Alvin Ailey Dancer Chalvar Monteiro Talks International Tour, Fashion, Misty Copeland and much more

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Freestyle dancing enables one to express themselves. It’s a safe place for many dancers to create moves that aren’t planned or calculated, but contrived freely. This form of dancing allows a dancer to personalize their movements, giving it their own custom flavor. These dances are perceived as modish, fresh and fun. Freestyling is about freedom in movement to any genre of music.

In case you’re wondering what picture I’m trying to paint here, allow me to introduce you to a professional dancer who knows a lot about the art of freestyle dancing; Chalvar Monteiro of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Chalvar has been known to post eye-catching videos of himself on his personal social media pages doing freestyle dances. The settings are constantly changing whether it be a concept video as Chalvar walks through Times Square among the people, or a candid video of him dancing freely while on tour.

As I gave much thought to this idea of freestyle dancing  while pinpointing what I wanted the angle to be for this story, I couldn’t help but create a correlation between Chalvar as a dancer and my audience as individuals with their own sense of abandon, or freedom, so to speak.

Some of you reading this story now are educators, musicians, CEO’s, athletes, entrepreneurs, and more. Well, it’s important for you all to know that no matter what your passion or craft is, the healthiest thing you can do is to personalize what you do and find a way to enjoy your craft in a custom sort of way.

Allow me to use my craft as a way to better explain this long but necessary tangent. As a Digital Reporter in the media industry and as an entrepreneur as well, writing, communicating and creating content is a part of my daily life. And while these things require me to study, learn and produce, I’ve never neglected the freestyle aspect of my craft.

What am I referring to?

I’m referring to the moment in my busy day when I sit down and try to relax, as I write and speak freely about topics that are relevant to my life and to the lives of my audience members. You see, no matter how much work I do with the company I work for or even with the interviews and columns that I execute, I’d be nothing without my ability to be able to modernize my work and practice it freely without barriers.

That’s what Chalvar does as a dancer.

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Does he have specific dances and techniques that he must follow as a member of Alvin Ailey?

Of course he does, but perhaps it’s those things mixed with the fact that he loves his craft enough to spend time in the public and in the studio just dancing within himself, that makes him an even greater addition to one of the most prolific dance companies in the world.

That being said though, if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself jumping on the bandwagon after seeing the name “Alvin Ailey” throughout this story time and time again. Instead, what I’d challenge you to do is embrace this opportunity to get to know Chalvar the person — the same guy who worked tirelessly for years to become one of the youngest and few males to grace the Alvin Ailey stage.

Simply put, the boy is bad.

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I knew who Chalvar was early on in my college days when I started dating Aubree Brown, who is a good friend of Chalvar’s and who danced with Ailey II in the past.

At that time, Chalvar was attending SUNY Purchase College, one of the top performing arts colleges in the country. He left his mark on their dance program, dancing in a mirage of shows, choreographing performances and spending many nights locked away in the dance studio, perfecting his craft.

And even then, when in most of his performances he followed elite choreography, that didn’t stop him from decompressing with freestyle dances when he could, keeping the creativity and personal connection to the art form very much so alive.

Monteiro might be a newer addition to Ailey, but he’s not new to the company lifestyle as he was dancing professionally before he joined the company.

In fact, it was his accolades after college that contributed to Alvin Ailey’s second company, Ailey II, bringing him on a couple of years ago, where he became a quick commodity among other members of that team, including Brown, who recently added a notch to her belt, performing at the VMA’s at Madison Square Garden with the iconic Beyoncé Knowles.

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It was Monteiro’s success with Ailey II that gave him some leverage as he auditioned for the first company, where he ultimately transitioned to, adding his name to a decorated list of legendary dancers who have been apart of Alvin Ailey’s long history.

Today, the young talented dancer is making a name for himself, one performance at a time, for a company that’s been known as a New York powerhouse since 1958.

He’s currently on tour with the company, traveling and seeing the great things this world has to offer overseas while doing what he has a love and passion for the most; dancing.

Chalvar’s story is a testament that you can’t let others hold you back from being who you are and from not just doing what you love, but doing it differently than the norm.

That’s what Chalvar is doing with his life right now. This isn’t a guy who’s worried about what you think about his decision to live his dream, dancing at a professional level. His focus is different.

For him, it seems to be more so about inspiring those who see him dance and changing their perspective about the art form for the better.

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Take a look at our interview which was set in the busiest and most historic attraction in New York; Times Square. We covered everything you could possibly imagine from his run with Alvin Ailey thus far, the international tour they’re on now and how the amazing Misty Copeland has inspired and influenced his dance career.

You’ll hear it from Chalvar himself at the end of the interview, but it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t also say it. CHOOSE TO BE INSPIRED.

 

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Chalvar,

It was a treat featuring you in an interview for my platform, Intern Media, in Times Square — a very historic place in the Big Apple. You were great man. You absolutely owned that interview and I appreciate your openness to the tough questions I presented lol. I’m proud of you man. It’s crazy to say that this is only the beginning for you, considering you’ve attained so much success so soon, but I’m going to say it! This is only the beginning for you, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for your future. You’re apart of the Intern Media wall now, and we’re grateful to have you as part of the family bro. Continue to be great and inspire us all as you already have been!

