Pro Basketball Player Donté Greene: When First-Class Character Meets Undeniable Athletic Talent

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media 

He was one of the most prolific basketball players to come out of Baltimore. Among the many Division I options that were on the table for him, he chose to take his talents to Syracuse University where he averaged over 17 points and over 7 rebounds a game, setting a record for 3-pointers made (90).

Drafted by the NBA as a 2008 first-round pick, he kicked off his NBA career with a 40-point debut in the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas, before going on to spend the first four years of his professional career with the Sacramento Kings.

These are just some of the accolades for Donté Greene. Perhaps though, the most imposing thing about this young brother is exactly what the title to this story says; “first-class character” and “undeniable talent.”

It’s that combination that separates Greene from the pack.

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I’ve come across so many people who have had off-putting experiences with athletes, whether it was because of their character or something else. That’s why it’s important for us to highlight those athletes who exemplify great character, a heart for others, and who represent positivity.

That’s who Donté Greene is.

Greene has done an amazing job at taking the “highs with the lows,” as he would call it.

Perhaps though, the most imposing thing about this young brother is exactly what the title to this story says; “first-class character” and “undeniable talent.”

What are those highs and lows for Greene?

Well, his career hasn’t necessarily been a walk in the park. The Baltimore breaded professional ball player has dealt with his share of adversity, and believe it or not, it started on the night of the 2008 NBA Draft — a night where he was expected to be selected early in the first round. Instead, he was snagged as one of the last few picks in the first round.

Greene used that as motivation though, as he put on the most impressive showing in his Summer League debut, proving to his fellow athletes and to coaches that he belonged in an NBA uniform.

From there, his NBA journey began, but it wasn’t too long after that when Greene would face adversity again. This time though, it was a move from the NBA to the NBA Development League (D-League). This move came after he set on the bench for most of his rookie season.

While some players would have assessed the situation, viewing it as a major set back, Greene did just the opposite. He viewed it as an opportunity to help his organization and get better in the process so that when he did get an opportunity to move back up, he’d be ready.

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Greene put on a show during his brief stint in the D-League, and days later, he was back in a Sacramento Kings uniform. After that, he would experience the business aspect of basketball, as he was released from the team in 2013, ultimately bouncing around the league a bit before ending up overseas.

According to Greene, landing overseas was probably the hardest thing he’s had to deal with, but not only for the obvious reasons of being on the outside looking in as far as the NBA goes. The thing that hurt him the most about the transition was being away from his family, specifically his kids who mean the world to him.

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Well, another transition could be approaching for Greene if he continues to have success overseas. That’s a turning point that the Orangeman says he’s ready for, considering he hasn’t laced up his kicks for an NBA game since 2013.

Greene says he doesn’t take his position in life for granted though and that he’s had a lot of time to mature as a player and as a person, even though his children know him to be a “big kid,” always leaving a favorable lasting impression on those he comes in contact with.

Greene is the perfect role model for other young and older athletes out there today, as he exemplifies a love for the game of basketball and a level of character that keeps him involved in the community and grateful everyday for the opportunity he’s been given to provide for his children.

Checkout our exclusive interview below and CHOOSE TO BE INSPIRED.

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Q. Something that most people might not know about you. You were born in Germany, which I believe had a lot to do with your mother working for the National Security Agency (NSA), at the time. Tell me a little bit about that.

A. My mom worked for the NSA 13 years before she had me. Germany was great! I lived there until I was four years old and then came back for another year between the ages of 12 and 13. Living overseas helped me become more cultured. Living among different nationalities and lifestyles…I thought it was cool. Looking back on it, I’m glad it worked out the way that it did.

Q. You were selected in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft. The one-and-done notion is something that’s received a lot of attention for years now, especially after years of seeing guys go to the league straight out of high school. What influenced your decision to leave Syracuse for the NBA after your freshman year? 

A. I went into Syracuse knowing it was a possibility for me to get drafted after one year. I just wanted to go to school, work as hard as I could and get better. After my freshman year, I knew I had a child on the way and a family to take care of. So, the decision was a no-brainer for me. My dream was within my reach, so I had to take it.

Q. You’re widely known by your fan-base for the five seasons you spent as a Sacramento King. A lot happened during that time, including a short stint in the D-League in 2009. Can you explain what those five years meant for your basketball career and what you learned about yourself during that time?

A. It was great for me. I love Sacramento as a city and the fans really took me in. Great family town that loves their basketball. The D-league helped me get my game back on track after sitting for half my rookie year. It was actually a lot of fun playing with guys who had been pros for a minute trying to get a look in the NBA. But for my career, it helped me see the business side of being a pro, learning the ends and outs of everything.

Q. You represented the USA twice (2006 and 2007) in the FIBA games. What was it like playing in the FIBA games?

A. It was a blessing. To be able to walk out there with that USA on your chest and represent your country was a great feeling. Also, the traveling part. We were in Serbia for about two weeks, having a blast sight seeing and experiencing a different culture. Playing against younger players, who I would see later in the NBA, was crazy! Definitely a trip to remember.

Q. You actually attended school in Japan when you were younger. Do you recall what that experience was like?

A. Japan was beautiful! When my mom told us we were moving there, I didn’t know what to think. Would I like the food? Are people going to speak English? Once I got there, I realized they knew more about the American culture than I did. My three years there was great though. I still have many friends from my early school days who I’m in contact with.

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Q. You won a gold medal in the 2006 FIBA games. How special was it to win a gold medal while you were still in high school? 

A. Very special!  Not everybody can say, “I won a gold medal for my country doing something I love.” It was a tremendous honor and something I will never forget.

Q. Donté, you went on a tear in your freshman year at Syracuse, averaging over 17 points per game and over 7 rebounds per game. You started in all 35 games and you also set a record for 3-pointers made (90). No wonder you were a first-round pick following that performance. How did it feel to add your name to the elite list of players to come through that program, specifically Carmelo Anthony who also grew up in Baltimore and played at your alma mater, Towson Catholic?

A. It was a dream come true. When I started to take basketball seriously at the age of 13, all I wanted was to get a scholarship at a big-time school and make it to the NBA. Now, to follow behind Melo was the icing on the cake. Even though I didn’t kill like he did, I got my name in the record books and I can always call myself an Orangemen.

