Posts in "Feature"

Meet TAMISH!

Have you ever just want to go after your passion no matter the sacrifices? Singer-songwriter TAMISH not only quit her job in advertising but she decided to pursue her passion for music full-time!

TAMISH has opened up for major artists including Babyface, Kelly Price, Slick Rick and MC Lyte. She has also provided back up vocals for Mariah Carey, Slick Rick, Charlie Wilson and T.I. on Showtime at the Apollo and Andra Day on BET’s Black Girls Rock. TAMISH is living passionately to inspire others and to make her songs have meaning.

You were born and raised in Chicago, what was it like growing up?

I grew up on the west side of Chicago, K – Town, so that’s in the hood. Chicago has some segregated parts of the neighborhoods. Being from K – Town, I was in the community but I was never influenced by it or it’s lifestyle from people who were in gangs, on drugs, etc. It made me want to do something more. Girls use to love the gangsters but that was not for me. I was never attracted to the bad boy type.
My mom and dad are both college graduates so I was exposed to a different lifestyle. My mom was trying to make it clear that I would see two different aspects of the black experiences: viewing people on drugs in my neighborhood and the college educated in my household.

For your debut, “Met You”, what inspired you to create that song?

Once I graduated from college, I moved to New York City and worked in advertising. Then I quit my job and focused on music full time because I felt lead to do so by the Lord. I moved to Los Angeles and I had an opportunity to work in a studio in LA. While working there I was able to record my music.
I wrote “Met You” in New York, but I didn’t have anyone here to help me put it all together. I recorded “Met You” out in LA and we literally created it from the ground up. And was able to add all of the musical elements that I wanted. Then I recorded a rough version of it. I wasn’t sure what kind of sound I wanted to go for when I was ready to release my first project. Once I recorded it and when I first heard it, I was like “this is something I will release and share to the world”.

You have opened for many major artists and have sang backup for many artists, how have those experiences affected your career?

I think it was life – changing because I knew I felt like I needed to do it and I went for it. The opportunities just reassured me that I made the right decision because from quitting my job to pursue a singing career, I felt like I was a little crazy. However, it made it clear that what God gave to me was true. I didn’t apply for these opportunities that came to me so I can’t take credit for anything. People who heard and believed in me recommended me to others. It made me feel validated. Once I released my debut and I had my single release show, that’s when I got connected with an opportunity to open for Babyface, and then Mariah Carey. I didn’t apply for any of these opportunities. Because of this, it helps keep me in check.

What was the biggest challenges you have faced as a singer?

I think the first one was finding my sound like what I want to talk about. If you’re not clear on what you want to talk about, you will write crazy stuff that you don’t believe in. Even in the beginning, we were writing songs or writing stuff with crazy topics I wouldn’t even say. It made me really clear on what I want to talk about and what I wanted to stand for as a creative person. I wanted to make sure that I talk about something that means something and worth releasing.

We are all about empowerment, what does it mean to you?
Educating, liberating and activating a person or group of people to take charge of their lives, and choices, and make a change, if needed, for the better.

Tune in + follow Tamish’s beautiful voice here!

Website: www.Tamishonline.com
Get social here! @tamishonline

Interview by: A’yanna Rouse, Teen Writer + C.O.R.E Intern

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Meet Lisa Chapman!

What’s the ultimate stress-reliever that leaves a lingering + addictive scent to calm your nerves? Lumière by Lisa candles, of course!

Owner, founder + ultimate Girl Boss, Lisa Chapman, is blazing the entrepreneurial trail and pouring love into each of her 100% soy wax candles.  Being motivated by her dreams, Lisa turned her calming + relaxing hobby into a thriving business. The New York native continues to overcome hurdles + share her endless talents led by her inspirational Christian foundation and supportive family + friends.

Let’s get to know Lisa a little better…

We discovered your wonderful candles at Beautycon + they smell absolutely delicious! What made you want to launch your own candle collection?

It all started with a candle making class I found on Groupon. I found candle making so relaxing and the instructor suggested it as a side business. I began testing them with friends and family where they became a hit and after many trial and errors over the past 3 years, here I am.

Your scents are fun + offers out of the box flavors! How do you pick your scents? How does creating your candles act as a creative outlet?

I try to pick scents and names that will make people smile. When people read the Sangria Sunday, Mint Mojito, or Brunch + Bubbly labels, there is always a smile and excitement involved after they smell it. Seeing that excitement from someone who shows up to my booth with a straight face and then smell my candles and end up grinning brings me joy. The candles act as a creative outlet for me because they push me to think of ways to catch peoples attention whether it be in the scent names, taking photos, social media posts and captions, or table set ups at events.

Being an entrepreneur + running your own business can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?

It can definitely be overwhelming but I have a really great support system. My family and friends keep me motivated and not only push me but remind me to focus on the positives. I also have a Bible verse that’s become my mantra for the business that reminds me that my purpose in candles is to let the light shine literally with the candle flame and figuratively. It’s Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

I admire a woman named Dana Chanel. She’s a Christian Entrepreneur and her posts are so inspiring. They’re always about not only striving to do better in your business but also empowering yourself so that you can empower others. That’s the definition of making it.

We’re all about empowerment at C.O.R.E Mag, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?

Empowerment to me means being able to be free whether it be financially, mentally, etc and pass on the knowledge of how I did it to others. So with the candles, I want to eventually have my own candle studio where I can teach other people this awesome hobby I’ve been perfecting so that they can start their own business and empower themselves and others too.

Fun Faves! Fave Food? Artist? Song? Celeb Crush?

