The Marathon Continues
By La'Trish Mack
I met DJ Formula in 2010 at East Carolina University's campus radio station. During the time he managed ESPN’s Streetball team and had the only college syndicated radio show. I was the general station manager, so when I saw Formula I introduced myself and gave him a tour of the station. Formula and his streetball team had a charity game that weekend in the area, which is what brought them to ECU’s campus.
Recently, I had a chance to catch up with Formula in an interview. The excitement in his voice was evident as he discussed how his college syndicated radio career started. Formula and Big Tigger worked together in 2008 for the same program director in radio, when Big Tigger suggested that Formula take a different route in radio. “If they’re not going to give you a regular syndicated show, why don’t you try to syndicate on college radio?” he asked Formula.
Although this direction was different and offered less money, taking this advice opened many doors for Formula; schools were more than willing to have his show on their college radio station and opportunities became a lot easier in this market.
Formula continued his college syndicated radio show for 9 years and will bring his show back to college syndication in September of 2022. “We’ve been on a hiatus for about 3 years,” said Formula. While creating radio shows for syndication he balanced his time managing a streetball team, which he still currently manages.
Formula knows the business well and is able to use his business savvy skills to help the players accomplish their dreams in basketball, by creating tours and opportunities for them to play basketball and get paid for it. “We all have dreams, my basketball dreams are dead now, due to an injury,” said Formula, therefore helping athletes is pivotal to him. “It can be difficult dealing with a lot of different egos and personalities at the same time but other than that, it is what it is,” said Formula.
The business side of sports had its challenges for Formula as well, because streetball started to become obsolete. According to Formula, streetball did not return to the public’s eye until the resurgence of new way players like Steph Curry. “That’s when things started to come back but it was really hard dealing with colleges and different organizations, nonprofits and all that because streetball was dying. Nobody wanted to do it anymore,” said Formula.
Formula further discussed that streetball stopped receiving notoriety when And 1 walked away, although it is still an art form and culture that we should acknowledge. It was difficult for Formula to explain this to people who did not understand streetball and its relevance.
One lesson that Formula learned along the way is that you can’t get to your destination if you stop walking, but as long as you keep moving you will have a chance at succeeding. Formula has defied the odds and created a safe space for basketball athletes to soar high. Life is not a fairytale, there will be times when you will have to make the conscious decision to not give up on your purpose.
Pick Up Where You Left
By La'Trish Mack
Jasmine "Renee Redd" Steele graduated this summer. She started her degree in 2007 but had to overcome many obstacles along the way to complete her degree program. This week parts 1-3 of my interview with her will be released. In the different parts, Steele shares details about the tragic life events she experienced on the way to fulfill her God-given destiny. Life is no fairytale, however, God can carry you through any storm. I hope Jasmine's story blesses you.
Listen to part 1 of the interview below.
In part 2 of "Pick Up Where You Left," Jasmine talks about an experience that left her broken and no longer wanting to live. Listen to part 2 of the interview below.
In part 3 of "Pick Up Where You Left," Jasmine discusses how she escaped domestic violence, her makeup business and more. Listen to the final part of the interview below.
Follow Jasmine on Social Media:
Facebook: Renee Redd Artistry
Keep Knocking on Doors
By La’Trish Mack
Willie Giles, producer and owner of Picture Perfect Production and Editorial company, worked in some capacity as a producer most of his life. When he was a young boy, living in Winston Salem, NC, he started working to develop his interest in creating films. His desire to create and tell stories through film later catapulted him into becoming an award winning music video production editor, with three of his music videos on the top 10 list of MTV Jams in the 90’s. After this success Giles knew that he had officially built his name as a respected professional in the industry. “I was doing so many videos that I didn’t even know if they were hits or not, until people would tell me,” said Giles.
Giles’ voice ignited with excitement as he spoke about a few of his favorite people he had the pleasure of working with on set. “I love Shaq, he was great to work with.” Billie Crystal, Anthony Anderson, Boris Kodjoe, Cedric the Entertainer, and Jimmy Carter are a few others Giles has enjoyed working with along with Usher Raymond, Brandy, CeeLo Green, Jennifer Hudson and many more. Giles explained how close knit the business of entertainment is, “I have mentored people and worked with people and they’ve hired me to do jobs later on in life. When people trust you in this business they come back and keep working with you, said Giles.”
