Posts tagged with "LGBTQ+"

QxA Davis Mallory

By Vaughn Lowery and Hannah DiPilato

Davis Mallory from MTV’s The Real World, discusses his struggle with alcoholism as well as how far he has come in his career. 

360 Magazine recently had the opportunity to sit down with Davis Mallory, a contestant from The Real World on MTV. He is now pursuing a music career while educating others about alcoholism. As an openly gay Christian, he hoped to share his story with others as a television personality as well as a musician. 

What was it like being on MTV’s The Real World Season 18? Any regrets? Do you still stay in contact with other cast members?

I was a senior in college, 21-years-old, when I auditioned for and was cast on MTV’s 18th season of the Real World, located in Denver Colorado. I was a fan of the show and had just come out of the closet to my classmates that summer. I felt that I had an interesting story to tell – being a Christian and openly gay was not something I had not seen on TV before – and I wanted to prove you could be both, while also showcasing a more masculine image of homosexuality than was often shown on TV.

Immediately after the show ended I flew around to colleges in the USA discussing and often debating Biblical professors in front of a student body; dissecting Bible verses and their interpretations on homosexuality. My grandfather James Davis Mallory JR (whom I’m named after) is a Christian author and psychiatrist – and so I was raised very orthodox – Southern Baptist. I found this time to be very rewarding and something I’m proud of – to date I still receive messages from viewers of the show expressing their gratitude for my story on The Real World.

I of course have regrets during my time on the show – I think most people who have done that show in their 20s will tell you they regret things they did or said. We were all heavily fed alcohol which created chaos, confusion, fights and hookups. I’m still close with several cast members, two of them live in Nashville so I see them most often. Tori Hall, who was on Road Rules and married Brad Fiorenza (I attended their wedding) and Brooke Labarbera, who was on my season of the Real World are two people I remain close with and I spent much of this summer 2020 with both of them!

What led up to you having an issue with drugs and alcohol? How’s life after sobriety? Are there any triggers that make it difficult to remain sober?

When I was younger (before trying alcohol) my mother told me to NEVER drink, instead of teaching me how to drink. This was because my parent’s divorce was caused in part by my father’s alcoholism. When I went off to college, I got drunk for the first time and I quickly progressed into blacking out when I drank. I would sometimes wake up the next morning and hearing stories from my friends about stupid things I said or did the night before. I tried to get that under control by lowering the amount of alcohol I drank and by not drinking hard alcohol.

I went through many chapters of my life taking breaks from drinking and reducing my alcohol intake. My father has now been completely sober for over a decade and his example is a big inspiration in my own decision to completely quit drinking. I’ve now been sober for 4 years. After reaching my 1-year mark of sobriety I had a big regret – that I hadn’t quit earlier. I felt so much better – I looked so much better and I just wished I had fully quit earlier in my life.

Thankfully, perhaps due to God or just growing up, I have ZERO temptation to drink anymore. I’m constantly reminded why I quit when I see other people’s struggles with alcohol. I have seen people wheeled off in an ambulance with alcohol poisoning, I’ve had close friends die from alcohol poisoning, a friend’s mother recently did; another close friend died from an overdose of drugs mixed with fentanyl recently. These everyday reminders keep me sober.

I really wish our society didn’t glorify drinking in movies/commercials/music, because the downfall from alcohol is not being taught to children: accidentally death, liver disease, the fighting it causes, relationships ruined, horrible, absent or addicted parents, job losses, physical damage it does to our bodies and faces are never shown in these alcohol commercials.

What was it like growing up with an uncle who had access to major recording artists like Wynonna Judd? Did that experience help shape you into the artist you are today? If so, how?

My uncle Chaz managed pop artist Amy Grant for many years and still manages Christian recording artist Michael W. Smith. My uncle John Mallory wrote songs for artists Wynonna Judd, Sixpence None the Richer, Ty Herndon and more. I  grew up in the music industry, attending a lot of these artist’s concerts and meeting them – I spent summers on Amy Grant’s farm in Nashville – I was a huge fan of her and Michael W. Smith.

As a kid I dreamt of being a singer and wanted to have careers like theirs – my positive message songs “Faith,” “Not That Far Away” “Lost” and “Somebody’s Watching” are examples of songs influenced by Amy & Michael’s music. I did not expect to become a songwriter. How songs were written was a mystery as a kid – I knew singers sang them but didn’t know how they were created. When I started out on this journey to becoming a recording artist I had to watch and learn from others in numerous songwriting sessions until I really got the hang of doing it myself.

During your first year in Nashville, one of your former cast members (Diem Brown) passed away from cancer. How did their loss impact your life at the time?

Diem Brown passed away in 2014 – I moved to Nashville at the end end of 2013 – so I had just started my journey into songwriting. My first original released song is titled “Beautiful Girl’s (Diem’s Song)”, a song I wrote about Diem with award-winning songwriters Ben Goldsmith and Tori Tullier. The song debuted in People Magazine, where Diem was a news reporter and received press in E! News, US Weekly and more outlets.

