Posts tagged with "poet"

Founders of La Impresora shot by Gustavo Castrodad for 360 MAGAZINE

Maniobra: A Cultural Employment Initiative

The Mellon Foundation and the Centro de Economía Creativa (CEC) announced Maniobra – a newly launched $8 million cultural employment initiative created to facilitate stable employment opportunities for artists while strengthening the administrative bandwidth of community-based cultural organizations across Puerto Rico. In its inaugural stage, Maniobra – named in reference to “the work of one’s hands” – is providing support including salary, training, health and other benefits, and more to 37 artists and 25 artist-centric organizations across 12 municipalities.

Puerto Rican artists play critical leadership roles within their communities, yet often live in a state of financial precarity, earning a median annual income of approximately $16,000 for their work, with 46% generating less than $12,000 annually. Through Maniobra, CEC and the Mellon Foundation underscore the labor of artists as valued work, while modeling remuneration that reflects artists’ formal education, experience, and contributions to society.

“This initiative shines an important light on the economic state and personal well-being of the artistic community and centers both as priorities for philanthropy and cultural policy,” said Javier Hernández Acosta, Founder of the Center and Dean of the School of Arts, Design and Creative Industries at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. “Equity and salary justice within the arts had previously been relegated to a secondary agenda item, but we are now thrilled to work with the Mellon Foundation to advance this important work through real action.”

Maniobra provides participating organizations with the financial support needed to hire at least one full-time artist and $20,000 yearly budget to support the organization’s programming and creative projects over the entirety of the three-year initiative. The funding will not only strengthen organizations’ artistic programming and financial stability, but will also serve as a pilot that could be expanded in the future and has the potential of driving philanthropic support to a more holistic approach.

“Lifting up and celebrating the creativity of Puerto Rican artists, writers, and performers means granting them the resources they need to pursue their callings, supporting the archipelago’s artistic and cultural organizations, and broadly fostering the work and preservation of Puerto Rican culture at a time when stable employment and funding for these efforts has been imperiled,” said Elizabeth Alexander, President of the Mellon Foundation.“We are honored to support Maniobra, and excited to see the work that comes from this remarkable initiative.”

Prior to the launch of Maniobra, CEC and the Mellon Foundation collaborated on artists-centered initiatives including the development of Nido Cultural – a platform created to support management services for artistic and cultural production in Puerto Rico, as well as on an initiative aimed at Mapping of Cultural Work in Puerto Rico. Maniobra was inspired by Creatives Rebuild New York (CRNY) – the $125 million Mellon Foundation-backed initiative created to help reactivate the creative economy of New York State and secure the future of its artists.

The artists selected for Maniobra, which commenced in early April, were selected by an advisory team of key stakeholders from the local artistic community. Considering the diversity of practices and approaches across the islands, collectives and organizations were selected based on their rich experience in artistic and cultural work.

“In addition to supporting these artists, we also expect to strengthen the work of the collectives and organizations by providing technical and managerial support as well as operational budgets for the execution of the initiatives,” said Sonia Méndez, Program Manager of the Centro de Economía Creativa, Inc. “It also represents a unique project that not only offers the artist a salary, but also fringe benefits and health care coverage.”

To learn more about the projects and initiatives of the Centro de Economía Creativa, you can visit its social media accounts or Centro de Economía Creativa Website

*Photo: Gustavo Castrodad

Lady London headshot press photo via Steph Paul for use by 360 MAGAZINE

Lady London – Lady Like: The Boss Tape

Trinidadian/ Jamaican American artist Lady London released her “Lady Like: The Boss Tape;” a series of her most acclaimed freestyles since she surfaced in the rap scene in 2018.

The New Jersey/ New York artist possesses a wide range of talents, from being a rapper, songwriter, poet, published author and educated woman, there’s not much that she cannot do. Her music reflects her drive, and “Lady Like: The Boss Tape” highlights all the best parts of her music.

This compilation of freestyles showcases London’s talent of freestyling, which gained her praise on social media. In her tracks, London remixes some iconic Hip Hop tracks and gives them her own flare. Featured tracks include “Lisa Story” ft. Dub Aura that samples “Get Me Home” by Foxy Brown and “Long Live Shamello” that remixes Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See.” Check out the full tracklist below.

The popularity of London’s freestyles has gained widespread attention, earning herself co-signs from Cardi B, Nas, Timbaland and so many more. Sitting at 618k followers on Instagram, London has established a loyal fanbase that has supported her music through the years. Lady London continues to elevate the rap scene, and last year she released two standout singles; “Money Over” and “Never,” which is her most personal record to date.