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Q. You scored 40 points in your NBA Summer League debut. Explain your mindset going into that game, a game that set the tone for the start of your NBA career?

A. I had probably the biggest chip on my shoulder out of all NBA rookies. I was predicted to go mid-first round and slipped to the end of the first round. I wanted to go out and prove all those NBA teams wrong that looked over me. I wanted to show that I was here for a reason and that I belonged in the NBA. And that’s what I did, haha.

Q. You might have been sent to the D-League for a few games, but after some great performances you were brought right back up. Explain how you were able to succeed in the midst of that adversity.

A. When I got down there, I didn’t look at it as a punishment. I looked at it as a reward for me sitting on the bench knowing I could be out there helping my team. I went down to the D-League to have fun and get better. What made it easier was I was with a great group of guys who just wanted to play ball and win. We did just that.

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LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 19: Donté Greene #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on versus the Denver Nuggets during NBA Summer League on July 19, 2013 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images)

Q. In the last three years, you’ve bounced around a bit from the NBA to overseas play. What has that experience been like for you? How have you handled the ups and downs and remained positive through it all?

A. For me, I think it’s helped. I’m definitely more mature. I had some growing up to do and I believe I’m on the right path to step foot back in the NBA and be successful. You have to understand that life is full of ups and downs. You have to take the highs just as good as your lows. Only worry about what you can control and leave the rest to the big guy upstairs. Believe in yourself and anything is possible, as long as you put that work in.

Q. Where are you in your professional career today? Do you have plans to try to get back in the NBA, or are you focused on dominating the league you’re in now?

A. I want to get back in the NBA. I think it’s time for me to come back home and hoop…but just trying to prove myself all over again. Being in Dubai for two years kind of hurt me. I have to go out, put the work in and show what I can do.

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Q. You’ve always been a humble person and a guy with a lot of character, which is why I’m not surprised you’ve experienced success in your life. Speaking of which, you have children who are very near and dear to you.Talk about how having your kids has changed your perspective on what success means and on life in general?

A. My kids are my EVERYTHING!!! I do this for them. I always wanted to be the young cool dad, and to be fair I’m the biggest kid you might meet. When I’m on the court and I might need a little pick me up, I think about them to get some energy. When I’m overseas and missing them like crazy, I’ll tell myself it’s for them to have a better life. It’s not just about you when you have kids, and I’m blessed to have my little ones.

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Donté,

My man, thanks for taking this interview and for being so open about your journey thus far. It’s crazy to think that just years ago, we were in open gyms on the same court and walking the Towson Catholic hallways. I always respected your character and your talent of course. Made it easy to root for you to win in life bro and that’s exactly what you’re doing today. Continue to set an example for those around you as a great father, a guy active in the community, and as a pro athlete putting in the work on the court. Welcome to the Intern Media family. Your story has just been added to the Intern Media wall and we’re family bro, so you already know the support will continue. Be blessed fam. 

Karl Nelson II, Founding Editor 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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There are mascots and then there is the “Hopster”

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

LONG ISLAND CITY — July 17th marked the first ever Homebrew Festival presented by the Hopster Beer Company.

The man you see in the video above is none other than the Hopster himself, the one who made all of this possible.  The Hopster’s love for beer, the joy he gets from bringing people together and the focus he places on the beer consumer is exactly why the first ever Homebrew Festival was a major success.

I just mentioned “the beer consumer.”  The beer consumer is who the Hopster had in mind when he decided to start the Hopster Beer Company, becoming one of the first beer companies to create a mascot that represents the beer drinker, not the beer itself.  And if you haven’t figured it out by now, “the Hopster” doesn’t just refer to the man you see featured in this story, but it’s also the name of the actual mascot for beer drinkers all over the world.

Think about that for a second.

Can you recall a time when you found yourself watching a beer commercial and saw a mascot that was created for the average beer drinker?

I know I’m a young guy, but still, in my 25 years on this earth, I can’t recall one time turning on the television or opening my internet browser to watch a sporting event, sitcom, movie, TV series, or any other type of television or online program, and seeing a commercial or advertisement that catered to those who drink beer. Instead, what I’ve seen during these advertisements are beer brands, time and time again, showing off their mascot in an effort to persuade us beer drinkers to taste their product.

Their alluring tactic is quite simple; a clever mascot to represent their brand of beer.

During our interview, the Hopster gave me examples of beer brands like Coors Light, also known as “the Silver Bullet.”  He also mentioned Samuel Adams beer and how their mascot is a brewer and patriot holding up a mug filled to the brim with beer.  

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While beer brands like Coors Light and Sam Adams have been extremely successful over the years, the Hopster is content with taking a different route. What route might that be?  He decided to create a mascot for the beer consumer.  

That being said, while the idea was his, it was his wife who added her much needed two cents to the equation, becoming an intricate factor in why the mascot was eventually named “the Hopster.”

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Prior to our interview, the Hopster told me about the months leading up to the Homebrew Festival and about the immense amount of preparation that went into making the grand opening for this festival a huge success as he and his team worked alongside the owners of the Beer Closet to bring this festival to the Long Island City community. 

During our interview, the Hopster said giving people opportunities to market their brands was a major focus for this festival.  He might have been mainly referring to his fellow homebrewers, but little does he know that by putting on this event, a journalist, a podcast out of Queens, NY, an emerging New York-based clothing brand, and many members of the community, all left the festival with potential opportunities and future opened doors in our respective lives and careers.

That’s right.  A New York-based construction worker by day and an artistic homebrewer by night is who paved the way for tons of cross-promotion to be handled on a beautiful Sunday afternoon just weeks ago.

Not only did people enjoy the festival and have an opportunity to taste some amazing craft beers, but they were able to connect with one another from a life and business standpoint, which didn’t really take much effort given the atmosphere and the high-character individuals who were involved.

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Me with Ann Marie Vasquez, the lovely wife of the Hopster.  She’s been very instrumental in assisting her husband with the operations of the Hopster Beer Company, basically operating as second in command to her husband since day one.  During our interview, she told me about how the company started, how far they’ve come and how dedicated they are to creating an unforgettable experience for the “beer consumer.”