Pizza is life. Rihanna Navy until I die. Favorite song is Anita Baker “Caught Up in the Rapture.” Current celeb crush is Quincy Brown. I can’t wait for Star Season 3 to return so I can see him on TV lol

Follow + check out more of Lisa’s scrumptious scents here…

Lumiere by Lisa

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Spotlight x Ciara Hines!

Unleashing your creativity while showcasing your individuality is the ultimate match in living out your dreams. Dancer Ciara Hines not only tells her story on stage but sparks true emotion from all who are captivated with her fluid movements!

From winning Miss Teen Dance America to being rewarded multiple scholarships, Ciara is achieving her dreams with a double dose of discipline and confidence. Pushing past her fears, she allows preparation + practice to build her mental + physical stamina before leaving her magic on the stage.

Ciara is focused and devoted to her craft and trains five to six days each week. She states, “The freedom that I experience when I dance is almost indescribable.”

Dance continues to shape her as she continues to fascinates + inspire her audience.

Let’s get to know Ciara a little better!

What motivated you to express yourself through dance?

Expressing myself through dance has not always been effortless. Nonetheless, when I am dancing, I imagine myself being transported to a zone where I am unrestricted, stress-free, and unequivocally poised. This motivates me to improve my performance every time I step on a stage.

Performing Arts gives an outlet to be creative + present in the moment. How has performing arts helped in building your confidence + discovering your strengths?

Performing in front of large crowds enhances my self-confidence. In fact, each performance tends to bolster my personality. Surprisingly, I am rarely nervous when I perform before large crowds. Perhaps my confidence can be attributed to my passion for the arts and my determination to be successful.

As a dancer what type of pressure do you experience? How do you prep for a competition?

To circumvent pressure during competitions, I set aside specific times each day for rehearsal. My motto is, Practice! Practice, and then Practice! I am extremely disciplined and I rehearse frequently. Therefore, when it’s time to compete, I generally feel enthusiastic and prepared.

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?

Fear is a constant presence, no matter your profession or status in life. My advice to any girl, who is anxious or scared, is to pursue their aspiration, despite their insecurities. Life is filled with regrets and disappointments – so, girls must never add to these setbacks by disbanding their yearnings.

Being young, juggling responsibilities while walking towards your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?

Whenever I am overwhelmed or discouraged, I give myself permission to step away from the predicament, take some deep breaths, walk around, and listen to some of my favorite music. For me, music is a remarkable characteristic of a relaxation journey. When I decide to regroup, I am generally in a much healthier place.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?

From my perspective, EMPOWERMENT means having the freedom to pursue my dreams, being confident and creative,recognizing my strengths/weaknesses and honing my competency.
• Celeb Crush: I don’t have one yet
• Favorite Artist: Beyoncé
• Favorite Food: Grilled Salmon with asparagus
• Favorite Movie: The Greatest Showman

Follow more Ciara here!

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Follow Ciara on @corereader’s IG Takeover this Saturday, July 28th!

 

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Meet Simone Bridges!

You know that craving of sweet treats that tends to creep up after every study session? Wouldn’t it be just absolutely amazing if you knew how to whip up a savory bite and make everything right in your world again? Well, the dynamic Chef Simone could save the world with her delicious baking goodies which includes her famous Snicker Brownies!

Hailing from Florida, Simone Bridges is a popular Kid Chef +  the owner of Goddess Food Factory located in Jacksonville. Her addictive pastries have received raving reviews by celebrity chefs, radio hosts, athletes, and tons of food lovers all over the nation! Simone has been featured on Steve Harvey’s talk show where she shared her recipe for success and the two of them emerged in laughter as she showed him how to make her famous Snicker Brownies.

Her love for baking is not the only passion this dynamic young lady is conquering! As a student at Darnel-Cookman School of the Medical Arts her love of Science and Mathematics has also coined her the nickname of the STEMchef. She incorporates the academic concept of STEM into her baking, especially when teaching her popular cooking classes for kids. Due to an overwhelming number of requests for her recipes and her love for STEM, she created ExS.T.R.E.A.M. Baking Subscription Boxes. They are monthly subscription boxes in which she infuse baking and cooking with Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

As a motivational speaker, Simone has spoken to audiences of all ages about kitchen safety, her appreciation for food, good moral character, marketing, branding, financial budgeting, and entrepreneurship.

She is also the host of Teal Talk with Kids + has participated in major food festivals including Food and Wine Noir in Atlanta, Georgia, “50 Women in Philly are Cooking” in Philadelphia, and won for having the Best Display amongst all of the chefs at the Taste of Black in Jacksonville, making her the youngest contestant to ever win in the seven years of the competition.  This Pastry Princess has stated that her vision is to inspire young kids around the world. Her goal is to share her love of baking and cooking with everyone and to own a chain of bakeries and restaurants.

Since we have your taste buds jumping, let’s get to know Chef Simone a little better! 

Baking is such a beautiful expression of your passions, personal style, + interests in life! How did you begin whipping up tasty treats?

That’s a long story, but I started by baking with my grandma, Phyllis Williams-Harris when I was 3 years old. She’s a baker and she would always let me lick the spoons when she baked cakes. Later, I started helping her bake by measuring ingredients and stirring the batter. When I was five, my parents bought me an Easy Bake oven for Christmas and then I baked treats for my cousins. I was added my own special ingredients to their mixes to make the dishes my own. With more baking sessions taught by my grandma, my skills increased. At age 11, I told my parents that I wanted my own bakery for Christmas. Voila! Now, I have my own store, called Goddess Food Factory. I sell all kinds of desserts and educational baking kits. We sell chef merchandise too, like aprons, chef hats, t-shirts, mittens, and more.