Lady London is one artist that you will want to keep on your radar as we dive into 2022.

About Lady London

New Jersey-born and Los-Angeles based rapper Lady London is known for her rhythmic lyricism. While her mother was Jamaican and Father Trinidadian, her childhood was divided between East Orange, New Jersey and the Bronx, New York. Hip hop culture has been an integral part of her life, as her uncle was Chino XL, and she grew up inspired by artists like JAY-Z, Lil Kim and Whitney Houston. In college, London was on a pre-med path, but still expressed her love for the arts while putting on successful poetry shows. In 2018, she posted one of her poetry videos online, and the video went viral with 8-million plus views. After London obtained her Master of Science from Keck School of Medicine at USC, she also was accepted into the school’s medical program.

Ultimately, London put her dream of medical school in the past to chase her dream of music. She talks about the decision, stating, “everything changed, I figured I could always go back to school. Convincing my West Indian family was very interesting. They didn’t understand why I was willing to give up everything I had been working towards. I knew I had to do music, though. You can’t run from destiny.”

Moreover, London’s career has taken off since 2018. This artist has generated millions of views online with her own original music. Her single released in 2021, “Money Over,” accumulated 500,000-plus views on YouTube as the one and only Cardi B described London as “the most slept on” to social media. London serves as a SAVAGE ambassador for Rihanna’s FENTY. Giving a performance in support of Black Lives Matter at the BET Awards, London caught the attention of many, eventually becoming co-signed by Diddy and Revolt TV.

“There are multiple levels to me,” Lady London clarifies. “I’m not one-dimensional. I really take my craft seriously. I consider rap to be an artform—not a trend. I’ve studied cadences, timing, breath control, double and triple entendres, and syllables. It almost breaks down to an exact science. I pay attention to verbiage, semantics, and diction. I’m a connoisseur of rhythmical composition in its purest form. I’m just a boss.”

Lady London continues to prove herself in the rap world as a force to be reckoned with.

Lady Like: The Boss Tape Tracklist

  1. Viral
  2. Long Live Shamello
  3. Yikes
  4. Lemon Pepper, Wet
  5. Lady What, Lady Who?
  6. All I See
  7. Black Love
  8. Buss It/Ski
  9. Welcome To The Party
  10. You’re Still Mine ft. Makaela
  11. Reciprocity
  12. Girl Like Me
  13. Lisa’s Story ft. Dub Aura
Flo Ngala for use by 360 Magazine

Tierra Whack × Pop?

Grammy-nominated rapper, singer, songwriter and poet Tierra Whack has just released her second EP, Pop?. Pop? comes only one week after the release of Tierra’s first EP of 2021, Rap?. Tierra also debuted the new music video for “Body of Water,” which comes exclusively from the new EP Pop?. The music video was directed by the award-winning Cat Solen, who has directed the videos of Tierra’s other hits “Link” and “Unemployed.”

Watch the video for “Body of WaterHERE.

Pop? showcases production from one of Tierra’s regular collaborators J Melodic. As a pair, Tierra and J Melodic were recently profiled in NPR for “The Formula.” Sierra’s three-song EP showcases her witty and captivating personality as she navigates through love and relationships. The Pop? EP comes just one week following its sister EP, Rap?. Rap? has gained the attention of such outlets, with the Rolling Stone commemorating the “succinct distillation of Tierra Whack’s hypercompetitive spirit, enriched by some smart, introspective gems.” Consequence even named “Stand Up” their “Rap Song of the Week.” With such commotion surrounding Tierra’s work, the sky is the limit for her future pieces.

Tierra has, too, just launched a collaboration with the one and only Vans on December 3. Tierra and her stylist Shirley Kurata set out to create a 1980s-inspired collection that encapsulated Tierra’s unique attitude and style that she carries with her in all her endeavors. The collab is depicted as a “mélange of colors, shapes, patterns, and phrases that explores limitless creativity.”

Pop? Tracklist

  1. “Body of Water”
  2. “Dolly”
  3. “Lazy”
Oompa via Ally Schmaling for use by 360 Magazine

Oompa – OUTTA PATIENCE

Armed with an innate sense of melody, Boston Rapper and spoken word poet Oompa has been making major waves with her sharp storytelling. From features with Apple Music’s Ebro Discovered, Def Jam’s Here Comes The Break, Ones to Watch, EARMILK, and AudioFemme. One thing is for sure, Oompa is not an artist to be slept on. She came in swinging with her dynamic, New Orleans-bounced inspired single “OUTTA PATIENCE”. 