Diem and I grew up in nearby parts of Georgia (I’m from Marietta, she’s from Roswell – just 15 min away) although we did not meet until we did the show. Diem was a sorority sister with my mother’s best friend’s daughter, Carly Hartwick, who first introduced us over email prior to our meeting in person for the first time when Diem and I did an MTV Challenge together: The Duel II in New Zealand.

Diem and I gave a school speech together where she shared wisdom on pursuing one’s career goals by interviewing those with the same job, Diem becoming a News Anchor where she met her idol Katie Couric to ask questions on how to get to Katie’s place in life. Diem’s speech really inspired me as I chased after my own career dreams in music, so when she lost her battle to cancer I was deeply saddened and wrote the song to memorialize her through music. Her sisters’ often use the song on the anniversary of her death, which I’m always touched to see.

You grew up in Atlanta but now reside in Nashville. Do you prefer one city over the other? If so why?

I was born in Atlanta and raised in a suburb of Atlanta called Marietta. After attending college in Florida at Stetson University, I returned to Atlanta for 2 years before moving to NYC. I have not lived in Atlanta since 2009; however, I return every year to see my family who still live there. It’s changed a lot, the movie industry was not there when I left, and in my song titled “Atlanta,” the first song on my upcoming album Little Victory, I talk about my journey from Atlanta to New York and now Nashville with a longing for my hometown and noticing how much the city has changed.

I moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music, hearing it was a land full of songwriters. The things I really like about Nashville are the people and culture here. There are really great moralistic people here and I am thankful for that as it’s a safe great place to live. Nashville is like going to college in the music industry – people in all stages of their careers are here and many are willing to collaborate. I would not be where I am today if not for Nashville.

What are some of your musical inspirations? Can you name a few people that have inspired you or who continue to inspire you?

Aside from mainstream pop artists like Britney Spears, George Michael, NSYNC, Michael Jackson, Robyn, Prince, Mariah Carey, the real-life connections that have influenced my career include Parson James (vocalist on Kygo’s “Stole the Show”) who is one of the first people I wrote music with. We met in NYC in 2013, I followed him to Los Angeles to write with him and moved to Nashville prompted by advice from his then-manager who thought I sounded like a Country artist.

Roger Murrah (BMI Songwriter of the Decade and writer of several Country music #1s) is one of the first people I met when I moved to Nashville. At the time I was still learning how to write songs, so I watched him work in several sessions and I began to understand how to write the way he did.

Scot Sax (Grammy-winning songwriter for Tim McGraw/Faith Hill’s “Like We Never Loved At All”) is another person who was very influential on my songwriting journey – he taught me how the B52s recorded “Love Shack” in a go-as-you-flow style recording their ideas on the spot to build the song.

Aside from these few names, I have been in over 300 songwriting sessions, and I’ve traveled writing music in Europe (Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Malmo, London, Amsterdam), New York and Los Angeles. Everyone along the way has taught me something, a new trick or technique to writing music or producing music and I’m thankful for everyone who has worked with me.

As a songwriter, how do you come up with themes? Is your music based on an isolated experience or a chapter of your life?

I keep an ongoing note on my phone called Songwriting Ideas so that whenever I get an idea for a song I write it down there. I then bring these ideas into songwriting sessions to get something started. Sometimes I get a melody (occasionally during a dream) and record these on my phone, using it as another tool to get songs started.

In 2018 music publicist, Lyndie Wenner asked me what my most popular social media posts were – to which I replied: shirtless photos of myself. So she told me I needed to write a song called “Shirtless” and I did, releasing that song in 2019. This conversation with Lyndie changed the way I wrote songs. Before I was writing broader subjects, and after I began to write more about the things I saw my audience interested in. I still observe that the things I write about center around one of 4 themes: 1. God and my faith; 2. Love lost of found; 3. Partying and dancing, of 4. Overcoming addictions.

Another influential person in my songwriting career is PollyAnna (Dutch pop/EDM vocalist, songwriter of Paris Hilton’s new song “I Blame You”). I spent a summer writing with her in Nashville, Los Angeles and Berlin and  I observed her taking random phrases we said in conversations and writing them down for future songwriting materials. I now do the same, whenever something unusual is said in a conversation. PollyAnna and I wrote a song together in Berlin called “Without You, I Feel Good”, which has now been signed to Soave Records, produced by a DJ named Nexeri, and coming out on February 26, 2021.

What words of wisdom would you offer an emerging artist who is trying to break into the business?

The words “If you build it they will come” from the great baseball movie Field of Dreams, is a motto that holds a strong place in my mind regarding my strategy to release music and gradually having people discover your work. I have a business model of writing songs and selling them to DJ/producers and I think this is a great move for up-and-coming singers to build a name for themselves.

My first job after college (post-Real World) was a sales job that required reaching out to 100 potential customers every day with the expectation that between 1-10 would buy something – I now use this strategy in my music career in so many facets and find the same results.