Oftentimes girls don’t get the spotlight they deserve when it comes to STEM. How were you able to pour your love of science + math in creating recipes for your ExS.T.R.E.A.M. Baking Subscription Boxes?

Creating recipes is very easy because I’ve been baking at a really early age. Over time, kids would always ask me for my recipes, so I decided to create baking kits for them to enjoy at home. As a youth advocate for STEM, I knew that I couldn’t have just a plain old baking kit. So, I combined both of my passions (baking and science) together and voila, ExS.T.R.E.A.M. Baking subscription boxes was born. As the popularity of by subscription boxes grew, I knew I had to do more to push STEM.

Being a kid, I know what kids like and how they like to learn. So. I created a hands-on, interactive program called EXS.T.R.E.A.M. Baking, which has standards based lessons that are taught using culinary concepts. I travel to organizations nationally and conduct workshops to facilitate the program. All of the students are always actively engaged and they have so much fun. STEM evolved to STEAM due to the importance of the Arts. Plus, we all know that Reading is fundamental and it’s the foundation of everything. Therefore, I wanted to ensure my program included reading. More importantly, STEM/STEAM/STREAM are the jobs of the future since the rapid advancement of technology in every field. Kids of today must be ready for the world of tomorrow and that’s why I’m an advocate for S.T.R.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics).

 

As a student it can be tough to fit cooking in your sched! What are two easy dishes students can make on-the-go?

I’m a person who can eat breakfast anytime of the day. So, one dish can be an omelet. It’s full of protein and can be easily made with eggs, any type of meat, chopped tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, salt and pepper. Another quick and easy dish is one of my favorite light snacks. It’s a stuffed apple. You take a whole apple, tear off the stem, and core out the middle of the apple, but not all the way through. Then, you stuff it with your choice of toppings. I normally use caramel, pecans, and whipped cream. Bon Appetit. It’s so delicious!

Being young and having responsibilities can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?

One thing that would surprise people about me is that I talk to myself in the mirror in third person. LOL It’s inspirational though. I also write myself positive messages and place them in a jar. Whenever I have a bad moment and need recharging, I take out one of my messages and it cheers me up. My sister calls me crazy, but it makes me feel good. I love positivity and I’ve found that my uplifting pep talks to myself helps me to have a great day.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?

Empowerment happens when you share your gift, your wisdom and your stories with others. It’s like teaching them how to bake a cake. You have to explain which ingredients to use and the quantity, give step by step baking directions, and teach them baking hacks that will equip them with mastering a delicious cake. Then, you watch them bake more cakes while giving advice and praise. The next thing you know, they feel empowered enough to bake cakes on their own and teach others how to do it too.

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?

My advice to other girls who want to make their dreams come true or start a business is simple – Start today. Start now. Get into action, Do the work, and NEVER GIVE UP. It will not be easy, but it will be rewarding. No one told me to start selling my treats. My grandma has always baked cakes and sold them. I saw her making money from the baked items, so I started making cookies and charging a quarter (age 6 or 7). When my parents found out, I didn’t get in trouble. They just told me that I wasn’t charging enough and to charge at least fifty cents. They helped me to create a price list and helped me call family members to get orders. I didn’t realize it at the time that I had a small business. I was making a lot of money (to me at the time) from selling cookies and I was having fun.

Now, I sell cookies for two dollars each because I understand the cost and work that goes into baking. I’m also a motivational speaker, so I encourage other kids by telling them how I overcame obstacles. There is a solution to every problem. The key is to only focus on the solution. I would also advise for parents to truly support their kids dreams and help them out. I would not be where I am today without my parents, my support team, and my community.

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?

Favorite Celebrity: Beyonce’
Favorite Artist: Whitney Austin
Favorite Food: Snicker Brownies of course
Favorite Movie: Black Panther

Check out more of Chef Simone here! 

Goddess Food Factory

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Chef Simone Bridges
Goddess Food Factory
9951 Atlantic Boulevard, Suite 402
Jacksonville, Florida 32225

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Meet Hannah + Charlie Lucas!

(Photo credit: Vania Stoyanova)

Keeping up with grades, navigating your way through a harsh social scene, parents constantly applying pressure for perfection…when does it ever stop? As a student, the pressures of life can quickly build-up and invite a “you against the world” mentality.

We have all been there–typed out a text message asking for emotional or physical support, only to delete it before sending. Teen entrepreneurs Hannah and Charlie Lucas are redefining the power of mental health while creating a fresh platform with their new app notOK™. Recently winning the NAMI Young Leader Award (National Alliance in Mental Illness), the fearless siblings are snatching away any shame that’s accompanied with asking for help. 

(Photo credit: Vania Stoyanova)

Just last year Hannah was fainting so much that she missed 70% of the school year due to a rare disease called POTS. While she was there she constantly got bullied and even threatened (by a fellow student) that she would be taken advantage of the next time she passed out in school. Being scared was a permanent state of mind. After becoming severely depressed and even attempting suicide, Hannah’s little brother Charlie stepped in to help her change things. The two searched for apps that helped teens in their time of distress. They didn’t find any so they created their own- the notOK app.

In just a few months after launch, these inspirational tech siblings have been gaining massive attention with over 49k downloads in just 3 months. They are working with Thrive NYC to implement a program in NYC schools next year and even scored their first investor.