The third single from the forthcoming album UNBOTHERED, “OUTTA PATIENCE” uncovers another layer in Oompa’s journey of healing and self-reflection; a sentiment explored throughout the project. It’s a high-energy and straight-talking track where Oompa raps about her frustrations “for the politics of the industry that want me to think I’m not it. I’m it. I’m running out of patience for doing other people’s work. I’m running out of patience for my own bull”. Lyrically, it’s an incredibly honest piece of work that taps into the purgative nature of experiencing personal growth amidst global turmoil. Where previous singles like “GO” and “LEBRON” explored feelings of joy, love, and self-confidence, “OUTTA PATIENCE” is a reminder that discomfort and pressure are a part of the process. A process that Oompa has intricately shared, leaving no stone unturned on “UNBOTHERED”. 

Produced by frequent collaborator Dephrase, “OUTTA PATIENCE” taps into Oompa’s love for the New Orleans’ bounce sound to create a danceable bop that’s ripe for the end-of-summer months. “I want you to feel this track from the minute the sample drops, until the dance break at the end. I want your body to feel impatient and like it has to move. This track is all about the energy that you feel when you press play on this song. It’s the right follow-up to ‘LEBRON’’s energy. I need you to remember what these songs made summer feel like”.

2021 has shaped up to be a massive year for the Roxbury rapper. Showcasing her ability to transcend genres, Oompa recently joined rock band Blue Light Bandits onstage, as well as performed as support act for electronic artist Marc Rebillet’s sold-out show at Boston’s Royale Nightclub. For audiences who have come to know Oompa for her award-winning live performances backed by a full-band, the wait is finally over. Oompa will be returning to headline her own performance for the UNBOTHERED Album Release Show at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club on October 8.

About Oompa

Oompa is a nationally acclaimed, Boston-born, poet, rapper, and educator, who is forever representing the queer, black, orphaned, hood kids n’ them. She was named one of NPR’s 2020 Slingshot Artists to Watch and her engaging, interactive performing style won her the Boston Music Award for Live Act of the Year in 2019, following her 2018 Unsigned Artist of the Year victory among an unprecedented 12 total nominations. In a 2019 feature, WBUR’s the Artery describes the lyric-focused rapper as having a “natural tenderness with language” and calls her verses “funny…incisive and memorable.” Oompa showed this poetic prowess as the winner of the 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam and a finalist in the 2016 National Poetry Slam. With the release of her newest album, Cleo, Oompa has sold out the Sinclair and a number of other Boston venues. 

In November 2020, Oompa dropped her most recent single entitled “Closer” along with a striking visual component. The song showcases a new sonic direction for her music and the lyrics convey a refusal to falter or be reactionary in the face of multiple global crises; the pandemic and an intense awakening about what it means to be Black in the world. This song isn’t a promise to be a cure to the world’s ills, but something that aims to counter the effects of the poison. Her next project, “Unbothered” is set to release in Fall 2021.

Lola Young after midnight cover, from MacKenzie Reynolds, Capitol Records, for use by 360 Magazine

LOLA YOUNG’S NEW EP – AFTER MIDNIGHT

British star on-the-rise Lola Young’s brand-new EP, After Midnight, is out now on Capitol Records. Listen here. The four-track EP is accompanied by an official music video for the track “Bad Game,” which can be viewed here.

Previously sharing tracks “Blue” and “Pill or a Lullaby,” Young releases After Midnight in full today, showing herself at her most open and honest. The record tells the story of one night in Young’s life, tracing the hours between midnight and 5 a.m. Young moves from feeling confident and in control to gradually becoming more vulnerable and, eventually, entering a manic state of mind.

The EP is coupled with a beautifully shot short film due out imminently. Directed by Dumas Haddad, it features Young and a love interest, as well as spoken word accompaniment written for the film by the poet Thea Gajik. The film is set in an apartment at different stages of the night, showing her in varying mental states and winding its way through the story of the EP; with Young leaving nothing on the table.

Describing the EP, Lola Young says, “My thoughts, my worries, my past lovers and my present ones too, my guilt, my fears, my dreams, wishes and all the crazy ass thoughts I have when the sun rises and I can’t sleep for shit. After midnight. The truest form of me.”

Last month, she played a sold-out show at Camden Assembly in London. Young will perform at numerous summer festivals and tour the U.K. with Dermot Kennedy in September. View itinerary here.

Hailed as “a star on the rise” by ELLE UK, the 20-year-old artist is fiercely independent and uncompromising. As a live performer she is uncompromising – clearly showing the potential, spirit and individuality that makes her one of the UK’s most exciting new talents. Her work to date – the personal and powerful singles “Bad Tattoo,” “Ruin My Make Up” and “Woman,” her debut collection of tracks, Intro, and second release, the Renaissance EP – received support across the board from the likes of Billboard, Atwood Magazine, Wonderland, British Vogue, British GQ and CLASH Magazine.