Is there anything you would like to speak about that we didn’t already touch on? What can your fans look forward to?

2020 was set to have me perform in Germany, Boston, Chicago, Palm Springs, North Carolina but the shows were of course canceled due to the pandemic. I look forward to getting back to touring though and to meet more people who have been asking when I will be in their city. I have been spending the last year working on new music with DJs, finally releasing the sophomore album that I have been alluding to and even developing an idea for a third project of which some of the songs are ready 🙂

Little Victory is an upcoming single/video that you’re pushing. It’s an extremely inspirational piece of work about someone feeling like a fish out of water. What prompted such a piece?

I wrote “Little Victory” after returning from Israel where I had met and was at the time long-distance dating Israeli singer-songwriter Elhay Cohen, the song idea came from my co-writer: female Canadian producer and songwriter Robyn Dell’Unto. December 2020 French DJ RetroVision released a version of this song on Don Diablo’s record label Hexagon and the original version is going on my forthcoming album of the same name.

Retrovision, Davis Mallory – Little Victory 

Little Victory Music Video 

Little Victory single 

Pre-Save for the album Little Victory

Here is a private SoundCloud tracklisting for the “Little Victory” album:

  1. Atlanta –a song I wrote about my hometown, my journey to NYC and Nashville to pursue music – with nostalgia for Atlanta – the city where I had my first heartbreak and how much the city has changed since I left (it’s now a film industry).
  2. Ain’t Afraid – features a big name in the EDM industry Luma (Seven Lions, Nurko, Zack Martino) – who I co-wrote the song with – it’s about not being afraid to fall in love
  3. Little Victory– co-written with and produced by female Canadian artist Robyn Dell’Unto – a remix of this song made by French artist RetroVision released on Don Diablo’s label Hexagon. “Little Victory” is about a summer romance with my Israeli ex who I met after I opened for Eurovision winner Netta who told me I had to visit Israel.
  4. Fire Signs – features Miss Audrey the Katy Perry-inspired Best Pop Artist at the Nashville Industry Music Awards, I wrote this song in Sweden about zodiac chemistry compatibility – I’m a Leo and Miss Audrey an Aries, we’re both Fire Signs.
  5. Shirtless– this is a new Countrified mix of the song that aired on MTV’s War of the Worlds and became the theme song for men’s swimwear line: Poolboy
  6. Heavy – features an all LGBTQ identifying cast – with vocalist Blake Leider and rapper Daisha McBride – discusses why relationships have to be so heavy, produced by Danish Aren Anderson and Ukrainian Depdramez.
  7. Can You Tell Me?– produced by Canadian artist BLEM and written in Berlin with Vincent Stefansson and Valentin Glage – “Can You Tell Me?” is about being ghosted. Where does all the love go in this modern era when two people separate and the romance suddenly dies.
  8. Say You Hate Me– written in Sweden the same week as “Fire Signs” “Shirtless” and previously released single “Jane Fonda” – “Say You Hate Me” is a very Britney Spears/NSYNC-style Swedish pop song co-written with and produced by Magnus Funemyr about a relationship that has grown stale.
  9. Sink or Swim – with references to Madonna, Beyonce’s “hot sauce,” and Whitney Houston’s “receipts” – “Sink or Swim” is about a cheating partner and the end of a relationship, produced by Option A. Music video coming by Russian filmmaker Dmitry Zhitov.
  10. Forget You– co-written with Nashville female EDM vocalists Notelle & Luma, produced by artist Swiss DJ FENOX – “Forget You” is about the end of a relationship and having a hard time letting go of the memories.
  11. Broken Dreams– this unreleased version by Ukrainian producer Depdramez – was co-written with pop artist Drew Schueler – tells the story of all the hard work artists put into chasing their dreams of stardom.
  12. Faith – written in 2020 at the start of this pandemic with American Idol contestant Madeline Finn, “Faith” is an uplifting anthem giving hope for all to not lose their faith in these trying times, produced by Austrian producer Jakob Koller.

The music video for Can You Tell Me?” is scheduled to release on 2/19/2021

Asian-American LGBTQ+ Actor Slays Stereotypes in Monsters of Man

Mark Toia’s Monster’s of Man has been crushing the online streaming service game, sitting on AppleTV’s Top Movies, Top Rentals, Highlights, and currently ranking in the top 200 movies on IMDb having just debuted on December 8th, 2020.

Hawaiian/Korean-American actor Conrad K. Pratt from Kāne’ohe, Hawai’i (Hawai’i Five-O, The Wolverine, GLEE, The Real O’Neals) was approached by production initially to play Bao, one of the medical students the film centers around. After learning that he had an extensive background in dance, motion capture and stunts, Toia quickly offered him the roles of the four killer robots as well. Pratt’s physicality was highlighted several times throughout the film, mostly in his cat and mouse chase through the Cambodian jungle and several of the robot-on-robot fight sequences.

