f e a t u r i n g
Skai Jackson Issue 8
summer playlist 14 if you like Doe, then give these artists a listen 15 from Montana to Malibu 16
d stare 29
ion trends 38
56 millenial misconceptions 65 #nyotaeats 80 words of wisdom 82
THE TEAM Carol Wright is a rising sophomore studying Journalism at American University. She realized at the age of eleven that photography was her passion and it was photography that ultimately led her to create Nyota Magazine. Carol is also passionate about public speaking and was given the chance to give a Ted Talk at the age of seventeen where she talked about the lessons she learned from creating Nyota. Carol loves to create and hopes that wherever life takes her in the future, photography will be at the center. @_carol_wright Niara Wright started her career in middle school as a motivational speaker, encouraging young girls to be themselves and express themselves through clothing. As a victim of bullying, she did not want other young people to suffer. It was then that she realized she could marry her love of teaching with her passion for fashion. Early in her career at the young age of seventeen, she directed and styled two fashion shows at the Cherry Hill Mall and one in Philadelphia for Philadelphia Fashion Week. Niara is also a poet, winning the Young Poets Poetry Slam at Yale University at the age of sixteen. Niara also taught entrepreneurship and served as a counselor for Independent Means at Oxford University in England. Niara also has a Fashion Industry Certificate from the Teen Vogue x Parsons program and is continuing her education at Rowan at Burlington County where she is getting her associates in fashion design. At the end of 2016, she was a finalist in the Independent Fashion Calendar’s Designer Development Contest where she debuted her collection TØMBÄB (tom-babe). Niara is the CEO and President of TWL(The Wright Look). TWL is her styling firm with the goal to empower its clients through fashion. A well dressed man or woman feels confident and is sure of themselves. TWL focuses on helping its clients find the “Wright” look that compliments not just their bodies but their lifestyle. Through TWL Niara has styled fashion editorials for the Courier Post and SJ Magazine. Currently, Niara owns The House of Flair Lifestyle Boutique and Showroom in Haddonfield, New Jersey, that houses independent artists and designers who don’t have their own store front. In 2015, Niara and her sister, Carol, decided to create a platform for young people to showcase their talents. As a result, they created Nyota magazine. Nyota is an online platform that discovers and promotes the rising stars in fashion, music and culture. The magazine just celebrated its one year anniversary this past September. @thewrightlook
Haley Bowcutt is a rising senior at American University studying Film and Media Arts, Graphic Design, Marketing, and Business & Entertainment. Haley is a graphic designer for Forty Four Hundred, a division of the American Marketing Association at AU where she is also the VP of Marketing, the graphics designer, videographer and editor for Walk This Way, a show produced by AU students for NBC4, and the graphics designer for Why Donâ€™t You Love Me? an AU student produced game show. She also plays Division I field hockey at AU. She is currently the Digital Production intern at CLS Strategies where she gets to design every day. Nicole Cox is a rising sophomore majoring in Graphic Design at American University. Starting at a young age, Nicole has always enjoyed creating art, whether it was writing stories or painting with watercolors, she always found a way to create, but she never expected the computer to be used as another medium for her creativity. Thanks to the help from her college professor, Kate Resnick, she was able to explore her interest in Graphic design and hopes to one day pursue a career in the field and become a User Interface Designer.
nigh yo tah
(n) means star in the African languages of Swahili and Lingala
FEATURES Doe (@thebanddoe) Frances Metzger (@the.wood.shop) Skai Jackson (@skaijackson) Tiffany Chamberlain (@tifffourtat) Meriam Salem (@salemsnaps) Rhonda Cowan (@rhondafcowan)
CONTRIBUTORS Jason Wood (photographer) @jasonwoodphotography AnnaNoel (model) @annanoelll Raissa Sapardan (photographer) @raissatakespictures Katie Wong (photographer) @ktwong65 Breanna Riddick (writer) @breriddick Alexis Arnold (writer) @iamcardi.a Amanda Molloy (writer) @street.joy Nomi Inanc (blogger) @mdrnvanity
EDITORS LETTER It has been truly amazing to watch issue eight come to life. We have a diverse lineup of features and a mix of content that we hope you’ll love. We travelled to California for our cover shoot with Skai Jackson, sat on an art studio floor for our interview with Tiffany, and had a great meal on the sunset strip for our WOW interview. This issue wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Jeff Vespa, and the entire team at Skai’s cover shoot. Our hard working graphic designers, our parents, and Nyota’s readers that push us to continue creating content. We hope you love this issue just as much as we loved making it for you. Carol and Niara Wright
Interview by: Carol Wright
“...My passion is creating and it could be in any medium from music, to fashion, to fine art. I just love it all and so essentially it’s all my biggest passion coming out in different forms.”