After Midnight Tracklist:

  1. After Midnight (1AM)
  2. Blue (2AM)
  3. Bad Game (3AM)
  4. Pill or a Lullaby (4AM till sunrise)
Image via WMA Agency for 360 Magazine

Oompa – LEBRON

Oompa Slam Dunks On the Naysayers in New Track LEBRON

Listen to the premiere via AudioFemme HERE

WATCH LEBRON HERE

One of Boston’s most successful rappers – NPR

Oompa has emerged from her apocalyptic meditation looking ‘fly as hell but highly dangerous’ – Vanyaland

Oompa’s doing something big – Out Front Magazine

Visionary – Performer Mag

Acclaimed Boston rapper Oompa has released her hard-hitting new single and video LEBRON on all streaming platforms. Stream the single HERE.

LEBRON is a powerful track about doing what one wants, while others do what they can. With a nod to legendary basketballer LeBron James, Oompa plays with linguistics by repurposing the word into a verb in honor of James’ resilience despite the odds. ‘LEBRON’ is about feelin’ yourself, defying the naysayers, and the battles no one knows about. Wielding her signature low and breathy rapping style over the hardest beat since she’s dropped since Cleo N Nem, Oompa channels old-school hip-hop sentiment, seamlessly riding the beat and changing up her flow in a style akin to Kendrick Lamar or Vince Staples. LEBRON embodies Oompa’s statement-making approach to lyricism, rooted in early beginnings as a spoken word poet.

To me, it’s not about the everyday victory; it’s the commitment to the long haul. To the joy of giving your craft everything you have for as long as you can. It is finding victory in going above your own limitations so that you can get what you want. That’s what I mean when I say, I Lebron, shares Oompa.

Part of a series of ten thematic visuals shared from her forthcoming album UNBOTHERED, LEBRON taps into a similar aesthetic and playful vibe as seen in her most recent release GO, including the return of her oh-so-cool retro Ford Mustang. In the video, we find Oompa and crew tearing it up on the basketball court, with Oompa naturally slaying the game, (in a Celtics jersey, of course) whilst her confused opponents look on. With an unmistakable sense of swagger, Oompa leaves her mark as the GOAT, before hitting the gas on the Mustang, love interest in tow, continuing on their carefree adventure.

Whether or not you’re on the court, in the court, or just trying to get out of bed when life is hard, this is an anthem for beating your personal best each time you do anything, and bragging to your SELF on your SELF when you do.

LEBRON is the second single from forthcoming album UNBOTHERED and follows the release of GO (ft. Dan DeCristofaro) which garnered attention from Def Jam’s Here Comes The Break, Vanyaland, and The Hype Magazine. Since arriving on the music scene in 2016, Oompa’s poetic prowess has seen her winning the 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam, as well as sharing stages with the likes of Charli XCX, 24KGoldn, Tinashe, UMI, and Rico Nasty. With her penchant for making a positive impact on the world and undeniable skills as a rapper, Oompa is an artist that should be on every rap fan’s radar.

Stay tuned for more from Oompa very soon.

About OOMPA

OOMPA is a nationally acclaimed, Boston-born, poet, rapper, and educator, who is forever representing the queer, black, orphaned, hood kids n’ them. She was named one of NPR’s 2020 Slingshot Artists to Watch and her engaging, interactive performing style won her the Boston Music Award for Live Act of the Year in 2019, following her 2018 Unsigned Artist of the Year victory among an unprecedented 12 total nominations. In a 2019 feature, WBUR’s the Artery describes the lyric-focused rapper as having a natural tenderness with language and calls her verses funny…incisive and memorable. Oompa showed this poetic prowess as the winner of the 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam and a finalist in the 2016 National Poetry Slam. With the release of her newest album, Cleo, Oompa has sold out the Sinclair and a number of other Boston venues.

In November 2020, Oompa dropped her most recent single entitled Closer along with a striking visual component. The song showcases a new sonic direction for her music and the lyrics convey a refusal to falter or be reactionary in the face of multiple global crises; the pandemic and an intense awakening about what it means to be Black in the world. This song isn’t a promise to be a cure to the world’s ills, but something that aims to counter the effects of the poison. Her next project, Unbothered is set to release in Fall 2021.

