoimmune disease awareness events.  When their mom tells you that she will only do your show, it is a remarkable feeling and I am so thankful and honored!

Two additional rising stars that I have worked with are named Alyssa and Malia, both of whom I met three years ago.  Alyssa has made so many remarkable accomplishments from Disney movies to TV commercials.  I saw potential and knew she was a star and I sent her over to Icon Models where she was signed.. the rest is history!

Malia has performed in countless plays and been in many ads.  She is an amazing kid who beat the odds that were stacked against her.  I saw something in her that some others didn’t and it was a huge pleasure to get her signed with Icon Models as well.


For those that may not be familiar, talk to us about Graves disease and how it has affected your career? How have you overcome its challenges and how are you now using it to empower yourself and others?

Dealing with Graves has made my life hell; I am no longer able to travel due to swelling all over my body, Summer is my nightmare due to sun sensitivity and my heart… not the same anymore, and I do not only mean physically.  This autoimmune disease has attacked my organs and the name suits the disease, it will take you to your grave if you are not careful. The battle is very real, but, with all that being said, I feel that God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. 

Through this journey, I have learned that life has its ups and downs and sometimes I feel that all of my hard work is in vain.  But when I see all that I have done begin to take motion and flourish, I smile, knowing that the world is watching! Some forget the reasoning behind the fashion shows and events that I curate, but that is my purpose and the vehicle in which I use to empower others as well as myself.  I am saving my life as well as others through these awareness events. 


 What is your life’s motto and what can we expect from you in the near future?

I am so excited to have my non-profit in full effect!  My goal is to open centers in both my hometown as well as another location in the Northeast.  This center will give people like me, who suffer from rare autoimmune diseases, a ray of light and a tunnel of hope.  It will be a place for all people to share their stories, struggles, and the effects of their autoimmune diseases. 

My life’s motto:  “As long as I remember that my reward does not come from any man and that God is in charge, I can overcome any trials and tribulations set before me… I am Sabre.”

You can keep up with all that Sabre has going on via her Instagram: @Sabreinc

 Sabre on the cover of Le Reve magazine

Sabre on the cover of Le Reve magazine

Tionna Forchion

Tionna Forchion has been living with Crohn’s disease for 14 years now.  Because of the diagnosis, doctors placed many limitations on her life, including instructing her not to finish high school & college and telling her that her body was unable to conceive and carry children.  But despite the doctor’s reports, she has conquered those things and many more! She talks about the illness, how having to get a Colostomy at an early age saved her life and how after all the years of living with it, she finally felt brave and comfortable enough to speak publicly about it.  Tionna has also started an organization called, “MAPP Movement,” (Motivating and Promoting Positivity) whose mission is to support and encourage those living with chronic illnesses…

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Deyonna Kai

Deyonna Kai is a Makeup and Recording Artist as well as a Fashion Designer.  She talks about her experience working in the beauty industry and about one of her latest opportunities… working as a Makeup Artist for the TV show, Mob Wives. She has an upcoming Makeup Class and Beauty Expo consisting of massage therapy, natural skin & body care tutorials, henna art, and life and business coaching...

Tell us a little about yourself?  How did you get started in the make up and beauty industry?

I am from New Jersey, and began designing and sewing clothes at age 14.  So style, beauty, and trend has been apart of my life for a long time. At 14 was when I discovered my passion for fashion and design.  I went on to obtain a bachelors degree in fashion design, and while in college committed to the hustle of makeup.  Growing up in a single parent home I watched my mom very closely and one thing I paid the closest attention to was her making her artistry apart of her income. I followed in her footsteps and began to work for cosmetic companies such as Sephora and MAC just to name a few. It wasn’t long before retail became too overwhelming with my school schedule so I began to build my clientele to schedule my own hours. I was also looking for a way to bring in an income with the struggles of a college student trying to balance school, music, and my craft on a very low budget.  I literally built my professional kit by working for people (willing to get paid in makeup). With entrepreneurship classes, product knowledge, and skills I had gained along the way watching and working for people better than me, I began to build my own brand.

  1. M.A.D. Pretty (Makeup Art Design); encouraging women to be that best you from the inside out through all things art and beauty!

  2. Traveling from NY to ATL as a freelance makeup artist and image consultant!

  3. Recording artist; new music coming in May 2016


What are some of your favorite products to use and why?

I use a host of products being that I have worked in different retail stores and had to study different brands. Some of my favorites are Nars, Urban Decay, Marc Jacobs, Bobby Brown, ELF, Motives, Cover FX, and my favorite mink lash line in which I work for, Velour Lashes! All of these products have their own uniqueness about them and a product that is on of a kind.  Motives Cosmetics is a company that offers a service called custom blend. This is my favorite because they have experts that come to you to build a foundation specifically for your skin. They mix directly in front of you adding in everything that your skin needs from undertones and pigments, to SPF and the right moistures for your skin type. They will be at my Expo!


What has been one of the most rewarding/memorable experiences working in the industry?

I have worked in the biggest makeup shows in NY for the past 3 years, as well as major TV networks such as QVC, HGTV, and VH1. However, my most rewarding experiences have been the joy I see in a woman’s smile and eyes when she sees how her beauty can be enhanced! I love seeing how the “every day woman” sees herself in a new light when she can conceal what makes her insecure or see herself in a light she never saw herself before. The most amazing part about that is I focus on what is beyond the makeup; getting to know the client’s skin, down to what makes her stressed and her budget to get her on a healthy affordable “beauty track”.  I make sure that the client understands that there is beauty beyond the makeup and that you must take care of what’s inside and underneath in order to keep the glow! The focus of the business is not just enhancing the beauty and bringing out the features the woman already obtains, but focusing on beauty from the inside out! We must take care of ourselves all around! Getting our makeup done is a luxury that makes us feel better not just about the actual look.