Even though I was at the festival as a member of the press, there was no way I was going to let the day go by without tasting the vast selection of crafted beers that debuted at the festival.  After all, they do say “When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do.” So, when at a homebrew festival… I think you guys can take it from there.

Out of all the crafted beers I tasted that day, I found it to be quite ironic that my favorite selection was the Hopster Beer Company’s special; the mango double IPA.

As someone who drinks in social settings, I won’t lie to you all.  I’m not the biggest fan of IPA’s.  However, I also won’t lie to you and say that I did not enjoy every sip of that mango double IPA.  And to think that it was created by accident, to say the least.

During the interview, the Hopster filled me in on just how much of a coincidence the mango double IPA was, telling me that, at the time, he wasn’t necessarily trying to create this fan favorite.  However, once he tasted the final product and allowed others to, it immediately became one of his signature crafted beers.

That’s not a surprise to me at all considering all the positive feedback it received from so many people at the festival.

The Hopster’s genuine personality, his love for people, his interest in beer, and his desire to bring people together with future events and new signature beers, speaks to his success in the beer industry and it’s proof as to how he continues to elevate his company.

I appreciate this guy for setting the stage for what was a great turnout and an impactful event for the Long Island City community.  This is only the beginning.

Hopster,

I can’t thank you enough for putting the Homebrew Festival together and for having me there as one of the leading sources for media coverage.  It was truly a pleasure and I will carry those memories with me as my journey in journalism continues.  I appreciate you taking the interview and I’m sure this won’t be the last time people see our names side by side bringing great experiences and unique content to the public.  Continue to create opportunities for your fellow homebrewers.  On behalf of the beer drinkers out there, thanks for providing us with our own mascot!  From here on out, like you said, we’re all Hopsters when we put beer to our lips!  See you soon and welcome to the Intern Media family!

Karl Nelson II, Founder 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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Dear Chicago…

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media 

Dear Chicago,

I find myself typing “Chicago shooting” into my Google search engine with the intention of continuing my research on the deadly shootings that took place in your city over the course of memorial weekend.

However, what I see next nearly causes my stomach to drop.  Two new headlines pop up on my screen; there’s been a deadly shooting on Father’s Day weekend and another right outside of a Chicago church just a day or so later.

My stomach dropping becomes the least of my worries at that point.  Instead, I feel myself beginning to get emotional as I try my best to hold back the tears as I sit on a side street in the middle of Manhattan.

Apart of me wanted to let my emotions fly while another part of me simply wanted to know why and how this continues to happen, almost as if it’s become the norm in a city with so much great history and promise for the future.

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Photo by the Chicago Tribune 

I begin thinking about a mirage of things.  What would I do if I were a resident of Chicago today?  What if I took a stand against gun violence right here in New York City?  What would happen?  Would I too be at risk?

Walking the streets of New York, obviously miles away from the “Windy City,” it might be irritating to hear others responding to the traumatic events that are taking place right outside of your windows.

But I promise you that my thoughts are beyond genuine, as I think about just over a year ago when I was living in my hometown of Baltimore, a city that found itself in the middle of tragedy, controversy, protests, the loss of life, and so many other things as a result of what many Baltimore residents viewed as injustice in their beloved city.

That being said, believe me when I say that I wholeheartedly sympathize with the residents of Chicago and desperately want to see nothing more than guns taken off of your streets immediately.

And I know that there are world leaders today who have received tons of backlash for voicing the same desires, but I’m one that doesn’t believe in the notion that if a tragic event rarely takes place, then that means it’s not cause to panic.

No.  I truly believe that a tragedy like the Memorial Day weekend shootings, 56 shootings on Father’s Day weekend as well as 40 shots being fired outside of a church just days ago is cause to do more than simply pause for a moment of silence like President Barack Obama recently echoed.  Instead, I believe that it’s this type of gun violence that calls for immediate action and long term solution, no matter who supports that notion or not.

To the residents of Chicago, God bless you.  My prayers will remain with you and the victims of these horrible and senseless shootings.

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Photo by the Chicago Tribune

 

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.  

Ashly Rodriguez: Natural Hair and Beauty YouTuber/Vlogger

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

It’s astonishing when I see today’s youth build into one another, using their passions and talents to enrich young lives.

That’s exactly what Ashly Rodriguez is doing today as a Natural Hair and Beauty Vlogger.  To some, natural hair might seem like a trivial or trendy concept in today’s society, but Ashly is reminding us all of just how impactful the natural hair movement can be for many women and teenagers out there today.

Among Ashly’s early success, I find myself most impressed with her desire to provide resources to teenage girls — resources centered around the natural hair movement.

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Ashly plans to start a girls group at local after school programs in Boston, where she currently resides.  The girls group will cater to teenage girls who might be lacking the right resources.

Ashly is prepared to be a bridge builder for young ladies out there by informing them about current issues that teen girls deal with on a daily basis.  She wants to encourage these teens to embrace who they are and to love themselves first.

That’s a concept Ashly wishes she had grasped throughout her adolescence.

Ashly will be the first to tell you that she was shy growing up, not always tapping into her full potential, as she’s clearly doing now as a young adult.  As Ashly puts it, growing up, she rarely did things she wanted to do because she was “in fear of what others would think.”

In fact, it wasn’t until after high school that she realized the importance of stepping outside of her comfort zone and choosing to love herself, refusing to allow the thoughts of others have a handle on her life.

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Ashly’s bashful days are long gone.  She’s become an example of confidence and assurance, and she hopes to one day see everyone take on that approach.  That’s a mentality she believes will bring everybody closer together, and she’s determined to play her part in seeing that vision come to fruition.

Ashly’s immense audience is a great start to her making a huge difference in not only the world of beauty and natural hair, but also as a young positive voice for women and young people all over.

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She might have started this journey with a few thousand followers, but after a year of consistency and strenuous work as a Vlogger and natural hair endorser, Ashly’s following is now at a number that you almost won’t believe; 83.1 thousand.  And that number is growing by the day.

Checkout my exclusive interview with the 24-year-old naturalista, as we discussed how her journey with natural hair began, how she was able to develop such a large following so quickly, why Intern Media inspires her, and much more.