Follow OOMPA online via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

image from Linda Carbone for use by 360 Magazine

TIBET HOUSE — ALLEN GINSBERG × GELEK RIMPOCHE EXHIBIT

Tibet House US Presents Transforming Minds: Kyabje Gelek Rimpoche & Friends

Exhibition Celebrates Rimpoche and Allen Ginsberg’s Relationship Through the Lens of Ginsberg’s Camera

Tibet House US is delighted to partner with The Allen Ginsberg Estate and Jewel Heart International on an exhibition of unique images by the celebrated visionary and poet Allen Ginsberg. The special exhibit will be on display at the Tibet House Gallery (22 West 15th Street, New York, NY) from September 21-December 12, 2021 with more details and special events to be announced in the coming weeks.

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997), best known as one of the most influential poets of the 20th Century, is also recognized for his photography, intimately capturing friendships from the birth of the Beat Generation through the countercultural, cultural, and literary circles he helped inspire. Ginsberg’s lifelong spiritual quest, beginning early on with visionary experiences involving the 19th century English mystic and poet, William Blake, ultimately evolved into a deep commitment to and practice of Tibetan Buddhism in the final decades of his life.

Gelek Rimpoche (1938-2017) was one of the last Tibetan Buddhist lamas educated in Tibet and is considered to be one of the great Tibetan Buddhist teachers of the 20th and 21st Centuries. He fled Tibet in 1959, and in the late 1970s began teaching Westerners in Northern India. By the late 1980s he had moved to the United States, and in 1988 established Jewel Heart here, having already opened Jewel Heart centers in Europe and in Asia. He remains particularly known for his thorough knowledge of English, his familiarity with modern culture, and his effectiveness in teaching Westerners Tibetan Buddhism.

In 1989, Allen Ginsberg’s close friend, Philip Glass, a student of Rimpoche, brought Ginsberg to Michigan to perform a benefit concert for Jewel Heart. From that first meeting and until Ginsberg’s death in 1997, Rimpoche was his Tibetan Buddhist teacher and friend. Ginsberg, was also, in many ways, Rimpoche’s teacher—a consultant in matters involving the English language and the more puzzling facts of Western culture. The two formed an indissoluble bond.

Allen Ginsberg used his friends, peers and teachers as subjects in many of his photographic images highlighting and documenting his life as he did in this exhibit, focusing on his life with Gelek Rimpoche and friends, many of whom they shared. Images in the show include the Dalai Lama, Philip Glass, Patti Smith, Francesco Clemente, Robert Thurman and others, and exemplify the transformational nature of this time in US history.

The exhibition is a partnership between Tibet House U.S., The Allen Ginsberg Estate and Jewel Heart, and was curated by Peter Hale and Ben Paljor Chatag.

Timed entry tickets are available now. Please email sonam@tibethouse.us for reservations. Estate prints and copies will also be available for sale, and the exhibition will be viewable online HERE.

ABOUT TIBET HOUSE US:

Tibet House US is a non-profit educational institution and cultural embassy founded in 1987 at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama working to promote and preserve Tibet’s unique cultural and spiritual heritage. Tibet House US serves to expose and share this unique civilization through innovative educational and cultural programs and events for the general public, providing inspiration for others to join the effort to protect these treasured arts, sciences, and ways of living.

album artwork by RHYME SO for use by 360 Magazine

RHYME SO – POSEABLE

RHYME SO Drop Striking New Video POSEABLE, latest video from Japanese-Australian experimental dance-pop duo

RHYME SO – a Japanese-Australian experimental dance-pop duo – have released a wildly creative new music video POSEABLE via 88INFINITY. It’s their latest video since 2020’s Fashion Blogger, and a taste of what’s to come from one of music’s most fascinating enigmas.

The video, which was partly shot in a capsule hotel in Tokyo, pokes fun at society’s compulsive obsession with digital validity, hopping from one Instagram-worthy pose to another. The visual includes a cameo from Mari Natsuki, the beloved Japanese actress known for her maternal roles in Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away and the Japanese remake of Bewitched. Assuming the role of the tastemaking grandma, Mari embodies the song’s refrain “or grandma sends you home,” an ode to grandma’s unyielding sense of what’s good and what’s not.

“The message of POSEABLE is about going back to the roots and honoring Grandma’s sense and allowing her to be the tastemaker, as she knows what’s up when it comes to quality and the original recipe for success,” RHYME says.

At a time when the music industry is as saturated as ever, sometimes it’s not about chasing trends, but making yourself truly unique; something RHYME SO embraces to the utmost.

“We both got better at what we set out to do, and many things have happened that have re-assured us we are on the right track,” RHYME adds.

