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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Chanel Murphy: The “F” in “food” should stand for “fabulous”

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Chanel Murphy, a self-taught chef and the Founder of My Fabulous Food, is bringing a new flare, some glitz and glamour, so to speak, to the art of cooking. Chanel’s elegant approach to her “fabulous food” brand, from her fashion to the perfection she strives for with each new recipe, is making quite the impression on foodies throughout the world.

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We all know that social media is at an all-time high right now, but even with that being the case, it can still be difficult to find a newsworthy story located thousands of miles away.

Well, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to purchase a plane ticket or take that eight or nine hour drive to North Carolina to land this story. Instead, I put my youthfulness to the test and kept my eyes on the plethora of talent surfacing the hundreds of social networks available to us.  It was then that I came across Chanel’s profile, which I found to be very inspirational and extensive, proving to me in less than 60 seconds of just how seasoned of a chef she’s become since 2015 when she first started her business.

The girl is simply something special when it comes to not only her ability to make a good dish, but also in how she presents her cooking to the public.

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Chanel’s constantly putting her cooking skills to the test, whether that be adding a new recipe to her arsenal or catering an event for many food lovers to come out and enjoy her work.  Her consistency is why her following continues to grow so rapidly today.

And just to think that Chanel has only been in this industry since her college years.  That speaks to her natural gift in this area and more importantly to her dedication to her craft, which you all should know by now is what inspires me the most as a journalist.

Chanel’s talent as a chef and the authenticity of the food she makes has the power to not only fill up a hungry tummy, but to touch people’s lives in a new way.

It was great to hear from Chanel in our interview, as she shared her recent collaboration with a well-known personal trainer in Charlotte, NC, Taylor Calamese. It was that collaboration which enabled Chanel to teach youth about how to make delicious and healthy meals.  This joint effort combined Chanel’s love for cooking and Taylor’s expertise in health and fitness, educating some of North Carolinas brightest children.

Those are the kinds of experiences more young people need, especially in a world where the wrong foods are always right in front of our faces.  This is what I mean when I say “Chanel has an opportunity to impact lives with her talent.”

How many times have you been at an event, eating and mingling with familiar faces and some new ones?

For a lot of us, that’s every month, if not more frequently.  Well, just think about attending an event, doing the usual, but then being so blown away by the quality of the food that you just can’t leave the venue without speaking to the chef.

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That’s the kind of affect Chanel’s product is having on her consumers today.  And the fact that she’s an all around sweet person only makes her that much more dangerous in the food district.

Before I even started this platform, I told myself that the aim was to create something that’s outside of the box and to take something as simplistic as journalism and make it attractive to the naked eye again.

That’s exactly what Chanel is doing as a chef.  She’s adding a swagger and creating an atmosphere around her cooking that I’ve just simply never seen before, and I couldn’t be more proud of what she’s accomplishing.

The fact that Chanel’s a self-taught chef speaks to her natural talent, but features by Intern Media, Food Beast and her recent appearance on Fox 46 in Charlotte speaks to the hard work she’s putting into her craft.

In an exclusive interview, Chanel gave me some great insight into how she got started and what makes her food experience special and unique.

Be sure to checkout the in-depth interview following my write up, and like I always tell you guys, choose to be inspired.

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Chanel (on the right) during her appearance on Fox 46.

Q.  You’re a self-taught chef.  It’s difficult for some to cook a quality meal with the help of a recipe book, show or YouTube tutorial, let alone teach themselves.  That being said, I find it extremely impressive that you had the know-how to teach yourself to cook and to cook at this level, for that matter. How have you been able to accomplish this?

A.  Well, I’ve always loved to eat, but I started cooking and experimenting in college.  I definitely burned a few meals along the way, and it was a process that took me years to perfect.

I have a collection of recipe books, and I have a natural love for learning.  Continuous learning and determination is key.  I find inspiration from many sources, and my natural creative abilities help with my presentation skills.