To use notOK™, simply open the app, tap the red button and a text message will be sent to up to 5 pre-selected contacts that reads: “Hey, I’m not OK. Please call me, text me, or come find me,” along with a link to your current GPS location. Whether you’re a teen or an adult suffering from loneliness, anxiety, depression, stress, suicidal thoughts, or anything else, immediate help is only the tap of a button away.You no longer have to suffer alone. Help is closer than you think!

Let’s get to know Hannah + Charlie a little better…

(Photo credit: Vania Stoyanova)

The notOK app is beyond brilliant and is blazing the way for teens to tap into mental health. Why was it important to create a platform that not only allowed both of you to overcome personal struggles but other teens as well?
It’s important to create a platform that allows people to have open discussions about the difficult topics. In having these difficult conversations, it suddenly makes it OK to be notOK. And it gives people the opportunity to answer some of the less talked about questions.

Hannah, due to having POTS caused you to miss 70% of the school year which led to bullying. How were you able to shift your energy from a negative situation into a positive solution?
To be honest, I don’t think I would’ve been able to shift my perspective if it weren’t for the help of a therapist. When I first started going to therapy, I’m not going to lie, I was obnoxiously sarcastic. I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. When I started working on notOK I finally saw hope again. At that point I started to take my therapist seriously because something clicked inside and I realized that she was there to help me not harm me.

Charlie, seeing your older sister having to overcome obstacles could have caused you to feel a bit helpless. What motivated you to use your strengths + talents to be there for her?
Well helplessness was a key factor in getting me to this breaking point, where I couldn’t do anything anymore so when Hannah gave me her idea I leaped at the chance to help her.

Unfortunately, a lot of time teen mental health or stress isn’t taken as serious as it should be. It is labeled as “growing pains” or even being “dramatic”. How does the notOK app make it clear of the pressures teens deal with on a daily basis?
notOK is designed to destigmatize mental health. In doing so, all alerts should be received as urgent. The trusted contacts should keep in mind that even though it seems small, to the user, it could be life altering. Being notOK means something different for each individual person.

Mental health can be looked as a “weakness” when it comes to teens of color, how can we shift that stereotype and push diversity in this area?
In order to shift that stereotype, you have to start thinking of mental health as physical health. You have yearly check-ups for your physical but just ignore your mental health. When you really think about it mental health is just the chemicals in your body that make you feel or think a certain way. Thinking about it this way often helps people be more understanding towards those struggling with their mental health.

Actress Jenifer Lewis and Hannah Lucas

Being young, juggling responsibilities while walking towards your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?
Personally, I love to exercise. Whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed I just hop on my bike and ride around for a while. This is a great way to release all of the tension in my body and also keep in shape.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
Empowerment to me means having a hope for the future and having the power to achieve that future.
Empowerment means the hope of rights and equality for everyone, Empowerment means the hope of peace to me, Empowerment is the feeling of when the nation gets together to stop the injustices that happen within it.

Photo credit: Vania Stoyanova

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?

Celeb Crush:
Hannah: Trevor Jackson without a question!!!

Artist:
Charlie:Brendan Urie, Ben Platt, Pitbull, and Last but definitely not least,*drumroll* BEYONCE.
Hannah: My top 3 are Queen Bey (of course), Drake (obviously), and Kendrick Lamar (without a question)

Food: Cheese Curds, Mozzarella Cheese Sticks, Creme’ Brulee, Cheese, All And Every Type

Movie:
Charlie: Greatest Showman
Hannah: Black Panther hands down!!!

Stay in the loop with Hannah + Lucas here

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Meet Najaah Malonne!

Leaping into confidence, turning into boldness + making a point to express herself describes the path of dancer and performer, Najaah Malonne! Budding from her introverted personality, she discovered her creative space to showcase her individuality on stage for the world to see.

Najaah started dancing at the tender age of  4 and  joined Dance Academy West’s competition team at only 9 years old.  By 10, she began performing solos to hone both her technique and stage presence.  She quickly became an award winning dancer, collecting top honors, special judges awards and scholarships.  In efforts to become an even better dancer, Najaah began attending summer intensives.  She has studied as a Jr Ballet Trainee at The Joffrey School of Ballet, Joffrey West Summer Jazz Intensive in Los Angeles, Debbie Allen Dance Academy Intensive in Atlanta and Alvin Ailey Summer Dance Intensive in New York.

She also expanded her work with one of her solo choreographers, Mitchell Kelly from Season 8 of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance”.  Mitchell provided aggressive  development and performance opportunities through his youth foundation, MK Life Parts.  He also provided her with a scholarship to her very first dance convention.  ASH (Artist Simply Human) which proved to be a life changing experience for her. After that experience, Najaah knew she wanted to become a professional dancer and decided to shift her focus from competing, to developing her technique to prepare her for the life and rigors of the professional dance world.  

Although dance is her passion, she has begun to explore other facets of the performing arts including singing + acting.   As an adult, she dreams of becoming a professional on the small and big screen and the Broadway stage, and study at institutions such as Julliard or Fordham Universities!

Let’s get to know Najaah a little better…

Dance is a form of expression that allows you to be free in movement, what first motivated you to step into the world of dance?
I always sang and tried to dance before I could even walk and talk. My parents put me in dance class because I was shy and introverted. They wanted me to have the chance to blossom and socialize with other kids before I began school. I immediately liked dance class. I listened to my teachers. Enjoyed being around other kids. But…it wasn’t until the performance and I was on stage did I fall in love with dance. Although I was shy, I loved to perform!

You’ve participated in programs at influential companies such as The Joffrey School of Ballet, Debbie Allen Dance Academy and Alvin Ailey! How has each experience aid to shape your own style when it comes to dance?