RHYME SO consists of OG Japanese dance producer Shinichi Osawa (aka SO, best known from his other artist project Mondo Grosso) and Australian-born rapper/poet/model RHYME. Shinichi and RHYME met at a party in Tokyo several years back and before long they became involved both musically and romantically. They’ve dubbed their music Blank Post Genre, a concept centered around creating a blank canvas in response to a digital age overflowing with information. It’s a way for a sonic refresh, allowing Osawa and RHYME to craft rumbling dance music complete with lyrics poking fun at modern life.

POSEABLE is RHYME SO’s latest release on 88INFINITY, a sub-label of 88rising, perhaps the preeminent Asian record label in the world. RHYME SO’s hypnotic debut single Just Used Music Again appeared on 88rising’s 2019 compilation “Head In The Clouds II”, which they followed up with Fashion Blogger, another iconic music video depicting a fictional figure skating contest, guest starring MILK from Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

POSEABLE is well suited for dancefloor mayhem and RHYME SO looks forward to bringing their refreshingly unique, cutting-edge brand of dance music stateside in the coming months.

QxA with Akeem Mair

This holiday season, actor Akeem Mair took the time to speak with 360 Magazine about his craft, his inspirations, how his career has been impacted by COVID-19, and more. Movie star Akeem Mair is the entertainment industry’s up-and-coming icon. In his career as an artist, he has appeared in several movie productions including All About Money, A Wonderful World, Limbo, Life of a Villain, Red, Fine Line, Silent Love, The Kidnap, etc. He’s worked with many production companies, including the Columbia College of Hollywood Production.

Akeem has signed with two agencies: Commercial Talent Agency (under Sarah Angeli) and Minc Talent (under Mariko Ballentine). At 32, Akeem is in his prime. With his noteworthy work ethic and passion, he is destined for greater heights. In fact, he has over 5 million views for a single video alone – the time when he appeared for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which Ellen described as “the best episode she’s ever seen.”

Besides this feature with 360 Magazine, Akeem appears in many publications such as NY Wire’s Top 25 Individuals, US Reporter’s Top 15 Entrepreneurs, LA Wire’s Top 20 IG Accounts to Follow in 2020, and many more. Read on to hear 360’s interview with Akeem below.

What do you love most about being an actor?

I found a strong love of being in front of the camera with everybody watching. It’s like my escape from my own reality, which is refreshing to me. I get the opportunity to pour myself into different characters and experience that person’s life. How they see the world and how different their life experiences are from mines. I love to learn how they think, how they would react in certain situations, the way they talk and walk, the way they dress, etc. Then, you can take what you learn from playing that character and use it to make your own life more complete. Meaning if you like how that character approaches life, then copy and apply it. At first the camera scared me – I’m not gonna lie. But a director once told me that the fear I show in front of the camera robs the audience of their entertainment. Once I broke out of that, my understanding of my own craft changed. Acting is my life!

Did you always wanted to be an actor, or did you have other ambitions?

Actually, believe it or not, I wanted to be a financial banker. I watched Michael Douglas in the film called, “The Game,” and became hooked after that. I saw the 2000 BMW 740 I, the designer suits, the excitement of winning their clients’ money in the office, the personal maid that lives at his house, and I always loved crunching numbers in a calculator. But as I was working at Ralph’s grocery store when a loyal customer ending up changing my whole life. I was a cashier, and she came into my line with a sad demeanor. I could tell something was troubling her, so I tried to brighten up her day with my personality. I said “Hi, it’s good to see you again, did you find everything ok?” She said softly, “Yes I did, thank you!” I said, “Usually I see you smiling, but whatever you’re going through I know God will not give you more than you can handle! He has something better for you!” After the transaction I said, “Have a Blessed day! I hope to see you again soon.” Immediately she paused and finally looked up at me for the first time and I could tell she had been crying. She asked me, “Are you an actor?” I said, “No. Why do you ask?” She said, “Because your energy is filled with so much positive energy. You move people by it. You lifted up my spirits after I just lost my house in a foreclosure. Thank you!” Her reply shocked me. After she left, I went home that day and wondered, What would my life look like if I was a successful actor? I thought about how I would be able to help my family so much more and how I can infect millions of people with the same positive energy. That night, I searched ‘how to become an actor’ and it said most start as an extra on a movie set. The next day I reached out to Central Casting in Burbank for their free introduction and here I am today! I am more than satisfied and really love what I do!

How has COVID-19 impacted your industry?

