“The world doesn’t need another Elon Musk. What it needs is for you to become the best version of yourself and to continue to make decisions that will take you into the resistance.”

Our initial encounter with Jeff Heilman came from Elon Musk’s biography, by Ashlee Vance.
He may be a multi-talented, self-educated software consultant who is now one of Silicon Valley’s living legends but when he started out 25 years ago Jeff Heilman didn’t even know what the internet was.
Jeff began working with the Musk brothers in 1995 for their primary company, Global-Link (later known as Zip2) – none of them had any idea about the epic journey on which they were about to embark. Working as an account manager for the new internet company and becoming their first employee, Jeff admits it was a risky move but one that eventually paid off. 
25 years on, the self-taught entrepreneur is continually innovating and when he’s not doing that, he’s pursuing his dream to become a professional golfer! Here, the father of 7 looks back on his trailblazing career working with the Musk brothers and shares with us his invaluable wisdom and advice for aspiring innovators. 

If you had one message to share with the world based on your journey so far, what is it?

The one thing I tell everyone is that the answers you’re looking for are in your power of decision-making process. I think the thing that makes us as human beings the same, is that we are all vulnerable. We may have various superpowers, but we all have some sort of Achilles heel in our lives. The thing that makes people different, are the things we want. It’s all ultimately based on decisions.

But here’s the bad news… only 2% of the world fully understands the extent of control they have and for the other 98%, it’s just entertainment.

I tell you this not to be discouraging- but to be encouraging. All the buildings we see, all the software that runs the world, all the money – may be the product of the general working population. However, it’s the vision and the manifestation of that 2 %. My turning point came when someone asked me, which side of the percentage do you want to be? (you may not have known before today that you have a choice, but you do.)

It’s fun to talk to young people about my journey because of my association with Elon musk and I do feel it’s something I can do, to make a difference in people’s lives, especially for those who are ambitious and looking for answers. I always remember that it was down to other people who made that difference for me, in my life.

My suggestion is that you focus on the thing that scares the shit out of you every single day. That’s what you should do. If it’s public speaking, then do it. If it’s building your own company rather than getting a job, then start it. Elon probably didn’t say more than 50 words to me in the 4 months I worked with him. I saw him every single day. In an office that was the same size as a bedroom. He was totally, completely and maniacally focused on the thing that was resisting him the most – which was figuring a way to get the search engines to work easier.

The world doesn’t need another Elon Musk. What it needs is for you to become the best version of yourself and to continue to make decisions that will take you into the resistance.  Then, guess what happens when you’ve overcome something that has resistance? You’ll start to become very clear and crisp towards your decisions. Eventually, decisions will be either a 1 or 0, yes or no, black or white, on or off. Life becomes very simple in that respect even though the complexities will multiply.

I choose to fill my schedule with things that scare me the most because that’s when my superpower is activated. Don’t you want to live your life when your superpower is working most of the time?

You’re someone who has experienced Silicon Valley since the 1970s. What was the atmosphere and environment like at that time and how has it changed since?

Silicon Valley has been a hub for technology since the 1940s. NASA built out its facilities here in the early days. But when I was a kid there was just Intel and Lockheed – the rest of it was just a bunch of farmlands. By the time the 1990s rolled in, the internet was in full swing so you can imagine the hotbed of technology companies.

Later, came the newly formed venture-capital companies in major universities like Santa Clara, Berkeley, and Stanford.

The biggest changes that I’ve seen in the last probably 10 to 12 years have been as a result of the absolute ubiquitous use of smartphones. These changes meant fewer requirements of being in Silicon Valley and more inclusive of the rest of the developed world.

For someone who has seen the growth of the internet first-hand, what’s next on the horizon?

My advice would be to shift the question from “what’s the future of technology look like?” to “what does the future look like and how will technology play a role in changes?”

Without gaining a higher and formal academic education to support the way through your career, how did you find this?

Earning a degree has nothing to do with entrepreneurship. Learning and experimentation and selling one’s ideas is the primary skillset.

The area I found most greatly underserved in each of the businesses I’ve helped build, was the area of communication skills. To me, explaining what a software product does is easy once I’ve done the homework. How anyone can sell something technical or non-technical without a genuine understanding or until they believe what they are selling is of tremendous value is beyond my comprehension!? Yet a great percentage of the people in sales need no such belief to solicit business.

I have worked extremely hard to understand technical concepts in software and networking products of which for the most part did not come to me easily, but only after much intense study. I did not focus on engineering in school and so, it probability took me 5-6 years of selling technology to get the basic concepts of IT and software. A lot of people did not have the willingness to put in the work to learn about how technology operates, and this has given me an advantage in my ‘lack’ of education because I was honest in my assessments early on and found there was simply no other way for me to succeed in Silicon Valley than to study.

It is true, my most advanced academic level completed is high school or 12th grade. From a formal education standpoint, I lack much of the mathematics and science classes of the average second-year engineering student. But that is not to say I am not educated. For example, can most people in business explain what it is they do for a living in such a way, where the explanation of their topic of mastery would sufficiently satisfy a university professor as well as a 12-year old to understand it well enough for them to explain it to a third party? I believe this is the genuine role of a sales presenter.

IBM hired me for my understanding of cloud computing and analytics which I gained at Intel.
Intel hired me for my experience in virtualization of the data center which I gained at CA Technologies.
CA hired me for my experience in the data center and in storage which I gained at CISCO, AccelOps and from starting Tegile.
CISCO bought Perfigo for its exceptional security product which was easily learned with my background in IT sales.

Herein lies the road map to success paved by personal development, study, communication skills, and by learning not just what a company does, but what they needed to do.

You mention the importance of mental toughness. How do you maintain such a way of thinking and for those who have yet to master it, is it simply a ‘lightbulb moment’ that clicks one day?

There is a quick moment, but it usually comes after a long period of working and training and trying to figure out details to achieve your dream or ideal future.

What was it like working so closely with Elon Musk and his brother Kimbal in those early stages?

I certainly did stumble across Zip2 – which was called Global Link in the beginning. I responded to a newspaper ad for one of the first internet companies in the valley – which is ironic (if you’ve read Elon’s story). I met with the Musk brothers and agreed to start in sales the next week. When I met Elon and Kimbal, they had a tiny office in Palo Alto. There was a desk and two laptops which were expensive at that time – maybe $3-4,000 a piece in today’s dollars. They had maybe $10,000 from their parents and had only been working for a few months. There was no product, no people, no space to work in. It wasn’t very impressive.

Kimbal was a very positive person. He and I would go to coffee each day and talk about the sales calls I was making by literally knocking on doors and asking businesses if they wanted to be able for people to find them on the internet.

The internet wasn’t anything we’d ever heard of before and no one I knew had ever used it in 1995. We were very early. As a result, it turned out, I didn’t make any sales and the guys ran out of money after about 3 months. They offered to have me stay on working for no pay until they got funded, but I had bills to pay and could not see how we would ever make it as a company, so I respectfully declined.

It was very uneventful. Silicon Valley had not been placed on the map yet. The word “start-up” was not a thing people spoke of or knew about.

Looking back, I don’t have any regrets in leaving Zip2.com because at the time it wasn’t anything. I’m certainly glad to see these former friends and employers of mine to have done so well, but my timing in working with them was so early I don’t think there was much chance for my poor sales skills, doing them much good at the time either. They were painting houses in Canada just a few months before I started working for them in Palo Alto and I’m sure even they could not have imagined at the time how far they would go.

As a father of 7 kids, what’s one piece of advice would you give to them?

The main advice I give them is to pay close attention to cause and effect and to propaganda. I rarely tell them what to do, but I’m constantly challenging them to examine how they think.

The basis for all success, in my mind, is taking consistent and repetitive action along the lines of building a “belief” that someone can do a thing. Until there’s a POP! in the subconscious which says, “I know I can do this.” Until you get to that POP! there’s always doubt, and that doubt is NEVER to have a voice in one’s decision making as to what they will do.

With a focused outcome clearly held in one’s mind at all times, with a tremendous imagination and the reiteration of the image again and again in detail with a recalling of the emotional reasons as to WHY you might do a thing or acquire a thing, there’s really no limits to what a man or woman can achieve. But without this “faith energy,” I’m not certain I could have the ability to successfully get out of bed and get to my breakfast in the morning.

 

 

“If you have a positive or creative idea, and you feel it might get somewhere – never let anyone stop you from trying to create.”

Flooding the net with his funny viral videos, featuring on BBC TV for his conscious short-films, and entering the UK’s thriving music scene with full support, Theo Johnson is an all rounded creative. Otherwise known as T1Officiall, the Birmingham-born actor, writer, musician and comedy social media personality, is a rising talent.
He’s paved his way into the UK’s entertainment industry and continues to progress with enthusiasm and an imaginative mindset. You may recognise him from his first major role as ‘Callum’ in Channel 4’s ‘Raised by Wolves’ or on the big screen as ‘Jason’ in the ‘Intent2 Movie’. Theo has featured in the awareness campaigns for ‘THINK’ adverts and more recently, released music videos in collaboration with recognisable UK artists.
How did acting come about?

I was kind of a naughty child and found school challenging because I was more into the creative arts and sports rather than the academics.

I figured that I was good at drama – teachers would tell me to take lead in acting roles, which I enjoyed. I quickly started to catch the acting bug and knew I wanted to get more involved in drama.

But I knew I had to be proactive. Once I started telling people around me that I wanted to be an actor, they didn’t understand it or thought it was impossible. My friends wanted to be footballers and my parents wanted me to go to university and get a proper job. As you can imagine, all the negative comments that come with doing something that seems to be unrealistic. It meant I had to start putting in work to prove to everyone that I could do this. I studied performing arts at college and at university I studied teaching drama because my mum wanted me to get a degree. I knew university wasn’t going to help me find acting roles, so I used to attend open auditions whilst studying.

I finished my degree with a 2:1 BA and at the same time, landed my first big break as one of the main roles on Channel 4’s ‘Raised by Wolves’ series, featuring in 3 out of 6 of the episodes.

It was only later I realised I could really make money from acting. I liked the idea of fame and all the things that come with it.

Growing up in Birmingham and coming to an industry that’s London-centric. What was that difference like?

After the channel 4 show finished reality slapped back in. I saw the money coming down and the struggles of the acting world when you’re not in full-time work.

It was then, that I turned to social media and thought it was the future. Me and Sideman decided to work together – as he was involved in stand-up comedy too and made name for himself. We would both go to networking events in London and that’s how we got our foot in the door…

The difference between Birmingham compared to London is that; when you’re driving people will stop for you and give you way, they’ll say thank you and put their hazards on… you can actually walk through the street without being barged. In that sense, it can be a more relaxed and a welcoming place.

That’s all good, but at the same time, a lot of people don’t see opportunities. They just go down the wrong path, or simply don’t know what to do so they think certain goals are unrealistic because they haven’t seen in their immediate circle. Whereas in London, everyone wants to be something, everyone’s got a plan and they’re in a rush to get there.

Acting, music, comedy – how do you balance this and choose were to place your focus?

I think my main calling has been creating my own short films. I didn’t have an agent so I always made sure I was in full control of my work and writing scripts that would show and develop my acting skills.

I see myself as an all-around creative, but I like to be realistic and prioritise what’s important at the time. At a time when everyone was listening to American artists and the UK scene wasn’t as it is now, it made sense for me to focus more on acting.

With music it’s a lot more effort, you need to have the investment and know the right people. With acting it’s about having a big enough platform to push it out on once it’s created.

Comedy is the part I like the least. It’s funny because that’s what I’m mainly known for – it’s the videos that have gone viral. It’s the easiest way to gain a following via Instagram.

Where would you like to see yourself in the future?

I would like to see, a Netflix deal or to star in my own series – that would be big goals.

Being able to show my ability and be respected for my craft in acting and be recognised for my music would be a success for me.

I’d like to become an all-round creative… People can easily put you in a box or hold you back by telling you to keep to one thing or ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. But I believe, if you’re talented and you’re genuinely good at these things, then why not pursue them?

I’d like to be a Jamie Fox or Idris Elba, where I can master my acting and be known for music too.

What advice would you give to someone in drama school right now?

Firstly, don’t get your hopes up. Once you start, a lot of people will sell false promises and dreams. Don’t believe anything unless you’ve seen it happen because of your own grind and efforts.