Each intensive is different because they have a different focus, emphasis or energy. Also, their locations and their legacies impact the styles of training and overall feel of each intensive.

-The Joffrey Ballet summer intensive was my very first intensive for me! Joffrey is a ballet company. So ballet is the foundation and there were a lot of serious ballerinas there when you attended as a junior ballet trainee. At their jazz intensive, they had top talent and the vibe on the West Coast is different. There legacy yields lots of resources so they bring in great instructors to their intensives. They give away lots of scholarships and reach and attract lots of dancers.

-Debbie Allen is a living legend and everyone loves her and her energy! She so highly regarded by her team and that energy is contagious. At the Debbie Allen Dance Academy Summer Intensive, they teach with so much passion. It’s special to have the founder of the intensive still alive and actually teaching classes and choreography to students. She’s accomplished so much and is still working and creating today and expanded into directing too. She’s a living breathing example of what you can accomplish as a dancer. When I was there they placed me in the advanced level. I was the youngest and everyone was much older then me. It was that that inspired me to push myself in order to keep up and grow!
But overall the intensive was more commercial compared to Joffrey.

Alvin Ailey is like THE GOLD STANDARD! The Ailey School has the largest and most beautiful dance facility in New York. Which is saying a lot because NYC is the performing arts capital of the world.
You can’t help to feel an overwhelming amount of pride while in the building. Mr Ailey was a dancer and he built an institution that is probably bigger than he ever dreamed! Everyone wants to train there. The training is so quality!

The focus was on ballet & modern. But like other intensives, they offer all disciplines too. It was cool seeing Misty Copeland walking through The Ailey School to take ballet with The Ailey Company! The Company members would walk pass you and it’s like, WOW! They are examples of what discipline and dedication can lead up too. They are touring the world, touching people with dance and are a part of history and the legacy of Alvin Ailey. Not to mention NYC that is a force of culture and creativity all by itself. Being in New York is an experience that is life changing if you take in all of the arts, culture, food, people and energy! Which I tried to do all 3 summers I attended.
I have done other intensives too. Alonzo Kings Ballet in San Francisco and Anthony Burrells Breaking Barriers too.

Performing Arts gives an outlet to be creative + present in the moment! How has performing arts helped in building your confidence + discovering your strengths?
The preforming arts is where my heart is at. Dancing has allowed me to express myself without having to say anything and has given me confidence I never knew I had. It gave me the confidence to take part in others genres of the performing arts like drama, chorus, and the visual arts. Dance has allowed me to perform in front of huge audiences and have the strength to go to so many different auditions! The arts have shown me how strong I am and how driven I am as a person as well as an artist. Just by being in
the performing arts I have seen how much of an inspiration I can be to others which has made me want to work even harder in my profession.

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?
You have to stay true to who you are and know that you are living your life. You must follow your heart and do what you want. Of course you will face obstacles but those obstacles are what will make you stronger.

When you see others who may be better or stronger than you, see them as inspiration to grow, to get better. In order for them to be where they are now, they had to start somewhere. We all have different paths to take so never, compare yourself to others. Everyone has a purpose and your job is to not be afraid to fulfill that purpose! Because you must to take the first step…

Being young, juggling responsibilities while walking towards your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?
It’s very important to get your thoughts together when you have a lot to balance in your life. My way of regrouping is simply going upstairs to my room. I plop on my bed and take out my phone to listen to music. The songs I play depends on the mood I am feeling on that particular day. I can get my mind off of situations when I have my earphones on. When I do this I am able to tune out the world and focus on what’s important.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
The first thing that comes to my mind is community, coming up and working together with others to fulfill the purpose to inspire and uplift one another. When doing this you are able to empower others to create greatness. It makes a system where people are able to support each other. This sense of unity and teamwork gives others the strength to conquer anything! This can also apply to the world dance. You are never by yourself as a dancer. You are always connecting and learning from different choreographers. There is music. And there is always an audience. Dance is a collective and everything feeds off each other.

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?
Celebrity crush : Michael B Jordan
Artist : Michael Jackson
Favorite food: popcorn shrimp
Favorite movie : shark tales

Follow Najaah here!

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Najaah Malonne

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Meet Felicia Fitzpatrick!

When you combine a savvy social media eye, a love of story-telling + an addictive enthusiasm towards all things theatre, what do you get? The unstoppable Felicia Fitzpatrick! This millennial girl on-the-go has built a digital footprint showcasing her writing skills as well as her true appreciation for the performing arts. Currently, Felicia holds the fast-paced position of Social Media Manager of Playbill in NYC + creator of Call and Response podcast where she celebrates black performers in the arts.

Felicia graduated with a BA Theatre and a concentration in African American Performance from the University of Texas at Austin. She held a social media internship with DoSomething.org  as well as becoming the Editor-in-Chief of  Her Campus Texas!

Being a contributor to BuzzFeed and Femsplain, Felicia was able to continue to expand her writing and share her voice through different outlets. She has also consulted on freelance social media projects for Wet Seal Inc.,  University of Texas’ African and African Diaspora Studies Department, and the Maryland Leadership Workshop.

Let’s get to know Felicia a little better!

Photo credit: Lauren Khalfayan

Being the Social Media Manager of Playbill is an amazing position! How has your theatre background allowed you to connect with their thriving online community?