You are now a contracted artist for the hit tv show, Mob wives, tell us a little about that experience, what it has been like, and how it came about?

Working on set of Mob Wives season 5 was not only a rewarding experience but it was also fun! I got to actually be on set apart of a scene and experience what its like to work in reality TV. I also got the opportunity to work on a model that landed in an Italian magazine with my work at the same time.  This experience made me realize how much I like working in TV and would consider it more often. 


What is some advice that you would give to someone looking to break into the industry?

Advice I would give to someone trying to break in the industry would be to stay humble above everything, be honest, never stop learning, be your biggest advocate at all times, and network with as many people as you can (even with people outside of the industry because anyone can be a plug). 


Tell us a little about your make up Expo coming us this weekend.  What can attendees expect from the event?

This makeup Expo is a little different than how I usually do my classes. It is a makeup class and beauty expo. I will be hosting a makeup tutorial along with 6 venders; Henna, one of Massage Envy’s lead massage therapist, all natural skin and body care, Honey B You Life Coaching (coaching those to greater heights in all areas in your life from business to relationships or personal life goals to new beauty and hair journeys), Motives Custom Blend Foundation, and we have a few representatives of the hair industry! Focusing on beauty from the inside out, we are offering a fun and informative day of everything beautiful!


What are some of your future goals and what can we expect from you this year?

I plan to do more TV work, and also work with more young women, continuing to do workshops. Being that M.A.D. Pretty stands for makeup art design, like the expo I will continue to bring women in business together to show that we all can work together, support one another, and ALL of our businesses are parallel! I also plan to do something ultimately bigger pertaining to the community, but I don’t want to let that cat out the bag just yet!

Over all this year I will be working and doing:

IMATs NY 2016

The Makeup Show NY 2016

Makeup Classes

New website

Weddings, Photo shoots, and Films



How can we keep up with you and all that you have going on? (social media, website link, etc.)

Deyonna Kai : Facebook, Instagram (new website launch coming soon)













Rashida "Shida Natural" Applewhite

Rashida Applewhite is the Owner/Creator of Shida Natural's Healthy Hair Care Products and is the co-owner of KinHairitage Salon & Spa that specializes in Natural Hair.  Below she shares beauty tips, tutorials, and transition advice for those looking to take better care of their hair...

Tell us a little about your story.  What made you decide to not only just wear your hair natural but what led you to become an entrepreneur/hair care product manufacturer?

Here are the reasons why I decided to transition out of my relaxer and become natural:

-I was tired of my hair breaking off and I could never reach my hair length goals

-I loved the feel & look of my new growth & wondered how all my hair would look in that state

-I liked big hair so I used curling, crimping & wave irons to get that wavy/curly big hair look

-I was tired of blowdrying, curling, flat ironing hair, which contributed to heat damage/breakage

-I got to point where I wasn’t fond of straight hair anymore

-I didn’t like the burning of relaxers nor the time it took to put them in & style my hair

-I was tired of going to the hairdresser and sitting for hours

-I had to trim my hair more often than being natural so I really wasn’t reaching my length goals

-I hated that I couldn’t get my hair wet until it was time to wash it (for sake of preserving my hairstyle)

What led me to becoming an entrepreneur / hair care product manufacturer:

 After doing the big chop and starting my natural hair journey, I had no idea what products to use after discovering that the products I used when I was relaxed did not work for my natural texture. My sister gave me a few product recommendations and I was also introduced to this thing called YouTube by my then 11-year old daughter to get more natural hair tips. So, as I tried different products, I decided to journal my natural hair journey on YouTube while sharing my reviews of different products. My YouTube following grew and different hair product companies discovered me and started sending me products to review on my channel. After trying many different products, I still could not get the results I desired which led me to start mixing up my own concoctions. While creating these concoctions, I had no intentions of developing my own product line, but as I perfected my concoctions after lengthy research, experimentation, and investment of time and money, I finally got the results I was looking for and I knew these concoctions would solve many of my fellow naturalistas and naturalistos natural / curly hair problems. 

After partnering with my sister, founder of KinHairitage Natural Hair Salon, and using my concoctions on clients, the concoctions became the flagship product for the salon due to the high demand of the clients who call it their creamy crack! Lol... These concoctions have been improved over time and ShidaNatural's Healthy Hair Care Products was born in 2009. They are used worldwide by naturals and curlies everywhere!


How long have you been wearing your hair natural and what advice would you give someone that has just decided to go natural, what tips would you share?

I stopped getting relaxers in 2005 and transitioned for about a year before doing the BC (Big Chop) in 2006. That’s when I finally decided to embrace this gift that God gave me, this head full of Naturally CurlyKinkyCoily hair (and yes, I have all 3). I felt like I was freed from bondage the day I cut off all my relaxed ends. It was such a huge relief & exciting moment to have my hair back in its “all natural” state.

The main piece of advice I would give to someone who just decided to go natural would be to develop the right mindset and make sure you are going natural for you and no one else. Be prepared for the negative comments (as well as the positive comments). Seek out others in the natural hair community for support as you go through the journey. Have patience and most importantly, have fun!

Tell us about some of your favorite products that you have and what is your “go to,” product that you use everyday.

As far as my cleansing and conditioning products go... I strictly co-wash (conditioner wash) using Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner and Trader Joe's Nourish Spa Conditioner because they are inexpensive, contain natural ingredients, very moisturizing, and make detangling a breeze. My leave-in product is always ShidaNatural's Moisturizing Cream/Detangler. I define my curls and slick my edges with either ShidaNatural's Define & Hold Curl Cream Gel or EcoStyler Gel. My everyday products would be ShidaNatural's Moisturizing Spray / Curl Refresher for daily moisture and ShidaNatural's Mist of Shine for daily shine. I also love Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the days I want to deep condition or want to seal in moisture on cold winter days.