The best advice is don’t take any advice. People will tell you ‘it’s not going to work’ but if you’ve got that gut feeling, then go for it.

If you have a positive or creative idea, and you feel it might get somewhere. The worst that can happen is people won’t like it or you fail and move on by trying something different. Never let anyone stop you from trying to create.

Also, some advice; don’t let things get to your ego. Money comes and goes, and you’ll have highs and lows. Don’t let fame get to your head because there is always someone trying to take your place and you can only stay at the top for so long – a new flame will eventually come.

When you do reach the top… It’s not as glitz and glam as everybody thinks. It’s very fake – you’ve got be friendly, smile and wave.

Why is there always a mention of this fake attitude, and is there a new turn happening with the younger talent?

I think the world has become too sensitive, and its led to the content not being real anymore. A lot of people are easily offended these days and if you’re a comedian with good intentions – this stops your creativity.

As time goes on, I think it’s getting worse to be honest. But that’s one of the things that comes with the game, I guess. It’s called a game for a reason – it’s not reality. The industry is really an industry of entertainment and it’s not like you have to be real here. It doesn’t matter. You can take your mask and ego down when you come off the stage and live a normal life or be real with your inner circle there.

What kept you motivated and inspired?

The progression is what keeps me inspired – it’s a change that has turned my whole life around. Being at a point where I’m totally independent; waking up when I want unless I’m booked for a campaign or advert, not being worried about bills or knowing that my mum’s not worried about money.

I’m nowhere near to where I want to be, but I’m very far from where I came, and I wouldn’t want to go back there.

My family count on me a lot, anytime they ask me for something I can say ‘yes’ – and I want to keep it that way. Seeing how my progress has had a positive effect on them makes me want to keep doing new things. My nephew wants to be a footballer and my other nephew wants to be a dancer. I can see they are trying because they’ve seen its possible with me. I want to open their eyes to the opportunities out there.

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Keep up with Theo’s exciting new projects and follow his official Instagram account @t1officiall to check out his latest content and releases.

 

 

“For me, I want people to take the positive parts of what my life was about. It’s all about legacy.”

From Peckham, South East London, Ashley Walters stumbled his way into acting and drama at the age of 6. Having built up his career in music and acting over the last 3 decades, his name is definitely one to remember. He’s well-known as the rapper and lyricist, Asher D. A member of the English Garage group So Solid Crew, whose hit ’21 Seconds’ was a major success in the UK; tearing up the charts in 2001.
But when neighbourhood conflict between two street crews heightened, one from Brixton and the other Peckham, Ashley was convicted at the age of 18 for possession of a firearm. Shortly after his prison release, he managed to transition back into acting. At a time when the industry was quick to reject him, he took on a role that would put him on the map. The Movie ‘Bullet Boy’ 2004, won him ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ at the British Independent Film Awards; an achievement that then fuelled his career.
From 2005, he landed himself in films such as 50 Cent’s critically-acclaimed ‘Get Rich or Die Trying’ and the action spy film, Stormbreaker. His leading role in the TV series ‘Top Boy’, which aired for 2 seasons received huge recognition not only in the UK but also overseas, with names such as Drake taking an interest in the show.
Ashley is currently working on his first project as a producer, in a Sky 1 TV series called ‘Bulletproof’. With over 10 million pound funding per season, the series is filled with action, drama and comedy. After 6 years of planning and approvals, Ashley also stars in the series with Noel Clarke; where the duo play as two East London police officers.
We sat down with Ashley to unpack more of his journey, what inspires him and his thoughts on the entertainment industry. With the recent announcement of TopBoy Season 3, it’s safe to say we’ll all be expecting some very exciting content coming!
Acting was something you were first involved with from a very young age, how did this begin?

It began by chance, when I was about 7 years old. My cousin, who was 4 years older, was interested in acting and found the opportunity for a show in the west end, a musical called Children of Eden. I tagged along to this open audition and ended up joining the thousands of kids waiting to perform. It turned out that I got the role!

From then, my mum then sent me to Sylvia Young Theatre School – one of three main drama schools for kids around that time.

Growing up in the generation of MTV raps, you mentioned how you would record their videos and imitate rappers doing ‘double time’. Which artists inspired you most and why?

It was between Busta Rhymes and a group called Camp Low. They killed that double time and that’s pretty much what influenced me…

Being a member of the So Solid Crew, you were one of the first urban groups to pave the way to into the US. But what did you think was one of the differences between the scene in the US compared to the UK?

In the UK there was no such market, nothing like there was in the States. UK rap at the time was so underground and we didn’t have an industry for artists like us on a commercial level. Getting that piece of America was brilliant; we took it and ran with it.

I would say garage was one of the first genres of music that we all felt collectively could be sold elsewhere. It existed before So Solid Crew came into it, but it was more House/Garage.

It was crazy the amount of hype and attention we received, but at the same time it was all new. We obviously didn’t realise at the time we were pioneers, and scapegoats, for whatever happened. Looking back, we are glad to have pursued it. Because I think it’s fair to say that we wouldn’t have what we have now otherwise.

How did you deal with the weight of that responsibility in those early stages?

It was heavy and confusing to deal with. There would be times when we’d turn on the TV and see Tony Blair saying, “ban So Solid!” And we would be thinking what’s the issue?

At the time, we didn’t know how responsible we should have been, and we didn’t really understand it either. The phrase ‘role model’ kept coming up and my attitude at age of 18 or 19 meant I was searching for role models myself. So, in that sense, we shied away from the responsibly a lot.

Artists today still view you as their inspiration. Considering how much the UK scene has recently developed, is there anyone that particularly stands out to you?

There’s a lot that stands out for many different reasons. I’d say Giggs, Chipmunk, Kano, Ghetts and Deviln.

Currently we’ve moved out of grime; no longer are we in that phase. I think what came out of the grime scene was the rise of some hard-funky house, which opened the door for Afro beats and artists such as J Hus, Abra and Kojo.

It’s brilliant to see the unity between artists right now – something that was lacking around the time So Solid was out.

The film ‘BulletBoy’ was about a young man who had just come out of jail trying to start a new life, a story that could resonate with your own experiences. Did this make it easier for you to play the character?

Yes, most definitely. And to be fair I didn’t know it would make it easier for me, at the time. It was the best thing for me to get that job after my release from prison. I was in such a depressed state from what I’d just been through. I remember my headspace at the time thinking that my only option was going back to the roads.

If you can catch someone whilst they are dipping into that state, and uplift them on that magnitude, you have a good chance of saving them. I still thank the directors and producers of the film for giving me that opportunity. I very quickly understood that I was back on track and had something to fight for.

People find this hard to believe but making that movie was when I first properly realised what acting was about. I’d been acting a long time before that, but not fully understanding the process behind it. After winning the award, it became more of a realisation that this was a career path I could continue.

Working on your first project as a producer along side Noel Clarke for the Sky 1 series ‘Bullet Proof’ which you also star in, what’s been some of the challenges along the way while undertaking this new role and as your career unfolds?

Parts of it have been really challenging because it does put pressure on your relationships. When it comes to success, along your journey you’ll get a lot of people waiting for you to get to a certain place, hoping that when you get there you will bring them in. I think when people see that you’re on TV and famous they automatically assume you’re a multimillionaire. So, for me thats the most difficult side of it.

There’s also a big deal with ethnicity in the UK film industry. The issues of representation right now is weak. Although things are changing, and diversity is being encouraged, we had to fight for a good 7 years to get a show like this aired.

Other than that, I’m really enjoying that side of the fence and I’m looking forward to it. It’s kind of like bringing together the audience and fans base of Top Boy and Kidulthood.

When you see the younger generation today, what challenges do you see them facing?

I think they are facing the challenges that we’ve kind of put on them. Being a dad and watching them grow up, I’ve seen how communication has changed due to technology and social media.

I grew up in an era when there were no mobile phones. We had to arrange with our friends at school on Friday that we were going to the cinema on Saturday. When I was coming through with music, we didn’t have the ability to post our songs on YouTube. We had to literary knock on doors and put flyers on cars. Those things in turn made us more well-rounded when we were leaving our teens and becoming adults.

Now, almost everything is accessible at our finger tips and the world needs to be careful in trying to facilitate that all the time. Some things you do need to wait hours for; just so you can go through the process of understanding what it’s about. So, because of that what you see is a lot of the success being short lived because these people have no experience in losing and failing.

What exactly inspires you?

I’m inspired by a lot of different things. But really and truly, it’s my kids. I love acting and what I do, but it’s more about leaving a legacy. I’ve seen a lot of people go this year and you always just want to make sure you’re remembered and that your name lives on. For me, I want people to take the positive parts of what my life was about.

And for my kids, I want to give them a platform to what they want to do – one that was much greater than mine.

“My love for acting has to do with the fact that the craft is about people. As actors, we tell stories, stories about people.”

Born in Mexico City 1966, Veronica Falcon has been in the film industry, acting and choreographing for almost 30 years. At 51 she has gained wisdom and industry experience, which has fuelled her with passion and inspiration to continue her journey as an actress. Veronica sits down with JW and shares with us what she’s learnt in the business, her views on ageism and feminism, and her advice on fulfilling your goals.
Building a career as a Mexican actress and working with some of the best directors in the country, she decided only quite recently to move to Hollywood to further pursue her dreams. Within only a short space of time she landed the leading role in the US hit series, based on the popular novel, ‘Queen of the South’. Playing the fiery character of Camila Vargas, who is the head of America’s most dangerous drug cartels in Dallas, TX.
Whilst growing up, it was your decision to leave your family to work hard on your dreams. What is it about acting in particular that made you choose such a path?

It’s simple. I just love it and am very passionate about it! I’m grateful that I can make a living as an actor. My love for it has to do with the fact that the craft is about people. As actors, we tell stories, stories about people. We play people, we become people and to do that we have to observe, travel, read, analyze, question, study and meet other people. Then we play. Like kids. So on one hand is intellectually stimulating and on the other is quite liberating. I find it fascinating. I love good stories and I am very passionate about great characters. It’s amazing for me, to dive into the complexities of us as human beings, the infinitesimal amount of stories that humans can spark and the mysteries of human nature, acting allows me to indulge in all that and to play, just as when I was a girl, well almost. As an actor I get to play in a safe “make believe” world and through that I have the opportunity to provoque, entertain or move other people.

Having left Mexico with the hopes of pursuing an acting career in Hollywood, within only a few months; you were able to land the role of Camila in ‘Queen on the South’. What’s been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve gathered being a part of the production?

I think perseverance pays off. I think one of the greatest lessons has been to never take anything for granted. You work hard for something, educate yourself, train, pay your dues, get lucky and then if you do you try to grab the opportunity & to honor it. But that doesn’t mean you are that special or that extraordinary. You can’t take it for granted, you have to wake up every day and play the character with the same commitment as the first day. Someone once told me that “The character finds the actor” I believe that can be accurate many times but I also believe that once the character found you as an actor is your job to make sure that he found a “treasure” and not a “carcass”. Maybe is not my best analogy but what I mean is that if you have the chance to play a character like Camila Vargas you better step up to it and try to deliver the best performance that you can every single time.

Being able to experience an insight into the world of Hollywood, did it match up to your previous expectations and ideas? Were there any areas of the industry that surprised you?

Yes & No. The problem with expectations is that reality usually shatters them. But that is not necessarily negative. I expected, hoped to get a challenging interesting job as an actor, I never expected to get one of the best & most challenging roles of my career within 9 months. I expected to have a hard time because I know how ageism is in the industry and so I did not expected to be playing one of the most sexually attractive roles in my career at 51. So yeah that surprised me a bit. Other expectations were fulfilled: I expected to find professional, talented peers & good scripts and I have, aside from Queen of the South I had the opportunity to work in the HBO series “Room 104” created by Jay & Mark Duplass an that was a “gift”, I knew how talented they are, I knew I got a great script and a good character to play but they exceeded even my expectations which were very high to begin with. And yes it is still surprising to see that in this day and age female directors, crewmembers & actors are still pigeonholed and fighting for equality. I was not expecting it like that, in that area we still have a long way to go there everywhere, not only in Hollywood.

What type of character would you love to play in the future?