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Q.  What were you doing career wise before you decided to start your own YouTube channel and Vlog surrounding the topic of natural hair?

A.  Before I started getting into vlogging and Youtube, I was working with teens in the Human Services field.  I still work in that field, but as a Behavior Therapist.  It’s a good balance, as I get to do two things I love.

Q.  What would you describe as the major turn off for you when it came to using relaxers and flat irons in the past?

A.  The major turn off when I used relaxers and flat irons was how much time it would take.  I used to clear an entire day to be in the salon to get my relaxer done and my hair blown out.  Hanging in a salon for hours was the norm, but looking back on it now, that was crazy.

The second turn off was the burns.  I do NOT miss that one bit.  If the relaxer was left on too long, you’d start feeling your scalp start to burn or while using my flat iron, I’d get too close to my ear or forehead and burn myself.

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Q.  When you began your natural hair journey, was there anyone in particular who inspired you to make that decision?  Maybe another “naturalista” at the time?

A.  The beginning of my journey was interesting because I had no idea what I was doing.  I transitioned on accident because I moved and my salon was so far that I wasn’t able to get a relaxer.

A year went by and my hair was half natural.. half relaxed and I was left with two decisions; cut it off or get another relaxer.  So, I cut it.  After that, I continued to straighten my hair because that’s all I knew.

One day, I came across Kinky Curly Coily Me’s Facebook page, and I was amazed by all the beautiful styles and hair.  Then, I thought to myself, “I can do this.”  So, after I stumbled across her page, I always looked at it for advice or for new styles to try.  That definitely made the beginning of my natural hair journey a lot easier.

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Q.  How would you describe the natural hair movement back in 2014 compared to where it is today?

A.  It has definitely grown!  And there are many more people embracing their hair, which is beautiful!  I love receiving messages from women who are starting their natural hair journeys.  A lot of them say they feel very happy that they can embrace their natural hair.  There is so much more support!

Q.  For those out there that might not know, explain why the natural hair way is the healthiest way?

A.  I don’t knock anyone’s style.  You can rock your crown whatever way you’d like.  However, if you’re looking to go natural or if you have been scared because of what others think, try it!

It’s great to be able to embrace and nourish your natural texture and play around with fun styles!  Natural hair is so versatile.  One day you can have braids and the next a bomb twist out.  It’s fun!

Also, by being natural and using more natural products, you don’t have to deal with harming chemicals that are found in relaxers or other products.  Don’t care what others think.  It’s YOUR hair and it grows out of YOUR head.  So, embrace it.. LOVE IT!

Q.  You mentioned your hobbies outside of what you do as a voice for natural hair lovers.  Talk about the importance of having a life outside of your career and passions?

A.  It’s always great to be able to take time outside of your daily schedule to do something you enjoy doing.  To me, it’s really important to take time to yourself.

My months get really jammed packed sometimes between both my job and vlogging, but I make sure I set some time aside.  I hike, camp, catch basketball games, and sometimes I go kick some butt in bowling.

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Q.  When we spoke off the record, you told me about where your social media and YouTube following was just a year ago compared to where it is now.  Talk about how you were able to grow such a large following at such a rapid pace.

A.  It’s crazy to think that just a year ago I didn’t have a Youtube channel at all and had just about 4,000 followers on Instagram.  When I decided to really take off with sharing my experiences with my hair to others, I just planned things out and made sure I was consistent.

I know when I’m on social media, I like seeing things on my timeline.  So, I made sure I was trying out new styles once a week and was interacting with my awesome followers, which I still enjoy doing to this day.

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Q.  I love the fact that you want to touch the lives of women in a positive way through your passion for natural hair.  What kind of impact do you hope to have, big picture wise?

A.  I hope to be able to inspire teen girls and women, not only to embrace their natural hair, but to also embrace and love themselves!  Growing up, I was really shy and never did anything I wanted to do in fear of what others would think.

After high school, I realized that I wish I had stepped out of my comfort zone and had more confidence to love myself and do things for me.  So, when I realized that, I changed my mindset and that changed my life.  I hope one day to have somewhere or something for all of us to get together and celebrate how amazing we are for being ourselves!

Q.  Are teen girls your target audience?

A.  Teen girls and women are my target, but the main reason teen girls are really important is because I feel as though when you’re a teen, you’re kind of put off to the side.  While working in a teen center last year, I was able to chat and connect with the teen girls and hear what they’re going through.

The big topic other than them embracing their hair was self confidence.  I want to be able to inspire them to love themselves the same way I try to inspire women to do the same.

Q.  You’re currently working on starting a girls group at local schools in Boston.  What are your plans for this group and what’s the inspiration behind this new endeavor?

A.  Yes, I’m planning to start a girls group where teen girls are able to come hang out, chat and ask questions about topics from their natural hair to self respect and self confidence.

I want them to have somewhere they can feel comfortable and when they leave feel even better than they did walking in.  My inspiration to start this group comes from my time working with the teen girls at the teen center I mentioned earlier.  Daily conversations I had with them made me realize that there are other girls out there with the same issues and questions.  I want to be able to help, inspire and uplift others!

Bonus Q.  What about what I’m doing with Intern Media inspired you to take this interview?

A.  I think it’s incredible how far you have come with Intern Media!  It’s definitely grown and it’s great to see where it is now.  The people and stories you have touched on are always interesting and different.

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Ashly,

Words can barely explain how much you’ve inspired me with your work, your positive approach to life and with the impact you’re having on women, teenage girls and others today.  I’m so proud of the tremendous growth that you and your platform have experienced in just a year and I’m excited to see what’s next for you.  Welcome to the Intern Media family and I’m glad that we’ve become friends this year.  As the homie Drew would say, bless up! Lol.

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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Brian Macon: Changing lives with a basketball in hand

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

In the game of basketball, a lot of the time, we’re only accustomed to seeing the end result; the game or a player’s performance.

We’re not always able to see the blood, sweat and tears that’s poured out onto the basketball court in the offseason when individual players and teams are preparing for their respective basketball seasons.  We don’t see the ups and downs that a player or a team goes through over the course of a long season.

Just think about that for a second.  What if we were able to see more of those moments?