Where can we find your natural hair tutorials and buy your products?

My natural hair tutorial videos can be found at 

My products can be purchased online at


What business tips/advice can you share with someone who is looking to produce/manufacture their own beauty products?

Build an online presence and rapport way before launching your beauty product business. They will eventually be your customers. People buy from people they like so be like-able! Lol. Find your niche and be an expert (or guru) to build credibility and trust. Do your research and find a mentor (or mentors) who are successful in that particular industry. Start small... Develop one product at a time focusing just on one flagship product in the beginning. Invest your own money, at first, and accept the fact that you WILL make mistakes. The important thing is to make sure you learn and grow from the mistakes.


Tell us about KinHairitage and how you were involved with the development of it.

My younger sister, Victoria (Vicky) Shelton founded KinHairitage Salon in 2007. I came on board as partner in 2009 after the salon transitioned into an all natural hair salon. I started out as the onsite natural hair care consultant where I conducted natural hair seminars / consultations, then eventually got behind the chair and became the PopNcurl & Curly Cut expert. I also ran the retail division of the salon (our hair store).


What services do you all offer at the salon?

We do it all... Loose natural styles, updos, locs, faux locs, loc extensions, curly cuts, thermal straightening, color, weaves, waxing, teeth whitening. The only services we DO NOT provide are those services that permanently alter the hair's natural texture such as weaves. For a full list of our services, visit our website.

Here are two videos that showcase what we do:


Can you leave us with just one of your beauty secrets?

I would like to share a link to an article I wrote with my Top 6 Natural Hair Care Tips.


Thanks Rashida, for all of the beauty tips and advice. Be sure to keep up with her on social media: Facebook- Rashida "ShidaNatural" Applewhite and on IG- @shidanaturals

Jacqueline Laurean Yates

Jacqueline Laurean Yates studied at Hampton University and previously worked for both Ebony and Essence magazines. She now works in the beauty industry as a Creative Consultant for companies like L'Oreal, Pureology, and Mizani.. among others.  Jackie also maintains her own blogsite,, covering topics like food, beauty, style, and fitness… 

You attended Hampton University, what did you study while there and what exactly do you do now?

While at Hampton University, I studied Journalism & Communications with a concentration in Public Relations.  After interning quite a bit in the Public Relations field, I realized how much I really wanted to be a beauty writer as well as how much I really wanted to work within the beauty industry.  Today, I am an entrepreneur and work with different companies on beauty features, blog posts, copywriting-- overall creative consulting.


Where are some of the places that you have worked previously and where are you currently working?  If you can share, where is your most favorite place to work and why?

I have worked at Essence & Ebony Magazine, and now I spend a lot of my time between freelance copywriting at L’Oreal focusing on some of their biggest hair brands: Redken, Pureology, and Mizani and my personal blog,   I also contribute to a variety of other editorial publications and websites. My favorite? That's a tough one!  I have gained extremely valuable experience at each place, built more connections, and have past co-workers who have turned into close friends.  


What does an average day look like for you at work?

Wow, that's always a tricky question!  There isn't really a day that's the same. One day may consist of me heading into L'Oreal and Redken's 5th Ave office to churn out copywriting projects and meetings while the next may start with me meditating or hitting the gym, attending media press events, and finding time in between to write and edit new stories for websites I'm working with. Other days, I may be shooting new street style looks, editing photos, or brainstorming new content for my personal blog. There are pros and cons to freelancing--two of the biggest being...The Pro: you have lots of flexibility and can always make yourself available to new exciting projects. The con: you are never really "off." Ha!


Tell us about some of the brands/events that you have covered? What are some of your favorites?

I most recently attended Proctor & Gamble's Digital Studio, which was very exciting. I had the chance to learn about all the latest products they are launching for 2016, see them in action first-hand and learn everything there is to know about the newest trends and innovations from well known brands such as Pantene, Head & Shoulders, and CoverGirl just to name a few. Pantene has a brand new AirSpray that I will be trying ASAP! It is supposed to give you amazing hold but allow you to transform your styles with ease because the texture of the product is light as feather.  I’ve also been all about body butters, as the weather has been getting colder.  Check out my latest round up of the best ones on Cosmopolitan:


Currently, what are some of your favorite beauty/trend products?

Right now I am pretty obsessed with Makeup Forever's Ultra HD foundation. The texture and shades are so on point! I can't say I use it every single day, but that's mainly because I am trying to preserve it for days when I'm trying to be fancy, and I really need my foundation to be super perfect. As for trends, I think it's kind of cool how big ombre lips have gotten.  I'm still trying to perfect this technique on myself, because when it is done right, it’s so bomb!!!


Looking back, what advice would you give yourself as a young woman just graduating college, trying to break into the industry?

Don't be afraid to put yourself out there!  As cliché as it may sound, there may be lots of people who tell you "no," but there is always finally a "yes."  Not to mention that may be the best yes ever!  Be extremely knowledgeable of industry happenings and do your research on the people working in your desired field of choice. It doesn't hurt to reach out to these people and ask to intern, shadow, assist, or even an informational interview to learn more about how they climbed to get where they are now.