“My dance and theatre background really helped me in creating these characters. I was incredibly honored that Mark has trusted me with the movements of our antagonists, as any sort of robot movement can go cheesy unbelievably quick. Working on Monsters of Man, we actually shot in the Cambodian jungle so I was lucky to have the surroundings right there for me. On a normal Mo-Cap shoot, you’re on a blue screen stage and it’s up to you to create that masterpiece around you. A project like Avatar would be such a wild experience and challenge, one that I would love to take on one day.”

The stigma surrounding masculinity in both the Asian-American and LGBTQ+ communities seem to not deter Pratt from forging on in his career. Given that he’s competing in Caucasian and heterosexually dominant avenues of Hollywood, it actually seems to be doing the exact opposite.

“I think the words ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are so unbelievably dated. Who gives a flying ‘you know what.’ It’s an opinion, there’s no right answer. I do, however, believe that both the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities are being better represented and more visible across the entertainment spectrum. To represent both of my communities on a project of this scale was an absolute privilege and I look forward to crushing these ‘masculine/feminine’ stereotypes by just being unapologetically me.”

Monsters of Man is now available world-wide on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Vimeo On Demand, YouTube, Google Play, and XBOX with more streaming services being added in the future.

Rita Azar Illustrates an Entertainment Article for 360 MAGAZINE

ABC’S LOCALISH ANNOUNCES ‘OUTstanding’

Localish introduces a limited digital series OUTstanding” executive produced and hosted by award-winning “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson on Localish.com on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

The limited series consists of five episodes focusing on LGBTQ individuals throughout the country making major contributions to their communities. Grounded in its mission to bring out the good in cities across America, each episode will highlight resilient and inspiring LGBTQ individuals ranging from a gay couple adopting a teenager during the COVID-19 pandemic and a bisexual country singer/songwriter to a business owner/winemaker and local activists who are unapologetically “OUTstanding.”

“These people have been inspirations in their own communities for years and I can’t wait for more people to get to know them,” said Michael Koenigs, executive producer of the Localish Network. “Their remarkable lives and uplifting stories are just the thing we need right now!”

“Jesse has been such a tireless advocate for LGBTQ issues over the years and brought so much personal energy to this project,” continued Koenigs. “By featuring extraordinary LGBTQ families in all different corners of this country, we’re excited to inspire audiences with real examples of leaders trailblazing more inclusive paths in their communities.”

With producers based in major cities across the U.S., Localish worked with Ferguson to identify and remotely film LGBTQ individuals who faced major challenges, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives.

“The pandemic forced us to rethink our approach to production, but it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for telling amazing stories that make us proud of our neighbors,” added Koenigs.

In addition to streaming on Localish’s digital-owned platform Localish.com, the series will post one episode a week on Localish’s social platforms with cross-promotion on Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s social media platforms @jessetyler on both Instagram and Twitter, and on ABC Owned Television Stations’ 32 connected TV apps across Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku.

Episodes include the following:

  • Episode 1 – Record-Breaking Zoom Adoption:  The Beanblossoms fostered their now-son Michael for a year before adopting him, during the pandemic, in what became the biggest Zoom adoption ever. During this time, the  Beanblossoms lost their home in a fire and now look to the future to build a new house that meets the needs of their growing family.
  • Episode 2 Queer Country Star:  Sarah Shook grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family rural in North Carolina where she was only allowed to listen to classical and worship music. Shook identifies as bisexual and is politically active in supporting LGBT and civil rights causes. Sarah Shook formed a country band, the Disarmers, with an outspoken message for all.
  • Episode 3 Formerly Homeless Activist: Young, Black, gay and homeless, TyRon Jackson used to think he didn’t matter. Now his work speaks for itself.  His nonprofit Operation Warm Wishes (OWW) has been giving back to those in need for 13 years. Unbeknownst to him, his community has come together to surprise him with a life-changing gift.
  • Episode 4 Trailblazing Winemaker: Winemaker Krista Scruggs has a history of defying expectations. She’s a young, queer Black woman who has chosen to make wine in Vermont that is uniquely made from biodynamically farmed grapes, sometimes co-fermented with foraged apples to create a singular hybrid style. After founding her own label, Zafa Wines, one of her first bottlings, a provocatively named sparkler called Jungle Fever, sold out quickly in its 2017 debut. She was quickly recognized in the industry as a wine wunderkind.
  • Episode 5 – Meet the Chicken Lady:  Ken Thomason was born in rural Indiana where there was a church on every street corner. Feeling displaced in a small city, Ken moved to California where he met his first best friend who later sadly passed away of AIDS. Before his death, Ken’s best friend gifted him a chicken plush toy. In his honor Ken rode in a week-long fundraiser bike ride, the AIDS LifeCycle, from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Thus Ken’s alter ego The Chicken Lady was hatched.

Joining the team behind “OUTstanding” include Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Justin Mikita, Amy Rice, Craig Gartner, and Michael Koenigs as executive producers, Chris Casey as production manager, Georgia Krause as producer, and Elie Sokoloff as editorial producer.