Mostly I am interested in playing challenging roles, I love flawed characters, misfits, rebels, weridos, villains, specially when they are wisely constructed and I always enjoy very much to play physically challenging roles that require for me to transform my body. Transformation in terms of physicality is very alluring to me. But I’d also love to play a historical character and yes, I think it would be lots of fun to play a super villain in an action comic book based type film or series, I’ve never done that and I am guessing it would be a lot of fun.

Being a mother yourself, you’ve mentioned it is the thing that describes you first. But if you could have one message to give to the younger generation about holding onto their dreams, what would it be?

Well once you have a dream and you are holding on to it, grab it, hard, don’t let go and make it happen. Believe in it, believe in you despite everything or everyone who tries to discourage you. I truly believe that if the heart is in the right place, if one works hard & is focused on the goal it will happen, might take a while bit it will. But above all, once you have it, enjoy it, nurture it, share it & never ever ever take it for granted. 

“Be fearless, stay in school, be yourself and don’t let other people’s opinions change who you are.”

17-year-old Michael Rainey Jr. stars as Tariq St. Patrick on the US hit drama, Power, where he plays the son of New York’s biggest drug distributor, Ghost. The show stars, Omari Hardwick, Naturi Naughton and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who also is the shows’ producer.
Michael made his first on-screen appearances on Sesame Street and various commercials and music videos. In 2009, the then 9-year-old kick-started his big-screen career when he was cast as the lead in Silvio Muccino’s ‘Un Altro Mondo. His first American film was in 2011, LUV, staring along side Common. Having later worked on several RECOGNISABLE films, such as Barbershop 3 and The Butler, Michael is now continuing his work on the Power series after 4 success seasons.
In his spare time, Michael gives back to the community through his involvement in Find and Feed, an ORGANISATION based in Indiana which is dedicated to helping the homeless, a cause very close to his heart. He also mentions that he enjoys making music and playing the piano, basketball and video games.
What are your favourite and least favourite things about being an actor?

My favourite part about being an actor is the travelling, you get to see a lot at the same time as working. I also like that it lets me work with different people, it’s exciting to always be involved in new projects and even when I’m not acting it’s good to meet some amazing people. I honestly don’t have a worst. Oh wait, maybe the days I have to get up extra early because I have to be on set by 7am. I love to sleep late. But seriously though I don’t have a worst.

Having worked closely with some of the most respected names in the industry such as Ice Cube and 50 Cent, you’ve been fortunate to gain a lot of insight and knowledge within the industry. But what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve taken away from these individuals?

50 once told me, ‘never feel too entitled because that can lead you to depriving yourself’. By that he meant that sometimes when we don’t get what we want or planned, we end up saying ‘forget it, I don’t want anything at all,’ and then you’re left with nothing at all.

On the Power series, the whole crew is like a family and when it comes to 50 and Omari, they are more like dad figures to me. For instance, I liked to keep brushing my hair on set to make sure it looked good. Omari told me not to worry about how I looked, instead focus on my craft.

Who or what exactly inspires you?

My Mom, she is definitely the biggest inspiration in my life.

With much success, there also comes some negativity. Do you find it difficult to deal with such comments?

No, it only really becomes an issue if you let it affect you like that. I don’t think too much about negative comments, I don’t let them bother me. People are going to always have an opinion.

The people who do show love are really supportive and push me to be better and be the best I can be heading forward with my career and goals.

If you had one message to give to the younger generation, what would it be?

Be fearless, stay in school, be yourself and don’t let other people’s opinions change who you are.

“It is not enough to merely have a dream, you have to act on it and then use your resources and experiences to help others to achieve theirs as well.”

Known by most as Astronaut Abby, Abigail Harrison is an ordinary young lady with a big dream. From a very young age, Abby was determined to be a NASA astronaut and has now taken that dream a step further as she aspires to be the first astronaut to land on Mars.
As she continually takes strides towards her own goals, Abby has prioritised encouraging and facilitating the resources for others to do the same. With the combined expertise of engineers, astronauts, scientists and the support from her cultivated online community, Abby founded The Mars Generation in 2015, at the age of 18. The non-profit has the mission of equipping and enthusing the next generation about STEM and space exploration. The organisation managed to reach 10 million people within a year of launching, a figure which continues to rise.

Having the dream of one day becoming an astronaut, what is it about space that excites you and keeps you motivated to adventure?

Growing up I was influenced heavily by both scifi and a wonder for the natural world. My dad was, and is, a huge scifi nerd so I was exposed at an early age to the idea that space exploration was common and cool.

I was also very interested in the natural world, like most kids, and spent time stargazing and imagining what we could discover in space.

It’s that sense of wonder and curiousity that still stays with me today.

What are the challenges you’ve faced on your journey and training towards becoming an astronaut?

Balance has definitely been my greatest challenge! When you have a dream as large and far in the future as mine is it can be easy to forget to live life now. I make a concerted effort to both prepare for my future as an astronaut and live life to the fullest in the here and now.

Creating the project known as, The Mars Generation, which encourages young individuals to take an interest in space exploration has been a huge success and achievement. But what’s the key thing you’ve learned throughout the process?

Over the past year and a half since officially starting The Mars Generation, I have learned so much- it’s hard to pinpoint.

But I’d say probably the fact that there are so many people out there who are interested and invested in space exploration! Having seen this first hand makes me hopeful for the future. On a practical side, I have learned that running a nonprofit requires a lot of paperwork. And I am fortunate to have so much support and help to run the organization as it would be impossible to do this alone.

What’s the best part of doing what you do?

Speaking in schools! I love speaking in schools because students always ask unique questions full of creativity and excitement about the future.

If you had one message to give to the world what would it be?

Dream big, act big, and inspire others.

It is not enough to merely have a dream, you have to act on that dream and then use your resources and experiences to help others to believe in and achieve their dreams as well.

“I said to myself; I’m going to do it my way, and create such a noise that can’t be ignored.”

Creator of Catalyst Entertainment, Guv is known to be the essence of visionary management.
Listening to some of his mates MC whilst growing up, and becoming motivated to help promote them, he managed to land his first radio song at the age of only 13. Guv now manages some of the best upcoming artists and talents in the UK music industry. Working with artists such as Mist, Tom Zanetti, Steel Banglez, Big Shaq, Swifta Beater and Lippi, to name a few.
With his own dream and goal of one-day managing artists behind the scene, Guv shares with us what keeps him motivated, his inspirations in terms of music, his knowledge of the industry, and his advice from experience…

What’s your own inspiration in terms of artists, and where did it come from?

I was a heavy grime fan in the early days of Dizzee, Wiley, Pay As You Go Cartel ect. But I think my true inspiration in terms of music would be a bhangra producer from Derby, called Tru Skool.

He taught me how to play the Dhol, which is an Indian classic drum, when I was about 7 or 8. I remember him being a master of so many instruments and he was a genius in my eyes.

Today, he is probably the biggest bhangra producer in the world. I know it’s a completely different area in music compared to where I’m currently at, but he is number one in that game and I plan on being number one in my game – hence, I draw inspiration from him. He also taught me a lot when it came to attitude in the music scene and self-belief!

As a manager, when you see what’s happening in the industry, how do you then apply this to your artists for them to grow?

I always think that it’s vital to give my artists knowledge, and not to keep them in the dark. It’s the key thing for trust and longevity in manager-artist relationships.

Obviously, there may be certain things that you want to keep away from the artists to protect them and protect their creativity, to keep them in a positive mind frame and their morale high. But I do think it’s important that they understand the business side of things. In a sense, make them their own bosses by helping them to build their own foundations.

It’s also about being selective with the information you don’t want to share, in terms of negativity. There is much of that in the industry and you want to keep that away.

At the end of the day, it all depends on how well you know your artists.

Mindset and the right attitude is key. But what advice can you give to young people who want to enter the music scene today?

After university, I applied for hundreds of A&R (artists and repertoire) jobs and graduate schemes for marketing assistants, management roles, etc. And even though  it was a rejection most of the time, that’s exactly what drove me… I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to do it my way, and create such a noise that can’t be ignored’.

And if you’re not from London, like me, you’ll realize that the industry is very London-centric. I created a noise in the north with Tom Zanetti, and a noise in the Midlands with Mist. As well as working with two of the best producers at this time, Steel Banglez and Swifta Beater. Together, creating a noise so big that London couldn’t even ignore it.

Ultimately, it depends on how deep you want to go into the music industry. Have no days off. It depends on your ambitious. Learn a lot. Read books on the industry. Just keep up to date with the music. Study marketing. Go into detail and analyse everything. And get going!

Branding an artist is important in your industry, but how do you think social media can affect a musician’s artistry?

People can do some crazy things for likes and retweets. And yes, we can be more intelligent with the use of our social media. But I think it also comes down to being truthful and real with yourself.

With huge coperations coming in and being involved, using big celebrities and mainstream artists to promote their products or get viral campaigns, it can all get a bit crazy.

For independent artists it’s great; you don’t need a label. If your social media following is that big, people will tweet out with your video, and it can go viral. I’ve seen it with Mist and Tom; we can put out a merchandise and everything goes crazy and sells out in minutes.

What exactly inspires you and keeps you motivated?

The fact that I’ve done so much, but I’ve technically done so little.

There is still so much more for me to do. I still need number one singles, I still need Grammies, and I still need Brit Award for my artists…

With music, I want to travel more of the world. I’m not really motivated by money because that’s something that comes. It’s more about success and achievements. Doubling my goals is what inspires me to be honest with you.

As you have progressed up, what have you learned about the industry, something you may not have realised before?

I’d say on the outside it looks corporate but inside it’s not so much, it’s more about maintaining good relationships. But it is definitely fast moving and evolves quickly. If your hot everyone wants to know you; if you’re not or have a bad run, it’s easy to fall out of the public eye. In that sense, it can be a cold industry.

And again, very London centric. Although there is 9 million people in London, there’s still about 50 million outside in the rest of the UK. Look at cultures outside of London, look at music trends, explore different cities and formulate your plans, structures and ideas for music from there.


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“Those who have fought to make the world better are the ones that inspire me.”

Author, Economist and Senior Academic at the University of Cambridge, Ha-Joon Change was born in Seoul, South Korea 1963. Having moved to the UK and graduated from the faculty of Economics and Poltics at Cambridge, where he now teaches, Professor Chang is one of the world’s most distinguished hererodox economists in development economics. 
In the 2013 Prospect Magazine, Chang was  ranked as one of the top 20 World Thinkers. Receiving two international awards in recognition, his book ‘Kicking Away the Ladder’ won the Myrdal Prize for best monograph by the European Associate for Evolutionary Political Economy. Having worked as a consultant to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Investment Bank. Chang has also met with President Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, being a part of his cabinet to give economic recommendations on sustainable investment in education, research and knowledge.
We are excited to be sharing with you an insight into his own opinions on global issues, his reasons for choosing his career path and what keeps him interested in the World of Economics…

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What is it about Economics that keeps you particularly motivated to research and keep teaching? ­

I became interested in economics because I had grown up in South Korea during the height of its ‘economic miracle’, between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. This was the time when the Korean economy was growing at 8%, 10%, and sometimes even 12% per year, producing huge changes all around me. Many of these changes were positive – higher material standards of living, significant improvements in health and education, weakening of traditional (often conservative) values. However, there were also a lot of negative changes – repression of workers, spread of urban slums, and increasing social conflicts. So, I wanted to understand both the positive and the negative changes that were happening around me and economics seemed to be the obvious subject to help me do that.

Even today, it is my desire to understand – and hopefully improve – the real world around me that keeps me going. Even though I don’t have any problem with other researchers doing ‘esoteric’ theoretical research (which I myself sometimes do), I am mainly driven by the desire to analyse real-world problems and come up with practical policy solutions to them.

Economics is everywhere, but its understanding varies widely. Growing up in Seoul to graduating and teaching in the UK, what would you say is the fundamental difference between the two countries when it comes to the World of Economics?

When I decided that I want to do my graduate studies in the UK, it was because I thought the UK economics departments offered a more ‘pluralist’ intellectual environment than what I could find in Korea or the US (the other obvious destination) at the time.

When I was attending my university in Seoul in the early 1980s, we were mostly taught Neoclassical economics and some Neoclassical rendition of Keynesian economics. Marxist economics was officially banned and we had only glimpses of other economic schools, like the Schumpeterian school and the German historical school through a couple of old professors. Most UK universities seemed to offer much broader curriculum.