When and how did the band form? The band formed a little over a year ago with an official EP release of five songs. Mason and I met years before this and had worked together on different projects here and there and one day decided to try writing together, that’s where it all began. He came from a hip-hop group and I came from a rock and roll band so it was fun writing together and combining our opposites.
Who writes the lyrics to each song?
What’s your favorite song that you guys have recorded? I guess we would both agree on We Are. It was one of our first finished songs and was something we spent a lot of time on. It helped us figure out our sound, which opened up the path for the songs to follow.
We both write the songs and the lyrics it really just depends. We work really well together as a team and both hear opposite things so it makes for a good collaboration. Does living in New York City inspire your sound in any way? I am lucky enough to have travelled a lot since I was a kid so I think I am really inspired by everywhere I go and everywhere I have been. Tessa, I know you’re also a blogger. Would you say music is your biggest passion or photography/ fashion? This is a question I get asked so often, I think my passion is creating and it could be in any medium from music, to fashion, to fine art. I just love it all and so essentially it’s all my biggest passion coming out in different forms.
Who are some of your biggest music inspirations? I grew up listening to Cat Stevens, Fleetwood Mac, The White Stripes, and Tom Petty so it really comes from all over the place. But my true inspiration is my little sister Sophie Rose. She was the singer in my family and when she was about fourteen we decided to start writing music together. For years we played in a band as the two of us and I learned so much from her. We were very different. She was a blonde, bubbly, shining light and I was a moody, grungy rock and roll lover, so together we had an amazing chemistry. Six years ago she passed away and it changed my life forever. My entire family plays and lives for music and really we do it in honor of her. She was such an inspiration and had so much love for it. Itâ€™s so special to carry on her dream. Can our readers expect a full album from you in the near future? Most definitely, the songs are written and we are in the midst of recording, itâ€™s very exciting!
Lastly, where can our readers find your music? You can find us on all the goods. Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and Youtube, just search for Doe.
Summer Playlist Passion Fruit // Drake Beneath The Lights // Cool Company Jealous // Annalia Thatâ€™s What I Like // Bruno Mars Deja Vu // Post Malone Chanel // Frank Ocean Humble // Kendrick Lamar I Feel it Coming // The Weeknd Spotify | nyotamagazine
If you like Doe, then give these artists a listen...
From Montana to Malibu: A New Era of Miley by Amanda Molloy
Cyrus has had her fair share of highs, lows, and complete turnarounds in her career, however, it’s obvious where she stands on her personal evolution. n the cover art for her O new single, “Malibu”, Miley Cyrus is laying in a grassy field, gazing dreamily into the sun, and wearing a plain turtleneck sweater. The natural look is a complete 360 to the eccentric style she’s become known for, and to those who prefer wholesome pop princess Miley to Miley-gone-wild, it’s not only a reminder of the past, but an indication of an honest comeback. It’s impossible to forget where she came from: the name “Hannah Montana” can bring up a wave of nostalgia in anyone who grew up watching Cyrus play part-time pop star on the hit Disney Channel production. The show was witty and pure, the songs were catchy, and Cyrus quickly became a figure for kids to look up
to and parents to approve of. During her first few years in the spotlight, she was portrayed to the world as an exemplary young star with a squeaky clean image and a fanbase that consisted primarily of preteen girls. So it came as no surprise that, when she decided to take on an edgier style and a more provocative stage presence, she was hit with criticism from left to right. It’s safe to say that most pop culture followers can name a time in which she garnered negative press attention: whether it be the controversial 2008 Vanity Fair photoshoot, the infamous 2013 VMA performance, or the 2014 Bangerz Tour (jam-packed with drug references, raunchy innuendos and all-around outrageous antics). Cyrus is a frenemy of the main-
stream media, and all of her personal and stylistic choices have been broadcasted for the world to see. Musically, it seems that with each album released, the singer takes on a whole new persona. This is especially evident in her last two LPs: Bangerz and Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. Bangerz—not only the album, but also its accompanying music videos and concert tour—is heavily hip hop influenced. The latter album—which may have contained her weirdest and most experimental work yet—is an intriguing disarray of glittery psychedelic pop. Both of these styles are stark contrasts to the bubblegum pop/ country-influenced days of Hannah Montana. So while it was to be expect-