For the basketball fans of the world, we already have an appreciation for what we see from top athletes like a Lebron James or a Stephen Curry.

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Lebron James Fun Fact:  The two-time NBA Champion didn’t wear the number 6 in Miami for the reasons that most fans believe he did.  Lebron’s first child was born on October 6, 2004 and his second child was born in June of 2007.  According to Lebron, that’s why he wore the number 6 as a member of the Miami Heat. (msn.com, “30 interesting facts about Lebron James”)

So, just imagine how much greater that level of appreciation would be if we had more access to what’s going on behind the scenes.

What if we could witness Curry get up over a thousand shots a day? 

What if we could witness Lebron’s three-part workout, consisting of sprints on the track, weight lifting in the weight room and then skill work on the basketball court?

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Stephen Curry Fun Fact:  The NBA’s reigning MVP and the 2015 NBA Champion once said that if he were to play in the NFL, he would be a “second-string punter.” (complex.com, “30 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Steph Curry”)

These are the things that we don’t get to see.

Well, that’s what a guy by the name of Brian Macon allows us to see.  Brian started playing the game of basketball at the age of six and he never looked back.

He’s now an elite basketball skills trainer based in Florida, responsible for a lot of the growth seen in both young and adult basketball players today.

Brian’s approach is the same for everyone that he trains, providing them with a level of training that is considered beyond the times, so to speak.

This is something that I’ve been able to witness on his social media platforms, a hub in which he posts a lot of his training videos.

He’s definitely taking advantage of this evolution of technology by putting eyes to the impact that he’s having on athletes as well as showcasing his knowledge of the game.

For Brian, it’s about packaging his work just like it is for the average journalist.

Brian’s not only preparing for an endless amount of training sessions or putting basketball players through workouts.  He also has those moments captured on video and then edited in a way that the viewer finds the content to be very fundamental and consistent.

However, even with putting that additional work in off of the court, who seems to get the bulk of the credit, if not all of it when you think about a player’s talent?

It’s the player, of course.  However, if there was a league or a broadcast that highlighted the trainers that stand behind these elite and most-improved athletes, we might actually see the tables turn a bit.

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Brian Macon giving a group of his young athletes instructions during a Handlelife basketball training session.

If there was an outlet dedicated to the journey of the trainer, hypothetically speaking, then I’m sure Brian would find himself showcased, as he’s having quite the impact as an important piece to Handlelife.

Handlelife is a sports training and lifestyle brand that focuses on motivating athletes as well as everyday people to work hard at perfecting their crafts.

Brian is a great representation of those grueling training sessions, the ups and downs that come with being an athlete, and of a game that is constantly evolving.

Brian grew up playing basketball and reached the collegiate ranks, making a name for himself in the sport.  As a student athlete at Miami-Dade College, Brian found himself ranked top 5 in the nation in assists.  And that was just after two seasons with the team.

Brian also helped lead his team to a conference championship.  After receiving those accolades at Miami-Dade College, Brian took an onward and upward move to Boston University.

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Brian during his playing days at Boston University.

At Boston University, Brian continued to be a floor general, leading his team in assists and becoming a co-captain after his first season with the team.

Brian’s career on the court might have ended after an ACL injury, but he didn’t let that stop him from continuing his love for the game, this time in a different facet though.

Brian decided to make the transition from player to trainer shortly after the injury, taking his personal experiences and years of knowledge to the up-and-coming ball players out there as well as those developing at the collegiate and professional ranks.

Today, Brian is one of the most pursued basketball trainers in the South Florida area and he’s managing Handlelife’s Florida division.

I have a lot of admiration for the empire that he has helped build, one that led him to working with two of my good friends, Paul Easton and Aaron Walsh of Drills And Skills Basketball.

As a basketball player myself and as someone who played from the age of six all the way up to the collegiate level, I can honestly say that behind every great athlete is a dedicated and highly-skilled trainer.

For many athletes out there today, that’s who Brian is to them and I’m proud to now have him apart of the Intern Media family.

Go to the next page of this article and checkout my interview with Brian as we went in depth with his history as a former player and now as a trainer who’s experiencing a lot of victories in his life.

These victories are not necessarily games won though.  Instead, the victories that Brian is experiencing today has everything to do with the lives that he’s impacting with his elite training methods.

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Brian at The Palace of Auburn Hills (Home of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons) teaching a group of youth at one of Handlelife’s clinics.

Marshall “DJ Mars” Thomas: The man behind the art

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

As an artist, Marshall “DJ Mars” Thomas redefines the phrase “triple threat,” impelling the culture from three separate angles; DJ, designer, and author.

As a DJ, Mars has dedicated himself to his craft over the years, having the opportunity to travel internationally performing in one country after the next.

Mars bridges the gap between the musician and the audio engineer. He’s mixed it up on the turntables on the Steve Harvey Morning Show, the Essence Music Festival, on the stage with his good friend and well-known artist Keri Hilson; to name a few.

Mars has completely changed the game as a designer with New Balance, showing his peers that when you dedicate yourself to your craft, the sky is the limit in terms of the doors that can and will open for you. And while he might not have kids walking around with his signature sneakers on like the great Kanye West, one can’t purchase a dope pair of New Balances without respecting the urban culture represented by it. We can thank music moguls like DJ Mars for that.

Mars recently expressed his admiration for the history of the ‘mixtape’ by working with a small team of other invested individuals to publish his first book, The Art Behind The Tape.

In this text, Mars places a focus on the artwork behind mixtape culture and he brings the perspective of top level DJ’s, who paved the way for him, to the forefront of the conversation.

Now, taking a step away from his success as an artist, Mars has been able to remain humble throughout a journey that can leave many people’s head in the clouds.

One might ask, ‘How has he been able to pull that off?’ For him, it’s quite simple; by remaining loyal to his family and friends, by living like an everyday person, by finding inspiration in the people and things around him, and by taking pride in fatherhood.

If you were to ask Mars yourself, he’ll tell you that it’s those things that truly make him successful because if the fame was to ever leave, it’s those things that will define him, when it’s all said and done.

Prepare yourselves to get a full introduction and more into the life and career of Marshall “DJ Mars” Thomas. You’ll walk away from this article feeling like you were a fly on the wall for the behind-the-scenes life of ‘Marshall’ while gaining more insight into ‘Mars.’