When I actually arrived in Cambridge as a graduate student in 1986, not only was I given broader, more pluralist teaching than I had had in Korea, but I was also encouraged (or even forced) take a far more critical approach to economics than I was used to. In Korea at the time (as it is sadly the case in the UK too these days), we were told to absorb our textbooks and lectures uncritically, but my teachers in Cambridge – Robert Rowthorn, Ajit Singh, John Sender, Gabriel Palma, and Peter Nolan were particularly influential – taught us economics mainly through debates between different schools, thus implying that it is not always black-and-white. They also encouraged us to be critical of intellectual authorities, pushing us to question even the most widely accepted theories and the most famous economists.

What exactly inspires you?

Two hundred years ago, if you advocated the abolition of slavery in the US, the kindest description you would have got is ‘unrealistic’. One hundred years ago, the UK, the US, and many other countries put women in prison for asking for vote. Sixty, seventy years ago, many of the founding fathers (and mothers) of post-colonial societies were being hunted down as terrorists by the British, the French, the Belgians, the Japanese, and so on. Only three decades ago, Margaret Thatcher is supposed to have said that anyone who thinks there will be a black majority rule in South Africa is living in a cloud cuckoo land. But all of these things, which once had looked impossible, have come true because people fought to achieve them.

I am of course only an academic and a writer, so the fight I am fighting is nothing even remotely comparable to all those who risked their lives in the fight for the abolition of slavery, male-only voting system, colonialism, apartheid, and so on. However, those people and many others who have fought to make the world better are the ones that inspire me.

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From your point of view, what is the biggest challenge facing the world today? ­

In the short to medium run, the biggest challenge that the world is facing today is the heightened (and in many countries increasing) inequality, which has mainly been caused by the neo-liberal economic policies of the last few decades.

High inequality holds the economy back – by depressing demand and, more importantly, by reducing social mobility, thus failing to fully utilise the talents that a society has in possession. High inequality, especially if it is rapidly increasing, makes society more conflict-ridden and intolerant. In many countries, it is tearing societies apart.

In the longer run, the biggest challenge to the world is of course climate change. Unless we change our energy system and consumption pattern significantly and quickly enough, we may ‘run out of the planet’, so to speak. Catastrophic climate change will make all other socio-economic problems – fiscal austerity, job insecurity, high inequality, strains on the welfare state – look like a picnic.

Of course, one important plank in our strategy to deal with climate change should be to put more restraints on the untrammelled pursuit of short-term profits by the neo-liberal economic system, which has encouraged excessive material consumption and the neglect of long-term damages to the environment.

 

Your book ‘23 things they don’t tell you about Capitalism’, gives a very refreshing and understandable approach to the running of Economies. Professor Noam Chomsky quotes, ‘The basic principle of modern state capitalism is that costs and risks are socialized to the extent possible, while profit is privatized.’ Can you comment on this, in terms of those who tend to gain the most and least welfare from such a system?

Professor Chomsky is absolutely right, but things are actually worse than what he says. The first part of the principle (that is, the socialisation of costs and risks) is applied only to the rich, while the second part of the principle (privatisation of profit) is inherently applicable mostly to the rich (as the poor earn little, if any, profit).

The principle of socialisation of risk for the rich has been most dramatically shown by the 2008 global financial crisis. Following the crisis, banks have been bailed out by taxpayers’ money to the tune of tens of trillions of dollars but few top bankers who had caused (or at least had condoned the practices that caused) the crisis have been punished for their wrong-doings and their dereliction of duty.

Even before the crisis, for the rich, the last few decades have been a game of ‘head I win, tail you lose’. Especially in the US, top managers, sign on pay packages that give them tens, and often hundreds, of millions of dollars for failing – and many times more for doing a decent job. Corporations have been subsidised on a massive scale with few conditions – sometimes directly but often indirectly through government procurement programmes with inflated price tags (especially in defence) or through free technologies produced by government-funded research programmes.

In contrast, poor people have been increasingly subject to market forces and bearing more and more risk than before. Jobs have become far more insecure, thanks to continuous de-regulation of the labour market and sometimes even to laws weakening the trade union. This trend has reached a new level with the emergence of the so-called ‘gig economy’, in which workers are bogusly hired as ‘self-employed’ (without the control over their work that the truly self-employed people have) and deprived of even the most basic rights (e.g., sick leave, paid holiday). In the area of consumption, increasing privatisation and deregulation of industries supplying essential services, on which the poor are relatively more reliant upon (like water, electricity, public transport, postal services, basic health care, and basic education), have meant that the poor have been seen a disproportionate increase in the exposure of their consumption (and not just jobs) to the risks inherent in the logic of the market.

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theguardian.com (President of Ecuador – Rafael Correa)

If you had one message to give to all young and aspiring economists, what would it be?  

I would say: “Never accept anything at face value”.

If they are not going to end up as technocratic ‘worker bees’ who execute orders given to them by their employers or, worse, unthinkingly defend the economic status quo, economists need to question the prevailing economic theories. I am not saying that you should abandon all theories but that you should check what the underlying assumptions of the theory in question are, whether those assumptions are ethically acceptable and descriptively realistic, and whether those assumptions hold in the cases to which you are applying the theory.

You should also question the numbers that you are dealing with. Even for more ‘straightforward’ numbers, like GDP, you need to know that there are a lot of problems: for example, GDP includes incomes from socially undesirable activities (e.g., polluting activities), excludes household work and care work (mostly done by women), and so on. When it comes to all those ‘indexes’ (of freedom, corruption, governance, ethnic homogeneity, and what not), you don’t even know exactly what went into them and how the ideological biases that are inherent in them (e.g., the very notion of things like freedom and ethnicity) need to be taken into account.

To find out more about Ha-Joon Chang and his work check out his website hajoonchang.net for more information on his publications, influences and interests.

Take a look at his Wikipedia page too, at Ha-Joon Chang.


“Young people are the hope for the future and, since the future of the planet is the future of young people, my message to the young would be to use time, money and inner, spiritual power in a creative and constructive way to serve the self but also serve the world.”

Director of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Sister Jayanti, truly represents the essence of inner peace and meditation. She is someone who believes in the power of consciousness and thought to positively influence the world around her. Having found and developed her own path of spirituality through meditation, she has been practicing for over 40 years.
Being invited to speak at several UN Climate Change Conferences, her commitment in helping to combat further Climate Change continues, as she reflects on the importance of inner silence to spark change within individuals…

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“Our curiosity for knowledge is important, but what is more important is our understanding to piece it all together.” – Amerah Ahmed

At the age 18, living in London, you began to recognise the possible directions of your life. Do you remember how you began to piece together the knowledge that has brought you onto this path of spirituality? And when growing up, did you have a sense of there being something bigger than yourself?

As a child, I came into contact with the Brahma Kumaris, because my mother and grandmother started to meditate at the centre in Pune in India in 1957. There was a feeling of warmth and safety being with the sisters. We then migrated to London a few months later. Through my teens I would visit India but I was never really interested to find out more. I was told there was a God but traditional religions didn’t really answer my questions about God, and so for a period of time I felt I didn’t need to explore that dimension. Again, meeting the Brahma Kumaris and the Founder, Brahma Baba, was an uplifting experience but I didn’t have the curiosity to actually study the teachings.

In November 1967, sitting at the back of a lecture theatre at the University of London, I remember watching the professor write chemical formulae on the board. I had this strange out of body experience, in which I was looking down from somewhere up above and I was asking myself the question: what am I doing here? I shook my head and jerked myself back to the physical awareness of my surroundings and told myself not to be silly.

In December I went back to India, having decided to spend time in India getting to know my roots. The crisis I was facing was one of choice: the traditional Eastern path, the traditional Western path and a very new, Western, modern path that was just beginning – the permissive society. None of them felt comfortable. After some months in India, I felt I needed to educate myself and start using my mind and intellect again, and so I went to the centre in Pune, where my grandmother lived, and a woman yogi called Dadi Janki opened the door. She had been seeing me since childhood and welcomed me in. She wanted to know if I had something to ask, something to say or if I wanted to hear her. I indicated that I had come to listen and she spoke about conscience and how conscience has become clouded with many influences – society, media, education, friends, etc. I felt she was describing my situation and I asked: “How can one clear this?” Her reply was: “Meditation”. I began lessons immediately, understanding the self, understanding the Divine – and meditation became a very powerful experience immediately. The rest of the teachings were not immediately so easy to grasp but the early experiences of meditation were evidence for me that I was on the right track and that I would be able to understand more as I moved along.

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When you first joined the Bramah Kumaris, did you ever question yourself, where or not this was the correct path for you? And ultimately why did you choose this particular path of meditation and spirituality?

All the questions that I had about the self and God and the meaning of life were being answered through the teachings. More importantly, the meditation experiences continued to deepen and within six weeks I had decided that this was to be my life. A few months later I actually went to live in one of the ‘ashrams’ (meditation centres) of the Brahma Kumaris in India. It was this dual experience of the clarity of the teachings and the validation of the things I was hearing through meditation that made me feel that this was the right path for me. What made me question whether I was on the right path was not so much the teachings or the meditation, but very often through my journey I would find myself facing deep patterns of behaviour that were counter-productive to the path of peace, truth and love, and I wondered whether I would be able to stick to it. However, the experience of God’s love and the blessings that one receives through serving others once again gave me the courage and motivation to continue the journey. I was also very fortunate to have constant guidance from Dadi Janki, who by that time was living in London. Today Dadi is 101 and lives in India and continues to serve as the Head of the Brahma Kumaris.

From your perspective, how have you seen the world change from when you first started your spiritual journey to the present day?

There seem to be two opposing forces that are functioning in the world. One is the descending energy and the other is the ascending energy. In terms of the descending energy, it seems as if the decline in the world has been intense and rapid. There wasn’t so much of a drugs scene, when I returned from India in 1969 and started to teach meditation in London. The loss of adherence to family values – or even moral values, the growth of violence, terrorism and corruption, are all part of the world scenario today. The world wasn’t such a dangerous place to live in as it is today. There also seems to have been a loss of compassion and basic human kindness in many situations now. However, since 1969 and the opening of the first Brahma Kumaris centre outside India in London, I have also witnessed the Western world embrace the concept of meditation, mindfulness, yoga in its manifold forms, vegetarian diet, the ecological movement, organic farming, an understanding of holistic health, holistic education, and a greater awareness of gender equality. So, many good things have been happening. Admittedly, the ascending energy still seems to be something experienced by the minority but, whenever there has been a major shift in the history of the world, it started with a small group of committed individuals, who were able to move things to a critical mass, so that those novel ideas were then accepted by the majority. Especially in the last five years there has been a huge shift in people’s perspective in terms of looking at all those factors mentioned.

All of our actions, emotions, behavior, and words, stem from a single thought – which vibrates at different frequencies. You have spent over 40 years reflecting on the power of thoughts and meditation. But what would you say is the one secret to controlling your thoughts?

Understanding the self as a spiritual being, I become aware that thoughts and feelings are the creation of the self. When I am stable in the awareness of the spiritual identity, it’s as if I can actually ‘see’ thoughts and know what is the feeling they will create. With that understanding I learn how to discipline my thoughts and manage them, so that thoughts begin to move in a more peaceful way and also a pure, elevated way. I truly become the master of my own thoughts and feelings, the sovereign of the self – a Raja Yogi.

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Sister Jayanti meets Al Gor (click here)

You were invited to speak at the UN Climate Change Conference. Only in recent years have religious spiritual leaders been cared to attend such summits. What was the one thing you learnt from the whole experience/ what did you take away?

The scientific information that I’ve learned from climate change conferences is that it’s only if we can control carbon emissions to the extent that there is only a 1.5 degrees celsius rise in temperature worldwide, that we will be able to save the small island states. Even though there was a lot of fanfare about The Paris Agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in 2015, governments were talking about limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. But, even accepting that, there’s still a huge gap between the promises made by governments and the reality of what is going on in their countries. So, it feels as if we need to take personal responsibility and a change of lifestyle is high priority in order to contribute in a positive way. This is why religious and spiritual leaders have been called in, so that they can offer hope to people and through spiritual understanding enable them have the inner power to make the changes that are so desperately needed in the world.

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If you had one message to give to the younger generation, what would it be?

