Posts tagged with "Neecole Cockerham"

Black Butterfly

By: Neecole Cockerham

The moon has a gravitational pull that is so powerful it causes what is know as a tidal force. A tidal force causes the earth and its water to swell; These actions are what determine if the level of ocean’s tide is high or low. Either way once this occurs the water, no matter how still, has a ripple effect, a shift; a change; Today, Goldenvoice’s newly formed Gvblack an AEG subsidiary along with Coachella announced several new inclusivity, progressive social initiatives. The buzz trend hype is about the new Coachella and Black lives matter merchandise that is on sale today. The Gvblack employees are proud to introduce is a socially influenced project powered by a new initiative as a direct impact of the murder of George Floyd to recognize the inequity of people of color in the info structure of Coachella. The objective is to bridge the gap with minority entrepreneurs and companies to infuse into the workforce.

The new Coachella x BLM merchandise exposes the creations of four Black designers Bricks and Wood, Nicholas Mayfield, Supervision & The newly introduced designer Diana Boardley who notably becomes the first Black Woman to do design merchandise for Coachella since the inception of the music and arts festival in 1999.

The half Liberian, Baltimore born visionary is a single mother who loves the joys of Motherhood. Diana is fueled by her work ethic to instill qualities of excellence in her children just as her Mother, Grandmother and Aunt poured into her. She freely admits that her process to be the full- time sole provider for her children after ending a fifteen-year marriage has been a struggle. “I want my children to know the truth about life, that includes the ups and the downs. The tides are ever changing depending on the time of year. Timing is always key in every life situation.” I was a full-time student when I attended John Hopkins University for my MBA. I have spent the last decade working full-time at the renowned Kennedy Kreiger Institute in Neuropsychology.” “Everything I’ve ever done was fast pace and full-time. I have place myself last for so long, I am just now clearing space for me.

The self-proclaimed women entrepreneur began designing as her passion on the side fifteen years ago. Diana has worked along side legendary merchandise brands. She is the original designer of the iconic Maestro character for JDilla. Mostly known as an industry insider favorite, she has remained behind the scenes quietly designing and manufacturing, until now. The current shift is high tide the moon is full, and it must renew.

Coachella x Black Lives Matter Merchandise. What does it all mean to you?

It’s a historic project for me to be a part of as a designer. Coachella is its own monumental platform with its own subculture and Black lives matter are the Black injustice advocates. I am honored I had the opportunity to work on the project. Once we discussed the brand collaboration, I read the statement Coachella released written a Goldenvoice V.P Rhea Roberts-Johnson and I was completely inspired. I started sketching that day.

I love the Design. What is your interpretation of it?

“I thought of the inequality in the world. The fist represents strength, the words Coachella dance from thumb to wrist and the BLM in red for lives lost & love needed.  “My contribution is the love & Unity T-shirt. The collaboration of Coachella x BLM is powerful I had to represent the fist. I initially set my intention to spread Love with my design. I also wanted to create a piece that all people would feel comfortable wearing. I was specific about my color ways because its conscious apparel, so it has meaning as well.

At this time in your life what is the best part of this project and how has the experience been for you? Also has the project been impacted by the pandemic?

“The introduction as a designer is great. However, the most exciting element of the project is being able to give back. Each designer was able to select a 501c3 nonprofit organization to donate proceeds to. I selected a pilot program Sole Folks from the Non-Profit Organization Black Owned and Operated. Sole Folks is a young incubator program that pairs Mentors with youth ages 13-23 years old, they learn to design and manufacture T-Shirts.  They also learn how to start a business. I take pride in knowing to the kids will benefit.” I love to help kids I plan on mentoring in the program”.

Yes, we have safety gloves and mask in place at our manufacturing facility due to Covid-19. The pandemic has had a significant effect, I actually met Rhea (V.P of Goldenvoice and the Gv Black team over a zoom meeting.

I was in the office the day Diana and Rhea met. I was in the middle of me interviewing Rhea; Diana was dropping off shirts and I’d made reference to whom I was interviewing and the two had a moment to introduce themselves. The earth has shifted. The two Black women were uniquely connected by the unification of the recent Civil unrest as opposed to the precedent that plagues us as Black women and a culture; The crabs in the barrel mentality. The renewal of this moment was inspired by creativity and a relentless effort to effect change. Diana was happy to extend her appreciation for the words Rhea penned as the Coachella statement of inclusiveness which adorn the back of the T-shirt she designed. I was internally ecstatic because it was at that moment, I realized that the cataclysmic event of the pandemic was not in vain and its purpose was change of ourselves and how we receive one another.

What is important as you move forward this journey? What would you like you share with anyone who is your mirror but is still struggling?