Q. How have you been able to remain so humble throughout your journey?

A. I think that’s just apart of my character. It’s not a front, haha. You can see through someone’s humility if they were lying. That’s just who I am. In the music industry, that can work for you and work against you at the same time. For me, that’s just who I am naturally.

Q. Is this something that you would say has worked for you or has it worked against you in the music industry?

A. It has worked for me because part of why I get work is due to the fact that people genuinely like me. I’m a likable person. So, it works for me in that sense. I’m easy to get along with. I’m easy to hire. There’s no BS. If I’m supposed to be at the gig at 9:00, I’m there by 8:30. It’s no stress. It’s like what you were able to witness yourself. I don’t roll with an entourage. I may roll with my crew, but I don’t have an entourage. I don’t come in with 20 people. So, like I said, it works for me in that sense. The people I work for really like my personality and I’m easy to get along with. They know what they’re getting when they hire me.

Now, here’s how my humility sometimes works against me. In the industry, arrogance and attitude is like a shiny jacket. People say they don’t like the shiny suits, but part of what they buy into is arrogance and attitude. People might say that they hate it, but they actually like it because it’s something that they can’t be.

As much as people say they hate Kanye, they love him. I don’t give off that vibe though. That’s just not who I am even though I know that it works in my field and people, to some extent, may like me more if I was on some ‘Yo I’m the s***’ — if I wore my resume on my chest. I don’t do that. If I did that maybe it would get me other gigs; who knows. There’s other DJ’s who’s whole brand is arrogance. That’s their brand and it works for them, but that’s not who I am, so I don’t think that would work for me.

Q. Now, we touched on this a little earlier. You don’t travel with an entourage per say, but you do keep close friends around you. The first night we linked up in New York, I was able to hangout with your homies at the Starter Party. They were telling me some things about you and the upbringing you guys had. They told me about what it was like coming up in those times in your community. How important would you say it is to keep those kind of people around you throughout your journey?

A. It’s super important because at the end of the day, when all this shiny s*** is gone, you still want to be able to go back to your people. I have people I can always go back to regardless of anything. I can DJ in a stadium of 100,000 people or in a room of five people and my boys are still going to support me and treat me the same.

And on another note, my level of success as a DJ inspires the friends that I surround myself with. It’s like their level of success in their lives inspires me. One of my homeboys that you met is a cop and his thing is he wants to be apart of the police force because he doesn’t want it to be like all of them against us. He doesn’t want it to feel that way. He’s mentoring kids and giving kids karate lessons.

My other homeboy that was there helps him out with the mentoring. They’re working together to help the kids out here. So, they’re successful in another realm. They are making sure our kids have immediate ground level mentors to follow. So, I’m looking at that like ‘Damn, that is great.’ They are directly effecting kids on a street level. That’s ultra important. I look at their lives and they look at my life and we’re both able to see what we all bring to the global community. It’s dope. So, you never want to lose those people because those are the people that will have my back no matter if I was DJ Mars on stage or DJ Mars in the hood somewhere. They got my back.

Q. On that Thursday night before NBA All-Star Weekend, I watched you do two sets. You set the tone for the rest of the night during your first set and closed the night out in your second set. How does it feel to know that when you’re on stage behind the turntables, you’re the soundtrack in that particular environment for however long your set lasts?

A. To me, one of the attributes of a good DJ is programming. Programming is like being a good orator — someone who can put on great speeches. It’s like Malcolm X. He put word after word after word for great impact. It’s the same thing with records. You have to understand the value of every record that you play. Every record is meant to take you to another place, so depending on where you’re trying to go with the night…like I know chronologically certain parts of the night I gotta go in a certain direction. So, I have to drive those records. I have to pick those records and play them in either a passive way or in an aggressive way to get a type of reaction.

The first party that night, I came on at midnight. It’s party time. I knew I had to play records quick and fast…get in and get out for maximum impact. For the end of the night, it’s the end of the night. For me to try to replicate what I did at the beginning of the night wouldn’t make sense. It’s the end of the night, the night is winding down and it’s time for people to go; literally. The club is ready to shutdown, so you play records that wind people down because you have to take people’s mind to a different place.

It’s problematic when the club ends and everybody is still crunk to death at 4 a.m. You know? That’s how stuff happens. So, you have to just calm people down. You have to remind them that they have responsibilities in the morning. Sometimes you want people to leave out thinking, ‘You know what? It is kind of late and I need to get up for work in the morning.’ So, you play records that fit the mood for the direction you want people to go in and that’s basically what I do as a DJ. I design a set and it’s always on the fly. I design a set that directs the mood that I want people to go in. My midnight set is different than my late night set because I have different objectives.

Q. I witnessed that at Stage 48 as well. It was fun watching you. Your set was a little over two hours. You seemed to enjoy being one of the first guys in there. I watched your patience as people walked in, hesitated to the dance floor and then eventually made their way to the dance floor and had a great time. People were loving the records you were playing. It was cool watching all of that unfold.

A. Yeah, man. You just gotta play your position. Not every night, am I the headliner and I’m cool with that because some nights that’s just the position that you have to play. That Saturday night, my job was to warm up the crowd. It was to get you in the mood knowing that the party was going to elevate as the night continued. It wasn’t my job to get people all the way there. It wasn’t my job to play all the bangers. My job was to get you out of your jacket, get you to the bar, get you one or two drinks and then get the guys talking to the girls, so that they could get the courage to drag them to the dance floor. So, when the next DJ comes in, all he’s got to do is hit the home run. I just have to get the party to first base. I pretty much set the next DJ up.

You saw how the night went. Every DJ was hitting it out the park, but imagine if I was whack and nobody was on the dance floor, then it would have made everybody’s job harder.

Q. Let’s talk about the importance of building relationships. It seems like you’ve built a lot of relationships over the years with people in the industry and those outside of the industry. The Friday I met up with you at Sony was a cool time because those were people in the music industry in some form or fashion and you pretty much met with them off the strength of relationship. How important would you say it is to build relationships in business and in life in general?