The start of Giles’ career begin with his first job as a radio announcer, then he later got into broadcasting at a television station. This lead to working at different production companies in Atlanta, where he worked on the set of music videos and was offered the opportunity to be a producer on the Soul Train Awards from 2009 until 2013.
When asked what saved Giles from giving up on his dreams he responded, “I refused to have any roadblocks; if a door closed I would walk into a different door. I think that everything we do, leads us to this point, you know, where we are, right now, at this moment.” He went on to further explain that the universe has a way of molding you into the person you were created to be, even when doors are closed in your face.
While continuing to craft his skills, Giles was fortunate enough to meet some genuine individuals. “I did work with a couple of people that really kind of nurtured me and helped me; older guys who are no longer here with us,” said Giles. One of the guys who Giles worked with told him that he would teach him everything he knew, but Giles would have to promise to pass on the knowledge to the younger generation. Giles has stayed true to his promise and continues to give younger kids opportunities.
There are several people that have inspired Giles, throughout his career journey and his wife is one of those people. “It’s something that she does that makes me want to be a better person. She comes from a background of working with special needs kids and I saw something special in that. There are people out there who are doing great things other than on TV, who are just as important” said Giles. After expressing his feelings about his lovely wife, Giles shared that God places boosters in our life or people who inspire us to keep going during specific moments in our lives and in addition to his wife; these people have also inspired him to keep going.
Some advice that Giles would give to an aspiring producer, is to not turn around, but to continue knocking on those doors and if someone turns you down, don’t give up. Don’t take things personal when you are told no, you just haven’t knocked on the right door.
Select HERE to view Giles' productions.
If you are looking for a great team of professionals to shoot your next video production, visit Giles' company website pppne.com.
Giles was the creative editorial on the following music videos:
Usher's "Nice and Slow"
Brandy's "I Wanna be Down"
Montel Jordan's "This is How we Do It"
Check out more of Giles credits here: IMDB Credits
Giles and the many people he's worked with.
Behind the Lens
By La'Trish Mack
I have the world re-knowned photographer, Stevon Creque on the line, how are you Stevon?
Tell me a little bit about how you got started doing photography. I had a little creative blog with graphic design and I always took pictures and did photo manipulations but through photography I would have been better able to tell my story through people telling their story so I went and brought a little cheap camera. It was a canon brand, which I still stick with til this day and I just started taking pictures. I started out with wildlife and then I moved on to people and landscapes.
Did you always know you would be a photographer or was that something you just fell into? I always just been into art itself so everything around me inspires me. Like when we wake up in the morning, there’s different situations, you can create a photograph out of that and tell a story. Drawing was my very first art expression, my very first art form.
What was life like living in the Virgin Islands? It was awesome, just to experience the culture, the people…I have family back home that root for me and my creative processes throughout. It’s a nice community there, very festive. The people, the food, just being there, a lot of people know it as a vacation spot but that’s a place that really made me who I am through my education as well as just being overall creative and inspired on a daily. It’s so much talent there.
Other photographers…we praise eachother’s work and give eachother constructive criticism because even though we are a creative form or art expression there are certain rules we have to follow within the craft itself. ---(Stevon gave a shot out to his fellow photographers.) I have been in the states for about 7 years. Being in the US I have more opportunities to grow creatively.
What type of photography do you enjoy doing most? Portraits and nature
What was the biggest road block, you’ve experienced on your path to success? Gathering support while in NC, but that support came quickly. You have to keep on pushing regardless of the career or profession you’re in.
The first thing he did when he moved to the states was get a job and start working. He moved there for school and family.
I couldn’t fit in, because I stood out. I just found people who were within my major at ECU and I made friends like that. It was a great experience, we learned a lot about eachother.
How is it working with so many beautiful women as a photographer? I just see the art form itself. It’s all about getting the right photograph so you just have to get that mindset and start snapping pictures and have the models be as comfortable as possible. Keep in mind that I take pictures of males as well. I test shots firsts and then they can see their photos.