Karl Nelson II, Founding Editor of Intern Media 

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If New York Is ‘The Place Where Stars Are Born,’ Then Consider Pop Artist Renita Cotton Reborn

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

BROOKLYN — It’s one thing for an artist to have work ethic, but when you couple that with an “It” factor, that artist is destined for greatness.

Pop singer and songwriter, Renita Cotton, has both the work ethic and the God-given talent to take her career to great heights, and she’s already off to an impressive start.

Her singing career might have only started a little over a year ago, but there’s something about her stage presence, confidence and pizzazz that leads me to believe she might have told a ‘little white lie’ when I asked her how long she’s been pursuing a singing and songwriting career professionally, in which she responded so modestly, “So, I’d say, professionally, probably about a year and a half I started doing some background work for people.”

I interviewed the young entertainer this past spring, and after spending some time with her on that beautiful day in Brooklyn, I now understand why she’s climbing up the ladder so quickly.

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Renita has that trait most people would kill to have.  Her mix between discipline and the assurance that she has in her ability is immediately evident when you interact with her.

Renita was the perfect featured talent for an interview that was set in one of the busiest and most attractive sites in Brooklyn, NY; Brooklyn Bridge Park.

She came prepared with her exuberance and her stylist, showing me just how seriously she takes the idea of being a walking brand.

She’s a young New Yorker who has figured it out, so to speak, making “the city that never sleeps” work in her favor.  As many of you already know, New York is the place for stars to form and chase their dreams and aspirations from the ground up.  If it wasn’t, then I most certainly wouldn’t be here myself.

Renita’s ability to not only write her own music, but to also do a masterful job of performing it in front of audiences of all sizes, is proof that she’s built for this. And if she ever slips up and let’s that left arm hang too much while on that stage, I’m sure her mother will correct her, maybe saying something like “You know you have that one arm that’s a little dead there.” A comment that Renita would likely respond to by saying, “Well, haha. Thanks mom,” with a slight bit of innocent sarcasm.

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Renita understands the concept of “journey,” but that hasn’t stopped her from carrying herself as if she’s already reached her destination.

It might be hard for some of us to admit it at times, but I think it’s safe to say that in whatever we do, we have to have at least a small chip on our shoulder. That way we’re able to keep our eyes on the prize, understanding that mediocrity is never an option.

Renita’s coming off of a few very successful performances — performances that brought more music lovers along for her journey as an artist with two sides to the story; singing and songwriting.

In hip-hop, there’s a much bigger focus placed on writing your own lyrics, despite the 2015 “beef” between rap stars Drake and Meek Mill, a beef that started over Meek’s disbelief that Drake authors his own lyrics. However, it’s not really considered a big deal if singers elect not to write their own music.

Even the great Beyoncé has ghost writers.  That being said, it’s very rare and absorbing when we come across a Pop artist who is able to both write and perform their own music while also exemplifying a strong stage presence.

That description has Renita written all over it, and her journey has now been added to the Intern Media wall — a wall that includes many other journeys, even some that are still being written.

Checkout my interview with Renita and support her journey as an independent artist in the beloved Big Apple.

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Renita,

It was great hearing your story and being able to share it with my audience.  You have a lot of talent and you’re just at the beginning of your career, but more importantly you have great character.  That’s why there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll do great musically and that you’ll inspire tons of people along the way.  Stay true to yourself and continue to walk around with that exuberance and confidence that you so greatly possess.  I know we joked about the day when reporters will be knocking on your door begging for an interview, but just remember that every joke has a little bit of truth to it! Welcome to the Intern Media family Renita!

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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The Mic Is Open Was Born With a Purpose

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

“What do you do for a living?”

That’s a question that Dabriel Fulton was recently asked.

How did she respond?

She responded like the amazing soul she is.

“I make dreams come true.  I inspire, uplift….I know my purpose in life, and once you know your purpose you can help others unveil theirs!  The key to my success is, I am not greedy.  I love helping us all succeed.”

Coming from a CEO, that’s a very powerful statement and it speaks to why Dabriel is where she is today.  It speaks to why her platform, The Mic Is Open, has been around since 2011 and is better than ever in 2016.

Allow me to breakdown what was said in Dabriel’s quote.

“I make dreams come true.”  Dabriel wants others to experience what she’s experiencing right now; dreams becoming reality.  She’s doing everything in her power to see that happen for other people.

She’s created a platform that’s specifically geared towards emerging artists who are in need of a stage to showcase their talents, which further speaks to Dabriel’s desire to help other people see their “dreams come true.”

“I inspire, uplift….”  Not only does Dabriel inspire those who take part in The Mic Is Open, but she inspires the other creatives like myself who are also emerging in the midst of dreams and aspirations.