Follow Localish (#Localish) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. View additional Localish series at abc.com/shows/localish.

Localish is a multiplatform lifestyle brand from the ABC Owned Television Stations aimed at bringing out the good in cities across America through positive, feel-good storytelling. A digital native brand launched in September 2018, Localish expanded on Feb. 17, 2020, and debuted its broadcast home in eight top markets across the country.

Localish has produced over 3,000 pieces of digital video, totaling more than 400 million video views, with 60% of its audience under the age of 44. Most recently honored with the 2019 Innovator Award – the highest distinction among TVNewsCheck’s annual Social Media Excellence Awards – Localish was credited for its forward-minded ideas, sleek execution and all-around positive impact.

As a broadcast network, Localish expanded its short-form series of local storytelling into long-form programming to reach approximately 14 million households across America. The brand also continues to debut stories on localish.com, ABC digital platforms and social media platforms, as it transcends city limits and inspires its audience to live like a local wherever they are.

Keep up with Localish on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Black Lives Matter for 360 Magazine by Symara Briel Wilson

Black Lives Matter in Pittsburgh

By: Symara Wilson

In the last five months, protests have sparked across the world in response to several devastating acts of injustice against black people. It began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, home to George Floyd, a man killed by three Minneapolis police officers after allegedly trying to make a purchase with a counterfeit bill. Officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were all charged in the murder of George Floyd. From that moment, protests and riots erupted across the nation and even ventured beyond the United States. Unfortunately, George Floyd wasn’t the only killing prompting outrage. Countless other incidents have occurred since then, and even those resurfacing from years before fuel the momentum of the movement. Black people being unjustly killed by police has been an act of violence prevalent in the media as of recent years. Now, people are no longer staying silent on how they feel. Millions of people have come together everywhere in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

As protests erupted across the United States, four months have passed and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is still going strong in their fight for justice—and this sadly isn’t the first time. In June of 2018, 17-year old Antwon Rose ll was shot in the back in East Pittsburgh by officer Michael Rosfield, who was not found guilty, even though Antwon was unarmed. Protests filled the streets that summer and fast forward years later, Pittsburgh still marches for Antwon and several others. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain, Robert Fuller, Rayshard Brooks, Oluwatoyin Salau, Daniel Prude and Jacob Blake compile just a small list of Black lives that have been at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement recently.

Protests in Pittsburgh have gone on for a consecutive 16 weeks. Started by Black, Young, And Educated, “Civil Saturdays” were youth-led protests that called for the amendment of PA Section 508, which is the justification for the use of force (even deadly) by law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania. Black, Young, And Educated is one of several black-led organizations in Pittsburgh fighting to make a difference in the community. Though Civil Saturdays have recently ended, protests in the city are not letting up.

Some other Black organizations are Pittsburgh Feminists for Intersectionality, an organization created to promote intersectional feminism, and SisTers, a Black and trans-led organization providing education and resources to local transgender, non-binary, and other gender-nonconforming individuals, as well as helping with transitioning and providing shelter. Protests in support of Black trans lives have been happening in Pittsburgh recently as well. With how big the Black Lives Matter movement has gotten; the Black Trans Lives Matter movement has also grown in notability and is just as important.

Crimes against those who are transgender are often times swept under the rug and don not receive attention in the media. We already know anti-transgender violence is not a new occurrence, but according to a 2018 report from the Human Rights Campaign, we also know that “it disproportionately impacts young transgender women of color, and we can identify common risk factors shared among many of its victims.” It is even said that the life expectancy of Black trans women is just 35 years old. Why do Black trans women and men face an alarmingly greater rate of violence than those who are white and/or cisgender? This is where the importance of intersectionality within activism lies.

The term “intersectionality” has caught on more in recent years, but has been around since 1989, coined by law professor, Kimberlé Crenshaw. In a paper, she argued Black women face more discrimination because of racism and sexism within our society. Since then, the term has grown and shows us that oppression can come from multiple sources. Race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and physical ability all play a part in intersectionality. In order to progress, we have to look at the way oppression overlaps, and appreciate the reality that certain marginalized groups are more susceptible to violence and discrimination than others. This is why organizations like Pittsburgh Feminists for Intersectionality and SisTers are crucial to provide advocacy and resources for the LGBTQ+ community. Tony McDade, Riah Milton, Tete Gulley, Dominique Fells, Aaliyah Denise Johnson, Nina Pop, and Monika Diamond are just a few examples of Black trans lives lost this year that protestors have also been marching for. Their stories deserve just as much attention, as well as justice.

So, when will justice finally be served?

It’s no secret that America has a very long way to go when it comes to repairing a system that was built on racism since the beginning. The Supreme Court’s recent upsetting decision in the Breonna Taylor case has only motivated protestors all over the country, especially in Breonna’s home of Louisville, Kentucky. Brett Hankison, only one of three officers involved, was indicted on charges for shooting into the neighbor’s house, not for the actual murder of Breonna in her sleep. Therefore, the end of the fight for equality is still nowhere in sight. Although many argue that the protests are doing nothing to help the movement, Elijah McClain’s case being reopened and the Supreme Court choosing to further investigate Breonna Taylor’s case demonstrates actions matter. Sharing resources, donating, making calls and emails to officials, protesting, signing petitions— it all counts.. There is much more to be done here and America’s youth has shown the world that they are not letting up anytime soon.