ed that she’d change up her sound for the new record, few expected Cyrus to ditch the erratic aesthetics altogether and make a complete return to her Nashville roots. “Malibu”—written about Cyrus’s fiancé, Liam Hemsworth—embraces a soft rock sound and optimistic lyrics. The song has been praised by fans and critics alike for its genuineness: many are glad to see that the singer seems to be maturing and becoming her truest self. The follow-up single, “Inspired”, delivers some uplifting lyrics and a light country feel. Cyrus even called it “a new, older version of ‘The Climb’”, referencing her 2009 power ballad hit. These singles serve as a clear indication that the star is ready to spend less time on shock value and more
on self-discovery and demonstrating her unbelievable talent through music. Numerous fans take this as a sign of her being in a happier, healthier place than ever before. Of course, not everyone was pleased with her sudden genre shift. Cyrus is no stranger to accusations of cultural appropriation, and her comeback tracks didn’t sit well with many who believed that she profited off of hip hop culture for years only to throw it away for a new country sound. For someone who had an era of music fueled by hip hop beats and tracks featuring notable rappers, she was quick to imply that the genre is misogynistic in a recent Billboard interview. Many found fault with her utilizing black culture
when it’s convenient and failing to use her position of privilege to speak out on issues facing the black community. Cyrus has had her fair share of highs, lows, and complete turnarounds in her career, however, it’s obvious where she stands on her personal evolution. She’s insistent that the bizarre Bangerz era—and all of the shenanigans and controversies that came along with it—was not a phase. In fact, in a recent interview she claimed that she’s always her most authentic self, whether she’s wearing a sundress and singing about love on the beach or partying in a barely-there ensemble: “I’m always the most me, really.”
Frances Metzger by: Niara Wright
When did you realize that you were supposed to be a fashion designer? Well, I started creating at a young age; maybe around eight years old. It started with me painting and drawing all the time then I realized I wanted to do more. Thank God for my mom who saw something in me and put me in sewing classes when I was ten years old. (I kind of just saw myself creating more than art, but art people could wear.) I wanted to create something that people could do more with than just admire. I wanted my art to provide comfort, self confidence and a sense of identity.
Who are your biggest inspirations in your industry? Right now I am totally loving Thom Browne, Off White and Proenza Schouler. They are all bringing new looks and direction, and the contemporary modernist take that these brands are taking gives me inspiration daily. I usually try and grab inspiration from architecture and things more than brands and other clothing.
What inspired you to create The Wood Shop? Where did the name come from? I was inspired to create TheWoodshop because I wasn’t satisfied with what I was creating in school. I wanted to create more wearable and contemporary street wear that I loved and that people my age would love too. It’s important for me that I keep growing in what I am doing and that each collection has a different feel but keeps the same amount of wearability. The Woodshop’s name came from the idea of growth and me building something that I am always bettering. Instead of working with wood, I’m working with fabric. It’s a bit weird the way I think of it, but it worked in my head; so I put it out in hopes that others would get it too.
What kind of woman is The Wood Shop girl? She’s fun, sexy, and contemporary. “Street wear for the modern woman,” is a saying I have for her. A woman with dynamic taste who loves to add pieces of art to her collection of clothing.
Where do you see your brand in 5 years? In five years I see my brand growing immensely. I’m still in school and have so much to learn. The more I learn, the more I put it into my brand. I want too see more people wearing pieces from TheWoodshop in their own way making my designs their own special looks. I see myself growing TheWoodshop to be more readily available to my customers. (I’ve been playing with the idea of pop-up shops.) I also see my collections being more minimal but yet detail oriented. As I grow, so will my designs and what I put forth to the world.