What is the next level you aspire to be on? You just have to wait and see, but it’s coming. I have my works published in several magazines. I give everyone a shotout who I’ve worked with. All the models. Shotout to NC photographers and videographers and hairstylists and folks that own businesses. We’re doing it, small businesses are on the rise and I appreciate everyone’s support.
What keeps you motivated? Life, living, the urge to just keep creating. I want to keep creative until I can’t anymore. We’re young right now and we don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. I just want to help other people grow and that motivates me also. It is having a god-given gift, it is my responsibility. I have a lot of friends that aren’t here with us. I feel close to them through the work they left behind even though they’re no longer here with me. I feel like I have a responsibility to them as well. I have a responsibility to carry on their energy and you know the light that they brought into the world.
What advice would you give to an aspiring photographer? Take photographs every day, keep snapping. If it’s a picture of the water, find out how you can make that look more dramatic. Find out do you need different color lights, do you need shadows? Business wise, try to do as much free shoots as possible. That’s mostly how all creatives start. We all need experience to get to that next level. Some of the best photographers need some inspiration sometimes.
Social Media Sites:
Facebook: S.Creque Photography
Check out Creque's work below
By La'Trish Mack
Matt Walsh is no stranger to perseverance. At 19 years-old his uncle passed away and in March of this year he lost his best friend and bandmate, Austin Hicks. I am grateful that I was able to catch up with Walsh for an interview. Despite of his most recent lost, he stays busy on the road performing shows.
Walsh’s uncle was a big influencer in his career. At the age of 12 years-old his uncle exposed him to the sounds of Jimmie Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. “At that point I started telling my mom and uncle that hey I think I want to get a guitar,” said Walsh. To get closer to his desire he started going to the music shop downtown, and driving the guy crazy by asking if he could look at the same guitar over and over again like he was going to buy it. “I didn’t have the money, I was a little kid so I would just sit there and hold it to see what it sounded like through an amplifier,” said Walsh.
Walsh and his mother were spring cleaning one day and gathered some household items they no longer needed. “We went to the flea market, something we had never done and some guy came by and said something about a guitar; he ended up having a cheap, old, used electric guitar that he sold me for like 25 bucks,” said Walsh. Surprisingly the guitar was in decent condition.
Although Walsh had brought a guitar at an early age, he didn’t learn a guitar chord until he was 17 years-old. Afterwards he took a break from playing the guitar right before his uncle passed away. “I think that really kind of kicked my butt into gear,” said Walsh. This is when he made the decision to go all the way with his music.
Walsh taught himself the basic principles on how to play the guitar and the remainder of his skills developed through listening to music. “I never read music and I never really been good at tablature but I can hear something and most of the time just play it,” said Walsh.
At 21 years-old he started recording in a studio, and in 2007 he released a record commercially, called A Hard Ruck. The record did really well; it made Number #1 on a pick to click segment on XM Radio. It then premiered on other various radio stations, including stations in different countries. This was just the beginning of Walsh's career.
Life was going well for Walsh until another tragedy occurred that hit home, and pushed his career and performances to a staggering halt. Walsh learned that his bestfriend and bandmate, Austin Hicks, had passed away unexpectedly.
"When you lose a friend like that, that’s the worst thing really that’s ever happened to me in my life,” said Walsh. This was the first time Walsh had experienced the tragedy of losing someone who was close to his age and also his bestfriend, therefore he had a difficult time dealing with the loss. It started to take over him emotionally and physically make him sick, because he was sitting around thinking of his friend and dwelling on the fact that he was no longer around.
After about a month Walsh’s engineer contacted him and invited him to the studio to work on music. This is when Walsh begin to finally start the healing process which materialized into his new album, Life After Rock-N-Roll. The album is now available for purchase on mattwalshmusic.net. “The time in the studio took something really bad, a tragedy, and turned it into something positive,” said Walsh.