To see a young and educated black woman from my hometown of Baltimore creating her own lane and placing a focus on helping others attain success, it doesn’t get anymore inspirational and uplifting than that.

Dabriel says she knows her “purpose in life.”  For a lot of people, it takes them decades to find out what their purpose is in this life. Individuals like Dabriel and myself feel that God has blessed us with knowing our purposes at a young age.

That being said, it’s one thing to know your purpose and it’s another thing to have the courage to walk in that purpose.  Dabriel has that courage.

When she started performing at open mic nights in college, she might not have known that one day she’d be called upon to get on a stage in front of large crowds and host events geared towards providing others with much needed exposure, but she’s accepted that task fearlessly and in turn, she’s inspiring others to walk in their purpose as well.

“The key to my success is, I am not greedy….”  There are individuals and platforms that value money more than they value people and their experiences. That’s what makes Dabriel’s platform so pure though.  Greed isn’t an issue.

Dabriel would much rather someone come and attend her event, have a great time and walk away inspired. She’d rather an artist come and perform at The Mic Is Open and be able to focus on their performance, not the amount of money it costs to perform.

Dabriel ends her answer by saying “I love helping us all succeed.” There are people out there who will step on anybody’s throat to get to the top.  However, I’ve never felt that stepping on people to achieve success is the right answer in life.

Just like famous comedian, Kevin Hart, has alluded to in the past, there’s no reason why we can’t all shine together.  It’s true.  If people spent more time trying to work through their challenges to achieve success and if they came together with others and spent less time hating on one another, we would all be able to experience success together.

Dabriel wants us all to experience success together and I promise you that when you meet her in person, you’ll feel that she genuinely wants to see others happy in their lives and careers just as much as she is today.

Checkout our exclusive interview below and hear directly from Dabriel as she tells me about her recent interview with famous Rapper French Montana for Elle Magazine, her collaboration with Lyft, Saturday’s edition of The Mic Is Open, and more!

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Q.  How excited are you for this Saturday?

A.  I’m super excited.  Just gearing up and getting things ready.  You know I’m a one woman show, so there’s a lot of pressure on me. New people are even hearing about The Mic Is Open.  They’re messaging me on social media, sending me emails, just trying to reach me.

Q.  The last time we were together, you were gearing up for another The Mic Is Open in New York City.  What went well with that one?

A.  With the last event, what went well was I was able to have the venue for that entire day opposed to just being given a certain amount of hours.  The event prior to that one, everyone wasn’t able to get in.  I did make proper movements for the next one though. I booked a larger venue that was more spacious.  The only thing with that is I wanted to have the event at the same place again, but they were like “Oh no.  You have to rent it out for the entire month,” which was crazy.  The venue alone is over $2,000 and then you have a $2,000 deposit.  Things just add up.

Q.  Did the event sell out last time?

A.  Yes it did, which was awesome.  I’m looking forward to that happening again. I’m definitely looking forward to taking the show on the road too.  I’ve really only had the showcase in Baltimore and New York.  My next venture will be LA.

Q.  After having a successful turnout, when you go back to the drawing board to get ready for the next The Mic Is Open, what are some of the things you’re saying to yourself in terms of what you want to accomplish the next time around?

A.  My last event, I spent $8,000.  So, the plan is to spend less and do more, if that’s possible.  Get more sponsors. Get more people.  Get more A&R’s to come out.  Just become bigger and better, but also smarter.  I need to make smarter moves.  So, that’s where I’m at with The Mic Is Open this time around.

Starting off, I didn’t have a budget and that’s very important.  You have to create a budget so you know what you’re working with.  And if you’re financing things for yourself, you definitely have to set some parameters for yourself and for your event.

Q.  Are there any specific qualities you look for when you receive submissions from artists?  If so, what are some of those qualities?

A.  I have requirements.  When people submit, I want to see previous or past performances.  I want to see stage presence.  I want to have a link to your music or your poetry.  I want to give artists multiple opportunities for me to be able to listen.

I more so listen to the lyrics rather than the delivery.

Q.  Last time we spoke, you told me you were going to take a little break to gear up for some other ventures. Did you actually take a break and if you did, what were some of the things you accomplished and learned about yourself during that time?

A.  I know I said I was, but I didn’t haha.  I didn’t get a chance to. Once you do one show, you’re like okay what can I do to make the next one better.  Elle magazine had asked me if I would be able to do an interview with French Montana.

I was like cool.  I figured that would be a way to plug The Mic Is Open. So, we did this interview called Rap Therapy.  It’s going to be in the magazine as well as on their website in the days or weeks to come.

You always have to keep working and grinding until you reach where you want to be. I’m five years into it, but I still haven’t reached even half of what I want to accomplish.

But long story short, nothing happens over night.  I feel as though if I work hard, even harder than I’m working now and just keep pressing forward, I’ll be able to achieve some of the bigger goals I have for myself.

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Q.  Can you talk about your collaboration with Lyft, what it entails and how it came about?