The world is going through a very special time of transition and transformation. At such a time, young people are the hope for the future and, since the future of the planet is the future of young people, my message to the young would be to use time, money and inner, spiritual power in a creative and constructive way to serve the self but also serve the world.


Visit brahmakumaris.org to find out more about the Bramah Kumaris World Spiritual University, who they are and what they do.

“There’s nothing more gratifying then having the chance to share your story and your gift with those who have their whole lives in front of them.”

J. Ivy, Grammy award winning Poet & Author, has mastered his artistry of words and language. Known for his work with Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Kanye West, Jay-Z, John Legend and Deepak Chopra. When it comes to the art of Hip-Hop Poetry, J. Ivy is the essence of when pen meets pad. He is a pioneer, a trendsetter, one who has knocked down impossible doors, taking the Art of Poetry directly to today’s mainstream music & television arenas.
After touring with his book “HERE I AM: Then & Now,” which is a follow-up to his album “HERE I AM,” J. Ivy released his new and most recent book “Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain,” where bares his soul in this inspirational memoir of pain transformed into healing and empowerment.
J. Ivy is a modern day renaissance man magically merging art and leaving a beautiful mark for the world and the future to embrace.
Featuring your poetry in Kanye’s debut album, The College Dropout, was a huge success. ‘Never let me down’ was the song that earned you a Grammy award, but can you recall your first impressions of working with two of the biggest names in hip hop today, Jay-Z and Kanye? How was the whole experience for you? 

The experience was like something out of a movie. I met Kanye a few times in the Chi but when I moved to New York there were a lot of Chicago moves who had also made the move, one being Kanye. It was in NY where I was able to build, kick it with, and get to know Ye. Being around him it was easy to see that he was a megastar. I remember him performing “Hey Mama” for me and six other folks with so much passion. He rocked for the seven of us like we were 7000. I knew then that he was convicted to what he was doing and had the talent to back it up.

I was also a huge fan of Jay-Z from the work he did on Reasonable Doubt to The Blueprint, so months later when my buddy Coodie, who was in the studio filming Kanye at the time, called me about being on a record with Ye and Jay-Z I was hyped about the opportunity, I was in disbelief, I wanted to be at the top of my game, I wanted to write something special, so without hesitation, I prayed to God to guide my words and went to work. I wrote something in my Brooklyn apartment, called Coodie back in ten minutes, who was in LA, and spit the poem for him over the phone. Next thing I know he has me on the speaker phone spitting it for Kanye and every listening ear in the lab for the next half hour. Before I knew it, Coodie was back on the phone telling me Kanye was flying me to LA the next day to record the song. From that moment, to Def Jam calling me to book my flight, to practicing the piece on the plane, to touching down and heading to the studio it all felt like a dream. I was still fresh off of being on Def Poetry and for me still was an amazing next step in the right direction. Here I was laying down something for 2 of the greatest ever and I was PROUD of my contribution and thankful for the opportunity…GOD is GOOD!!

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Credit: The College Dropout – Digital Booklet

Your mother was someone who influenced you greatly, through her encouragement and support. Your father was a DJ in the 80s, and on the radio you would listen to him on the way to school in the mornings. What valuable lessons did you learnt from them?

My Mother, now retired, was a registered nurse who worked at a dialysis center when I was growing up. Day in, day out, I watched her leave out early and get home late as she made a living by helping people live and fight for their lives. Yes, it was her job, but the compassion and heart she showed folks she didn’t know before they were carted in or walked through her doors, was extraordinary. A healer by nature, she always encouraged me to have that same compassion towards others in all that I do.

My Father was such a creative spirit. His voice was strong, soothing, and warm. His ability to tell stories made everyone volunteer their ear and their attention. Not only was he an amazing storyteller but music rushed through him as well. He played the saxophone, he acted in plays, had some small extra parts on TV, and he loved spinning his records in the basement of our South-Side home in Chicago. Seeing him move in his creativity naturally had a profound effect on me.

The two of them were both passionate about what they did and they both worked hard at it. For me, because of these special two people, I’ve always looked at myself as someone who was put here to use my voice to help heal people. The love they infused in me is the fuel to help me do just that.

What exactly inspires you?

I’m inspired by life, by love, and knowing that God has giving me something so special to share my thoughts, ideas, stories, feelings, and experience. I’m inspired by my family, by my city, and the culture that I’ve been born and bred in. I’m inspired by leaving this beautiful place better than I found it.

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You always strive for growth, whether this be with yourself or with your work. But what has been your most rewarding achievement so far?

My most rewarding experience has been inside of the classroom and performing at youth events. There’s nothing more gratifying than having the chance to share your story and your gift with those who have their whole lives in front of them. They exist in a place where they’re trying to find themselves, lean on the things that they love, the natural ability they have been gifted with and most times they need that inspiration and insight. They need to know the power of possibility. They need to know that their voice matters. They need to know their worth and their value. And when I or other leaders in the community get a chance to stand before them and give them a glimpse of the ups and downs, the challenges, the expectations, and the opportunities that may come their way – that’s a blessing. Whenever I get a chance to tell them to trust themselves, have no fear, and lead with love, all while they hang on every word, it’s nothing more rewarding than that. Especially when so many did the same for me and I’ve been blessed to be in a position to give back the same way they did. You never know how valuable the impact of that moment can be. It can be life changing.

You say that ‘Dreams Don’t Come True, They Are True’. What was/is your dream?

My dream was and is to create works of art that will inspire someone and put a smile on someone’s face. From books to albums to acting on a big screen my dream is to continue to lift up others, especially the youth. I want to take what I’ve learned over the years, from life experience to advice to things I’ve read or music that’s inspired me, and poetically pass on that wisdom showing people across the world how connected we are. That’s the dream. The dream is real. The dream is now. In this moment, I’m living it out, even as I’m sitting here writing this.

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Known as the poet who gave John Legend the idea for his stage name. You were inspired by his music because it reminded you on that old school sound. Why do you think many argue that music today doesn’t have the same feel? Do you even think there is anything missing?

Honestly, I don’t think anything is missing. There’s so much amazing, soulful, inspiring music out here right now. From Tribe to Common to De La to Anderson Paak to Avery Sunshine to Tarrey Torae to BJ the Chicago Kid to Kendrick Lamar to Chance the Rapper and on and on and on, the music that is needed to inspire us is there. Now is it always made available through the radio? That’s a different story. But if you have a computer, some WIFI, and the willingness to dig in the crates the music that is needed to send good vibrations through your soul is definitely available. I do think we had a period of time where things got stale but what has come from that is absolutely amazing!

If you could give a message to the younger generation, what would that be?

Again, it’s important that whatever you do in life that you love yourself first. You have to have genuine love for self. Better the good things. Focus on minimizing the bad things. That love will translate in to the belief you’ll need in yourself, your gifts, your dreams, and your plans. Speaking of plans, make them. Set goals, short and long term. Have no fear going after those goals and dreams. Fear stunts growth, so if you want to grow you have to let it go. TRUST yourself, your instinct, and your gut. Be a leader, but leadership starts with leading yourself. Don’t be afraid to listen to your inner voice, your Godsense, and by all means, LEAD with LOVE!!


To find out more about J.Ivy, his work and his journey, check out www.J-Ivy.com
You can also follow him and keep up with his new projects  on Twitter @J_Ivy

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For those of you who are interested, also take a read of his latest book, “Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain.” J.Ivy sat down with pen and paper and processed his pain the only way he knew how through poetry. The resulting poem, Dear Father, became his vehicle of forgiveness and healing. It is a pivotal poem that has touched and inspired the lives of millions.
Fused with his signature raw lyricism and street consciousness, J. Ivy s memoir shows what it takes to deal with your emotions before your emotions deal with you. His story is personal yet universal, and will inspire others to channel whatever pain they have experienced into their own powerful gift of expression.”

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“I love being forced to adapt to different surroundings. New languages, new cultures and new outlooks on life. The more I travel the more I realize how similar we all are.”

Canadian actor, Max Topplin, has taken his love for acting and pursued his career in theatre, television and film. Making his acting debut by starring as the role of Max in the reality show Ghost Trackers and more recently he is best known as one of the most recognisable associates in the USA Network legal drama, Suits.
Away from his on-screen roles, Max loves to travel and has a passion for photography. Having visited Haiti several times, Max has a strong attachment to the country and aims to bring about a better life for the good friends that he has made along the journey.
Take a read to gain an insight into Max’s experiences and find out the new and exciting projects he is currently working on!
Growing up, you had a lot of influence from your parents who were world adventurers and had a strong desire for travelling. What is it about traveling that you love and what does traveling do for you?

Traveling is my favorite thing in the world. I love being forced to adapt to different surroundings. New languages, new cultures and new outlooks on life. The more I travel the more I realize how similar we all are.

I also love to travel because nurtures story telling. Both in the community you are visiting and with society back home. Educating each other and helping us all understand our own lives and choices. There is so much we can all learn from each other.

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Being the director of external affairs at LifePaths Global Alliance (Haiti), an organization that aims to provide health, education, and employment in rural areas in order to help them create a self-sufficient community. How was this whole experience for you?

I love Haiti. It’s always on my mind, every day.

I started visiting Haiti when I was 18, before the earthquake. I fell in love with the people. Who had the will to survive and thrive under such harsh conditions, yet still carrying themselves with pride, dignity, and generosity. I’ve seen children born, and growing a little more every time I visit. Some as old as 9 now, turning into real people, with dreams and hopes and a future. We’ve affected each other’s future, no doubt.

The human connection doesn’t need to have language/cultural barriers. It’s a special feeling.

You also realize who your real friends in life are. I’ve been given water, food, medicine, and clothing by grown men and women that can not afford this for themselves. Complete selflessness. I’m incredibly grateful to call them my friends.

How did the idea of becoming an actor come about and what has been the most rewarding part of your acting journey?

I started doing Theater when I was 6. I started with Magic and realized I loved having an audience… and charging for performances. Haha. I thought if you could make a living by entertaining people?!? What’s better than that. I loved the idea of not needing to pick a ‘job’. I wanted to play a pilot, a cop, a garbage man. I wanted to try every job. To a six-year-old, this seemed like the most well-rounded future.

The most rewarding part of the job is once you’ve gotten through the auditions. Through the call backs and meetings. Once the business is taken care of, the craft can really flourish. I love nothing more than surrendering on set and becoming a completely different person. Seeing the world differently, then I would. It’s a wonderful escape. The high of acting is a real thing.

As well as acting in front of the camera, you also enjoy standing behind it. Having a passion for photography, exactly what is it that you want to say through your photos? 

I love street photography. I love having an opinion and spawning a reaction within my audience. I always hope that each photograph allows viewers to question their own lives. Be grateful for what they have and not to take anything for granted. I also love to bring awareness to issues that matter to me. My camera is always around my neck in Haiti. People need to see the happiness and beauty of people born into such harsh conditions. I hope people see that and make radical changes in their own lives.

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In the US legal drama, Suits, you play the role of Harold Gunderson. He is a genuine guy that cares, but unfortunately, that’s why he gets into a lot of mess in the world of suits. Who is your favourite character from Suits and why?

I love Louis. I owe a lot to Rick Hoffman for pushing me always as Harold. He never let me take the easy way out. We kept it fresh and had some sort of improv within each scene. He’s an incredible actor. A veteran. Honor to share the screen with him. The whole cast is pretty damn incredible.

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‘Almost Anything’ has been your most recent work. It is a film that you both helped to produce and starred in. How did the idea of this project come about?

Almost Anything is a film that was born on a single night. A group of friends got together and decided we wanted to make a film. So we all wrote the script over the course of 2 weeks. Got some money and crew together and went on a road trip to Palm Springs California. We shot the film in less than 10 days. Incredible experience.   That said it’s taken almost 2 years to get he film released nationwide.   Making the film is one thing.   Selling and distributing it is another. Really proud of what we did. Check it out if you can!

And finally, what are your own plans for the future? 

Keeping the Hustle alive!

I have 4 films I’m currently producing and a tv series in development. I love making my own work.Nothing more gratifying than seeing a project from seed to screen.  

As an actor, I have a new STARZ series coming out called Insomnia. We shot on location in Moscow.  Pretty incredible experience!  


To find our more about Max, his work and his involvement in Haiti check out MaxTopplinPhotography and LifePathGlobal

“It takes a tremendous amount of courage to stay with something where the probability of success can be elusive.”