A. I wouldn’t be where I am if relationships hadn’t occurred. I get the gigs I get because I have access to people. I can call and say ‘Hey, what do you guys have going on out there this weekend?’ There’s information I can get because I have relationships with people. Nobody does this alone. I don’t care who you are. There’s nobody out here winning by themselves. They just don’t do it. For me, it’s paramount that we maintain those relationships. That’s all we have. If I can’t walk through a door that’s closed, then what am I? You know what I mean? It’s the relationships that keep things going and keep the doors opening that allows me to continue to work.

Q. We were talking about this after the Beats By Dre Party, which was really dope by the way. We had just left there and as we were walking to the subway, you were talking about how you leave those types of events and those types of weekends very inspired. What is it about those types of weekends, events, and encounters that leave you inspired and able to take something new back to ATL with you?

A. I try to find success in everything. We’ll start with the DJ’s. I look at the other DJ’s and I’m like ‘Damn, this DJ is from where?’ I’ll give you a real life example. There’s a DJ that I spun with that Thursday before All-Star Weekend. He was from Cleveland. That means he impressed somebody so much that they flew him from Cleveland to New York to do this party. So, I’m like ‘Damn, I need to pay attention to his movement because his movement is working.’ Someone saw it fit for him to be spinning at the same party where I was, so let me study him because there’s a grain of success in his movement that has put him here. I’m saying to myself, ‘Let me pay attention to the grain of this guy.’

Now, let’s talk about the Beats By Dre situation. I’m looking at that brand and what they’re doing and how they’re positioning themselves in the market. That weekend, they had the super tough brownstone that was super sweet, the headphones displayed were super sweet, and the atmosphere was super sweet. So, I’m like ‘Okay. The brand is positioning themselves in a certain way. Let me just study what’s going on at this event.’

I take bits and pieces of everybody’s success that I encountered over the weekend and I say ‘Okay. Now, what can I pull from them that will make my situation better?’ Whether it’s a brand, a DJ or a party; whatever the case may be. I look at everything and look at what won and think about how I can include that specific thing into my movement. So, that’s what inspires me, viewing the success of all of these different things because all of them play a role and if you do it right, then you can learn something from everything that you involve yourself in.

For me, it’s not just about DJing. It’s about how I’m perceived out here. You look at the Beats By Dre Party, which was basically a showcase of what they have coming in the future. Maybe I can do something like that to highlight what I have going on. So, I look at everybody’s movement and think about what I can do to have my movement moving in a good direction.

Q. That’s funny to me because you were lounging and just having a great time, but you were also paying close attention to the details of that party. You were working.

A. Yeah and the ill thing is…I’m not sure if you knew this, but the two dudes that we were talking to, for the most part, went to school with me. So, I’m looking at these guys like ‘Man, these are dudes I went to college with and they are the head of this big movement and inspiration during NBA All-Star Weekend.’ I’m sitting there galvanized by their success. I just pay attention. You have to.

Q. What position do those guys hold with Beats By Dre? I was paying attention to the fact that one of your boys was giving us the tour of the brownstone showing us around and showing us some of the new products.

A. He was the one who deals with professional athletes. If you see Richard Sherman walk into the Seahawks’ stadium with a pair of Beats on, my boy gave those to him. So, when you look at ESPN and you see athletes walking into their arena, my homeboys job is to make sure that those highly visible athletes have headphones. Now, my other boy Omar Johnson oversees everything.

Q. Let’s transition man. Let’s talk about your son. You appear to be a great father. You were talking about him a lot, which is expected of a father who cares for his child, obviously. How has him coming into this world impacted your life and how important do you feel it is as a father to care for your child? Especially, in a world where we don’t see a father and son together a lot of the time.

A. I mean, for one it’s my job, haha. I can’t even say it any other way man. I brought him here, so I gotta take care of him. I don’t even have a longer answer to that other than it’s my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do.

Q. Sometimes I feel like men, especially black men, don’t get the credit they deserve when they’re actually being great fathers. Contrary to what’s put online and on television, there’s actually a lot of great fathers out here too.

A. Exactly. You know what’s funny man? I know more good fathers than ‘dead beat’ dads. I may know one or two bad fathers out of all the fathers I know. Obviously, there’s some bad fathers out there, but I happen to know a whole lot of good ones and I’m happy about that.

Q. When we were at the Starters Party, you mentioned the irony of being at that party and the fact that you consider you and your crew to be the original Starters. What do you mean by that?

A. In junior high, between ‘85 and ’89, is when Starter jackets were real hot in the streets between Public Enemy and N.W.A rocking them real heavy at the time. Starter jackets were the jacket of choice in the winter time. Me and my crew…that was our thing. We rocked more Starter jackets than anybody around us in our junior high school. That’s what we rocked. So, the irony was that two of my boys from those times I’m referring to were with me at that party. It kind of meant something to us because that’s what we rocked as kids. Yo, we used to get two or three different Starter jackets per winter. You couldn’t mess with our crew because we had all of them. All the flavors, we had them. That was us, haha.

Q. Yeah, you guys were talking about all the different Starter jackets — some of which people weren’t even rocking at the time. You guys had the exclusive stuff.

A. Yeah, man. Notre Dame, LSU…we had it all. That was our thing…to rock different jackets. Most people had the staples. They had the Raiders or the New York Giants or the Chicago Bulls. We made sure we got the teams that weren’t necessarily the most popular teams, but were tough at the same time. We were on Starter jackets heavy in those times.

Q. What’s interesting is my generation gets a lot of inspiration from the fashion back in your days. That speaks to how important your generation was to fashion and to hip-hop. That’s pretty cool man.

I’m going to switch gears now. I wanted to focus on DJ Mars the person first. That was crucial given the time I spent with you. Now, I want to ask you some questions about you as an artist.

Before I get to that though, I want to say something. I feel like there’s a lot of ‘Karl Nelsons’ out there, meaning there are a lot of people out here grinding like I am right now. My cousin put us in contact. I hopped on the bus that Thursday after work. It’s a no brainer because I knew that this would be a great opportunity to be around greatness and to be around something out of the ordinary. There’s a lot of young people out here doing the same thing because they’re trying to establish themselves and accomplish their goals.

Two things: if you feel like you have a responsibility to those people, what does that responsibility look like? The second question is what’s your million dollar piece of advice to a person, such as myself, when it comes to this?