Q.  At what point did your services begin to become a high demand among other food lovers?

A.  When I started sharing meals that I cooked on Facebook and Instagram, I started getting messages from a lot of different people.  Some people wanted to order food, and others wanted me to teach them how to cook.

Q.  What’s your vision for the mobile catering company that you’re planning on launching in the near future?

A.  In the future, I plan on opening a food truck that serves gourmet meals to-go and that also provides event catering services.  I want to serve unique meals that no one would expect came off of a food truck.

I also plan on providing personal chef services for individuals who are too busy to cook for themselves.

Q.  You recently partnered up with a local personal trainer in Charlotte to host a healthy cooking class.  How did that come about?

A.  Taylor Calamese, of TC Lifestyle Fitness, reached out to me to host a healthy cooking class back in March.  We’re both passionate about what we do, and I believe we recognized that in each other.  The class taught students how to cook delicious wholesome meals in a healthy way.

Q.  You recently appeared on Fox 46 in Charlotte.  What dish did you cook on the show and what was that experience like for you?

A.  My cooking segment on Fox was amazing!  I made quiche, which is one of my favorite dishes.  It’s super easy to make, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to share my recipe with others.

Q.  Given the fact that you enjoy dining just as much as you enjoy cooking, where is your favorite place to dine in?  What’s your signature dish when you eat there?

A.  Yes!  I love eating out too.  At one point, I wanted to write restaurant reviews. AZN Asian Cuisine is one of the best restaurants in Charlotte.  A lot of people don’t know about it, but their Korean short ribs are absolutely amazing.

Q.  What’s one of your personal favorite dishes that you make?  Take us through the process of making it.

A.  I love to cook crab legs.  I love them simply steamed, topped with Cajun seasoning and served with drawn butter.

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Chanel,

Thank you for taking this interview from many miles away and allowing me to share your talent and your story with my audience. You’ve inspired me with your craft and I hope I’ve done the same for you.  I’m sure this won’t be the last time we work together, but until then keep doing great things and testing the boundaries as a self-taught chef with a lot of pizazz.  Welcome to the Intern Media family.

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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Celebrity Natural Hairstylist: Felicia Leatherwood

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Do you remember the days when walking down the street and seeing a gorgeous woman confidently rocking the “natural” look was a rarity?

Well, those days are long gone.  Today, women all over the world have re-embraced this idea of living a “natural hair lifestyle.”  What once appeared to be a trend is now a lifestyle for many women out there.

It’s become more than a tool for fashion and more of a “movement” that is empowering women of all ages, enabling them to express themselves by embracing their natural hair.

In covering this topic, I wanted to create content that catered to my female audience, providing them with some new insight into the world of natural hair.

What better way to do that than to consult with an expert in this particular field. That expert is none other than successful Celebrity Natural Hairstylist, Felicia Leatherwood.

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Leatherwood is based in Los Angeles, but has traveled the world spreading her message and offering her tips to a growing audience.  Some of the beautiful places that she’s been able to travel to include Africa and different parts of Europe.

Felicia stays busy, making her stamp, not only as a Natural Hairstylist, but as a designer as well, designing natural hair products for both adults and children.

In fact, she’s widely known for her Detangler Brush, which makes “hair life easier on the naturalista” as it’s “designed to help women and children of any texture of curl to detangle their hair with ease with minimal to no hair shedding.”

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Felicia’s Detangler Brush

In Felicia’s own words, this Detangler Brush is good for moving “threw the hair without pulling or breaking hair.” 

Felicia jumpstarted her career 26 years ago, before there was such a great emphasis placed on social media.  The power of social media is endless as it cuts out the middle man, so to speak, giving you a direct line of communication to almost anyone around the world.

That’s actually how Felicia and I connected, via social media, and I’m glad we did.

What’s impressive about Felicia’s success is the fact that she was able to develop a substantial following the old fashion way; by being a walking brand.  That’s exactly what she does on a daily basis, giving you that exterior as a strong and confident natural beauty and professional.