Puerto Rican, Bronx bred actor, Luis Antonio Ramos, is a name that deserves to be remembered. Involved in television, film and theatre this well recognised face also has a huge passion and love for cycling. He uses this as not just  a method of fitness but a way of focusing his mind and body, making him an exceptional and productive individual in his industry.
Many of you will recognise his significant role in the Starz TV series, POWER, where he embodied the character of a drug distributer, Ruiz.  Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, the Executive Producer of POWER, creates a series based on his own experiences and brings to life the stories of those from the New York streets, a reality both shared by Curtis and Luiz alike.

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Why did you decide to pick the career path of acting ?

It chose me. Meaning that as a young man I realized this is what I will do. When I began, I was told “it will take twenty years for you to come into your own as an actor” and I said, “I am in”.

So here we are, all this time later. Drawn in and continuing to discover the ability to make myself open enough to be able to give light to what writers put on a page.

It was particularly interesting to hear how your love for cycling has helped you in your acting career. How did you turn what many people see as simply fitness into an activity that increases your productivity and focus?

Cycling/training at the level that I have done it; racing and Gran Fondos (100 miles in day), demands focus and a discipline much like a dancers discipline, which I was surrounded by and participated in early on when my acting journey began. All those years ago I was struck by that and the classical musicians approach both requiring daily work and exercises, which directly affected the work they did. I have always felt that acting in many ways is an athletic endeavour. So the cycling keeps me mentally sharp, focus promotes endurance and makes me ready for whatever my work demands of me. There are voice exercises and other things I do daily but the cycling in lieu of a dance class really fills that void.

Actors tend to rely on inspiration a bit to much for my taste and that creates moments in theatre and film that tend to not be about the project or character at hand.

What does inspire you?

Longevity… the ability to keep at it no matter what the odds…

It takes a tremendous amount of courage to stay with something where the probability of success can be elusive. I am not just taking about my field but anything. Anyone that spends a long time doing what they love, and perfecting their craft; be they a factory worker on the line, a carpenter, or a server in a restaurant, deserves respect and a certain amount of reverence – because as I have noticed those people tend to get overlooked.

Your role in the TV series Power…the stories and lives that unfold in the show are ones that many viewers have not lived or experienced. To what extent would you say it reflected the reality of a life of a drug dealer in NYC?

Drug dealers never think of themselves as that, they believe they are businessmen.

Many people in the ‘life’ start of thinking that I will just get into this thing make some money and get out. Yet the allure of the POWER that the money and being a boss provides turns into an opiate that is very hard to let go of. To that extent, what is portrayed in the show POWER reflects both of those primarily in the characters of Tommy (this is all I know) and Ghost (we don’t need this anymore, the dream of the club) and to the same extent of the other characters that come and go throughout the story being told.

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Growing up, you knew characters similar to Tommy and Ghost and were exposed to the street lifestyle. How easy was it for you to play the role of Ruiz?

The most challenging thing was to remember that this is a business for these men and they approach it as such they could be talking about real estate or acquisitions. Remember, these are smart intelligent men who many times, due to circumstances, are playing the hand they are dealt. Men and women whom given the opportunity would be successful in any line of high end work.

That’s what I tried to embody Ruiz with…He is a survivor an OG (old gangster) and you don’t get to be one of those without being smart!

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The world has seen what 50 cent has achieved in so many different disciplines. What was it like to work with someone who in the eyes of many is seen as business and entertainment mogul?

Funny you ask that. Usually people with that “Mogul” reputation are very quiet, almost apologetic because that is a tag put on them by others.

Curtis and I got along well primarily because we had the New York street life in common and were the only two from the original cast that were actually from NY, so we knew that the story we would tell would be based in truth so that was exciting to us both.

What plans do you have for the future?

The journey continues… as you can imagine the opportunity to play other less than savory characters has crossed my path, which I turned down. I play the president of Venezuela on a show called MADAM SECRETARY in the states, so I will look forward to that. A short film I did will premiere in NY called BEYOND THE RUSH …. and other things are in the works!

If you had one message to give to the younger generation, what would it be?

Never stop.
Never believe when someone tells you “that’s not possible”.
Put down the phones, cease the obsession with social media.
Find something you love and throw yourself into it with reckless abandon.
Know that this life is a process not a destination and thank your parents for their help.

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“As an actor you have to do one thing everyday that helps your career. One thing. You can not be in this business half way. You have to be all in. Pushing forward.”

Antoine McKay has been among the leading actors and directors to hail from the Mid West for over 20 years. While studying under the world famous acting coach Uta Hagen and developing his skills at Eastern Michigan University’s prestigious theatre arts program, Antoine’s passion for acting grew from a young age.
Starting his career in acting at the Second City’s Main Stages in Detroit and Chicago,
where he wrote and performed in over 20 critically acclaimed shows. He has been in starring roles in many commercials and television appearances on shows including Prison Break (FOX), Detroit 187 (ABC), ER (NBC), Sports Action Team (NBC).
McKay has appeared along side Nicholas Cage in the feature film The Weatherman and Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and Osso Bucco, with Mike Starr. Most recently he has appeared in FOX’s hit show Empire starring Terrence HowardTaraji P. Henson and Gabourey Sidibe to name a few, making Antoine a television favourite!
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 Growing up, while having a passion for acting who was your inspiration on the big screen at the time?
Denzel Washington was a gigantic inspiration to me. I saw him for the first time in Saint Elsewhere, where he played the role of a doctor. He, along with my parent showed me it’s cool to be smart.
Appearing as “Bunkie” in the TV primetime drama Empire, how was it for you to be part of such a production?
To be cast as Bunkie was great. All of it was a fantastic learning experience. Being able to work so closely with Lee, Tarji, Terrance, Gabby, Malik, Jussie, Katlin & Yaz was a blast as well as an awesome challenge to be among some of the best actors around.
It changed my career. It opened so many doors and most importantly it made me into a better actor.
You were able to create the character based on the guys from your neighbourhood as well as your cousin, Orlando. For you, how did you want ‘Bunkie’ to be represented to the audience?
While Bunkie was flawed, he cared about Cookie and Lucious. He helped with the kids a lot. But he had a major entitlement issue. Because he did help many people, he felt he was owed a lot more.
Racism is theme that is brought up in the show and you have said it is something that angers you. How do you feel about police brutality towards African Americans, especially with the recent shootings coming to light and the Black Lives Matter movement?
The issue of racism has us all at a major crossroad in America. ALL OF US. It is now time for all of us to take responsibility and own up to our part of the systemic initiations, the retaliations, the destruction of our own communities, the lack of listening, the the finger pointing, the unbalance playing field… ALL OF IT! We are all in this. This goes deep. We have to go there and find the answers. Debate will occur. But these solutions much be found through mutual respect. We all must form a righteous anger against hate & inequality.  Without which no people wins its true liberty.
You father played a significant role in your life and upbringing. Now being a father of six, what would you say the most valuable lesson your father taught you which you wish to instil into your children?
My father continues teach us to cling to our faith, respect others and love people. You don’t know peoples story or the hurt they may be carrying. So just love people. It may be what they need.
What message do you have for young and upcoming actors, based on your own experiences?
As an actor you have to do one thing everyday that helps your career. One thing. You can not be in this business half way. You have to be all in. Pushing forward.

“To educate someone, is to lead them out of ignorance.”

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Former third-grade schoolteacher, anti-racism activist and educator, Jane Elliott is known internationally for her ‘Blue eyes- Brown eyes’ exercise. Her first famous exercise was conducted to her class, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was shot on 4th April, 1968.

The task of combating prejudice and racism requires education, introspection, and commitment. Jane has ran this exercise for many years and has left a powerful impact on her students. After appearing on the Oprah Show in 1992, delivering presentations to audiences world wide as well as lecturing groups and organisations, she continues to use her voice in the hope of educating people out of ignorance.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row content_placement=”middle” fullwidth=”has-fullwidth-column”][vc_column align=”center”][vc_column_text]

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Why did you become a teacher?  

My aunt Blanch and my two older sisters were teachers, and my father disapproved of my wanting to become a nurse.  He said he’d help me afford the necessary schooling, if I’d become a teacher, and I wanted to  do something that he would approve of, so off to Iowa State Teachers College I went, the week after I graduated from high school, with no money, but high hopes.

Growing up in Riceville, a white town area, how easy was it for you to keep your values towards race when the environment around you was the very opposite?

I got out of the Riceville environment, physically and mentally, and found, upon entering the college environment, that there were black students there who had more money than I had (everyone did, so that wasn’t surprising), were more talented than I was, and were smarter than I was.  They were the exact opposite of what I had been led, by my environment, to expect.  I found out that my father was right to advise us not to ‘judge a book by its cover’, among other things.

 

The ‘Blue eyes-Brown eyes’ exercise came from Hitlers ideology of creating an ‘Aryan’ race. Although the exercise has been life changing for many, what was the one thing you learnt from these exercises?  

The first, and most distressing thing I learned in the first few minutes of that exercise, was how white people look to people of color.  You see, I was on the bottom on the first day, since I had blue eyes, and I watched my brown-eyed children become what the significant adults in their environment, including me, had taught them to be.  I was shocked and disgusted and I will spend the rest of my life trying not to exhibit the kinds of behaviors and attitudes that those students displayed on that day.

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You once said, on the Oprah Show in 1992, ‘if we started telling the truth in schools, we would not have racism – it would be cured.’ The issue of the schooling system indoctrinating students rather than educating them out of ignorance, occurs due to the idea of white supremacy needing to be maintained. Why do you think this system still remains and what could be done to change it?

We need to retrain every teacher, so that they become educators.  What we’re doing at the present time in the schools in this country is train teachers to perpetuate the status quo.  We’re convinced that the people who are paying our wages through their taxes have the right to have their children learn what they want them to learn.  I was told that numerous times, while I was in college and after I got into the classroom.  I didn’t think it was right, then, and I certainly don’t think it’s right, now.  “It was good enough for my father, and it’s good enough for me,” was, and is, the justification for continuing to teach the myth of white supremacy and racism.  And many white people are convinced that this system of ignorance is good for them, because they don’t realize how it cripples them and their offspring, all of whom are going to be living in an increasingly diverse world. Ben Wattenberg has written a book, “The Birth Dearth”, which threatens white people in this country with the disastrous consequences of our not producing enough white babies in the future.  He was an advisor to presidents of the United States, and his influence can be seen in things like the “Right to Life Movement”.

Being a voice and public speaker against discrimination, does it disappoint you to see people such as Donald Trump gaining so much support today?

I hardly think that ‘disappoint’ is the best word to describe what my attitude is toward people who would be so ignorant as to support this xenophobic, male chauvinistic bigot.  That there are numbers of citizens who have graduated from high schools in the last 30 years, and are happily following this Pied Piper, is an indication of the severe failure in our educational systems.

With science and technology developments  we are able to improve our understanding of the world around us. With this in mind, do you think we have used these new developments to our full advantage?

Unfortunately, as we have seen in the last year, the accessibility of information is not always an advantage, unless those who are receiving it are able to make informed and intelligent judgements about the veracity of those imparting the ‘facts’.  Just as we’d be well advised to get more than one opinion about a health problem, so we must evaluate what’s coming across the Internet, on the basis of the biases of the source, and thereby make an informed judgement, rather than simply accepting whatever is written as being the unvarnished truth.

If you had one message for every individual on the planet to hear, what would that be?

There is only one race, the Human Race, and we are all members of it.  Grow up and get over your ignorance.  Read the book, “The Myth of  Race”, by Robert Wald Sussman, ASAP.  It will change the way you see your world, and yourself in it.

If you want to find out more about Jane and her work, check out www.janeelliott.com

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“The stories in my book were my life and I don’t think too many other people lived like me.”

91 year old Joseph Vitale, a former U.S. Marine, prize fighter, railroad supervisor, father of four, widower, and storyteller, now is the author of two books.
Take a read, to find out more about this very interesting man…

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You most recent book ‘What would I do as U.S president’ is one that provides a thought-provoking approach. What was the story behind putting this together for people to read?

The lives our forefathers lived to make this a great country. They believed life was more easier. They wanted a job, a home and food. All wanted a family and they all pulled together.