A.  Well, I’m always on my phone and checking emails. An email popped up from someone that appeared to be a manager from Lyft. The person told me they had been following what I’ve been doing and that they thought it was awesome.

They told me they wanted to provide me with their services and partner up.  I emailed them back and the next thing you know, we have a partnership.  Lyft sent us the logos and our own promo codes. I was super excited because having events in New York City, it’s either the train or cab.  Parking is really scarce. Especially, because I’m having this event in Chelsea.  There is no parking.

So, this gives you the opportunity to get to and from your destination and if you want to have some drinks, you can have some and not be worried about it.

Q.  Is this going to be an ongoing partnership?

A.  They actually want to do something even bigger in the future. That’s in the works as well, so I’m looking forward to that.

Q.  Are you thinking about plans for expansion or are you more so focused on just continuously perfecting what’s going on right now and making sure that you’re selling these events out time and time again?

A.  I don’t really focus on selling out.  I just focus on providing a quality experience for the artists and all the guests who attend.  So, when I plan a show, I’m thinking “Okay. How much would I want to pay to get in the show?  What does the show have to offer? Will there be drinks?  What does this ticket include?”

Although you’re always going to have expansion in the back of your head, my focus is on perfecting this one particular event so that I know A, B and C are the moves for each event.  That way, I can follow the same protocol when I get to places like LA and Japan.

We all see the bigger picture, but we have to perfect the smaller picture first to get to the next step.

Q.  When Saturday is concluded and people are out of the venue, what are you hoping that they leave with?

A.  I want people to leave with an experience.  I want you to come to my experience.  I want them to leave saying they “had a great time and was able to interact” with certain people. I want them to say, “Dabriel was really down to earth.”

Their impression of me really matters to me.  A lot of people say they don’t care what others think, but I care because I want you to have a lasting impression.  I want you to feel good about the environment.  I want you to feel good about the host, which is me. I want you to feel good about the artist.

The Mic Is Open is a platform for emerging artists to showcase their talent.  It’s a safe place.  When you’re here, you feel loved, you feel excited, you feel welcomed. It’s not a competition.  People who are emailing me are like “So, how much do I have to pay to perform?”

It’s not that kind of show.  You don’t have to pay to perform.  I never want someone to have to pay to showcase their talent.  That’s just not what we do over here.

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Dabz,

It was great interviewing you for a second time now.  I wish you the best tomorrow with another edition of The Mic Is Open.  I know you’ll be great. Thanks for having the courage to be an inspiration to the world and for being a bridge builder for the emerging artists out there today. God is truly working in your life and it’s good to see you embrace the purpose He’s given you.  If you only knew how your story impacts my life….You will always be apart of the Intern Media family.

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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Corey Packer: Filmmaker & CEO of ChestPound Films

Corey Packer is the Founder of ChestPound Films and one of the most seasoned filmmakers walking the streets of New York City today.

In his young career, he’s already had groundbreaking opportunities.  Corey has worked with Shade 45’s Sway on Sway In The Morning and has also worked with some of the best entertainers that the industry has to offer.

If Corey isn’t busy stuffing his resume with opportunities of that stature, then he’s usually working on projects of his own, sharing his creative genius with the public.

In fact, let’s delve into his most recent project, one that’s on the brink of receiving a great deal of notice.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to work beside Corey, filming the pilot episode for his new web series, Pierce.  After working with Corey, believe me when I tell you that he has a gift and work ethic like no other.

During the shooting of Pierce, the production team worked tirelessly, sometimes 16-hour days, and Corey was zeroed in the entire time.

As we all know, everyone has their own signature way of performing their craft, especially when it comes to an artist.

Great artists often find a formula that works best for them — a formula that helps them produce their best work.

As a Digital Journalist, I have my formula, and it’s that blueprint which keeps me comfortable throughout the editorial process.

Well, the same applies to Corey.

Corey films an endless amount of weddings, short films, music videos, commercials, etc.  In doing so, he’s able to visualize what he wants the production to look like as a finished product before even reaching that destination.

In our interview, Corey alludes to how his methods can sometimes be frustrating for those assisting him in the pre- and post-production phases.  However, I believe that’s what makes him unique as a filmmaker.

Just think about it for a second.  All of the greats are unorthodox in their ways, which is what makes their work legendary, right?

Have you ever heard top producers and artists insinuate that hip-hop mogul, Jay-Z, does less writing and more ‘spitting,’ so to speak, when he’s in the studio?

That might seem eccentric to many artists, but not to the unrivaled rapper.  Jay-Z is capable of going into the studio and reciting his rhymes off of pure memorization and spontaneity.

Well, just like that formula works for the legendary Jay, the same pertains to Corey Packer.

While filming the pilot for Pierce, I watched how Corey was able to get through an entire day of filming without spending much time jotting down notes or even referring back to the script.

That didn’t affect him in the slightest way though.  If anything, it helped him hone in on the filming process even more, piecing scenes together in his head.

For Corey, this method makes the video editing process a lot easier.