My industry has changed a lot! At first, the acting classes I would attend would be at different acting studios across Los Angeles and held in person. Same as the auditions I would get. And I would have to deal with sitting in the heavy traffic, busy freeways, hoping to get to where I need to on time. Now it’s crazy to think everything is happening on my iPhone 11 Pro! My auditions are either through Zoom or I would have to submit a self-tape that would record off of my phone’s camera and be edited in the iMovie feature. All of my classes have been online through Zoom. So, the coaches now email you a link to jump on when class starts. The biggest issue now is not the heavy traffic, it’s the internet connection. If you have bad WiFi, it easily destroys your Zoom live audition and costs you the job. So, it is extremely important now to have amazing WiFi connection.

Do you have other passions besides acting?

I love writing poetry; it really soothes my soul. I like to write out all the emotions and experiences I go through like in poems and lyrics. 2pac was the one who really inspired me to use my pen as an outlet.

I appreciate Vaughn and 360 Magazine

For allowing me to tell my story

It was a journey to chase my dreams

And stayed away from things ain’t for me

I would sit in the movie theaters

And picture myself reaching glory

I knew could take care of my family

If I stop feeling sorry

By working hard building my legacy

It creates an attraction

Sending me blessings of opportunities

I would of never would of imagine

I had to escape from my reality

By following my passions

I can’t be worried about anybody else

I constantly take action

When I’m finished grinding everyday

I die as a legend

What is the biggest life lesson you learned?

You have to decide to go after your dreams because that’s what you want to do. There’s going to be so many people in your ear telling you different things and most of the time, it’s family because they want to protect you from failing. The only problem about that is it takes you away from doing what you love and moves you closer to a life of regret. So, take your time and really think about your dreams and how you want your life to be. Take out a piece of paper and write what you want out of life. I am an actor today because it’s my dream. I wrote it down, I proclaimed it in front of the mirror, and I tell my friends and family all the time what my dreams are and that I am going to achieve them.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge is balancing my money and time. Because let me tell you, I’ve invested a lot of money to strive as an actor. Dreams come with lots of sacrifices. This is the one side of dreams that is not so glamorous. I can’t watch television when I get home because I have to practice, do auditions, or attend classes. Before I can even think about buying the latest technology, clothes, or shoes, I would have to also think about classes, camera equipment, printing, headshots, costumes, etc. You have to be willing at any moment to sacrifice for your dreams and it’s the hardest part. I’m giving up sleep most days because I’m so busy, but I love it!!

Who are the people who are your biggest influences and why?

Tupac Shakur, Denzel Washington and Eddie Murphy are my biggest influences. Everyone knows why Eddie Murphy is so big of an inspiration to me. It’s how I got my name! His character, Akeem, from Coming to America made my parents fall in love with the name due to his performance. As I’m older now and have watched it for myself, it’s crazy so much of my personality has rubbed off of him and into me. He possesses a sense of humor and radiates authority, yet he remains humble, practices kindness and self-sacrifices for the people around him. Denzel Washington is my next inspiration. I always love how Denzel approaches his game. The confidence, swag, fearlessness, and mental toughness he possesses in most of the characters he played, you can just feel his presence through your television. His Oscar performance character Alonzo Harris in Training Day was unbelievable. You felt the selfishness, greed, carelessness, ruthlessness, and his betrayal. I would love to ask him, “how do you get to that place in a character and stay there?” Finally, 2pac! His wisdom and his work ethic are what really blow my mind. I love how he was able to captivate a crowd of people and get everyone to follow him around. To be so young and so ahead of his time is crazy. He inspires me to think ahead always and to do more than what you think your capable of doing. And stop taking breaks! I remember how upset he got when his team took breaks and reminds them how time is short.

If you could change one thing you did at the beginning of your career, what would it be?

I would go back to tell the younger me to keep track of your day. Stop worrying about your yearly resolutions and worry about your daily resolutions. Because if you can’t take care of a simple day, how on earth are you going to conquer your year? It’s going to escape you every time. I always hear it in people’s voices when they talk about what they are going to be or going to have. I’m like, wait a minute, what are you going to do today? And people are usually confused or haven’t thought about it. See, it’s that’s answer right there that’s gonna kill everything you just told me.

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Eighth Blackbird Presents: The Chicago Artists Workshop – J. Ivy

Eighth Blackbird Presents: The Chicago Artists Workshop (CAW) live stream concert series rounds out 2020 with J. Ivy, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8. The award-winning poet, artist, musician, author and actor will perform work from his newest album “Catching Dreams,” a blend of poetry and music. Limited in-person seating for the concert is available. For more information click HERE.