“I am allowing myself to take time for myself. I have the support of my two best friends, one reminded me to just breath. My other best friend sends me custom prayers and my Mom send me encouraging quotes. I am just in a forgiving space and I am pushing forward. As I understand myself more, I know that education is key and its something no one can take from you. I am grateful to tap into my passion which is design”.

What are you working on now? What’s next for you?

The project I am currently working on is Brand Collaboration that I can’t divulge. I am still working on Merchandise for Maimouna Youssef she and I collaborate for her line. I also, am launching my brand True That Merch under the Parent Co. The Boardley Brand. The best is yet to come…

The shift is complete. A Black Butterfly is transformed. The Black Butterfly represents longevity and a shift in power.

We as a people have been divided. We had been complacent and comfortable with the day to day monotony of our lives. Our cellphones and computers have become our livelihood, text has become our way to talk to one another. We have become excepting of unacceptable behaviors. We no longer know our neighbors. The entire world is affected by the Covid-19. When we thought nothing else could happen. The world all watched as George Floyd Gasp for his last breath with white police officers’ knee in his neck.

I once read there can be no forgiveness unless blood is shed. Forgiveness is a process of learning to let go. As much as we would like to be able to change the legal aspects of policing, Black Americans continue to be murdered at alarming disproportionate rates followed by protest and Civil unrest. One initiative we are all capable of is the change that begins within ourselves. As a society living with one another we can be a more considerate, more patient and understanding with one another. We are all capable of effecting change starting with accountability. We can be inspired by designer Boardley Boardley and never give up, never be complacent always continue to stretch and reach beyond our own capacity in the pursuit of excellence. We have entered a new day, filled with Trailblazers, Black Phoenixes and now Black Butterflies. If you have not felt the shift of today’s tide, its high. As the world changes and has its ripple effect, when the goodness comes your way grab a piece and be apart of the change for the better. Like the power of the Coachella x Black Lives Matter apparel designed by Diana there is greatness in the details even if you cannot see it.

Nicholas Mayfield illustrated inside of 360 MAGAZINE.

Black Phoenix

By Neecole Cockerham

When people hear the word “Phoenix” they are reminded of the mythological story about the “Phoenix rising from the ashes.” Like most stories as legend would have it part of it is correct. Take the story of Nicholas Mayfield, if you’ve been involved in the world of fashion since 2009; Even now, you may recognize his work. His current day notables are pieces such as the extended t-shirts and the button ups to drop crotch pants and joggers just to name a few.

In recent times Nicholas Mayfield has been labeled as the designer from whom the couture brand Gucci has stolen his “strawberries” and “black faces” designs which are one of the many staples of his brand. The theft of the “strawberries” and “black faces” was the topic to L.A. Fashion Week on the Wonderland Artist 2nd Headlining Appearance, with his show “God Moves” in 2018 and in 2019 with “In The Dark There’s The Spark.”

The unique evolutionary visions of Nicholas’ mind captivate the audience to be engaged in the ideas that are the kaleidoscope of Nicholas ‘mind. As a designer Nicholas uses elements of urban everyday street life and couture fashion as the perfect combination to represent his influence on popular culture.

In the United States there are approximately 103 species of strawberries; Why do you believe Gucci bit off your strawberries and black faces?

Nicholas was contacted by well over 100 different followers, friends and clientele within 48 hours with his designs side by side with Gucci’s product. “I dropped born of an immigrant,” in 2017 a collaboration I did with barely broke on brown and black hard labor as in relevance to America’s Foundation; long before Gucci dropped their collection in 2019. Also, my strawberries are hand painted which creates the uniqueness individually personalized hand painted pieces which are done by my signature hand, the essence of my designs and style.” -Nicholas Mayfield

Growing up Mayfield

As a child Nicholas began drawing at the tender age of 5. He had aspirations of being a cartoonist and drawing comic books early in life. At the impressionable age of 7 years old, Nicholas had plans for a friend to spend the night, therefore his parents bought pizza, drinks and snacks and rented movies all in efforts for a great night. However Nicholas’ friend didn’t show up, Nicholas’ father saw the devastation and disappointment on his son’s face, as Nicholas went to the table and began to draw. Drawing had always been his outlet of expression. Nicholas’s father looked at him and said, “son keep drawing your characters, those are your friends.” The inspiration that Nicholas received in that moment from his father would allow him to trust in himself, and commit himself to his artistic endeavors.

People believe the Phoenix wings are on fire when it flies out of the ashes, yet the bird still soars. The mythological story beholds intrigue of supernatural phenomenon just like the characters Nicholas Mayfield drew as a child.

NM what has been up with you?