Corey is now embarking on a whole new journey as a filmmaker, as Pierce will showcase Corey’s talent and vision to a much broader audience.

Corey’s currently promoting Pierce under the banner of his company, ChestPound Films.  The Indiegogo (seen in the video above) he recently released to the public not only showcases his creative talent, but highlights his overall concept for Pierce.

Checkout our interview to hear directly from the masterful filmmaker himself.

Corey,

Thank you for using my platform, Intern Media, in telling the public about your newest project for the very first time.  I value your friendship and it’s been a pleasure to work with you in the past, bringing together young talent at its finest.  I’m excited about what the future holds for the both of us and I know that this won’t be the last time we work together to present the public with positivity and creativity.  I will continue to support your web series, Pierce, and consider yourself apart of the Intern Media family. 

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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Dear Ali…

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Dear Muhammad Ali,

The beautiful thing about the life that God gives us is that we’re all born with gifts, talents and a since of uniqueness.  What we do with that is entirely up to us, but I want to personally thank you, Mr. Ali, for showing me that I can do more than just exist on this earth.  I know that I can change the world because of strong public figures like yourself.

You paved the way for so many members of the black community and beyond with your dedication to the sport of boxing and more importantly with your courage as an activist, as you took advantage of any and every opportunity to express your racial pride as a black man, resisting white domination during a time when racism was blatantly prevalent in our society.

Your greatness both inside and outside of the boxing ring will never be forgotten.

You did more during your time on this earth than simply exist.  You spoke out, stood for what you believed in and mastered your craft, inspiring the world.

And even as your illness grew over the years,  you didn’t lose that smile.  You didn’t abandon that charisma.  You continued to be that same Muhammad Ali that my uncles, my father and my grandfather loved many years ago and still love to this day.

You’re gone too soon, but I appreciate the legacy you leave behind.  My prayers are with your family.  God bless you champ.

– Karl

In the video that follows, fans honor the life and legacy of Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali on the day of his funeral.  

Dabriel Fulton: A true mogul in the entertainment world

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Sometimes life has its way of putting a limit or a cap on what we’re able to achieve and who we’re able to inspire, which is why some people never quite reach their full potential.

That being said, the best thing for us to do as individuals is to challenge ourselves to step outside of our comfort zones in whatever it is that we do.

For some of us, that means creating a lane of our own, something I’ve harped on in many of my past write ups, whether it was pertaining to myself or my features.

Well, when I think about the power in taking an entrepreneurial approach to life, I think about Dabriel Fulton, the Founder of The Mic Is Open.

The Mic Is Open is a unique platform that, as Dabriel puts it, “gives anyone with a voice a platform to be heard.”

Whether you’re a comic, poet, singer, rapper, or any other form of an artist with a voice, The Mic Is Open is the outlet for you, as it exposes you to a broad and diverse audience.  That audience is made up of fans of entertainment as well as people of influence in the entertainment industry.

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When Dabriel put this platform in place, she herself was an artist just like those that she is supporting today.  At the time, she was performing poetry at open mic nights and while it was an outlet for her, she also saw its limitations.

That’s when The Mic Is Open was born, so to speak.  Dabriel related to the “up-and-coming artist” and she wanted to provide a platform for as many of them as she could.

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Some people pursue things like this for their own personal gain, but not Dabriel.  In fact, as she explained to me in a recent interview, she could care less if she gets rich from this endeavor or not.

To her, the mark of true success is in the lives that she’s able to touch and in the exposure that she’s able to provide artists with, as a result of her platform.

There are not many entrepreneurs or professionals, in general, that could choose to take on this mindset, but Dabriel is extremely serious when it comes to putting the artist first.

I admire this attitude and I believe that it’s a product of Dabriel being around top moguls in the entertainment industry like Dame Dash and others.  Dabriel has had to work extremely hard and smart throughout her career and that’s why she’s where she is today.

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Dabriel understands the journey and she’s fine with taking the bumps and bruises that come along with it because she believes in learning from situations.

Dabriel has worked to eliminate any loop holes in her skill set, and when you’re there with her in person, you know that she deserves to be here; a mogul in her own right.

I’ve been watching Dabriel’s success rather closely for the past several months.  That’s something that I regularly do when searching for my next big story.

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Well, I admire the fact that Dabriel has built into my movement by taking this interview and giving me an exclusive look into her career as well as who she is personally.

Dabriel is proud to be a Baltimore native and feels extremely blessed to have experienced so much in such a short period of time.  Coming from a city like ours, we’re often accustomed to seeing people held back by their circumstances, so she’s happy to be an inspiration to those back at home.

Dabriel hasn’t come this far to stop now though.  After a very successful New York showcase of The Mic Is Open back in March, she is now preparing for an even greater showcase this summer.

As you can see, Dabriel is putting her foot on the gas in 2016, and the sky is only the limit for what she’s capable of doing next.

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Dabriel,

Thank you for sharing your story with my audience and for introducing my platform, Intern Media, to your audience.  I know that you’re a private person and that you sometimes make your power moves in silence, so I appreciate you stepping outside of the norm for this story.