“Catching Dreams” is Ivy’s fourth studio album and, in Ivy’s own words, was created “to serve as another reminder of the love we were put here to learn, share, and grow from.” Ivy recently finished co-writing and co-producing, singer-song-writer, Tarrey Torae’s upcoming album, “Thanks for the Love,” and co-wrote the new song, “Freedom Ride” with GRAMMY Award-nominated House Music legend, DJ Terry Hunter, also by Torae.

Ivy is Poet Laureate for the famed visual artist Ernie Barnes’ Foundation and widely known for being the “Poet” featured on Kanye West’s GRAMMY-winning album “The College Dropout,” on the song “Never Let Me Down,” along with Hip-Hop icon Jay-Z. Early in his career, Ivy was featured on three seasons of HBO’s “Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry.” Since then, his work has been featured everywhere from commercials to classrooms. From hosting and performing at conferences for Deepak Chopra to penning and performing a poem for the NBA Hall of Fame Legend Michael Jordan, Ivy has used his unique style of poetry to navigate the art form to arenas of all facets.

Over the years Ivy’s work has earned him Peabody, Clio, Telly awards.  Ivy poetically narrated, acted, and starred in two B.E.T. documentaries, “Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champ” and “Martin: The Legacy of a King,” for which he won a 2020 NAACP Image Award. Ivy has done voice-over work for dozens of commercials and is author of three books. His latest, “Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain.” In July of 2020, J. Ivy wrote and narrated Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” promo for the “Return of the NBA.”

Tickets

The 7 p.m., Dec. 8 concert featuring J. Ivy will be staged at the Eighth Blackbird production facility located at 4045 N. Rockwell St. This live streamed ticketed event also features limited in-person seating. Tickets: $20, but options include choosing a price as well contributing as a supporter. For tickets and more information click HERE.

About CAW

“Eighth Blackbird Presents: The Chicago Artists Workshop” (CAW) live concert series debuted in Fall 2020, and is presented in three parts across the 2020-2021 performance season. Part 1 included live streamed concerts featuring Karim Sulayman (Oct. 20), Rebecca Rego: “Songs for Cleaning Women” (Nov. 11) and Justin Roberts with Anna Steinhoff: “Wild Life,” (Nov. 18), and continues with two more concerts: “An Evening with Xuan,” (Dec. 1) and a live streamed concert featuring Image Award-winning poet, artist, musician, author and actor J. Ivy (Dec. 8). Part 2 is scheduled for winter 2021, and will be announced Dec. 15, 2020. Part 3 will be announced in March 2021. Artists/dates/times are subject to change. For tickets or more information click HERE. CAW is made possible in part with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

About Eighth Blackbird

Eighth Blackbird is “one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet” (Chicago Tribune). Launched in 1996 by six committed Oberlin Conservatory undergraduates, this Chicago-based super-group has earned its status as “a brand-name…defined by adventure, vibrancy and quality…” (Detroit Free Press).

Eighth Blackbird has since evolved from ensemble to institution, currently realizing its mission through five initiatives: Eighth Blackbird, the award-winning sextet; Blackbird IV, a piano/percussion duo featuring founding members Lisa Kaplan and Matthew Duvall; the Blackbird Creative Lab, the organization’s mentoring arm; Blackbird Productions, a designation for wide-ranging creative projects; and the Chicago Artists Workshop, a streaming platform created to support artists.

Recent achievements include a fourth GRAMMY Award, the inaugural Chamber Music America Visionary Award, an Ensemble of the Year Award from Musical America, and the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. In 2017, the company launched the Blackbird Creative Lab,poet

a tuition-free summer training program, alumni network, and career support platform for emerging professionals focused on cutting edge musicianship, dynamic performance aesthetic, and savvy entrepreneurship.

Set to celebrate its 25th Anniversary in 2021, Eighth Blackbird continues to fuel the modern canon it helped engine with hundreds of commissioned and premiered works by dozens of composers including Viet Cuong, Pamela Z, Bryce Dessner, Jennifer Higdon, Amy Beth Kirsten, David Lang, Andy Akiho, Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly, and Steve Reich, whose commissioned work, Double Sextet, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize (2009). A long-term relationship with Chicago’s Cedille Records has produced ten acclaimed recordings and four impressive GRAMMY Awards for Best Small Ensemble/Chamber Music Performance. Eighth Blackbird’s most recent album, “Singing in the Dead of Night” by Lang, Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon, was released by Cedille in June 2020.

The group’s latest venture is the inaugural 2020–2021 Chicago Artists Workshop, a full season presenting 24 online concerts with a stellar lineup of featured artists as well as a residency program offering studio space and technical support to area artists. For more information about Eighth Blackbird click HERE and visit them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter #eighthblackbird.