Please share details about your  What topics can readers expect to learn about by visiting the site? Also, how do you manage to juggle both your work life and still be consistent with posting content on your site? is a personal blog site in which I like to cover beauty, style, food, fitness, and general life advice.  It's definitely not easy juggling both work life and posting on my site, but it's doable. The best piece of advice is to plan ahead. Just as you make to-do lists for anything else, thinking about a theme or what kind of content you would like to cover each month will help you curate posts ahead of time so you aren't always scrambling at the last minute to throw anything up on the blog.  I really try to focus on quality over quantity.  I would rather have a few posts that people will actually read and take something from as opposed to lots of posts that don't necessarily have any take away. 


What can we expect from you in 2016?

In 2016, I hope to expand my personal brand, collaborate with more brands, experiment with more beauty and fashion trends, and continue to strengthen my writing skills through classes as well as workshops. Oh, and get my body tight and all the way right.  Ha! #fitnessgoals


Be sure to keep up with Jackie and all of her endeavors on her personal blogsite: as well as follow her on IG: @jacquelinelaurean and FB: Jacqueline Laurean Yates

Terina Nicole

Terina Nicole McKinney launched a new collection, "Refined Eclecticism," for her Leathergood line, Jypsea Leathergoods.  Check the story below to learn more about her inspiration for the collection and how she got started in the Fashion Industry. She also speaks about the  episode of HGTV's "Flea Market Flip," that she appeared on… 

Tell us a little more about your leather good collection.  From what is understood about leather, it can be very tough to work with and requires great skill, where did you learn and what sparked your interest?

I was earning my degree in Fashion Design in NYC at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) when I took a sudden hiatus during the winter break and moved to ATL. While there I worked as an assistant designer and patternmaker for a designer and one of my tasks was to create bags to match the dresses in the collection. My boss LOVED the bags I designed and because I moved down with some of my favorite fabrics in a box, I spent the weekend designing bags for myself using my fabric. That weekend I designed, sewed, and photographed a collection of handbags AND made a printed catalog. On Monday when I showed my boss what I had done over the weekend, she put me in touch with her sewing contractor and tried to help me launch my own line but I didn't want to move that fast. When I moved back to the NYC-area, I changed my major from fashion design to accessory design to learn to professionally design bags and shoes. At FIT we only worked with leather so although it may be a challenging material to use, it's what I was taught from day one and I fell in love with it.


You just launched a new line of leather goods, Refined Eclecticism."  Please share a little more about this particular line and the inspiration behind it.

'Refined Eclecticism' is not actually a new line, it is just my latest collection for my line Jypsea Leathergoods. I drop a new collection twice a year. The collection is inspired by African tribal markings and how when broken down to their most simplest form, they are just lines and shapes. My style as a designer has evolved over time from being very bohemian to where it is now, more pared down and refined but still with a nod towards what's primal, wild, and eclectic.


You recently decided to work on building your Interior Styling Portfolio.  Please share details about the project that you are working on to help you achieve this goal.  From your responses from those interested, what projects/room makeovers do you have lined up?

Yes! I am very excited about this. I have always been an "interior decorator" of sorts for myself and friends but over the years my love for architecture and design has only grown stronger. But my interest doesn't merely lie in making spaces more beautiful. I am obsessed with making spaces more FUNCTIONAL, whatever that may mean in each instance. I love to transform a space from what was to what it's owner dreams it can be. To move past just working on projects for people I know and building my clientele, I need to build a portfolio of spaces I have designed and that's what I am working on now.

Currently, I have an unfinished attic that I am converting to a His & Her Dressing Lounge. A couple of bedrooms that are becoming home offices, quite a few meditation/prayer rooms/booknooks, which I am thrilled about, and 2 bedroom makeovers.


You also spent a lot of time teaching design classes, tell us a little about your classes and what are some of the topics that you typically cover?

I have been teaching design workshops in NJ, Philly, and NYC for approx 6 years now. Mainly I focus on accessory design but I also do Fashion ReDesign classes where I teach how to transform vintage or discarded clothes into new fashion-forward pieces.  I also teach leatherworking workshops.


Among the many things that you are juggling, you also started, "The Dream Bigger Academy." Please talk to us about what that is and the inspiration behind starting it.

Dream BIGGER Academy is a concept that would provide design and creative entrepreneurship to be taught to more students by teachers like myself who are professional designers. Unfortunately though, I have found bringing it to public schools to be an uphill battle that I am not really interested in fighting so I am looking at other avenues to make more youngster aware that design is a real career option for them. Creating design kits and offering more workshops and summer camp programs is the plan for DBA.


You have been featured on HGTVs, "Flea Market Flip." What was that experience like and when can we expect the episode to air?

It was a wish come true to be on one of the only tv shows I watch! It was a blast and I learned so much about how things are REALLY done behind the scenes. I won't tell HGTV's secrets but you'd be shocked! The episode aired on Sunday, January 10th. Look out for the repeat. It's called "Gypsies VS Gents."


For women out there who may have an idea/passion that they want to pursue, but just do not have the time, have not gotten around to starting it, or do not know where to begin, what advice would you give?

I have found that anyone who really WANTS to do it doesn't really NEED advice and motivation from others because they are self-motivated and are going follow their passions anyway. Those who need to be motivated will always find an excuse why they can't move forward so no, I won't waste time with advice. I will say one thing, though. Time is going to pass anyhow. You can spend that time tolling for someone else and doing work that doesn't inspire you OR you can do what you love and live a life that you are excited to wake up to each day. The choice is always YOURS.


Check out pictures from Terina's Leathergood Collections below:


Mechielle Anderson

Mechielle Anderson is a writer, film producer, and actress.  In the video below, she talks about her inspiration and how she prepared for performing her one woman show, "God Its Me Again."  Her advice to anyone wanting to pursue a dream but may have hit some roadblocks along the way, "Be true to yourself, your voice, love who you are and what you uniquely have to give.  Even if you have been delayed or sidetracked, you still have a purpose and you can still achieve your dreams."  Learn more about her below...

