Saturday, August 28, 2010

MY STORY... Artist, Educator, Social Justice Advocate, Entrepreneur

I am an artist, educator, entreprenuer and social justice advocate and my proudest accomplishment to date was founding MessageMedia Ed in January of 2008.

I am the product of early arts and cultural intervention. My mother, a single elementary school teacher, exposed me to Suzuki Violin, Classical Ballet and African Dance at the early age of four years old. While attending Westlake

School for Girls (now Harvard Westlake school), I enjoyed influential guest lectures from Gloria Steinem, Shirley

Chisolm, Betty Shabazz and Maya Angelou during school, and played an active role in protest marches outside of

school for issues including the apartheid in South Africa and homelessness in Los Angeles. I entered Spelman,

historically Black women’s college in Atlanta, Georgia, toured with their dance company and immersed myself in their rich, cultural and sisterhood environment. Ultimately changing my academic focus, I transferred to Loyola Marymount University. I found my voice through television studies, interned at MTV, Geffen and Sony Records and obtained a BA in Communication Arts, Television Production in 1996.

I produced my first broadcast TV show in 1996, Urban Nights, which was nominated for a Billboard Music Video

Show Award in 1998 and received Nielson ratings reported at 10,000 viewers. I partnered with Geronimo Films in

1998 and continued producing Urban Nights for 2 years with hip hop producer, Dr. Dre and music video director Philip Atwell. Over the course of 4 years, I also worked as a Set Photographer for music videos featuring Snoop Dogg and Eminem. At the height of my career in music video/TV production, I became acutely sensitive to the media messages I took part in producing, understanding the influence on the minds of the youth who consumed their music and the impact on the Black community. In 2000, I left the entertainment business to work with youth; created UrbanRising Entertainment to develop, promote and showcase independent artists; became the co-event

producer of the Annual Los Angeles Malcolm X Arts, Culture & Education Festival and the Co-Founder of Artists for Justice and Liberation; and Co-Executive produced/marketed broadcast TV show,Tha Zone TV, to highlight local, culturally conscious artists throughout Los Angeles.

For the last 10 years, I have strategically utilized the tools of arts/media education to lead the design and

implementation of intervention, mentoring and empowerment programming for youth development entities including LA and Long Beach Unified School District, LA County Office of Education, LA Bridges Gang Intervention Program, Theatre of Hearts/Youth First, Conservation Corps of Long Beach, Inside Out Community Arts, and other nonprofit organizations. As Founder/Executive Director of Message Media Ed, I am able to combine my

personal/professional background and experience to provide culturally conscious, interdisciplinary, professional

development workshops for youth, adults and seniors of African descent, designed to close digital, intergenerational and economic divides, and produce Black leadership for the Digital Age.

I am a proud community leader, wife and native of Leimert Park (the last remaining majority Black community in LA). I am currently pursuing a Doctorate in Education at my alma mater, Loyola Marymount University, and in 2008 obtained a Masters in Organizational Management & Leadership from Springfield College.

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