I am having a full circle moment right now, I feel like it is the 2006 Soulful Commando warehouse in Corona all over again; which began with just 5 t-shirt designs. I recently released my “Nicholas Mayfield Over Everything Collection”; which is a retrospective collection after years of designing I felt like taking it back to the drawing board of what created me to be me. I’m gassed with my first wave of hats and t-shirts being released. It’s like the art I first started doing, so it’s cool.

Has any of the social climate stemming from the murder of George Floyd by the police affected your creativity?

Oh absolutely I am a Black man of God first, not only that, “our now” is always a platform to express what is happening for the current time. I have the responsibility to let those coming after me know what the world looks like and to pay homage to those who came before me. While doing this I saw two of my brothers yesterday and what I love and appreciate more than anything is true success; it’s that we are men now, some of us are fathers; yet most importantly pillars in our community killing the Willie Lynch mentality. For God is in Us. When we were younger they called us dreamers, now they love our world that they are now apart of.

An unknown part about the Black Phoenix is that it gets burned over a funeral pyre (the burning wood for cremation). As the Black Phoenix rises it is completely renewed and a new life cycle begins

Nicholas Mayfield is a Black Phoenix. As the seasons change, his creative perspective is constantly evolving. The transformations of his interpretations of design remains progressive and renewed. His focus is to continue to “be” as it has always worked; Nicholas Mayfield continues to rise as delivers his style on a future wave. In fashion when your friend copies you, their unoriginal; When Gucci bites off of you, you’re a Trendsetter. As an independent artist Nicholas Mayfield was bent not broken as a Black designer he knows everything is earned and nothing is given. It is his unique originality that allows him to rise from the ashes, when a bird is meant to fly nothing can stop it. Not even getting burned.

Rhea Roberts-Johnson in 360 MAGAZINE talks about Coachella and Goldenvoice.

Goldenvoice Black – Trailblazer

By Neecole Cockerham

Rhea Roberts-Johnson is the first Black woman to be promoted to a VP position at Goldenvoice, an AEG subsidiary. The new executive is also a new mother to an energetic toddler named Story, with her husband industry impresario Marcus Johnson.

As if having a career and being a full-time mom doesn’t take up enough time in the day, Goldenvoice staff and vendors have been forced to postpone Coachella, one of the world’s leading music festivals, due to the COVID-19. The coronavirus disease has created an unprecedented pandemic.

In the midst of the quarantine, the abnormally shut in citizens of the United States, witnessed via a cell phone recording, the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, who pressed his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty six seconds. At that moment Black people in the United States were forced into a position that challenged our civil liberties and stripped away our dignity as if we were inhumane. People of all races, from all walks of life took to the streets – men, women and children. The coordinated, mostly peaceful marches were organized by activists and the Black Lives Matter Movement. The protesters began to mobilize and protests began across the U.S and and on every continent around the world. People banded together for an unprecedented globalization of civil unrest and demanded change for the rights of Black people in America against the country’s systemic oppressed law enforcement agencies, and the society that inadvertently supported their actions.

The times are somewhat changing – as universal corporate offices have taken a short but hard look at themselves and the systemic racism that they have promoted through the years. Corporations are challenged with how they hire, retain and promote people of color within their organizations. They are being held to task to begin to fill openings with qualified Blacks and other people of color instead of continually engaging in white employment nepotism, frat boys and a Becky in tow.

The round table at Goldenvoice was a diverse group of people who acknowledged the repugnant feeling of what their eyes had seen and everyone’s heart had felt.

I sat down with Roberts-Johnson, to ask the down to earth, prestigious executive a few questions over a Zoom conference. I’ve known Rhea for a number of years, so it was easy to dive into a conversation that was just as she is – honest and candid.

Can you explain GV Black?

“Goldenvoice Black was birthed from round table discussions of Black employees, who for some time, have exchanged views of working as Blacks in a predominantly white environment – it is the voice of the people. GV Black has become a source of comfort to communicate what being Black means in today’s climate. Our social responsibility is to have acknowledgment from the corporation in which we work, the need to bring equality and more diversity to our workforce and to outline and monitor productive steps to insure that this equality is met.”

Do you have any fear in being a part of a revolutionary entity within the internal confines of a corporate environment?

“As a woman we are already marginalized in this environment. As a Black woman and a mother of a Black male child, I am more interested in social equity not just for now but for the future of those who come after me. I had no mirror to show me insight into how to maneuver in the world of behind the scenes entertainment. The conversations we were having at Goldenvoice were more than just about talking. We were all hurting just like many people and it was important for us to say something and even more important to agree on the actions that we would take to support diversity, elevate youth and develop community under the Goldenvoice umbrella.”