 Mechielle with Radio Host Tiffany Bacon promoting her one woman show, "God Its.Me Again."

Mechielle with Radio Host Tiffany Bacon promoting her one woman show, "God Its.Me Again."

 Mechielle with her great friend Gayle after taking a class with Actress Tasha Smith

Mechielle with her great friend Gayle after taking a class with Actress Tasha Smith

Tihirah "Tiger" Harris

Tihirah "Tiger" Harris lost everything in a fire when she was younger, which eventually lead to discovering her love for music as it helped her heal from the tragedy.  Years and many musical accomplishments later…. Tiger has truly made a mark in the industry and has impacted many lives with her songwriting.  She shares her story below...  

Please share a bit about how you discovered your love for songwriting and how you got started in the music industry?

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, my house and everything I've ever owned burned down to the ground right before the holidays. My parents provided all they possibly could, but the kids in the community were relentless and my own thoughts paired with their cruelty, broke my heart and my spirit. I lost confidence, my identity, and the light within me. My mom quickly noticed the rapid decline in my spirit so she signed me up to run track. That helped for a while but, growing older, puberty deciding to kick in at that last minute and being "the awkward middle child" added to my broken pieces and I needed something more than just 800m around the track. My entire family thrives in the fine arts so music came easy and natural. But, when I picked up the guitar and started playing, everything sort of made sense. Lessons weren’t in the budget so for a while I was just picking at the strings but, it really helped me internally. I started to sing, and write everything I was feeling that I could never say to another person. I was pretty much hiding in plain sight. I always watched music videos and how happy musicians seemed on TV so I told myself that’s what I wanted. The internet really started to pick up around this time so I made profiles under various pseudonyms to see if I was good enough and see how other people responded to me. There were other young girls like me battling the same things I was and turned to writing and music for the same cathartic release I did. From there I made so many friends, and networked online that their friends became my friends and so on, and now... here I am.


How do you get into songwriting mode? Do you typically have to set your scene or do you have to be in a specific mood when you are writing?

One of my favorite poets, Rudy Francisco, actually said it finest; “I write best when I’m falling in love or falling apart.” I’ve only been in love once and I have a great support system so I don’t frequently fall apart but I have to channel those emotions. I can write anywhere because different places just evoke different emotions from me. Again, I was in a dark place when I first started writing so naturally I’ve blocked out a lot of my younger years. I honestly can’t tell you much about anything from back then because I’ve pushed it so far out of my mental space that I’ve forgotten. However, sometimes things that happened come back in flashbacks when I’m in certain places, or I hear certain songs, certain scents, and even when I’m listening to someone else’s stories. I can tap into those emotions and use it as fuel to get a song or just a melody. It can be really draining but, everything I’ve ever written has a piece of my life somewhere in it.


You are now a signed writer for a major label, how did that opportunity come about?

Networking and more networking. I’ve given songs away, I have songs from years ago floating around the internet that I’ve forgotten about and I’m constantly on Tumblr and Soundcloud listening to underground artists and sparking conversation to simply get better at my craft or possibly help the next person out. You never know who an individual is connected with so you have to treat every conversation as an interview. A friend of mine performed one of my songs for an A&R at Sony which landed her a deal and my name being floated around. From there my industry career sort of started.  


How do you prepare for writing sessions with artists that you are assigned to work with? 

I never know what I’m going to get honestly. I can walk into a studio and the artist has something they want help with or I can walk in and the artist has nothing prepared but has a certain sound and vibe they want. The most important thing the industry has taught me is to stay true to my identity. My idea of a great song could be completely different from the next person and they may choose to not use my song at all. I never take anything personal because everything isn’t for everybody. I was raised listening to the likes of Nas, Lauryn Hill, Common, Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway and others so I’ve adapted my own sound and way of composing that I feel distinguishes me just as they did. The last thing I want is to sound like everyone else and not be memorable, so every single session I remind myself who I am and why I started before I see who is on the other side of the door.


What insider tip or piece of advice can you share with someone looking to break into the music industry?

First and foremost you need to know who you are as an individual. You need to have values, and goals, set a standard for yourself before you even attempt to break into the industry. It’s easy to get caught up in the glamour of everything and get lost in the scene and lose yourself. Don’t get so caught up in the world that you forget your foundation. That foundation will come in handy when thousands of people tell you no, and laugh in your face or when you’ve been working on music for years and you haven’t gotten a break yet.  Next, I’d say put yourself out there. Social media is so huge now and there is no much at your fingertips if you just ask. Look for events labels are having, even look at the positions they have open. Everyone has to start somewhere even if that means being an intern. You can’t be afraid to be turned down. Work relentlessly on your music and keep finding new ways to break into yourself and your mind. Post it on every platform you can find and keep up with them all. Perform at local shows and keep your name in the mix. Network constantly and meet new people who are like minded. No one is going to pay attention and want to know you unless you make them; so you keep working until they turn around and see you.  


How has working in the music industry helped with other goals that you have set for yourself? What are some of your future goals and plans?

I started making music to release and find myself. I’ve been on this Earth for about 8152 days and I know who I am now. Of course there is always room for growth but, music is no longer doing that for me. When I was noticed I was excited, but working in the industry has definitely changed my outlook on a lot of things. Once you get your foot in the door you would expect one to be ecstatic and have this ideology that “This is it!” but, I had a different feeling. I have chosen medicine and ministry over music. My accomplishments in the industry have helped me set goals I first believed were unattainable. But, there is no better feeling than completely demolishing every barrier, every stereotype and being better. I’ll be graduating from college as a double major in Science this year and starting medical school in 2018 with the hopes to be an Invasive Cardiologist. I’ve managed to successfully break into the industry all while still being a college student, maintaining my high GPA, mentoring young women at my church, and holding a full time job as well as 2 part time jobs. That fire all those years ago may have taken everything out of me back then but now I’ve gotten it all back in surplus. I refuse to settle, I refuse to be mediocre, and I refuse to give up. I have God, an amazing family and friends who are my support system and a best friend that is my boulder when I think I can’t go any further. From where I am standing, there is nothing I can’t do; I mean... who’s going to stop me?