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Felicia is the real deal as she’s made quite a bit of noise in her industry, building a resume that includes styling well-known individuals like Viola Davis, Will Smith and Terrence Howard; to name a few.

Leatherwood has built a rapport with some of the best in the business, but like what I do with my platform, she still focuses heavily on the “everyday” individual.  She educates and motivates women, inspiring them to “get in touch with themselves and their natural hair.”

Felicia prides herself on creating an atmosphere with her workshops that makes it as if you’re “getting advice from a friend and not a teacher.”  That makes great sense considering audiences of today cater more towards someone who they can relate to.

In Felicia’s industry, she’s that relatable individual.

Felicia currently has a following of over 140,000 people, which is led by a strong online presence.  She showed a great level of love for the “process” when she agreed to take my interview and I appreciate her for that.

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Felicia is responsible for opening my eyes to a whole new world of content; the natural hair movement.

In our interview, we covered some major topics from how Felicia balances this packed career of hers to how she’s been able to develop a rapport with big time celebrities to her presence overseas.

I’ve covered a lot of stories since 2014 and I can guarantee you that this one will leave you inspired, nonetheless.

Checkout our interview below and become one of thousands to follow and support Felicia Leatherwood. You will not regret that decision.

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Q.  Felicia, you’re currently mastering quite a few areas right now as a Natural Hairstylist, a designer of natural hair products, an inspirational and beauty speaker, and as a producer of content related to hair and wellness. How are you able to balance these platforms?  What kind of challenges do you run into as a woman who wears many hats?  

A.  I love what I do and I enjoy the services that I can provide to people by way of education, styling tools or even inspiration.  So, it’s my pleasure to be of service in this way.  I think the most challenging thing about wearing many hats is that you don’t get enough sleep haha.

Q.  Obviously, technology has evolved tremendously since 26 years ago (when you first started) and nowadays people can create awareness for what they do on social media, free of charge.  That being said, what avenues did you have to use in order to build a following in the earlier years of your career?  How have you adapted to this new age of advertisement and marketing?  

A.  I was always my own walking billboard (when I had longer hair, of course), so it wasn’t hard to get clientele. Women would always admire my hairstyles when I went anywhere.  Nowadays, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have given me a much broader reach to showcase my work.  I’m grateful for that.

Q.  For someone who hasn’t experienced your workshops, take me through the process and what these workshops entail.  

A.  The workshops are a great way for women to get in touch with themselves and their natural hair by means of education, inspiration and motivation.  The feedback that I receive from anyone who has been in my workshop, is that, it feels like you are getting advice from a friend and not a teacher.  I love hearing that because I want the women to feel empowered and I don’t want them to feel intimidated by the transition back to natural hair.

Q.  You’ve featured your styles on some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry; Viola Davis, Will Smith, Jill Scott, and Anthony Anderson, to name a few. Talk about how you were able to build your platform to a level where these influential individuals were willing to co-sign your work?

A.  Well, there are not a lot of hairstylist catering specifically to natural hair, so I created a niche for myself by staying focused on just catering to clients that wanted to be and stay natural.  Also, word spreads quickly when you are one of the few doing natural hair in Black Hollywood.

Q.  You’ve hosted workshops and panels overseas.  Of all the places you’ve been to, where did you enjoy traveling to the most.  Did it inspire you in a new way?  

A.  I have enjoyed all of my travels, so it’s hard to compare.  I’m always learning new things when I leave the states about the attitude women have about their natural hair and so all of my travels are amazing and inspirational.  I love going to Africa and different parts of Europe and educating in different regions.  It’s ALL GOOD!

Bonus Q.  For all of my female viewers out there and natural hair lovers, explain why they should invest in your Detangler Brush?  

A.  The Detangler Brush was created to make hair life easier on the naturalista.  It is designed to help women and children of any texture of curl to detangle their hair with ease, with minimal to no hair shedding, in the process of detangling hair.

