L+A: What was your inspiration growing up that led you to this career path?
What’s funny is that when I was younger my friends always use to joke about how I always had the newest phone. My mom used to be a foster mom, so we had a lot of kids in our house and because of that, she bought a lot of things to entertain the kids with. We always had the latest computers', cell phones and just different gadgets.
Because of this, I was really into all things' technology growing up and being on things like black planet and myspace to a point where I was being paid to craft peoples pages because I knew how to work with HTML, which was another thing that I loved; Social media platforms. I love that you can present yourself to the world and just connect with people all over
I took that love for digital and tech, and connected it to fashion and entertainment. When I was in middle school I always wanted to be a model and be involved in the fashion industry; my mom was a designer who went to FIT for some time. I knew I wanted to be creative and involved in fashion as well. We Spent a lot of time in New York and I Thought That Was Going to be my end all be all, however I wanted to do the couture stuff as well. I was doing a lot of auditioning and I was getting so close but I started to realize that there was not a big acceptance of black models in the couture world. Thats when I began to relaize I was meant for so much more than modeling.
L+A: What was an inspiring moment where you felt you saw yourself represented for once?
When Rihanna did the magazine cover with Naomi Campbell and Iman. It changed my life, not only was it dope, it was these three black women who were "bitchy" but sexy yet you respect them! To see Rihanna, who wasn't a model standing next to some of the biggest models in the world!!! For me, that was the moment! I said I would stop letting the racially ignited no's in the modeling industry deter me and build myself on TV as far as acting, hosting etc. I'm going to make it where they have put me in a magazine eventually! Watch!
L+A: Did you ever feel as though you lost yourself at any point working in such a hectic industry?
There was a point in time where I was so focused on building myself up for someone else that I lost focus in doing it for myself. Now i’m at a point where if anything i’m currently doing is taking me away from my goals, and the things that I want I will no longer do it, because I know at the end of the day yes I do have a lot of relationships and I know for fact a lot of these people are here solely based on where I work.I have to continue to put my self first.
L+A: Have you been in any situations where you felt like you weren't being taken serious?
In this industry when you’re the new kid on the block that nobody knows it’s hard to connect and learn from people because everyone is for themselves for the most part. To be honest, a lot of black women won’t do that either. There are very very specific moments that I do remember where I felt overlooked! At the time, it got to me; it made me feel like I wasn't good enough, and that everything I worked for was for nothing. I didn't let it stop me though! Everything I have ever felt like I was overlooked for, life has brought these opportunities back my way full circle. My advice is don’t focus on these times but don't forget them either; use them as a reminder that what god has planned for you, no man can stop!
The one thing that I have noticed though is that people will take the time to look at you through social media and think that you made it and really it’s like no this is just that first step for me I have a long way to go !
L+A: Tell me about your youtube channel and how you got started?
My YouTube channel I use to the vlog my journey while trying to make it in television as well as all the things that I’m interested in and overall just trying to make it work in LA.
It all started when I made the move from Delaware to Los Angeles. I wanted to show people not only the real grind it takes but also how rewarding it can be as well.
L+A: What's something you’ve learned within life and this entertainment industry?
I’ve definitely learned that people will test your hand in things, however I know what I bring to the table and what I’m capable of, so no matter how big your brand is if I’m not able to help and contribute to that based on the things that I have to offer and my knowledge I will gladly walk away from that because settling for anything less would not sit right with me. You have to stay true to who you are.
L+A: What's Something you would tell to the younger generation?
Being a young person coming up in business entertainment or any other field to be honest, they will look at you different, sometimes it's a good "they are fresh new voices" different and sometimes it's "competition" different; especially if you're young and black. Being young often means they'll try to walk all over you. I don’t care what company it is if they value you they will do anything in their power to keep you because they see that you’re an asset and if they don’t there are other billion dollar companies that will do what it takes to keep you because they value your opinion and what you have to offer. You really have to know your worth in order to not let these people walk all over you and it’s so important to learn as you become involved within these different career fields. Another thing I would say is just to make sure you do it in a way where you’re not burning bridges but you’re also standing up for yourself.
L+A: What's the hardest thing to hear as a creative?
That you need all this money to get things done! When you’re a creative, passion drives you and that doesn’t always mean a paycheck right away. All creatives, well creatives who are creators (doers) want to be their own bosses.. which takes the money we often don't have; and I must say that it pushes you to be more of an entrepreneur. For example, I have my camera and I shoot my content and edit as well because I can’t be out here paying for all these things everytime, especially whenI can learn to do it myself!
Another issue is people see a woman and instantly think we are weak or unintelligent based on physical appearance. When you are inquiring prices for different services a lot of people will hike the price up because they don’t think women will negotiate, and when you do it turns in the stigma of an angry black woman, or difficult to work with! When honestly you are just trying to secure your foundation and make sure it's treated as equally as anyone else.
L+A: What Would you say is the hardest part of being a creative?
A lot of people say being a young talented black woman is the problem and personally I don’t feel like that’s the issue, I feel like it's a superpower. My insight, my background, my take on the world.. a magic that so many people outside of women who look like me don't possess. I want more women to feel this way, both from physical appearance to just their mental look at things so I just released a clothing brand, The Barb Shop (@barb.shop). The brand is very dolls kill an eclectic bitchy and sassy brand which targetes all women, I will be releasing specially curated lines based on affirmations for black women.
L+A: With all the events that you’ve worked and been part of, is there one that stands out to you the most? Why?
There’s been so many, however going to essence festival was an amazing experience. I stayed with my friend who is the owner of the Womanaire club and Milano Di Rouge Clothing line, her publicist, a beauty influencer from Philly New York Taylor, and beauty talent manager named Chris who manages Tokyo styles, Alonzo Arnold these amazing hair social media gods almost, just so many amazing black people under one roof. That house alone was so amazing to be in during that weekend because everyone truly inspired me; I was with people who followed their dreams and are their own bosses!
Essence festival felt like the first time you ever step foot on an HBCU campus. To see all of these black people doing something amazing collectively that was so bomb and such a vibe! During that weekend I was also able to do the celebrity and influencer interviews at the Ciroc Women's Empowered Brunch, which was another motivator because again your just surrounded by successful black people who also want to see you win. That whole weekend just reminded me to look at the circles i’m being blessed to be considered apart of and growing in, as well as the overall company I keep.
L+A: Have you ever gotten to a point where you’ve felt uninspired?
I get there a lot especially when you’re doing something where the path isn’t easy, you get to that point of feeling drained! Their are two things that I like to do to pull myself out when I feel like im in a hole
I like to come home to Delaware because it just brings me so much peace but it also reminds me of not only why I had to leave Delaware in the first place but how far I’ve come as well!
I’m a very self-expressive person so the second thing that I really like to do is talk things out. A few weeks ago I was really going through it and so much was happening, the buildup in my life just brought me to a breaking point. I had decided to pick up my camera and record for my YouTube channel. I was literally having my break down as I’m talking to my camera which honestly felt amazing. It felt like I was able to take this weight off my shoulders and move forward.
L+A: What's the best advice you’ve ever received from a woman?
The best advice came from my high school mentor her name is Lori Hayes. She taught me back then that my life is a series of snapshots, meaning your life is as valuable to people as what they can see or what you put out here.
That translated into so many things for me like for example when it comes to social media I don’t put anything out that I would have a problem owning up to; it even ties into the decisions I make. I feel like there is no room to be mediocre in life. Everything I do I want it to be an “oh my god how did she do that” because when you talk about those snapshots of my life I want you to be motivated and inspired!
Photo Credit: @dopecameragirl