How has FIT prepared you for your career? FIT has been the most fundamental part of my growth in design. I have learned so much there and I am only halfway through with my journey. I am able to produce my own garments through what I have learned. I have always been a creative, but being at FIT has really helped me to see just how strong my skills can be with a little help from professionals. I am simultaneously learning and building my business and it’s been an amazing experience.
What is one of your favorite moments in fashion? There are so many! I can’t just name one because great moments keep coming. Most recently Edward Enninful being named British Vogue’s first Black Editor in chief was an amazing moment in history. Being a young black woman in the fashion industry I appreciate and enjoy seeing other black creatives growing into bigger and more acclaimed positions. It’s something we a re seeing more often lately and that gives young people hope that we can also get there one day!
Do you have any new projects you are working on that we should be on the lookout for? Of course! I am working on my lastest mini collection of swimsuits and bodysuits. This summer I will be releasing them. Plenty of high hip cuts, with mango colored bathing suits and neutral bodysuits. I’m so excited for everyone to see what I’ve been working on! This summer is all about fun and staying sexy! I’m making sure to offer that with these pieces!
Where can we find you on social media? Instagram: Personal:franc.ess Brand: the.wood.shop Facebook and Linked-in: Francess Metzger
Stop and Stare Photographer: Jason Wood Model: Anna Noel Olson
Anna Noel models the perfect makeup and hair look for summer
Beauty Products Used Tartlett Palette HD Foundation Stick by Makeup Forever Wispy Ardrell Lashes Becca liquid illuminator NYX Contour Stick Anastasia eyebrow pomade Orgasm blush by Nars Shape tape concealer by Tarte Rainforest concealer by Tarte
â€˜70s Flashback Photographer: Katie Wong Model(s): Mae McCauley and Charlotte Grayson
Sunglasses: Amazon Patch: Vintage Twin Rings: Pennyweights, Shashi
Bracelet: Hermes, Cartier Watch: Rolex Patch: Vintage Twin
Necklace: Balando Designs Earrings: Handmade
Summer Fashion Trends Nomi Inanc who co-runs the blog Modern Vanity shows us her favorite summer trends!
URL: www.mdrnvanity.com Instagram Handle: @mdrnvanity Twitter Handle: @mdrnvanity
Facebook handle: @mdrnvanity
/ NYOTA MAGAZINE 41
Jacket Trends for Summer Photographer: Carol Wright Model: Neah Gray Niara from @thewrightlook puts together the best jacket trends for summer
Bombers: Left to right Prettylittlething.us $21, Mango.com $80, MyTheresa.com $540, MissSelfridges.com $26, Abercrombie.com $39, Lastcall.com $32
Denim Jackets: Left to right: Mytheresa.com $185, Italist.com $61, Net-a-porter.com $290, Stylebop.com $235, Riverisland. com $110, Stylebop.com $255
Demin Jacket: H&M
Bomber Jacket: BooHoo USA
Skaiâ€™s The Limit
Jacket: Maje satin with w/ floral appliquĂŠ bomber jacket Blouse: Zara red lace top Earrings: Topshop silver fringe chain chandelier earrings
Skai’s The Limit An Interview with Skai Jackson Interview by Carol and Niara Wright Photography by Carol Wright Styling by Erica Cloud Hair by Alexander Armand Makeup by Alexa N Hernandez
Nowadays, not many people can say they don’t know the name Skai Jackson. Whether she’s taking down social media bullies, becoming the latest viral meme or starring in a hit Disney show, Skai is doing it graciously and refuses to become another “crash and burn” teen star. We sat down with Skai at her cover shoot and asked the young actress what it’s like to grow up in the industry and what the future holds for her. You’ve been acting since you were five years old. Do you remember the moment when you knew acting is what you wanted to do as a career? I kind of grew up into it. My mom put me into print and modeling when I was nine months old so of course I didn’t have a choice. As I got older I would watch different tv shows and when I was two years old I just knew that it was something I always wanted to do and that one day I wanted to end up on the big screen. How do you think being a Disney channel actress shaped how you view the entertainment industry? For example, if you were on Blackish or a Netflix show, do you think you would enjoy acting as much? I’ve always loved acting and getting up and having a job to go to every day. Filming is really fun, and I definitely think Disney, and being on a tv show has helped that. You’ve amassed a large following on social media since your days in Jessie. How has that impacted your childhood/ teenage years? Of course people recognize me, and I get stopped all the time. That is something that has changed from before I was on tv. I would do a lot of commercials and print so people in New York, where I’m from would recognize me, but not like now. There are many stories of the child star taking a turn for the worst. How do you keep yourself grounded? Surrounding myself with good people who support me. I don’t surround myself with negative people because I think they’ll bring you down and make you go down the wrong path. I think you always have to have good friends surrounding you. Do you want to do the “normal” teen thing: prom, football games or do you like being able to do work and school at the same time? It is pretty cool not having to wake up early and being able to fit school into whenever I want to. Sometimes I do wish that I could maybe go to school for a day and see how it is because I’ve been homeschooled and I haven’t been to a regular school since I was eight years old.