The name Life After Rock-N-Roll signifies a new beginning to a new chapter in Walsh’s musical career. The new album is dedicated to Walsh’s friend who passed away. “It's also a way to imply he lives on in my music too,” said Walsh. The new album brings something new to his listeners instead of focusing on loud rock and roll music as he had done before.
Life is not a fairytale; there will be times when we will fall into a state of disappointment but then we will be reminded of our purpose. The engineer reminded Walsh of his purpose, during a time of hurt, pain and confusion.
It only takes for one person to reach out to re-direct another person's destiny. We weren’t built to break, but to persevere and that's exactly what Walsh did. He persevered through the tough times to allow his light to shine once again through his music. So when you see someone going under from the weight of the world on their shoulders remind them of the wonderful gift they were blessed with to share with the world.
I hope this is a blessing to someone.
Love Trish xoxoxo
Matt Walsh performs one of his songs from his new album, Watch below:
By La'Trish Mack
I had an amazing experience catching up with Jessica Honesty, creator of the J-Hon talk show. The talk show is fairly new and already reaches 250,000 viewers on television. It airs thirty times a month and can be seen on Channel 10 in Fairfax, Virginia with future plans of the show branching out to the areas of Los Angeles and New York. The show is also available to view on Jessicahonesty.com. Honesty has accomplished a lot in the short time frame it has taken her to develop a fresh, new, talk show, however her journey through the field of entertainment has not always been smooth.
Honesty’s first passion was basketball, but this passion came to a halt her senior year of high school and this would set her life on an entirely different track. “I have screws in my feet. I have two screws per foot and after the surgery senior year, I did a maneuver, came down on a person’s foot and broke my metatarsal bone,” said Honesty.
After the injury, a lot of colleges thought that Honesty would be a liability; therefore, they withdrew their offers. She verbally committed to George Mason to play basketball but no longer heard back from the coach. “It kind of sucked in a way, because it is a business and at the end of the day if you’re going to sign on that dotted line for however many thousands of dollars then they need to make sure that their product is going to be able to perform,” said Honesty.
East Carolina University was the only school that would give Honesty a chance after she recovered from her broken foot. “As far as me wanting to do the television thing, it kind of fell into my lap,” said Honesty. Originally, Honesty wanted to do web page designing but her advisor convinced her to try mass communications instead. It didn’t take Honesty long to fall in love with the field of communications, but there would be another roadblock along the way that would set her back in her new found career.
Honesty was interning for a news station in New Bern, North Carolina when her dreams of becoming a news anchor in the world of communications came tumbling down, at the age of 22-years-old. “The news director told me that I didn’t have a face for television, I would never make it on tv and maybe I could be thrown somewhere into the producer realm,” said Honesty. These words discouraged Honesty and made her feel like she would never be able to accomplish her dream.
Today Honesty wishes she would not have listened to the news producer and she discussed how important it is to not allow someone else to speak negativity over your life. “There will always be someone who feels less than that will try to discourage you. Don’t let them. Stay humble, stay prayed up. Get a vision board; write stuff down. Change and align your mindset to whatever you want to do,” said Honesty.
After being discouraged and holding out from pursuing her passion, Honesty decided to get back into gear and pursue her dream of being a news anchor. She’s now 30-years-old, but she’s better than ever and her confidence is as high as her talk show ratings. “It’s always important to practice your craft, regardless of what people say, you have to have tough skin,” said Honesty.
Deciding to pursue a career in the media industry wasn’t easy for Honesty, because she didn’t have the experience that many news stations look at. “If they don’t give you the experience, create your own,” said Honesty. This is exactly what Honesty has done by creating her very own talk show. “It just took off. I’m more shocked and overwhelmed at the response to it and how people are following it, so I thank God everyday for it,” she said.
Life is not a fairytale; therefore, you will come across people who will try to discourage you from reaching your dreams. When that happens you must remember you hold the power and the keys to your destiny.
I hope this is a blessing to someone.
Watch The New episode (The Halloween Edition) of The J-Hon show Below!