Women On The Grind Loves You, Tiger! Keep up the great work…XoXo!

Kara Shelton

Kara Shelton has been writing poetry since she was a child and has always been an avid reader.  It was not until she was in her early twenties and began to act professionally, that she discovered her loved for theatre and realized playwriting was the way in which she was meant to tell her stories.  Last year, she received the esteemed, "Individual Artist Fellowship Grant," for one of the plays she wrote entitled, "The Prodigal." Read more about her below...


What inspired you to start writing and how long have you been doing so?

I've been writing poetry since I was a child.  I've always been an avid reader and I was always fascinated by storytellers and their ability to transport the reader to another place in time.  It wasn't until I was in my early twenties and began acting professionally that I realized my true love for theatre and discovered that playwriting was the way I was truly meant to tell stories.


Tell us about the grant that you received last year.  What was the process like applying for it and how has it helped to hone your craft?

Last year I was honored to receive an Individual Artist Fellowship Grant from the NJ Council on the Arts in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation.  The process was actually very simple.  I sent them a sample of my stage play "The Prodigal," along with some information about myself and the play.  It took almost 1 year to hear back from them, but when I did, I was overjoyed.  When I received the grant money, I sought the wise counsel of a mentor - Dr. Joshua Coren, who advised me to use the money to learn and grow.  This was the best advice I could have ever received.  I took as many classes and workshops as my schedule would allow.  I truly believe I'm a better writer because of that grant (and that great advice from Dr. Coren).

Below are two links to read more about the Individual Art Fellowship Grant that Kara received as well as an article about her featured in the Burlington County Times:

Some time ago, you worked on a play entitled, "The Prodigal."  For those that did not get to see it, explain what the play was about and what inspired you to write it.

"The Prodigal" is a story of race, class, and what it means to be "brothers."  It's the story of two African-American brothers who grew up in the inner city.  One brother left as soon as he was old enough to and disassociated himself with anything he considered "hood" or "urban."  His brother remained in the city and embraced his surroundings.  The death of their father brings the two brothers together after many years, where they must confront and challenge each other's views and outlooks.  The goal with the play was to create no clear right or wrong point of view.  Each brother has a distinct point of view, but if I did my job well, the audience can understand how each brother feels, even if they don't agree.


Have you ever had a time that you dealt with "writer's block?"  What did you do to overcome it?

I deal with "writer's block," all the time and it can be extremely frustrating.  I have a mind that is constantly going 100 miles an hours so when it comes to a screeching halt, it can send me into a panic if I let it.  When I get a block, I simply walk away for a bit, maybe an hour or so.  I don't occupy myself with something else.  I just let my mind settle.  Then, I come back and read over what I wrote previously and let the thoughts flow from there.  I don't force it.  Sometimes you just need to take a breath and reboot.


You have been working on two additional scripts!  Please share any details that you can about them and when can we expect to see them on stage?

I am VERY excited about the 2 new scripts that I finished writing this year.  One piece, entitled "The Family Pride," will most likely come out in late 2016 or early 2017 and deals with a homosexual teenager struggling to accept himself so that he can come out to his devoutly Christian parents.  His road to acceptance is...let's just say, it's quite unusual.  My hope for Spring of 2016 is to produce my second play,  "The Red Lamp."  It's a story of domestic violence, healing, and acceptance.  It's the most personal piece I've ever written.  As someone who has experienced domestic violence, I realize how important stories like these are to women and men in the midst.  Though this isn't my particular story, I hope that this story can help someone heal in some way. 


In addition to writing, you are also an actress.  Tell us about some of the projects that you have worked on.  What do you do to continue to brush up on your acting skills.

Two of my favorite projects would have to be playing the role of "Georgia" in "The Exonerated," which I performed at The Ritz Theatre in Oaklyn, NJ and at the Adrienne Theatre in Philadelphia, and also acting off Broadway in "Solitary Confinement." My most recent acting project is a short film project entitled "For My Daughter," which was released in late January 2016. 


Among the many things that you juggle... acting, writing, and your full time job, you are also the director of the Acts of Faith Drama Ministry at your church.  Tell us a little more about your role there and one of your favorite skits that you have written or performed.

Some of the greatest lessons in life I've learned at Bethany Baptist Church, and being the director of the Acts of Faith Drama Ministry is one of the most enriching experiences I've ever had.  Primarily, I'm responsible for casting, directing, producing, and writing many of the presentations that go before the congregation.  Being in the ministry for over a decade has created a long list of favorite skits, but I must say that there was a memorable piece that I co-wrote and performed with June Patterson and Darold Lingo last year that spoke about stepping into your destiny. Watching it brought me to tears, even though I co-wrote it and acted in it.  There was something magical about that piece.  There is also a piece that I have done several times with my cousin, Corey Shelton, entitled "Why Didn't You Tell Me?"  That one is truly one of my favorites because it had such an enormous impact on people.  It's actually used in other churches to minister to their congregations!


What can we expect coming from you in 2016 and beyond?