The brush is also super incredible and easy for children to use on themselves, so they don’t have to run from their moms during wash day!  Haha.  What makes the brush so amazing is it’s ability to move threw the hair without pulling or breaking hair because the rows of the brush move with the hair.  So, you can detangle your hair stress-free!

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Felicia,

You are wonderful.  Thank you for joining the Intern Media movement and I look forward to being able to do an even more extensive story on you when I take my platform on the road to LA. Continue to inspire your audience as well as outsiders like myself who respect and admire individuals (like yourself) that create their own lane, and who touch many lives along the way.

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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Intern Media Week: Day 1 – ‘The Session’ with Logan Nelson

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

“She is proud to be a beautiful black woman, and she exudes this attitude in everything that she does.” ~ Nicole Dei, friend of Logan Nelson’s (Excerpt from Maya Pottiger’s article on Nelson)

Some of us go through life confined by our circumstances, allowing them to keep us from our full potential. I saw something interesting on my Instagram news feed just the other day. It was a photograph of an elephant tied to a chair, but it was the caption that went along with the image that really grabbed me; “Sometimes the thing that is holding you back is all in your head.”

Is there anything currently holding you back?

I know that I’ve allowed certain circumstances to hold me back in the past by placing those circumstances on a pedestal, making them bigger than what they really were. The problem was only magnified from a mental standpoint. We’ve all been there, simply allowing our circumstances to keep us trapped. Well, It wasn’t until I went to God and made the conscious decision to face my obstacles dead on, before I was able to break through those constraints, and as a result, here I am writing this article today.

Everybody’s different though. My way of breaking through my reservations might differ from yours, but whatever formula works for you, put it to use because the last thing you want to do is wake up years from now and realize that just like the elephant in the picture, you too were allowing the most minute things control your future and your purpose in this life.

The young lady I’m featuring in this article is the perfect example of someone that has refused to allow her circumstances to keep her from striving for greatness and whether she knows it or not, she’s inspired and motivated me to keep things going with my endeavors.

The young lady I’m referring to is none other than my beautiful little sister, Logan Nelson, who is currently getting the absolute most out of her college experience at one of the most prestigious and popular universities in the country; the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Ms. Nelson has truly blossomed over the years. I can think back to when she was going through a phase in her life where she was in somewhat of a shell of herself. Those days are long gone though. Today, anyone who knows Nelson well, would not be able to even picture her in such a phase.

Why do I say this?

It’s because she is literally taking her campus by storm right now, and pretty soon I believe she’ll be in a position to leave an imprint on the world at large. Whether’s it’s been a Delta-related event, writing as a young female journalist on her campus, dancing or stepping with her line sisters and friends on campus, no matter what it is, she’s doing it all and enjoying every moment of the journey.

That’s quite special and also rare to see from a young college student, who often feels like the pressure of the world is on their shoulders. Just last year, Nelson felt that there were certain opportunities passing her by or for lack of better terms, just simply not knocking on her door, but look at her now.

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Nelson is a senior at UMD and was recently nominated by Essence Magazine as a contestant of the ESSENCE College Ambassador Search because she strives to “help change the culture on UMD’s campus.” This would be an opportunity of a lifetime for Nelson to be that voice that she so anxiously wants to be — a voice for young African American females on her campus, shining a light on what she calls that “black girl magic” that is represented by so many of her peers walking Maryland’s campus today.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for the young Baltimore native. Ms. Nelson has just been featured in a great article written by Maya Pottiger, a junior journalism major at UMD writing for The Writer’s Bloc, a publication serving “the artistically- and literally-minded students of College Park” and also covering some of the great things happening in the D.C. area.

It’s Nelson’s work ethic and the impact that she’s had on her campus that’s led to these great doors flying right open for her. And now her own brother gets to spill the beans in a simple yet powerful way; through the art of writing.