In my days people would shake hands – that was a contract. People helped each other. When people saw each other, they would say ‘good morning’, or ‘hello, how are you today?’ People were more proud to be part of a growing country.

The stories in my book were my life and I don’t think too many other people lived like me. I’m a proud man and I live in a country where we have lots of beautiful people. The people I worked and lived with were hard working and they always did a beautiful job. They loved their job and they wanted to protect it.

Nothing is being done to improve the country!

Looking back at historical events, we are now able to understand them much better. Being part of the U.S marine and living through world war II, what was this like for you and can you recall the environment at the time?

I entered the Marines July 31, 1943. The marines gave me food, clothing, a place to sleep and a doctor if I needed one – I was in good hands in the marines. But the real hero’s were the many women and children that kept this country working, Farming, fire stations, factories and everything else. They couldn’t get meat, sugar, gasoline, car parts and they never complained!! Just about all traveling was done by train.

The men and women that were back home and gave up their lives to keep this country running great should have gotten a medal and a holiday for their sacrifice to the war years.

Everyone had gardens, and chickens, rabbits or a cow they raised for food!

Now at the age of 91, having a life with amazing experiences and stories, what is your favorite story to tell?

I loved talking about the boy scouts in new caste, PA. I loved talking about my three sons in Niles, OH.

I loved talking about my mother and other women in the early days like the 1930’s. My mother and all the other women were slaves, all the work, cooking, washing clothes, taking care of the children and a lot lot more and no help!

I love talking Paris Island –‘Boot Camp’. In my days at Paris Island the drill sargent had a saying that went like this, “Don’t look at me boy! I don’t love you!” To this day I still laugh when I hear it. My whole life was great! My life in the railroad was the greatest. i don’t know why the USMC picked me for the California State Fair in 1951. I’m still trying to figure that out. Joe DiMaggio’s 2000 hit in 19050 and I got to meet Joe and the whole Yankee team and get all of their auographs in 1951. Keeping the raiload safe was my proud doings!

What are your views on the current political and economical climate around the world? For example recent UK referendum, crisis in Syria, global warming?

Global warming is all mother nature’s destiny. I believe, in all my 91 years, no one can judge mother nature. Every morning, I get out of bed and go outside and see the weather and I love mother nature, whether snow, rain, sunshine, cool or hot air.

The crisis overseas, like i said in my book, they would get no money or manpower. I would sell them all, the weapons cash money.

If you had a message for the world to hear, what would that be?

Exercise seven days a week!
Watch your weight!
Enjoy yourself while in good health – go dancing!
Any job you get, learn all you can about the job and do the very best you can.
Believe me you will be very proud of yourself and when you are proud of yourself you will feel good and happy.
Take care of your mother and father, they gave you life!!
For all he young boys and girls, learn self defense, swimming, play skip rope, play tennis, lots of walking, get outside and play!

– Joseph J Vitale

Click here to purchase your own copy of Joseph’s most recent book!

 

“The one thing I love about acting is when I get to play a new character, and I get to be a whole new person!”

You may recognize Scarlett from the film Daddy’s Home, the upcoming FOX series Lucifer, or one of her many TV commercials. From a young age, Scarlett has always had a love for performing arts and at the age of 3 she was able to land her very first national commercial.
Watch out for this young talent… she is sweet, smart and definitely has a bright future ahead of her!
What is the one thing you love about acting?

The one thing I love about acting is when I get to play a new character, and I get to be a whole new person! And when I play that character, its not a real person, so I get to choose what her personality is. Like is she happy, is she one of those people who are really dark and don’t talk that much… So I can choose and create it!

Do you find it difficult to balance your school work with acting?

Well, the thing is when I’m on set it’s not like I’m not learning at all. I have a set teacher, which makes it easier and it means I am not missing school. So I would ask my school teacher for the homework packet for that week and then I would complete it with my set teacher.

How did it feel to work with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, such as Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, and did you learn anything from the whole experience?

First, I was nervous and thought to myself am I going to mess up! Or if I mess up are they going to hate me! If I did something wrong would they be like ‘your not cool anymore!” But after working and really chatting to them, I got to know the inner them and then I felt more calm – like they won’t hate me if I accidentally mess up. It was just really cool being with them and it made me realise that you can really do stuff if you put your mind to it.

What I did learn from them, is that when you say a word or phrase, it doesn’t have to be normal and boring – you can say that word in different ways. So one of my lines in the movie was, ‘I hate you’. So I could say it like, ‘you know what man…I hate you’ or something like ‘I HATE YOU!’. So I can make it whatever tone I want – if I want to make it mad, or calm and funny, or mad and funny. So I learnt that I can say the same word in a bunch of different ways!

What inspires you?

When I watch the movie, Miracles from Heaven, the little girl who had surgeries – I really really believed her and it wasn’t like fake acting. I could really feel her pain and I really thought, inside, that that was true. It was based on a true story, but she made it look like it was the true story!

Your most recent role is in the hit TV series, Lucifer. How easy was it for you to play the character of Trixie and how do you manage to understand a character in order to play them?

With Trixie, when I auditioned, I create my own type of Trixie. What I choose for Trixie, is not to be like a big dark and hating character, I chose to be a happy little girl who really enjoys her feelings, not someone who hides into a corner.

So for me it’s pretty easy to play her, because she is kind of like me, but not too much like me. She is a little bit naughty, she keeps some secrets and she always finds her way to eat chocolate cake!

Do you see yourself as an actress in years to come, or do you have other dreams that you want to fulfil?

Well, in a few years I am going to try and be an actress as long as I can but I also want to be a director. So after college I am going to go to film school, and then I will start being an actor again, and then a director. Someday I would also love to make my own show, just like some people who do the both –  where they make the show and they are in the show!

A Question for the parents…
Supporting Scarlet’s talent from such a young age has enabled her to achieve her dreams, what message do you have for parents who struggle in deciding which path to set their kids on?

My advice would be to take the cues from their kids. They will kind of tell you what their passions are and the things they want to explore. Scarlett has so much fun with what she is doing because she genuinely loves it and I think that that’s the most important thing. We don’t force her to be an actor, there is no pressure on her and I think that is why she has had so much success. If you push those things on kids, they are not going to do so well. So I think it’s just listening to your child and finding the things they love and the things they are good at and then helping them go after that.

 

“Over thinking the law of attraction is like over thinking the law of gravity. You simply need to know how to work with the laws.”

No matter what your explanation is for your life, it is being created mostly by thought. – Joe Vitale

You may recognise Dr. Joe Vitale from the world wide hit, The Secret. But Joe’s several interests and passions have led him to become the author of many best selling books as well as one of his most recent accomplishments, the world’s first self-help singer-songwriter as seen in 2012’s Rolling Stone Magazine®. Joe’s message is all about positivity and helping others understand the power they hold within themselves.

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Knowing that every person has their own reality and that our thoughts
can shape our reality. When did this realisation come to you and how did
you manage to apply it your everyday life?

I first heard of the idea as a child in the 1960s, from reading books by Robert Collier. But I didn’t even begin to grasp the concept until I read the Seth books, by Jane Roberts, while broke and struggling as a young adult in the 1980s. And even then I didn’t fully integrate the ideas into my day to day life until decades later. Today I still need to remind myself that what I see is based on my perceptions, on my version of reality, and that everyone has their own version of reality. Reminding myself of this key concept makes life easier.

What exactly inspires you?

I never know. Each day is different. Generally, books and ideas inspire me. But so do some people. I became a writer because of the authors who inspired me, like Jack London and Shirley Jackson. I became a musician because of singer-songwriters who inspired me, such as Neil Diamond and Rob Thomas. I became a strongman, doing feats of strength, after being inspired by people like Dennis Rogers and Iron Tamer David Whitley. I simply allow my passions to inspire me and follow them where they lead.

Being involved in ‘The Secret’ documentary, a worldwide hit based on the law of attraction, how did you get involved in it and what did it mean to you to be part of such a production?

Rhonda Byrne, the producer of the movie, called me after reading my book, The Attractor Factor. She said she was making a movie and wanted me in it. I was flattered and agreed. I had no idea what I was getting into. The movie changed my life forever. I had a degree of fame as a marketer and copywriter before it, but being in the movie established me as a self-help teacher to the globe. It’s led to numerous opportunities and travels. I am forever grateful.

The whole concept of the law of attraction is a difficult one to get
your head around for someone who is new to the topic. What message or
advice would you give to these people reading?

I’d say don’t worry about it. Over thinking the law of attraction is like over thinking the law of gravity. You simply need to know how to work with the laws. In the case of LOA, you have to remember that your unconscious beliefs are creating your reality. Learn ways to change your hidden operating beliefs and you’ll have a more fantastic life.

You have spoken about being homeless and in poverty for many years,
and have now published a great book called ‘Attract Money Now’. But what
does money do for you?

Money does the same thing for me as it does for you: it enables you to live your dreams. I’ve written a new book, The Awakened Millionaire, which is a manifesto for people to live their life mission and to realize that money helps them fulfill their life mission. Money is simply a tool to fulfill dreams. Nothing more.

When being introduced to the law of attraction, many of us only
believe it to be true once it has worked for us. Knowing its power, what
is the next goal you would like to achieve?

I have numerous goals. Creating a society of Awakened Millionaires is one. Ending homelessness is another. Writing new books that inspire and transform the planet is another.

-Joe Vitale

Follow Joe Vitale on twitter @mrfire to keep up with his daily feeds.
Click here to get more info about his book, Attract Money Now or check out his site for some great inspiration www.mrfire.com

“Being up on stage or on camera really makes me feel glad because drama can bring so much emotion out of a person.”

Only at the age of 14, Reiss Jeram, has an exciting future ahead of him! Developing his talent on stage through dance and acting has enabled him to secure positions, such as his role at the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. Many of you may also recognise him from the recent BBC short films ‘Murdered by my Father’.
It’s great to see drive in an individual at such a young age, especially in a very competitive industry. After asking Reiss and his parents a few questions, we uncover more about his passion and his journey so far…
Growing up, who was your inspiration? 
The inspiration came from my cousins because we used to do these little performances for our parents. Being able to make my parents smile and laugh when watching me perform, really inspired me.
Performing shows in front of your family and cousins, since the age of 5, acting has now become a part of you. When you are up there, acting and performing, can you describe how it makes you feel? 
Being up on stage or on camera really makes me feel glad because drama can bring so much emotion out of a person.

One of your first roles was in the BBC’s short film, Found, which was a children’s fantasy drama about a young boy and his first few days at a new school in a new town. When playing this role how easy was it for you to become this character? 
Morphing into the role was hard as the situation was hard to play without having been through it personally. I was able to do this because I had friends who had been through that same problem and talking to him made me understand.
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Starring in the open ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, with The Akram Khan Dance Company, is one of your greatest and most exciting achievements. What was your favourite part of this whole experience? 
The rehearsals in this tiny little practice room and because of the extremely friendly environment, everyone was so nice to me. I had to rehearse on my 10th birthday and they sang happy birthday in the big stadium to me! Akram is also so talented and dedicated and working with him inspired me.
The art of acting comes from having the ability to fully understand a character, as well as their emotions and their surround environment. Your most recent role in “Murdered by my Father” was one which was filled with intensity and a strong message about the unspoken issue of honor killings. Was this a situation you were able to understand, or exposed, to before taking on the role or did was it something that you learnt from the program? 
I did a lot of research so I could truly become the character. Before filming I had research honour killing for a basic understanding but during the process of filming I gained a deeper understanding of the matter, this lead me to easily morph into the character ‘Hassan’.

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Do you find it difficult to balance your working commitments with school? 

Not really because my teachers and headmaster are really supportive and give me catch up work, plus my mum constantly checks up on me that I’ve done all the work missed!
You have said that while you are still young, your dream role, while you are still young, would to be in movie as the main character. If you could pick any type of film and character to be next, what would be your dream performance? 
I would love to be in a drama feature film just so I could explore a very dramatic character.

– Reiss Jeram

Reiss has also been fortunate enough to have two supportive parents who have aided his dreams. So here is some insight from their perspective…

What was your initial reaction when you were first introduced to the script of ‘Murdered by my Father’. 