I have so many thoughts and ideas in me, so I'm going to keep writing.  I'm going to write about topics that make you think, but more importantly, make you talk.  With so many things going on in this world, there is no subject that is off limits.  In 2016 and beyond, I'm going to write about things that excite audiences and challenge audiences.  Let's just hope that they're up for the challenge. ;)

 Kara with cast of the play, "The Prodigal"

Kara with cast of the play, "The Prodigal"



Thank you, Kara! We most certainly are up for the challenge! Keep up with Kara via Facebook: Kara Shelton and on Instagram: @kara_mia9

Jelisa Scotton

Jelisa Scotton has competed in numerous Figure Competitions and is the owner of the brand, "Energy On Life." ( Education, Nutrition, Exercise, and Rest Generates Years On Life) Learn more about all of her endeavors and what advice she would give to anyone who may be struggling to work out and eat clean consistently...


When did you decide to really start taking your health and physique seriously and what motivated that decision.

 When I really think back, I realize that I developed an interest in fitness at a fairly young age. I performed in dance recitals, did cheerleading, and had a brief stint with softball and cross country running. Ironically, it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I began taking my fitness seriously.  Ultimately, it was a combination of things – the desire for a flat stomach and boredom. I had always wanted a flat stomach and was alone in a new state after graduation, so I started going to the gym after work. First, I was a self-proclaimed “cardio queen.” With that, I lost weight but I also lost much of my shape. At the gym, I would always walk past the weight room and see a bunch of guys with wandering eyes, so I was intimidated and wanted to avoid the unwanted attention. There was usually one girl in there, however, that was super fit.  Since I wanted a body like hers and realized cardio wasn’t getting me there, I overcame my fear of the weight room and started lifting.  Armed with PDF workout routines I found online, I would stick to myself. Lifting was new and fun, so I stuck with it and saw great results. When I began eating for my goals, I was hooked!


From there, what influenced your decision to get into figure competition?

I had no plans of competing, but after about a year and a half of lifting, I had transformed my physique pretty significantly. A trainer at the gym asked me if I competed and I said no. He said “Well, you should.” After that, I thought about it and told myself it’d be a new challenge, so I went for it.


How do you typically prepare for your competitions? Mentally, what food/activities do you have to eliminate?

Every contest prep has been different thus far. The body adapts to the same stimulus fairly easily, so you have to switch things up. To date, I’ve survived (yes, survived lol) four contest preps so I’ll discuss the commonalities. For the most part, I cut out all processed food, processed sugar, and monitor my carb intake very closely. I usually end up cutting out all carbs and eating primarily lean meats, healthy fats, plenty of veggies and drinking tons of water. It’s a gradual process throughout the prep, but that’s pretty much how it goes.


Please share some details about your experiences at the actual competitions.

From my experience, I am unique because I come alive the day of competition. All the hard work is done – workouts are over, I’m all dolled up, and I can eat fun food again... It’s the best part to me! No matter how I look compared to other ladies, I really enjoy being on stage. I’ve been on stage in front of ten people and on stages in front of hundreds – it’s such a rush! When I’m on stage showcasing my work, under those hot lights, I am immensely proud of my accomplishments. It sounds cheesy, but it makes the entire journey worthwhile in that moment - those few seconds you get to pose!


How do you motivate yourself to stay consistent with eating clean and working out and what advice would you give someone who may be struggling with their consistency.

My advice to someone struggling is to really get a clear idea on what their goals are. What is your "why?" Motivation doesn't last; it runs out once the real work starts, so you need something else to keep you going. Are you eating healthy to look good? Or to live long enough to play with your grandkids? Keep that goal in mind when you feel like quitting. Not accomplishing your goal HAS TO BE tougher than quitting!

When training for a competition, I train when I'm motivated and when I'm not motivated. I look at it like, if I trained or ate the right foods ONLY when I felt like it, I would never step foot on stage. So even though it sucks at times, I do what I have to do because I know when I step foot on stage I want to be better than I was the last time. My goal is to have the satisfaction and peace of mind knowing that I did my absolute BEST to grace the stage, which is why I'm always so excited and happy backstage at shows. (lol) I always want to do well, but I don't allow the judge's critiques to dampen my spirit. I've never received a placing that I didn't deserve and I know the blood, sweat, and tears (literally) it took to get there. No one can take that away from me.


Share details about your “The Energy on Life” brand and also your YouTube channel.  What specific topics can we expect to learn about by watching the videos and visiting your website?

ENERGY on Life stands for "Education, Nutrition, Exercise, and Rest Generates Years on Life." I believe that those four principles are essential to living and optimizing your health as well as generating years on your life!

From my YouTube videos, you can learn workouts, tips and tricks I use to stay healthy, how I eat on a normal day, my favorite healthy recipes, and vlogs showcasing my normal activities. I love sharing my life with my YouTube community because it teaches my viewers how to make "healthy" a lifestyle, while making it fun and inspiring others to get healthy and fit. It is very fulfilling! I keep it 100% real with my audience and they love how transparent I am in sharing my life including personal struggles, breakdowns, and setbacks.


You offer online health and fitness coaching.  How does this work and what programs do you offer?

I am currently in the process of restructuring my programs to include more, but right now I offer the complete package for competitive rates. I create a custom workout routine for my clients based on their goals and fitness level, calculate their starting macronutrient intake based off on information they provide me through a questionnaire, and hold bi-weekly coaching calls to review progress and make any necessary changes. I'll soon be offering additional packages and a la carte options as well.


How do you plan to expand/take your brand to the next level?  What can we expect from you in this new year?

Everything up to this point is only the beginning for me and my brand! I've learned so much thus far and have cultivated some great relationships with like minded individuals, which I am very grateful for. This year, my number one goal is leaving my full time job completely to run and grow my business full time. I will be focused on producing YouTube videos more frequently, acquiring more online coaching clients, growing my t-shirt line, EIM (Empower Inspire Motivate) clothing, and building a team to help me get this all done!