Stumbled into Magic
By La'Trish Mack
It was fascinating to sit down and finally interview 28 year old, Brandon Gerald, also known as Presto. Gerald moved to Orlando, Florida, after graduating from East Carolina University with a degree in Communication and major in Media Production. When making this move he felt like it would set him up for many opportunities but found that it was still difficult finding a job using his degree. One day he was job searching and came across an open position that he didn’t necessarily feel he would get. There was a position open at Universal Studios’, Theater Magic, and they needed a magician.
Gerald had no clue that seeing this job opening would change the course of his entire life. “I was into magic as a kid doing card tricks, and became more involved when I was in high school, but when I went to college I put the magic on the back burner to focus on school,” he said. Gerald decided to apply for the job even though he doubted he would get it. After submitting his application the supervisor asked to meet him the next day and hired him on the spot; he begin training a week later.
Working at Theater Magic helped to strengthen Gerald’s communication skills, “I performed thousands of shows for people of all nationalities and languages and I didn’t have any experience on stage before this, so I took away some really valuable stuff working at Theater Magic,” said Gerald.
A misconception about magicians is that they have to look a certain way, “Even if I’m not performing a show many people haven’t seen magicians up close before, so I try to make that moment special,” said Gerald. When he is performing his main goal is for the audience to view him as a normal person sharing his magic with them. He wants to be seen as the magician that's relatable and down to earth. When asked where did the name Presto come from he said, “It came from Theater Magic. I performed a trick and a lady shouted Presto, so from then on I started calling myself Presto and that became my stage name. The word presto is almost the equivalent of saying the word abracadabra in a magic theme or setting.”
Theater Magic provided a platform for Gerald to grow his skills and opened up the door for him to land a job at Penguin Magic. Working at Penguin Magic, which is the largest online magic store, keeps Gerald real busy nowadays. Every Tuesday he films a magician’s show and lecture to create a minute long demo and instructional video that’s available with the purchase of a magic product. Who would of thought that the job at Theater Magic would create an opportunity for him to work at another company utilizing the skills he learned in college? Everything worked together for his good. While working at Penguin Magic, Gerald also makes time to create and perform his own magic shows outside of work for events.
Being a magician is not easy, “Some people don’t take being a magician as serious as they should. Some people don’t realize how much skill the magic takes to learn. You have to think about so many things at the same time,” said Gerald. It took Gerald years to learn the rubik’s cube. He also discussed how stage blocking is just as important as the magic tricks being presented to the audience. “Many magicians are art orientated; they take bits and pieces of what people know about reality and turn it upside down for entertainment. It’s a whole new world, there’s more books written on the subject of magic than any other subject,” said Gerald.
The biggest roadblock that Gerald’s faced on his path to success is himself. He’s very hard on himself because that’s the way he was raised to be. When taking more time to think Gerald explained that he didn’t know what he was trying to reach from being as hard on himself. “I’ve learned to not take myself too serious but I’ve never done a show that I’ve felt satisfied about, even though other people always tell me that I do a great job,” he said. He usually feels better when he loosens up, because then there’s less stress when trying to put a show together.
With all the things Gerald has going on in his life, a relationship isn’t one of them. He agreed that a relationship can be a distraction and can be challenging because of his busy and spontaneous work schedule, however he is the type that likes to be in a relationship. “You’re going to be busy a lot if you are a magician, lawyer, etc. This is an important time for me in my late 20’s, it’s either now or never,” said Gerald.
Making other people happy and making other people smile motivates Gerald the most. “I like making other people escape reality. It’s a fantasy world and you can bring other people into that world and it’s fun,” said Gerald. If Gerald could talk to each and every young aspiring entertainer or performer his words of wisdom would be to do your best and just keep trying.
Life is not a fairytale so you may get off the track that you planned for yourself, but don’t worry because sometimes God decides to take us on a different route. The new route leads us to where we desire to be and are ultimately meant to be. Gerald loved doing magic tricks growing up as a child, but he put it to the back of his mind and changed his focus. God knew that was a passion of his, so instead of other doors opening for Gerald, God opened the door that he wanted him to walk through. Trust the process; don’t get discouraged. God will always close the doors that aren’t meant for you to walk through, and you will never be able to miss out on an opportunity that’s yours! I hope this blesses someone.
Love Trish xoxoxxo