I had already spoken to the producer who ran through the storyline with me and discussed the sensitive nature of it. So when we actually received the script it was not too shocking, however being there throughout the filming process still did not prepare me for the shock of when I actually saw those final scenes on screen.
Many parents have an agenda for their child’s future, how easy was it for you to let Reiss following his own dreams? 
Our job as  parents is to arm them with skills necessary, drama provided him a degree of confidence that can only help him.  Reiss started at drama school, Chrystel Arts, very young and has been there since, acting was introduced to him through the drama school.

(Photo Credits: BBC)

“It’s amazing when you can use your heritage and culture to help educate and move forward peoples perceptions on a subject matter that’s rarely talked about.”

After graduating in Marine Biology from St Andrews, Kiran Sonia Sawar appeared in numerous projects from ‘Aladdin The Musical‘ to ‘Legends‘. However, it is her portrayal as Salma in Murdered By My Father, a BBC drama about the issue of ‘honour’ killings, that has received the most attention mostly due to the controversial nature of its content. For this role, Kiran was tasked with the challenging job of portraying honour-based violence from the perspective of a British-Asian girl instead of the westernised point of view that is commonly presented through the media.

Meet the girl behind Salma….

What made you decide to get into acting?

It’s something I was involved in from when I was little – I was in the Australian Girls Choir from the age of 5 and was always involved in the school shows and dance classes. Me and my sisters would also put together performances and force my parents and their friends to watch – we were a bunch of show-off’s. After high school I decided I wanted to try and pursue it professionally.
You’re known for your recent role in Murdered by my Father. Being part of a documentary, which is exposing the mentality of extreme Asian culture and where everything is kept somewhat quiet. How did you feel playing a role which was so controversial and were you apprehensive as to how it would be received?
I was very apprehensive as to how the film would be received but in the end the importance of the subject matter and beginning the conversation about ‘honour’ killings being a problem in certain communities far outweighed any reservations I personally had. The script was so tactfully and truthfully written and the production and filming itself so sensitive that I felt it was a story worth telling.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive and people have started talking about the issue which is more than I could have hoped for. My agent also received a call from an Imam at a mosque in Bolton that wanted me to know that he had watched the film, thought it was very powerful and a brave and important thing to do. He wanted to thank me and everyone involved as he felt it was a big problem in their communities and wasn’t being talked about or dealt with. His response to the film for me was everything I wanted to achieve in one phone call.
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In recent interviews you’ve emphasised how this was a story that needed to be told and you wanted to be involved in this project for this reason. What motivated you to portray the character of Salma and why was this so important to you?
I wanted Salma to be a normal teenage girl that you could bump into anywhere in your life living in Britain. She had to be accessible and relatable to the viewers in order for them to see a little bit of themselves in all her actions.
What did you take away from playing the role of Salma, and how did this shape you as an actress?
It was an emotionally and physically draining job but one that I’m so grateful for. It’s amazing when you can use your heritage and culture to help educate and move forward peoples perceptions on a subject matter that’s rarely talked about.
The documentary focuses on themes of male domination within Asian culture, the strict criteria of who you can and cannot marry, and as a young girl concealing a lot of things from your parents. What are your opinions on them?
We live in a patriarchal society so we must educate young people that choices whether you’re male or female are your own. We need to fight for equity and equality.
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Growing up in the UK many Asian girls experience a culture clash, where their outside environments such as school, college e.t.c. are much more modernised/Western in contrast to when they go home, where culture feels a lot more traditional and out-dated. Did you ever experience this culture clash and if so how did you strike a balance between both cultures? 
I’ve grown up around the world and living in Glasgow and attending a Catholic school as a teenager was difficult. But being a teenager is also difficult anyway.
My advice would be to learn how to protect yourself, mind, body & spirit. As much as people appear perfect, everyone has their inner crumbles and demons – you’re never alone.
What do you have planned for the future?
I’m currently on tour with English Touring Theatre playing the youngest daughter Cordelia in the World Premiere of ‘Brideshead Revisited’ by Bryony Lavery which finishes in London at the end of June. After that, who knows…
Finally, what exactly inspires you?
Free-thinkers, free-spirits, free ice-cream. I like free stuff. Let’s get rid of money!

– Kiran Sonia Sawar

For those of you who have not yet seen ‘Murdered by my Father’ click here to catch up!

(Photocredits: Katie Julia Piper)

“We all can do anything and be anyone we want to be.”

Aidan Prince, is only 9 years old…
Also known under the name BAHBOY, Aidan is an actor, dancer and vlogger, a truly multi-talented individual. He is a great example of how hard work and determination produces great results and he has now worked with some of the top choreographers in the business, such as Matt Steffanina, David Moore and Tricia Miranda. Performing along side Justin Bieber on stage, for his recent album ‘Purpose’, he as achieved a substantial amount considering he stated dancing at the age of 4!
If you’ve already heard of Aidan its most probably through his routine to Major Lazer’s “Jet Blue Jet”, which went viral on Youtube. From California, Aidan now trains at the Talent Factory, Millennium and IDA Hollywood LA based studios.
Keep an eye our for this young talent who definately has a very bright future ahead of him!

You began dancing around the age of 4, can you describe how dancing makes you feel? What is about dancing that you love so much?
Dancing makes me feel good and confident about myself. I love learning new styles and meeting so many amazing teachers and dancers.
You currently take hip-hop, break dancing, gymnastics, ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and contemporary dance lessons. Do you have a preference between these genres? And do you find it hard balancing your love for dance with your everyday commitments?
I enjoy all the dance genres but I love hip hop the most because I am able to express myself better with this style of dance. School is very important to me and I want to do a good job. My parents said if I don’t do good in school then I can’t dance so I always want to make them proud.  The moment I get home, I do my homework or I do it in the car if I have to leave for an audition. When I am not dancing, I ride my bike or go to the park and play basketball.
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Performing on the stage with Justin Bieber is a huge accomplishment. What exactly inspires you to pursue the art of dance and what keeps you driven?
It was a dream come true being able to dance with Justin Bieber. I got to see how it was to dance in such a big arena and I loved it.  I am inspired to keep dancing because it makes me happy and it makes my supporters all around the world happy. I get emails and comments from young kids who wants to dance because they saw my dance videos. I am only 9 years old so it means a lot that there are other kids looking up to me. I hope to be a good role model and make more of my dreams come true.
Having such enthusiasm, energy and passion for what you do, what’s next for you? What would you say your next aim is at this moment?
I love to dance but I also like acting and singing. I have been taking classes and want to pursue a career where I can use all my skills.
What message would you have for kids your age, who have a dream?

My parents always tell me to follow my heart and love what I do because it is a lot of work so I need to always do my best. My advice is to try everything at least once. When they decide what they like, be dedicated, work hard and never give up.

Lastly, I want the kids to know that school is very important so stay focus and get good grades. We all can do anything and be anyone we want to be.

Aidan’s love for dance has been able to grow because of the support and encouragement from his loving parents. So here is an brief insight from their perspective….
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Can you recall how Aidan’s love for dance and music came about?
Aidan’s first experience of dance was watching his uncles break dance. At the age of one, he was trying to get on his head to attempt a head spin. After that, we enrolled him in ‘mommy and me’ gymnastic classes. We weren’t sure if he would pursue the art of dance, but we knew we had to provide him with the proper fundamental training. At four years old, we enrolled him in hip hop and he never wanted to stop dancing. We weren’t sure at that time how long it was going to last but it has definitely become his main passion.
Many parents have an agenda for their child and Aidan has been fortunate enough to have you supporting his dreams. How exactly, as parents, did you manage to do this and was it an easy decision for you to make?

As parents we wanted Aidan to be exposed to as many sports and activities as we can. We realised very early on that he loved every activity we enrolled him in and he always excelled to be the best. We were both working full time and didn’t think much of his after school activities. When Aidan was approached at 8 years old to be signed as a dancer, we realised that maybe he could actually be good at it.

Everything was going fine until his dance video “Jet Blue Jet” by Major Lazer choreographed by Tricia Miranda went viral. The Ellen show immediately followed and our lives were turned upside down.  We had to make tough decisions and it was very hard trying to balance not only his life but ours as well.  It’s been a year and a half and we are now finally able to find a balanced schedule for the whole family.  Plans we had in the past has changed and we are now focused on Aidan and his needs. He has shown us how dedicated he is to dancing so we’ve committed all our time to helping him do what he loves most. Being supportive of him and learning the business he is now part of our main priority. The journey so far has been everything from “what’s going on?” to “how are we going to do this?” to “We are so happy we are exactly where we are today!”. With all of Aidan’s social media, Youtube videos and working professionally, we are now a solid team working for one goal.


Check our more of Aidan’s videos and blogs by clicking here!
(Photo Credits: @TseMyWorld)

“If I was going to share my story with others, I wanted to tell it from a place of power not pain.”

April Hernandez Castillo, mostly known for her roles in Freedom Writers, Law & Order and Dexter is the Hollywood star turned vocalist. Born in the Bronx, New York, April was raised in a strict but loving Puerto Rican household who always supported her aspirations. She began her career with a unique style and attitude as a stand-up comedian where her humour, vulnerability and charisma captivated her audiences.
Today, April now uses her platform to motivate and inspire audiences across the country from all walks of life to inspire hope, strength and bold faith. As a survivor of domestic violence, she has become spokeswoman for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and a nationally recognised activist and social entrepreneur. She has taken her knowledge and uses the stage to empower youth, encouraging them to always recognise their voice is their voice.
What was the most valuable lesson you were taught in your upbringing?
I was taught so many lessons in my home but there were a few my parents ingrained in my head.  The first one was never judge a person because you never know their story.  Second, was the way you treat yourself is how people will treat you.  So I have always made sure that whoever I come across feels as if they have my full attention.  Especially if it pertains to my fans.  I meet so many people I really do try me best to  be attentive to everyone.

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The Freedom Writers was a movie that brought unity between different backgrounds and cultures, in the realms of a classroom, through the idea of pursuing education beyond high school. What did it mean to you to be a part of The Freedom Writers production? Did it impact you in any way?
Freedom Writers changed my life forever.  That experience does not come around very often especially for an actor.  We felt like we (the actors) were like family.  We all had our own personal stories to share and Freedom Writers gave us the platform to express ourselves.  I don’t believe I would have ever considered becoming a public speaker if it were not for the movie.  Erin Gruwell was such an amazing speaker and her ability to communicate  with the audience really captivated me in many ways.

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In your new book, Your Voice Your Choice, you address your personal experiences with intimate partner violence and teen dating abuse. Your message can resonate with many women who are experiencing similar situations, but what would you like men to take away from it?
While writing my book Your Voice, Your Choice, I made sure that anyone would be able to  read the book and walk away with something completely different.  I have had several men reach out to me after reading the book and  reveal they had been victims of domestic violence as children.  For a grown man to be so moved by my book is just amazing and very humbling.
Often those who are victims of abuse feel ashamed to speak out. What gave you the courage to share your experiences?
I found the courage because of what God did in my life.  He restored my soul in ways therapy never could.  I also realised if I was going to share my story with others, I wanted to tell it from a place of power not pain.  So began taking classes at Connect Institute in Manhattan and they really helped me understand what Intimate Partner Violence is.  I needed to understand what I had experienced in my past relationship so I would be able to help others.  I also understood the platform I had as far as an actor and having the ability to reach so many people.  Freedom Writers was the tool to being able to reach the world!

You focus on listening to that inner voice that we all have. Some of us hear it, but don’t understand it and hence don’t really listen to it. How did you learn to trust yours and let it guide you?
 I can say the inner voice definitely came from growing up in the Bronx.  My parents made sure I was street smart and to always listen to that inner voice.  No matter where I am in the world I always depend on that inner voice.  You can say it is sort of my GPS in life!

Being a mother yourself and working closely with the youth in your community, what is the one change you would like to see among young people today?
One of the things I desire to see change amongst the youth is the yearning for knowledge.  I come across so many youth that just don’t seem to care about anything but social media.  I ask kids all the time “what are their dreams”?  Some say they don’t have dreams at all which really breaks my heart.  But I understand why they would say such a thing, because maybe they never had someone to teach them how to dream big.  My parents taught me to dream big and never allow anyone to tell me no.  So when I left my abusive relationship it was as if I had a deep fire inside me to pursue my dreams. Writing my book was my biggest dream.  It took me over 15 years to finally write my book.  But I have to say I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Dream Big.  Be Bold. Take Risks..

Find out more about April by checking out her site www.voiceischoice.com