FLETCHER and Trevor Daniel featured by 360 Magazine

FLETCHER’s Bitter New Single

Today, the American singer and songwriter FLETCHER brings the music world her new single “Bitter”; the song is a collaboration with Billboard charting artist Trevor Daniel and was produced by DJ and producer Kito. Released through Capitol Records, the single is a standout track from FLETCHER’s acclaimed new EP, THE S(EX) TAPES. The album was leaked only two weeks ago and hit number one on iTunes across every genre. 

The new single already has 30 million global streams to date and focuses on FLETCHER’s sharp, intricate lyrics and mesmerizing vocals. The song’s addition of Trevor Daniel amplifies the track’s raw emotions. Daniel, an artist originally from Houston, is known for his multi-platinum hit Falling and recent single “Past Life” with Selena Gomez. 

This single is a breakthrough for FLETCHER because this single marks the first time she’s ever decided to collaborate with a male artist. This decision coincides with her belief in using her creative output as a way to explore herself, her sexuality and the world around her.

“Trevor and I slid into each other’s DMs about being fans of one another. He’s such a visionary artist and I jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with him.” FLETCHER commented in a press release. “Trevor was able to bring a whole new perspective to the song and I guess we’re both still Bitter about our exes.”

FLETCHER has always created a diverse and inclusive space for creation and she channeled this with the creation of her music video for “Bitter.” The video was written, produced, and directed by female director Brooke James. A crew of women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community helped edit the video. 

In the cinematic creation of “Bitter,” FLETCHER is shown in a control room replaying surveillance camera footage of strangers in a hotel who are unaware of the cameras. Daniel co-stars in the video and model and artist Mads Paige is also featured. Each of the three characters in the “Bitter” video are seen having individual journeys of exploration, identity, loss and healing while all of their stories overlap. The video is loosely inspired by the erotic thriller Sliver; however, FLETCHER switches the original gender roles of the film. This change adds a new dimension of sexual representation, rawness and attraction to the song’s narrative of emotional recovery and sexual exploration. 

“Throughout the video, I wanted to explore the themes of masculine and feminine energy in terms of self-discovery. It is about the fear of knowing you need to go out and explore the world and your relationship with yourself, but being afraid that your person will find somebody new in the process,” explained FLETCHER. “I’ve never understood the saying if you love something, let it go until now. That’s life though. It’s petty, it’s Bitter it’s true and sometimes the truth has to hurt.” 

THE S(EX) TAPES EP is An unfiltered look into FLETCHER’s world and shows her personal expression. The collection of magnetic and moody pop songs are all about feeling like you’ve found your forever person but without discovering yourself first. She plays on the feeling of needing to find out more about yourself before giving your all to somebody else.

Since its debut in September, FLETCHER’s EP has already earned critical acclaim from a variety of outlets. like Nylon Magazine praised THE S(EX) TAPES as “perfectly messy pop” and Spin noted, “there aren’t any rules when it comes to FLETCHER’s music.” THE S(EX) TAPES is “bawdy and brilliant, a welcome injection of chaos and funk into the pop landscape,” according to Paper Magazine. The EP was executive-produced by Malay who has also worked with icons such as Lorde and Frank Ocean and was co-written by FLETCHER and her girl gang of songwriters including Caroline Ailin, Emily Warren, Mozella, Jennifer Decilveo, Ilsey Juber, and more.

Listen to FLETCHER’s new single here and watch the provocative music video on Youtube. Look out for updates and new music releases on her website. You can also keep up with FLETCHER on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

360 Magazine, Chadwick Journals

“The Chadwick Journals” QxA

“The Chadwick Journals” is a 3-season series featured on Amazon Prime that deals with psychological and sexual journeys of men of color while they lead double lives and explore their identities. Deondray Gossett, a Los Angeles native, has been writing and producing this series since 2011. Married to Deondray, Quincy Le Near is also a producer and director of this series. Below, both masterminds share their experiences and insights related to creating the series:

1. How did your past directing experiences prepare you for directing “The Chadwick Journals?”

DEONDRAY:

Our whole franchise The DL Chronicles and The Chadwick Journals has always been produced the same: no money, guerilla-style, last-minute shooting. Chadwick Journals was just business as usual for us: no money and last-minute. We greenlit it 1 week before shooting and was still casting the project all the way up until 17 hours before call time on the first day. 

QUINCY: 

If I think about it, from the scope of my earliest experiences, this is literally how I began as a child. I created short films as a child, casting my younger cousins and friends in roles, and shooting in and about our homes. It’s pretty comical to recognize that directing the Chadwick Journals is basically the same process, albeit with real SAG actors and much more expensive equipment but with the same Indie spirit and approach.