The music festival Coachella released its first statement ever about their position on injustice. The declaration issued by Coachella would be the words of Rhea Roberts-Johnson.

The poetic rhyme scheme is just 5 lines shy of a Sonnet and reads like a mission statement of hope:

We do not stand for injustice.

We do not stand for racism.

We do not stand for bigotry.

We stand for music.

We stand for celebration.

We stand for love.

We stand for unity.

We stand for Black Lives.

They Matter.

~Coachella

Now that the protesting has come to a halt, the pandemic is at an all time high; Goldenvoice employees are working from home or either furloughed… Goldenvoice recently posted on social media and received backlash from a few public critics, because of the word “bodies”..Can you comment on it?

“I’m actually glad that you asked this question. Before I go into what it means, I have to mention that the statement was written by Black employees, and had the public known that, it may have been received differently. Surprise! There are Black people that work at Goldenvoice (I’m sure that’s shocking to some since in its early days the company booked a lot of punk rock bands). We used the word “bodies” as a metaphor to draw attention to the objectification of Black people. Many types of Black and brown people in this country are dehumanized and not allowed the luxury of full humanity as so many others are. We also used it to emphasize the history of physical violence against Black people in our country whether it be through slavery, lynching, police brutality, etc. It’s a common term used by social justice activists, and having come from one of them, there probably wouldn’t have been a peep. Coming from a festival, some people were taken aback.”

Rhea I think to be silent nowadays is to be in agreement. Maybe those taken “aback” will be propelled into recognizing the truth and understanding the ladder is merely semantics.

What is next for GV Black?

“Without giving up too much too soon, we along with our non-Black allies at the company, are working diligently to create an even more inclusive environment for our employees, fans, artists, vendors, etc.”

Rhea Roberts-Johnson is a rare breed. She has a silent strength that exists when you can only imagine the amount of pressure that is being experienced to incite change. As we wait to see what’s next to come you can feel a glimmer of hope. Goldenvoice, GV Black and Coachella are consciously pioneering trailblazers for utilizing their platform to be all inclusive and unite people as one just as music does.

Neecole Cockerham

Neecole Cockerham is a Berkeley-born actress who entered the business as the first African American woman to grace the television ad campaigns of fashion stalwart’s Banana Republic. She continued on and garnered an overwhelming number of commercials for industry giants like Sears and IBM. Ad agencies cast her in more than 120 national commercials to date. She maintains the same humility she had before appearing in Vogue, O Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Martha Stewart. Neecole has also appeared on Billboards for Dockers, Kraft & other major print campaigns.

Her theatrical career began early in life as she gathered family and neighborhood children in the downstairs den of her family home and did different characters of sketch comedy skits, complete with wardrobe changes. Shaped as a promising creative being at the Bay Area-based Berkeley Arts Magnet, Neecole furthered her fervor for the theatrical arts at Cal State Northridge where she studied Acting for Television under the consummate professional, Lillian Lehman. She, additionally, studied with Eden Harmon at Estelle Harmon’s acting school in Los Angeles.

She has performed in such shows and films as: for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, Heroine Helen, Love Thy Neighbor, Significant Others, Do Over, The Life, Jesus’ secretary. However, her decade-long truth, passion project, and stand out performance was her dramatic one-woman show entitled I Am Not My Mother. She actually sold this show, which transcended race and economic status, as well as created a theater experience that was relatable, brought people together and told the story of an unexpected All-American girl.

After the show sold, her father, who she was extremely close to, unexpectedly passed. Tragedy ensued as she was in a near fatal car accident, where she broke her neck but survived. In her words, she was given new life…life with a purpose.
While still recovering from her horrific car accident, Neecole continues to push her limits as an artist, producer, and businesswoman with purpose. Due to her savvy business acumen and keen production skills after her accident in February 2017 she decided to devote her skills to being in service of others as a humble humanitarian for causes such as feeding several hundred women on Skid Row at The Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles at Christmas.

As of late, Neecole produces the annual West Adams Block Party. Her responsibilities include seeking and procuring strategic partners, aligning with the west adams citizens, partners and policymakers, and birthing a music stage with innovative talent and compelling storytellers. The Block party is a new business model that partners Non Profit organizations with the event for direct impact on urban areas.

When she’s not producing mega events or influencing the culture, she is back to her grind acting and has recently signed with Media Artist Group Agency. In 2016 she was in the running for a Pulitzer Prize as an American author for her One Woman Show “I am not my mother.” Additionally, she continues her quest as an artist by writing and producing multiple projects.

(*featured photo credit: Darien Davis)

For media inquiries regarding Neecole Cockerham and more information on the 2nd Annual West Adams Block Party, please contact Karen Lewis at (323) 424-9400