Growing up on the west coast with a single mom, trips to New York City (and seeing a Broadway show) were not an option. I was involved in the performing arts community in my town, but I secretly longed to be a part of the New York City scene. I would sit on my couch after my mom had gone to sleep and watch every YouTube video about Beauty and the Beast. I remember one video highlighted their opening night and I thought “WOW. How cool would it be to go to one of those?” Now, being Playbill’s social media manager, I cover every Broadway opening night and get to make Broadway accessible to those same kids who live outside of NYC and are longing to be a part of our community. That’s what I’m always thinking about when I’m making content for our online community. I remember what it was like to not only be pursuing dance and musical theatre myself, but what it was like to be a fan and want to have a community to talk to about it.

Being able to create social marketing strategies to covering star-studded events like The Tony Awards is a thrilling day! How do you create balance + win at time management throughout your daily sched?

Having a job in social media means you MUST be able to multitask. You have to quickly shift from analyzing data for your weekly social media report to tweeting breaking news to answering emails about an upcoming Snapchat takeover to animating an Instagram Story back to the social media report and then to running to a Broadway theatre to produce Facebook live-stream. It’s a rush! Being a social media team of one, I’ve learned that I HAVE to have a to-do list to keep my mind organized, otherwise it’s too easy to let things slip through the cracks. And in any job, I think you have to learn to prioritize. Some days you just can’t get it all done, so you have to ask yourself “What are my priorities today? What do I need to tackle right now because it supports my overall goals and strategies?”

Photo credit: Jemal Countess

Transitioning from a senior in college to landing a dream job can sometimes be a rocky journey, what advice would you give to current college students + graduating seniors to making it happen?

My advice is to trust the process. Every twist and turn your journey takes is for a reason. There’s a quote that says “God has three answers to prayers: ‘yes,’ ‘not yet,’ and ‘I have something better in mind.’” You may be set on a certain path, but sometimes the universe takes you on a detour to where you’re suppose to be, and eventually you’ll realize that’s where you want to be. For example, I always wanted to be a dancer in Alvin Ailey or a Broadway musical, and when I auditioned for NYU’s dance program, I got cut the first round. Then I applied to be a social media intern at Seventeen magazine, and I didn’t get it. I went to the University of Texas and eventually found my way back to NYC and now I get to combine my love performing arts and social media. I had to cultivate these different experiences that would lead me to this place.

You have your own podcast called Call And Response that explores + opens up the discussion of blackness in the world of performing arts. Why was it important for you to create an empowering platform to celebrate the power and beauty of black performers + artists?

There were three catalysts that inspired me to start the call and response podcast:

One, stems from the lack of racial diversity in the industry. Yes, Broadway is a very white industry to begin with, but I learned during my first year at Playbill that there are so many black artists in the industry who aren’t getting the visibility they deserve. I got dinner with Christian Dante White (currently in Hello, Dolly!) and we agreed that if you’re frustrated about a situation or circumstance, you can’t just complain, you have to proactively find a solution.

Two, soon after the 2016 Presidential election, I was having a conversation with a longtime friend about activism in the workplace. He asked how I was pushing for diversity and representation in the Broadway industry. I mentioned how I use Playbill’s platforms to highlight artists of color—whether it was simply choosing a photo of an artist of color for an Instagram post or asking an artist of color to host a Snapchat takeover. After that conversation I realized I wanted to do more. Being Playbill’s social media manager has afforded me a lot of resources and I wanted to distribute my access even more. How many young people would love—and need—to hear candid conversation and honest stories from black artists?

Three, this is the most selfish reason: I simply missed talking about black arts and humanities. I was a theatre and dance major with a concentration in African American performance, and I knew this would be an opportunity to flex my mind and revisit the theories and ideas I loved discussing in college.

It was after an Alvin Ailey performance that I knew I had to share the stories of black artists. I initially thought it could be a blog, but since the goal was to amplify their stories, why not literally give them a mic to amplify their voices?

Photo credit: Marc J. Franklin

You’ve written and shared your stories on numerous platforms! How can storytelling impact the world? How can social media be a tool to aid in storytelling?

Storytelling can make people feel less alone—you can say “Hey, I’ve gone through this experience, too, and it’s valid.” It can also provide a new perspective that gives people a chance to look outside their own bubble. Social media goes hand-in-hand with storytelling because it is a space with borderless connections—you can find people similar to you as well as be exposed to new ideas.

Being young, juggling responsibilities while walking towards your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?

Some people think it’s cheesy, but I love to journal. I’ve been writing in a journal since fifth grade and still have all of them. It helps me understand and process what I’m thinking/feeling/experiencing. Having all of my journals, I can easily flip back and reflect on more challenging moments to remind me if I got through that time, I can charge forward now. It’s a clear reminder to trust the process.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
Being empowered means knowing your own self-worth. That you can be unapologetically yourself. That you have to tools to achieve your goals. That you are strong enough can push through any challenge. That you have a seat at the table and can speak your truth.

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?

Ah! I don’t know if I can choose just one celeb crush! How about Sterling K. Brown, Janelle Monae, and Milo Ventimiglia as my top three? They’re all so driven, so talented, and attractive as hell!

Choosing my favorite musical artist is hard because I often just listen to musical cast albums… a few I’d recommend are In The Heights, Ragtime, The Last Five Years, and Spring Awakening. If not musicals, some of my go-to artists are Norah Jones, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, Michael Bublé, and Nina Simone.

This one is easy…my favorite food is pasta! Any kind! I could eat it everyday!

Surprise, surprise, it’s also hard for me to choose my favorite movie! It’s constantly evolving…but some that I could watch over and over? The Devil Wears Prada, The Parent Trap, and The Breakfast Club.

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Spotlight x Karen McCormick!

What happens when your passion for music + beautiful vocals perfectly collide? An undeniable artist full of creativity, talent + energy sprouts up on the scene named Karen McCormick! Her captivating voice + inviting guitar creates musical magic for her audience + listeners to enjoy while being inspired.