2. What have been some of the biggest challenges with directing this series?

DEONDRAY:

Money… (laughs). With our limited budget, we often don’t have a lot of money to finesse our scenes. We get a max of three takes from each very limited angle on our very short shot list. It’s very intense and fast-paced. We shoot 10 pages a day on average, so casting is crucial; we have to get actors who are well-trained, come to set extremely prepared, and can nail the material in the limited amount of takes we give them. The cast and crew are completely exhausted after our typical 12-hour workdays and 5 consecutive days of shooting, so as I directed, I have to find creative ways to help them keep up with the pace. We keep a very Zen and fun atmosphere so that the exhaustion never compromises their performances, but instead enhances them.

QUINCY: 

In the beginning, season I, it was basically a two-man operation; cinematography, lighting, wardrobe, sound, direction, editing, etc. Not having money means you have to juggle all of the plates and it’s much more difficult to give 100% focus on perfecting one aspect of production. Luckily, we both have very versatile skill sets and experiences so we can perform those roles, but a director should only have one important job to focus on. A cinematographer has one job to focus on. A sound engineer, gaff, grip, etc. all only have to do their jobs when there is a full paid crew and you create a better-quality project because of it. 

Trying to do it all yourself, out of necessity, leaves a lot to be desired in the end. We managed to spend a little more and afford more crew each season, but it’s been an uphill battle. Luckily the fans are captivated by the great story and the strong performances but the perfectionist in me wishes we could remake the first season the way it deserves to be seen. Who knows? Maybe if we strike a deal to bring this show to cable or streaming networks like Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix, we can remake and expand upon them. That would be amazing.   

3. What have been some of the most rewarding experiences of working with the actors?

DEONDRAY:

Watching them have breakthroughs as artists. Particularly from the latest season of The Chadwick Journals, Damian Toofeek Raven, Jemar Michael, and Skyh Black all had breakthroughs right before my eyes on set. There was no time for a pre-table read, so a lot of my direction was on-the-fly. I was amazed at how quickly they adjusted to the slightest nudge from me. They would go from zero to a hundred with emotion with just a simple, “Dig deeper.” It was at these moments, even in the midst of all the exhaustion and all of the fires that were burning that I thought to myself, “I made some damn good casting choices.” They made my job so much easier, and Damian’s breakthrough garnered him a 2020 Daytime Emmy® nomination for “Outstanding Principal Performance in a Daytime Program” for his leading role in this season of The Chadwick Journals.

QUINCY:

Damian Toofeek Raven who plays Chadwick has been with us for 15 years since the DL Chronicles series was created in 2005. He is our brother and working with him is like playtime for us. He’s always very concerned about connecting to the backstory and inner world of Chadwick. He cares about how Chadwick is portrayed as much as we do. Just to be able to create with someone we’ve grown to love is a plus and with someone who cares for your creation the same or even more than you do is priceless.   

4. How have the LGBTQ+ and African-American communities responded to the series?

DEONDRAY:

Honestly, though we’re critically acclaimed in the larger LGBTQ+ community, we’re really only known by the film connoisseurs and the gay Hollywood Elite. To the average white viewing audience, we still remain largely unknown even after 15 years of making this show. Conversely, gay and lesbian African-American, LatinX, Asian, and other people of color hang our posters on the wall. Two very different worlds that still remain separated by cultural and racial lines. We also surprisingly have a large straight African-American female audience who watches the show. They are some of our most vocal viewers who astonishingly aren’t always harping on the DL phenomenon, but actually are engaged in the characters and the plots. To have them as part of our fanbase is SUPER flattering for us. 

QUINCY:

I second that. 

5. What kind of audience(s) would you advise or want to watch the series, and why?

DEONDRAY:

Though we obviously are a series that’s trying to give a voice to the gay black community, we feel like our stories are universal. I think most people can identify with identity and self-love issues, which is ultimately the theme of both of our shows. Love is the undercurrent of every single episode, and I feel like you possess any amount of empathy, you will resonate with the characters whether you’re straight, gay, black, or white.

QUINCY:

Anyone who has ever felt like they had to pretend to be someone they weren’t to be accepted. Anyone who has felt forced to make decisions that were not in their best interest or desires out of fear. Anyone who has felt they would be unloved for being their authentic selves or voicing their dissent. That’s who these stories are about. Regardless of gender, race, or sexuality, we hope that anyone watching who might share those experiences can identify with these characters. 

6. How has the series evolved over the 3 seasons and why are the seasons spread out in the way they are over the past decade?