Speaking of writing, that’s also something that the young Nelson has developed not only as a skill, but as a love and a passion, one that she’s been able to express through her contributions to Stories Beneath the Shell and Her Campus Media. As Pottiger mentioned in her article, Nelson has been able to focus on three specific things she’s passionate about as a contributing writer for Her Campus Media; beauty, lifestyle and fashion.

These are all things that Nelson exemplifies as a beautiful young back educated woman. The beauty aspect is seen in more than just her outer appearance, but also from within, which is shown in how her family and friends view her, as a beautiful being on both the inside and outside. As for the lifestyle aspect, Ms. Nelson believes in surrounding herself with people that are “about their business” and who are positive beings, as seen through her life.

Last but not least, we can’t forget about the fashion aspect. That has Nelson’s name written all over it. Nelson is all about staying up on her fashion, whether that’s rocking her natural hair out, wearing a stunning black youthful dress with all the red accessories to go along with it as a representation of her beloved sorority, or simply by rocking a pair of Nikes and her workout gear around campus.

Regardless of the case, Ms. Nelson knows how to make each look her very own.

It’s my honor to feature her as my first surprise choice for my Intern Media Week and I know that for those reading this, you’ll leave from it just as inspired as I am by her graceful and edifying young life.

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Marcellas Hill: CEO of Marcellas Hill Productions. Music Video Director. Choreographer. Producer. Style Icon. Supermodel. Looking back on my Unsung blog features from 2014.

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

When I did a story on my college friend Marcellas Hill earlier this year, he had just directed what was a sold out premiere entertainment showcase for his production company (Marcellas Hill Productions) – a showcase that went by the name of Model Behavior.

Model Behavior was an artistry showcase that highlighted all forms of the performing arts and also gave Marcellas’ peers an opportunity to showcase their talents in the areas of production, make-up artistry, modeling, dance and many other areas. The showcase was a success and it came as no surprise to me considering Marcellas’ experience directing multiple shows.

Marcellas directed his first show at just 15 years of age and now he’s 23 with over 15 shows on his resume. When I think about this guy, I think about successful people in the entertainment industry like Tyler Perry who started literally from the bottom with all odds against him. However, if you look at Mr. Perry’s career today, you can see that he didn’t let his circumstances determine his destiny. He now has his own production studio campus in Atlanta, GA.

Mr. Hill has the ability to be just as great. You might ask, how can I say this with such confidence? It’s simple. How many people do you know that have directed one show in a lifetime? Well, Marcellas has had a hand in directing more than 15 shows and he’s not even 25 yet.

Since our interview some months back, Marcellas has reaped the benefits of a successful premiere entertainment showcase that reached an audience of roughly 800 attendees and received some incredible reviews according to Mr. Hill himself. “It was a great start to launching my company and building my brand/legacy.”

Model Behavior has opened up several doors for Marcellas. Shortly after his showcase, Marcellas was hired by BET Networks in order to “render creative services for a sizzle reel and to assist with the production of their premiere inaugural fashion week showcase, BET on Fashion.” BET on Fashion was showcased at the Espace Lounge in New York City and included the likes of Elle Varner, Chudney Ross, and Deborah Lee.

After Marcellas returned from New York, he got right back to work, working on a show for the Operation Renewed Hope Foundation that was geared towards raising awareness for homeless veterans. The show was successfully showcased at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City and Sarah Fraser hosted it. Attendees included the Governor of Virginia and Miss America.

Marcellas and his team are currently working on a project and trailers for it have surfaced on his social media platforms. He plans to reveal more details about the project in the days to come.

Marcellas was in a “takeover” type of mode in 2014 and what’s scary is he isn’t letting up as he walks into a new year. “Ultimately, my goal in 2015 is to establish a strong online presence and following through social media. I really want people to recognize my brand when people hear ‘Marcellas Hill Productions.’ I have big expectations for the New Year. Time will reveal my goals because I plan to publicly accomplish them.”