Homegrown country pop artist Karen McCormick is a Washington based singer and songwriter. Raised on the contemporary country sounds of Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill and more, Karen began honing her guitar and songwriting skills at the young age of 13. After posting videos of her performances to YouTube, Karen caught the attention of many new fans, including NBC The Voice’s Terry McDermott who invited her be the opening act at his show. She has amassed over 830,000 views worldwide and continues to interact with her growing fan base who is eager to hear the release of her highly anticipated debut single “Just A Song“ on March 16, and her debut EP due later this year.

Let’s get to know Karen a little better…

You first picked up a guitar and began your musical journey at the young age of 13! Why was it important for you to express yourself through song + music?
Up until I turned 13, we had moved around quite a bit. Music had been something that remained constant for me. I had joined the church choir, then joined the school choir, and it was evident that I loved singing. But when I started to play guitar and write my own songs, I found it was the easiest way for me to express myself and I didn’t want to stop!

You have created an amazing following with over 800,000 views on YouTube! How has social media played a role in building a community + sharing your gifts? And why is it important to be proactive in going for your dreams by creating your opportunities + not just waiting?
Social media is an amazing tool and platform — especially for independent artists like myself. Artists have the ability to reach international audiences without a record label! That’s incredible. I would feel like I was doing myself and potential listeners a disservice if I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that social media platforms can provide. More importantly, we only have one life and nothing is guaranteed — why not go all out for your dreams?

At the age of 22, you already have your debut single, “Just a Song” releasing on March 16th! Is it tough to tap into your emotions and pour your thoughts + vulnerabilities in your music?
I’ve actually found that music is the easiest place for me to be vulnerable and share my emotions. For me, if I write a song about a situation, then perform that song for an audience, every time it gets easier and easier — because I’ve processed the event and I’ve moved on. At that point, the song is for the audience. It’s for them to listen to and connect with and hopefully relate to.

You’ve opened for Terry McDermott of NBC’s The Voice + performed for countless festivals + concerts​, how does performing live inspire you in the music you write to connect with your listeners?
What I love about music is that it can bring together a group of people with completely different upbringing, ages, or beliefs. Music has no boundaries, no rules. When it comes to performing, if I’ve connected with just one person in the audience, I feel I’ve done my job. And I’m proud. As a songwriter, singer, entertainer, I feel my job is to help listeners forget about what is going on in their everyday lives and just have a good time during those two hours of my set.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
For me, empowerment is taking control of your life. I’ve wanted to sing since I was 16 years old, but along the way I’ve lacked confidence in myself and my ability to go after those aspirations. Now I’m 22, and I feel like I can accomplish my goals as long as I believe in myself and work hard. It’s realizing that you have the ability to create your own path and the only thing that can stop you, is you holding yourself back. So don’t! 😉

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?
It’s scary! I completely understand and 100% relate to being apprehensive to following your dreams. But think about it this way — what’s stopping you? In my case, it’s always been me holding myself back. No one else. You have the ability to make your dreams and passions come true, all you have to do, is do it. This year, I created a vision board for myself so I could have a visual representation of my goals and see them every day. It’s helped me so much! I wake up, see my goals, and ask myself, “What am I going to do today that will help me get one step closer to accomplishing these goals?”

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?
Celeb Crush: Nick Jonas! Ugh, I’ve been waiting for him to realize I exist since I was like, 13!
Artist: Carrie Underwood. She has mastered the balance of having an incredible career and a family. I love that about her.
Food: Pizza, pizza, and still pizza. Though I’m boring…my favorite flavor is cheese!
Movie: I don’t have a favorite movie, because I have several favorites! But one that I can never get tired of is 10 Things I Hate About You!

Make sure to download her DEBUT single “Just A Song” on iTunes on March 16th!

 

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Meet Alysia Johnson!

INSPIRE. MOVE. MOTIVATE! Dance is an infectious form of creativity that allows you to free your mind, body + spirit. Dancer Alysia Johnson bottles up inspiration from the world around her as she showcases her gift  of dance +  reflects the story of her generation. She is carving out her voice through her impactful moves + leaving a trail of inspiration and open doors behind her.

Alysia Johnson is a dancer, writer, choreographer, arts education advocate and a soon to be graduate from The Juilliard School in the Spring of 2018. Hailing from Dallas, Texas is where she attended Dallas Black Dance Theater and Booker T. Washington HSPVA before moving to New York. She has had the pleasure of performing works by Robert Battle, Dwight Rhoden, Kyle Abraham, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano and many other admirable choreographers. Her choreography was recognized by the National Foundation of the Arts, and she holds a passion for arts education near to her heart.

In June of 2015, Alysia founded Emerging Dancers of Dallas, a program catering to young artists in the DFW area and in her companies third year they launched their very first summer intensive August 2017.

Let’s get to know Alysia a little better!

Photo by Mikaela Kelly

Dance is powerful beyond belief + can enrich your life in numerous ways! What first attracted you to the world of dance? When did you know you wanted to pursue your passion?
I agree 100%! Dance is everywhere so it was almost impossible for me to not be attracted to it. It’s so hard for me to pinpoint when I first fell in love with dance because I’ve done it everyday for the past 8 years intensely and I am so lucky to get to do what I love. I remember one moment when I was certain that I wanted do perform and dance everyday. There was a long period of time where I was injured and doctors were telling me I shouldn’t dance and looking back I didn’t even give that kind of rhetoric a second chance. I remember just searching to find doctors who believed in me and the art form just as much as I did because I knew that I HAD to be a dancer.