DEONDRAY:

The Chadwick Journals literally began as a fundraiser for the, then upcoming, re-launch of the The DL Chronicles back in 2011. It was meant to be a hybrid prequel/sequel that was going to energize the fanbase and raise funds. Fans always wanted to know who Chadwick Williams (the narrator of the The DL Chronicles) was and how he was tied to the characters, so this spinoff web series idea done much like HBO’s In Treatment seemed like a perfect vehicle. The first season, “Donovan” (co-starring Nic Few) took the festival circuit by storm and added more than 10,000 subscribers to our YouTube channel in just a month. We knew we had something, and we knew we needed to make more episodes, but just didn’t have the funding. We still self-finance the series to this day. Our second season, “Niquarterli” (co-starring Thomas Hobson) didn’t happen until 2016, and the current season, “Oren” (co-starring Jemar Michael) in 2019. The gaps are simply due to financing. We’re making moves now to up our content volume so that our &SEEN Network streaming platforms can provide more programming to our viewers, which will create a stable and consistent subscriber population.  

7. What does it feel like to be nominated for an Emmy and how will you use this accomplishment to move forward with your careers?

DEONDRAY:

This honestly feels like a dream. We’ve been creating this content for the past 15 years. We’ve gone from being independent, to being on the air, then back to independent again. We’ve sat on the front seats at award shows and won, and then years later not even able to get into the afterparty. Hollywood can be very mean and two-faced. We kept our chins up and continued to believe in the work we were doing thanks to our very loyal and loving fanbase. This current season of The Chadwick Journals almost died after having been passed around to several would-be investors who ultimately weren’t interested. Something told me not to let this die, so I took out a personal business loan and once again financed it ourselves. Looks like it was the best decision I could have ever made.

QUINCY:

I’m honored and still pretty flabbergasted. We’ve had a good campfire once before and when that died down there was no more heat. We managed to keep the ember smoldering, waiting for that gust of wind that will ignite it again. This industry is all about the heat, whose bringing it, whose flame is brighter, whose sending up the visible smoke signals this week. Who can I make s’mores with? LOL. One minute you’re hot, the next minute you’re not, so you have to be ready to jump on the opportunity when the opportunity comes back around. This nomination feels like that gust of wind. If we win, it will open the doors again to “be in the room where happens.” 

So, I feel just like Alexander Hamilton, “I’m not gonna miss my shot.”   

8. What is the overall message that you both want to convey through the series?

DEONDRAY:

It sounds cliché now, but the message simply is, it gets better. DL and closeted men are often seeking approval from the folks that ultimately don’t matter.  Everybody you want to love you, won’t, but you can find your own tribe. Stop seeking out the things and people that can’t see your beauty. Pay attention to the ones that can. 

QUINCY:

To find a way to heal yourself and be authentic. I want people to feel free and unafraid. I want people to know that they may only have this one life to live and to not waste it on conformity. Live in your truth and not in a lie that someone else, society, culture, or religion, coercers you to accept. There is joy to be had if you let it lead you.  

9. How has the past decade’s pop culture and history informed the series’s direction over the course of the 3 seasons?

DEONDRAY:

Pop culture has had very little impact on the show really, as we are still dealing with an age-old and unfortunately timeless issue. This question has been posed to us before: “How does The DL Chronicles and The Chadwick Journals fit in with the current state and condition of LGBTQ+ people? Is it still relevant? Is it dated?” And my answer to those questions is always yes, it still has a place, yes, it’s still relevant, and no, it’s not dated. While the larger white LGBTQ+ community is becoming more and more emancipated, the subsets (LGBTQ+ African Americans and people of color) have largely been stagnant. I’m not talking about life for the Black Gay Elite (myself included), which is drastically different in terms of acceptance and access than it was 10 years ago; I’m talking about the average gay, lesbian, trans-Black and LatinX folks who still live in the hoods and barrios of America. It’s still unsafe for them to walk the streets in their truth and to be out and open in their churches. This series is speaking to and for them.

QUINCY:

I’m not sure that Pop Culture itself has had a direct influence, but I can say that some modern social issues have had an influence, specifically with episode Oren which deals with an HIV serodiscordant relationship and the use of PrEP for prevention. Even season 2 Niiquartelai touched on sex-positive sex work and polyamorous relationships which were once pretty taboo subject matters. Those weren’t topics of conversation that were openly discussed 10 years ago or even existed. If I think about season II it did include a sex tape that was found on a smartphone. Does that count as Pop Culture since everyone seems to have them? 

10. Are you both planning on directing more seasons, and in any case, how do you both want “The Chadwick Journals” legacy to live on?

DEONDRAY:

TV and Film directing is our passion, so yes, we will definitely continue to direct on the shows; however, we don’t have to do all of them. It has always been our plan to nurture new talent to be able to pass the torch and allow them to add their creative spin on our shows and possibly help them to produce their own original ideas.

We hope that the Emmy® nomination will help get the much-needed eyes on the show to enable us to not only continue to make this two needle-moving and groundbreaking series to be there as moral support for the community, but to also be able to create new original content that graduates our community from a place of self-acceptance to a place of full unapologetic existence and expression.

QUINCY: We have created a franchise and this character, and these stories can live in so many ways; TV, film, podcasts, novels, interactive books, chapter books, graphic novels, web shorts, etc. So, the sky’s the limit and I look forward to exploring it.