It's really crazy that the time is so near to branch out on my own; I'm so excited yet I have faith that it will be for the best. I believe my purpose is to help people (especially people of color) live a healthy lifestyle, and I wholeheartedly intend to fulfill on that purpose while I'm blessed to be breathing. In 2016, expect to see much more of me! 


Be sure to keep up with Jelisa via her website: you can purchase her motivational T-shirts at Subscribe to her youtube channel at and follow her on Instagram @JuicyJece


Check out one of her youtube videos below:



Shanelle Dennis

Ms. Shanelle Dennis works as a Production Assistant (PA)/Production Coordinator (PC) and has covered events from Broadway to the White House!  She started her career at just 19 years old, working for the BET news network but just last year decided that she wanted to completely change her career path… Learn more about Shanelle’s story of “reinventing herself,” to achieve her dreams below…



You are always working and attending events all over… what exactly do you do and what is your role at these events?

 I freelance in the field of TV and Film Production. Depending on the event, I typically serve as a Production Assistant or Production Coordinator.

A Production Assistant is responsible for assisting the Production Coordinator, Production Manager, and Producers with whatever they need in order to get the job done. There are several different departments that a PA can be confined to; I typically serve in the office. There, I assist the Production Coordinator with the management of petty cash, permit parking, and catering. I also work closely with the Line Producer assisting him/ her with Payroll and Per Diem.

A Production Coordinator is responsible for the set up and management of the location Production Office. This person secures street permits for parking and filming, manages petty cash, hires and manages a crew of Production Assistants, secures vendors, manages crafty and catering (meals and everyday items kept in the production office throughout the entire length of an event's production), the list goes on (lol).


You have worked on some pretty big events lately, please share some details regarding them.

 In 2015, I worked a total of 8 televised special events and 2 corporate web broadcasts. The TV events that I worked on are:

In Performance at the White House: A Gospel Tradition

The National Memorial Day Concert

A Capital Fourth

In Performance at the White House (IPWH): American Creativity

The Mark Twain Prize Honoring Eddie Murphy

TED Talks LIVE on Broadway

Gershwin Prize for Popular Song Honoring Willie Nelson

The 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors

Out of all of these events my favorite was IPWH: American Creativity. This was a concert that we produced in the East Ballroom of the White House. Musical Guests included: Usher, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Smokey Robinson, Buddy Guy, and more. Besides the fact that it was the White House (I mean seriously, the WHITE HOUSE?!) it was an amazing experience because it was the first time that I saw the music that I identify with the most embraced among that type of crowd. There were people in suit and ties in the room that were seen singing along to “Hey-Ho” lol (A song entitled, "Cha, Cha, Cha," by recording artist MC Lyte). It was a surreal moment for me indeed.


When you are working these events, what does a typical day consist of?  Please share details of your day's itinerary.

 A typical day for me varies. However, for the most part I will start the day with ensuring that petty cash receipts are balanced, copied, and filed. From there, I check in with the Production Coordinator and Line Producer (If I am a PA) to see where we are on our list of things to do.

If I am a Production Coordinator tasks really depend on need. Each day will be different.


Please share some insight for someone who may be interested in getting into the TV and Film industry.  What would you tell them, what insight would you share?

The biggest thing to know if you are trying to get involved in this industry is that no task is [should be] beneath you. This is definitely a "pay your dues" industry. I started when I was 19 working for BET Networks as a Digital Producer. Eventually, I made my way to NY and had some success there as well. However, In 2015 I decided to switch directions. I loved working in digital but I wanted to produce. I wanted to be the person responsible for your favorite TV shows and movies! So I had to tuck away my pride and start all over... from the bottom. No one cared about where I previously worked. To them I was a stranger; therefore I needed to prove myself just like everyone else. It took some humbling on my part for sure. However, when you finally have your "light bulb moment" and you realize what it is that you really want to do with your life, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes.  Stay committed, make as many connections as you can, and work harder and smarter than you did the day before.

The one thing that has worked for me is that I never allowed myself to become confortable. People would tell me all the time to “make the best of your situation” but I ignored them. I knew that they just didn’t get it. I knew in my heart that I was meant for something far more fulfilling than the life I was living. I knew that the minute I allowed myself to become comfortable that I would start to diminish in spirit, ambition, and courage. So I didn’t allow it.

I prepared and planned for an opportunity that I didn’t even have yet. However, in my mind I knew it was coming (call me crazy lol). I cut back on expenses because I knew when my opportunity came I would need money to re-locate. I kept my resume and cover letter updated so that it was ready to go. I bought a new wardrobe of business casual attire. I even changed the signature on my email account to reflect my “new position.” I am not saying you have to go to the extreme that I did, but you have to see the opportunity first so that you are ready for it when it comes.


What are your ultimate goals in this industry?  Some personal goals for the new year and what can we anticipate coming from you in this new year?

Ultimately, I would like to be a Producer or Line Producer where I will have a lot more control over the logistics and execution of a particular show. Recently, I just started working on an HBO late night series entitled “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”. So for 2016, my goal is to make as many new connections as possible so that hopefully when I leave this job in a year (when the series season has wrapped) I will have some leads that will take me into that next step up position.    


Be sure to follow Shanelle and all of wonderful endeavors on Instagram at @_shanelle_ or feel free to add her on Facebook: Shanelle Dennis.

We KNOW this will not be the last that you will hear of her and we are excited for what is on the horizon!

Thank you, Shanelle for being the very first woman to be highlighted on “Women On The Grind!”

   Pictured: Shanelle and some of the crew who worked an event hosted at The White House