I hope to work with you again very soon and I can’t voice enough just how proud I am of not only your success, but your hard work and for your generosity with today’s artists.

Continue to impact lives with your platform and keep giving God the glory for your success as you’ve already been doing.  God bless you and welcome to the Intern Media family.

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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Intern Media ’15: A Look Back

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

It’s hard to believe now that I “look back,” but the beginning of 2015 was the start of something special, not only for Intern Media, but for those that were touched by the creativity and heartfelt messages displayed by my work.

This time last year, I didn’t know I’d be this far along in terms of walking in my purpose and in the vision that I feel God has placed on my life (with Intern Media being a big part of that).

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You see, I believe in doing what makes you happy and finding a way to make sure that what you’re doing is impacting someone for the better. In all honesty, I’ve had my selfish moments in building my platform.

I mean, who in this world doesn’t enjoy recognition, fame, wealth, and personal gain?

I think we’d be lying to ourselves if we said that we didn’t desire these things. However, I can’t thank God enough for moving me out of my own way and helping me realize that my life and this platform that I’ve created is more about the lives it touches than about my own personal gain as a result of its labor.

That realization has led me to a city (New York) filled with high, mid and low tier media outlets. That significant change in my mindset has brought me to a city where there are truly individuals from all walks of life.

And how ironic, given the fact that my platform is focused on sharing the stories of people from all walks of life.

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So, today, as I step into 2016 with my head held high and a smirk on my face knowing what I’m about to do this year, I thank all of you for your support and for growing with me in 2015.

You all are a big part of the reason why Intern Media is now more than just a portfolio, having become my purpose in life, a future career path and a way for me to change the game as a young journalist who picked up everything and boldly moved to one of the greatest cities in America, the Big Apple.

For Intern Media, 2015 was full of great memories, some that evoked inspiration and some that reminded us of why loving one another is so very important as we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

Family and friends, I confess to you that I’m now in the midst of the most exciting and most frightening point in my 25-year-old life as I embark on a new journey of independence, professionalism and purpose.

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I ask you for your prayers, thoughts and continuous support of me and my craft as I take on a new year full of endless opportunity and a heart of expectancy.

In the pages to follow, take a brief walk with me as I reveal my memories of the individuals and the processes of some of the inspirational stories I covered in 2015.

The list includes the likes of:

  • The ladies of Fatally Fem
  • The precious life of Diana Marbley
  • Hip-hop trio Ground Up
  • Paul Easton and Aaron Walsh of Drills and Skills Basketball
  • Andrew Somuah of The Players Tribune
  • Harlem Globetrotter Jonte “Too Tall” Hall
  • Essence College Ambassador Logan Nelson
  • Rapper L. Green
  • Cancer fighter Warren Brown
  • Rapper and Producer Kenton Dunson
  • International DJ Marshall Thomas.

What yaw know about building something from the ‘Ground Up?’

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

During Intern Media Week, you all were exposed to some groundbreaking individuals with quite the level of creativity. That said, it’s only right that my next story highlights a hip-hop group that knows all about both being groundbreaking and creating groundbreaking material.

This particular group of young and talented artists represents what it means to start from ‘the ground up.’

That group is none other than the Ground Up, a hip-hop group that originated in Philadelphia, consisting of two MC’s and a DJ.

I saw them perform up close and personal at their album release party last year and it was beyond an evening well spent. Up until that point, I had only heard a small catalog of their music.

Malakai, one of the MC's part of Ground Up, performing in front of fans at one of their shows.
Malakai, one of the MC’s part of Ground Up, performing in front of fans at one of their shows.

Maybe like most people seem to do, I got caught up in the mainstream world of music, not giving much time to the passionate music on the rise, a sound that’s usually at its most precious stage because it’s only influenced by raw passion for the art.

Well, that night I witnessed years of hard work and dedication blossom right there on that stage at the 8×10 in Downtown Baltimore. Here was a group that likely faced all kinds of adversity early on.

Adversities like having to build a following one performance at a time, attaining the proper resources to put their material out to the public, having to also constantly reinvent themselves to create a lane of their own.

Ground Up has overcome all of these adversities, given where they are today. This is a group that at one point was nothing more than a brilliant best-kept secret, that is before they stepped out there in front of people and showcased their talents as artists in this game.

Ground Up recently tore up the stage at the annual Made In America Festival in Philadelphia, a festival that legendary hip-hop mogul Jay Z developed in recent years.

If you’re not careful, you might be so taken back by the heights that Ground Up has reached to the point where you might become more fixated on where they are today, neglecting what it took them to get here.

Azar, Malakai, Bij Lincs...the originators of Ground Up.
Azar, Malakai, Bij Lincs…the originators of Ground Up.

That’s something that many of us do quite often, but it’s important to take heed to the fact that the title “Ground Up” is more than just the name of a hip-hop group growing at a fast rate, but also a phrase that’s true on its surface.