A. Let me kind of reframe the question for you. Let’s say you said to me, ‘Why did you let me hang around you?’ It’s because I felt like I didn’t get to where I’m at by myself. What I got from you when you first reached out was like you were trying to take this opportunity to put yourself in a different position later on. So, I’m like ‘Even though this is a different field, he sounds like me 20 years ago. Like ‘Yo, let me do this party because I need to show my skills.’ It was the same energy.

I looked at it like someone helped me, so I want to return the favor. You weren’t on the BS. You were like ‘This is what I’m doing yo. Let me rock with you.’ It was no BS. It was straight up. I felt like I was you several years ago. Someone helped me, so why not return the favor? I didn’t get here just because I’m DJ Mars. I got here because someone believed I was DJ Mars.

Q. Exactly. It’s like Shelley. She saw something in me enough to put herself on the line and be that point of contact. That takes me to the second part of my question. You said that I reminded you of yourself 20 years. What’s something that you felt like you had to do to get from where you were 20 years ago to a place where you were established and found your next step?

A. One thing I did was perfected…well, not perfected. I’m still in the process of perfecting my craft, but I’m a student of the game. I’m always down to learn. There was stuff early on that I didn’t know, but I was like ‘I’m going to know it.’ I didn’t stop.

Some people stop and they give up. I didn’t do that. I kept going. Even when people stop believing in me, I believe in myself. I can’t say it any other way. You have to believe in yourself even when people don’t, because they will not believe in you at some point. Not everybody, but some won’t and the ones who don’t believe are going to be loud and proud about not believing in you, so what I did was work on protecting my craft. I kept the belief that whoever the greatest is, I can be on that level with them. Greater than or not, I believe that I can at least be on the level of whoever the greatest is.

Q. I focused on you as a person because I believe that people out there and those who will read this interview need to know about DJ Mars the guy — your everyday kind of person. I feel like people love someone who they can relate to. Let’s talk about your artistry though.

There’s three parts to it. You’re the established DJ. You’re the author of your own book and on top of that you’re a designer. You’ve been working with New Balance and collaborating with them on some cool kicks for sometime now. First, let’s talk about you as an author. You’re the author of The Art Behind the Tape. When did you sit down and say, ‘I want to be the author of my own book?’

A. Well, I knew that there were a few stories in hip-hop that a lot of people weren’t paying attention to. I kind of knew that there weren’t too many books written on the history of mixtape culture. I was like well ‘I can write it. It’s a need for it in the market, so let me do that.’ As an insider in the culture, I knew I had a leg up on most people because I could call Kid Capri and say here’s what I’m doing; let’s schedule an interview. My database allotted me a ton of access.

I had already knew a lot of the research because I had lived the culture. When Capri made his early tapes, I was buying them. I was apart of the culture from an inside perspective, which helped me write the book and then, like I said, I just knew that it needed to be done, so I just did it.

Q. Can you tell me about your fellow authors and the role they played in making the book a success?

A. It was three of them; Maurice Garland, Tai Saint-Louis, and DJibril Ndiaye. That’s who helped tie up all the loose ends. We set down and were like ‘Okay. Here are the interviews that we have and need to get done. Let’s go do them.’ Once the interviews were done, some of them edited. Some of them did the press releases. So, it was a collective effort.

The book is an historical piece. It’s history because it’s one of the first ones told from an inside perspective. The accuracy is impeccable. If one comes after this, it was inspired by mine.

Q. How long have you been collaborating with well-known sneaker groups to design New Balances?

A. For the past 5 years now. I’ve designed two pairs of sneakers with them and have been working on a web-based campaign with them as well.

Q. Tell me about your last major sneaker collab?

A. We released a new shoe at the same time that my book was published. The sneaker was sold at the New Balance store in New York. We also sent a copy of the book to top level DJ’s who were featured in the book as a thank you to them for being apart of our project.

Q. I watched a video where you named your top five pairs of New Balances. I love the fact that your #1 pair was purchased in Baltimore, by the way, haha. You have a huge collection of New Balances. You weren’t rocking with the New Balances like that when we were in New York, which wasn’t a surprise given the ‘hawk’ was out, haha. If the weather would have been better, what three pairs of New Balances would have made the cut?

A. Haha. Yeah, man that was a different type of cold. Let’s see…I would have had to go with the 990’s, a pair of 550‘s, and a pair of 710’s.

Q. I’ve seen footage of your mixes on the Morning Show for one of the best comedians to ever do it — Steve Harvey. Tell me about that. What brought you to the Steve Harvey Morning Show?

A. Steve saw me on stage at the Essence Music Festival about five years ago. I was performing with Keri Hilson. I had a break and he actually approached me and was like ‘Man, I want to hire you for some of my events.’ When I DJed at one of his events, I rocked it. After the event, I told him that I wanted to DJ on his morning show and the rest has been history man.

Q. You’ve traveled the world as a DJ. This is shown in your video — “Around the World in 60 seconds.” What city that you’ve DJed in has had the biggest affect on your outlook on life and why?

A. Every city and every country offers something different, but I would have to say that Africa and Japan have had the biggest affect on me. Africa is so different than how most people in the states perceive it and the evolution of technology in Japan is just crazy to me.

Q. In basketball, a coach that I have a lot of respect for always tells our players that there’s a difference between loving to play and having a love for the game. Which one do you identify with as a DJ and why? Do you love doing it or have you found that you have a love for it?

A. I love doing it. It’s such a rush that you get controlling the crowd. I love it man. Music is powerful man and I’ve been able to play more of it than some people have listened to in their lifetime. I grew up on hip-hop. If it wasn’t for hip-hop music, I probably wouldn’t be a DJ.

Q. You mentioned earlier that you’re still working to master your art, but you’re obviously a successful DJ by this point. You’re an iconic audio engineer, you’ve been designing sneakers for years now and you’ve even explored other parts of yourself as an author. With that being said, if you were doing none of those three things I just named, given your other interests, what would your career path be?

A. I would be involved with the entertainment industry. I’d most likely be working with content creation in developing TV shows. In college, I studied Communications with a focus in Radio, TV and Films at Clark Atlanta University.

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