Soon to be a graduate from The Juilliard School this upcoming spring, what was your proudest moment? Was the transition to NYC a difficult jump to make while perfecting your craft?
I’ve recently been working very hard on developing a consistent and confident voice and speaking up about things I am passionate about is something I am very proud of. My proudest moment to date was probably when the Dean asked me and a few other students to join the Student Committee search for the next president of the school. I hadn’t been much of a talker but I had shown my interest in arts education and the school took me seriously.

The transition was actually super easy, I adapt and accept change pretty well and I was fortunate to have my high school best friends not too far away from in the city to help with any hardships.

You founded Emerging Dancers of Dallas, a program catering to young artists in the DFW area. Why was it important to create a space + opportunity for young artists to flourish in the Dallas area?
Creating EDD is one of my proudest accomplishments. I am a direct product of the Dallas Arts community and I wouldn’t be where I am without their constant support. Leaving home and moving to NYC taught me a lot about the importance of having a stable and nurturing environment that will see you through trials, process and all the way to an end product if that’s what the artist chooses. Dallas has produces incredible artists and EDD is a reminder of how the youth has and will continually contributes to that. Young artists have a sense of fearlessness and if I can help cultivate that for as long as possible through art and education, then I’m doing a small part for the bigger picture.

Photo by Eddie Eng

Being young, juggling responsibilities while walking towards your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?
I like to say I’m pretty good at staying calm and collected even when things can seem a little overwhelming, but the truth is there have been times especially as a working student where I’ve felt in over my head about future projects and new pieces I’m working on. There’s a few things I do when I feel like I’m getting into an unproductive or negative headspace. I stop completely and take a break from what I’m doing because at that point you’ll on fluster yourself more. When I’m feeling defeated I use a lot of self-talk and positive affirmation reminding myself that the moments where I feel discouraged or defeated do not make up my DNA. I try to nip those feelings in the bud as soon as I can and maybe talk it out with a friend, it’s best to not let those temporary moments fester and keep you down longer than they have too.

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you?
Oh my goodness you can draw inspiration from so many people and places. Living in NYC has inspired me to be a little bit more adventurous and risk-taking for sure. My mother has an incredible amount of perseverance and an A+ work ethic and I’m grateful that it has rubbed off on me. Once you start noticing and appreciating the strengths in the differences amongst people, you can get inspiration in people that can carry you through your tough days and weeks.

Photo by Omar Zobles

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?
When I hear the word ’empowerment’ I automatically associate education and inclusion with it. There’s so much information available now with social media and the internet it’s a great way to connect and find people who you can identify with. There’s nothing more powerful than a person or group of people who remains a vessel to all of the information out there. It’s such an artsy thing to say, but empowerment and success don’t come from degrading other people and their ideas, it comes from growing through understanding and empathy.

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?
If you are nervous or intimidated by failure, try looking at it as an opportunity to grow and learn from the process/outcome. Don’t anticipate failure, give yourself a chance. You have to be the biggest advocate for yourself!

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?
Ooh my celeb crush differs by the week but the most consistent is Beyoncé. How could I not say that? My favorite artist is a recent writer I came across Nayyirah Waheed, she finds ways to say things I’ve been thinking and makes it poetry. I am a huge fan of French fries, actually almost all things potato involved haha. My favorite movie has been Colombiana for sometime now. Zoe Saldana plays the main character and I love the plot!!

Check out more of Alysia here:

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Meet Shaiann Hogan!

How do you add flavor + style to your look with just a few strokes? Beautiful shades of nail polish, of course! Teen beautypreneur, Shaiann Hogan, created the vibrant + fun collection Shai’s World 5 Free Nail to express herself while showcasing her passion. Founded in August 2013, the LA based teenpreneur launched her beauty biz + went on to open her first online boutique carving out and creating her own lane of fashion forward colors. Both vegan + cruelty-free, this collection will have you + your style looking flawless while feeling good!

Let’s get to know Shai a little better..

You have such a vibrant selection of nail colors perfect for every season, what motivated you to launch Shai’s World?

What motivated me to launch Shai’s World is because I love everything “beauty”. My mom found a video that I created on my i-touch some years ago where I was using her make-up. She was highly upset but saw great potential within me and showed me how to create my own indie polish. I love creating my own colors and getting great responses and reviews from customers and not to mention the pretty glitter colors.

Being a teenpreneur is such an awesome accomplishment, what do you love most about owning + running your own business?

What I love most about running my business is making my own colors, especially the glitter polishes and making a profit doing what I LOVE!

Being young and having responsibilities can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated?

The way I regroup and stay motivated is by way of cheer, hanging out with my friends and taking a “rest” day. I enjoy my childhood years and told my parents that I want to enjoy my teenage years while working on my business.

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

Besides my grandmother & my mom, Michelle Obama inspires me. I love her and how she responds to people as she knows what she is worth. I love that about her and it has helped me to recognize my worth as well.

We are all about empowerment, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you?

Empowerment means to me, to inspire and/or reform. Make a change in the world. Inspire others to go after their dreams and help one another.

What advice would you give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions but are nervous or intimidated?

The advice that I would give girls who want to follow their dreams and passions who are nervous are to be GREATER than their fears. In other words, there is GREATNESS within you and if never look at your fears face to face, you will never know what’s on the other side of fear that could possibly take you to the next level.

Time for faves! Celeb Crush? Artist? Food? Movie?

My celebrity crush : Michael Ealy
Favorite Artist : Chris Brown
Favorite food : Ceviche
Favorite Movie: Finding Dory

Check out more here!

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