Ground Up can really look back and say that they did it. They built their group from the ground up and now they’re entering a whole new chapter to their journey as they’ve just dropped a new album Seventeen Eleven and have already hit the road, performing across the country on their tour.

Their success thus far is proof that if you nurture an idea the correct way, the sky isn’t even the limit.

This group doesn’t even realize how they inspired me as a young journalist on the rise when they took the time to talk to me about my craft and about how both music and journalism collide. There were likely those that didn’t buy into their dream until they made it a reality and I am determined to do the same. Much love to Ground Up and what they represent in the world of hip-hop.

Me with a couple members of Ground Up (Azar and Malaria) after their album release party last year in Baltimore at the 8x10.
Me with a couple members of Ground Up (MC’s Azar and Malakai) after their album release party last year in Baltimore at the 8×10.

Intern Media Week: Day 3 – Andrew Somuah, Writer for Dime & The Source Magazine

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

“You can do it too.” ~ Pharrell Williams, Singer-songwriter 

This is a quote you’ll find if you go searching for Andrew Somuah’s social media profile, and if you know him, then you understand why it’s a quote in which he lives by as a young journalist from Alexandria, VA, who believes that he too can attain greatness and success at the highest level in his industry.

A lot of us get to watch shows like Nick Cannon’s Wildin’Out on the television or hear from Powerhouse 105.1’s Charlemagne Tha God on New York radio, or even see footage of NBA players doing interviews from their team locker rooms.

These are things that a lot of us are able to access thanks to the evolution of technology. However, wouldn’t it be cool to be right there on the set for each of these scenarios?

Well, my good friend and journalist for The Source Magazine Andrew Somuah has been privy to those experiences, up close and personal, and rightfully so.

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Here’s a guy who I’ve witnessed dedicate himself to his craft since his college days.

Whether it’s been pulling an all-nighter to ensure that work was done, jumping through hoops to get a ground-breaking interview, or stopping a Hip Hop mogul at a music festival to set up a future interview, Somuah has done all of these things plus more.

A lot of those who are not in the journalism field or the media industry for that matter, have no idea the kind of adversities that lie there waiting for us young journalists, but Somuah knows all about that.

He chooses not to use those setbacks as an excuse though. He’s learned early on in this business that if you want something, you have to go for it and try your best to exhaust all options within your own abilities before venturing out for help.

Somuah has worked at mastering several pieces to the puzzle that come along with being a journalist in the urban culture; writing, interviewing, researching, studying the culture, and being one with the culture.

Somuah exemplifies each of those things as he’s not just working in this industry to say he has a job or for the glamour, but he actually loves Hip Hop, the urban culture and both music and sports.

He’s been living and breathing these things since I’ve known him.

As far as Hip Hop goes, the fact that he’s remained an objective fan of the likes of Jay Z and Kanye West, speaks to not only his knowledge of rap music, but something else too; he enjoys studying the greats.

And what happens when you surround yourself with greatness, you ultimately enter into a realm of greatness as well and that’s what Somuah is working towards on a daily basis.

The urban culture is something else that Somuah is very familiar with as he’s always in the know about local events taking place in the DMV area to what’s happening on the Hip Hop scene in New York to even festivals and other happenings on the West coast.

This was all even before he had landed a job with Source, started writing for Dime Magazine, or even began his internship at 93.9 WKYS in his senior year of college.

We all have things we’re passionate about. You showed automatically be in the know of whatever it is that you’re interested in by taking the time to read up on it.

Why? Because it’s your passion. So, when that passion becomes your career path, it should be like waking up doing what you love everyday.

Now, granted every passion doesn’t allow one to live comfortably, at least not right away, so when one chooses that path anyway, you know that they truly love what they do and that’s what it’s about.

My good friend Somuah falls into that category as someone who truly loves what he does.

When it comes to music, Somuah is always looking to keep his options open, not staying within the boundaries of what’s considered mainstream, but by making mainstream what he wants it to be.

And last but not least, sports. What can I say about sports?

That’s where our friendship began and I’m pretty sure that’s what got Somuah so in tune with the Hip Hop scene, considering both seem to go hand in hand.

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How many times have you seen athletes and artists team up?

It happens a lot. You’ve had former NBA All Star Allen Iverson and Rapper Jadakiss team up for a Reebok commercial. We’ve seen famous Filmmaker Spike Lee and his Airness, Michael Jordan, team up to market Jordan’s sneakers.

And how about prize fighter Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Hip Hop mogul Lil Wayne? They’ve too teamed up to bring sports and music fans entertainment, something we’ve seen exemplified through Mayweather’s usual walk out of the tunnel before a championship fight.

Andrew Somuah has accomplished a lot within this realm of journalism, but you can rest assure that he is far from finished.

In a recent off-the-record conversation I held with my good friend, he expressed to me that there are a prethala of things that he has planned moving froward in his career, and if I was reading this, I’d be sure to tune in to this young and humble brother.

Like those I’ve chosen to highlight on my blog before, Somuah represents uniqueness, hard work and passion. And that’s why you’re reading about him today.

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Intern Media Week: Day 2 – Jonte “Too Tall” Hall, shortest Harlem Globetrotter ever

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

“The smallest player in the prestigious 89-year history of the Globetrotters, the 1.55-metre guard – or five feet two inches in the old language – defied the odds to showcase his talent with the greatest exhibition team on the planet.” ~ Lee Gaskin of The Canberra Times (from a June 2015 interview with Mr. Hall)

Jonte Hall, also known as “Too Tall” as a member of the world-renowned Harlem Globetrotters, experienced what some would call a rough patch, just several years ago. In his late twenties, Hall was working around the clock in pursuit of his dream; to play professional basketball one day.

However, at that time, Hall’s window was not just closing, in the eyes of some it was actually shut as he found himself working overnight shifts, buffing floors at office buildings in Baltimore County.

I don’t say that to degrade anyone that works in that field, but for Mr. Hall, I believe anyone would be able to understand my point just by reading the title of this piece; hence the Harlem Globetrotter reference.

Anyone who’s able to attain such an accomplishment was obviously not meant to spend the rest of their life or career cleaning office buildings.

Nonetheless, that’s what he was forced to do just years ago because like everyone else in America, he had bills.

We’ve all been faced with that reality, right?

That moment when reality sets in and the ways of this world put us in a position where we have to make a choice, it’s either our dreams and aspirations or doing what we have to do to put food on the table. It’s not a fun position to be in and Hall is very much so in touch with that feeling.

At that time in Mr. Hall’s life, I had the rare opportunity to be caught up right in the midst of his setbacks as well as his victories. As a matter of fact, there were some nights when I was the person that my good friend called upon at the end of those late night shifts, when he needed a ride home or just someone to talk to about everyday life issues.

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I still remember those conversations that we had like it was just yesterday when Hall would tell me about his workouts on the vacant floors of those office buildings.

Here’s a guy that would take his lunch or dinner breaks for that matter and spend them on those vacant floors doing basketball drills as well as strength and conditioning workouts. As prize fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr. would put it, that’s that “hard work and dedication!”

I know what you guys are thinking.

What a story, right?

A young African American male from Baltimore, experiencing humbling times several years back, but now has ‘Harlem Globetrotter’ next to his name. That’s definitely a story worthy of radio or television time.

However, while that’s quite the success story, it goes so much deeper than just that. What I just mentioned only scratches the surface for the great life that is Jonte Hall.

Hall, 32, might have come up in a tough environment at a young age, but thanks to a loving mother, a few mentors along the way, and a good head on his shoulders, he didn’t allow himself to be defined by what was going on around him. Instead, he demanded for others to define him by his quality of life.

Hall fell in love with the game of basketball at a young age and as much as some people will try to act as if a sport is not a true passion to have, they’re wrong. Sometimes something as simple as a sport can save one’s life by keeping them focused and out of trouble on the day-to-day.

That’s the reality for many young black males coming up in environments like Baltimore City and surrounding areas where trouble can frequently find you.

That’s something that the game of basketball did for Hall, even in his twenties. While some believed his dream should have been put to rest at a certain point, thank God Hall stayed the course and kept his goal in the forefront of his life.

After all, anyone can decide to hang up their dreams after being hit hard by the hand that society deals us, but it takes a special person to stay the course for that special day when they can now wake up and live their dream.

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That mindset is what catapulted Hall into becoming a member of the Washington Generals, an American exhibition basketball team that you’ll always see on the same court as the Globetrotters, in a losing effort that is, and if you have any knowledge of the Globetrotter history, you’d know that I say that in all fun. The Generals gave Hall his first opportunity to showcase his talents as a basketball player on a national stage and before he knew it, he was signing his contract with one of the most historic basketball platforms in sports history; the Globetrotters of course.

Since then, he’s been traveling the world with the Globetrotters doing what he loves to do and putting smiles on the faces of thousands in the process.

Hall’s testimony speaks volume to what the Bible says about faith, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Sure, you might fail or better yet fall in the midst of following your dreams, but just like in a real dream, you can also get up, dust yourself off and keep moving onward and upward.

If Hall would have decided to stay where he fell, then his testimony probably wouldn’t have the impact it has today and he wouldn’t be waking up doing what he loves on a daily basis, able to touch lives beyond just his hometown.

I selected Hall for Intern Media Week, not only because he’s like a big brother and close friend, but also because his story deserves to be spread to others. His life is a representation that not every sports figure or celebrity figure changes for the success and the fame.

I’ve known Hall for years now and I can’t lie about the fact that he’s literally the same humble and positive guy that I met when he was an average guy walking the streets of my hometown. Instead of allowing his success to change him, he’s decided to change the perception of those who are famous and successful in the entertainment world.

That said, it’s my honor and privilege to be able to highlight someone that’s been a big brother to me and a supporter of my endeavors. And I’m confident that his story will leave you wanting to know more about this deep and talented brother, Mr. Jonte Hall.

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