Suit: Zara floral Bodysuit: Wolford blue bodysuit Earrings: Roxanne Assoulin colored multi size crystal hoops Bracelets: Roxanne Assoulin multi colored enamel bracelets Ring: Dana Rebecca diamond moon & ruby
Dress: Lela Rose floral gown Bracelets: Monica Vinader rose gold and black Earrings: Vita Fede gold bars t
Dress: RED Valentino pink lace Socks: Topshop pink fishnet Earrings & ring: Christopher Kane for Swarovski
How has your family handled your fame? They treat me normally, just how I was before I started Jessie. I’m just Skai, and that’s who I’ve always been to them. What’s your favorite movie/ tv show you’ve worked on? I would have to say The Watsons go to Birmingham. It was really cool because it was based in the sixties and just to go back into that time period and see how it was. Even just seeing the difference between our dialect and the way we dress made it really cool to film. Have you always been creative/ interested in the arts? I was always artistic, and even with my barbie dolls I would make clothes out of whatever I could find around the house. I would definitely say that I’ve always been creative and artistic. What does a normal day in the life of Skai Jackson look like? On the weekends I’ll usually get up and make some breakfast, go to the Grove or Beverly drive with my friends. Other than that I’m just relaxing and you’ll find me in my bed at home. What type of projects do you hope to take on in the future? I definitely want to stay in acting, and scary movies are one of my favorites so I would want to be apart of that. I also want to do stuff behind the camera. Even if that is directing, producing or writing; I think that would be really cool. What is it like to become a meme? It was really fun, everyone was seeing me on their timeline which was crazy. Even some of my favorite meme accounts post me, and I thought that was really cool. I have a great sense of humor so I didn’t really take offense to anything. What do you do or what have you done to fight bullying? Using my voice on social media just to stand up for what’s right and what I believe in. I think that I’ve been doing that so much lately that people are noticing I’m not just an actress, people aren’t putting me in one category. What are your other interests besides acting? I definitely want to become a fashion designer in the future. That’s something that I want to achieve and of course like I said, directing, producing and writing, all of that. You are probably one of the most stylish 15 year olds we have ever seen? What is the inspiration behind your style? How do you and your stylist collaborate on your looks? Usually whenever I’m going to an event my stylist will pull something that he has and then him and I will mix and match items and make something really fun and creative that you wouldn’t typically see on the red carpet.
Who are your biggest inspirations? Oprah, I love what she stands for, and also Will Smith. Really just people who are strong in their beliefs and do charity work.
Coat: Osman red tulle Bodysuit: Wolford blue bodysuit Shorts: Ted Baker coral floral print
Meriam Salem by: Carol Wright
When did photography become a passion instead of a hobby? It wasn’t until college that I took my passion for photography to a level where not only was it creative, but also professional.
A lot of your photography shows women of color. Is diversity in your art important to you? I feel like my art is an extension of myself and what I hold dear to me. There’s a beauty and ethos of women of color that is exotified by men and underappreciated by the mainstream. My photography captures that ethos- that love that I hold for my sisters.
Who are some of your favorite photographers? I don’t really follow mainstream/popular photographers, but ever since I came to AU I’ve always had strong and consistent admiration for Steven Baboun. The way he captures the world cannot be compared to any one thing. His mind is incredible and I cannot wait to see where he goes with his art.
Where are you from, and how has that shaped your photography? I’m from the Bay Area- California! I rep it hard, but no shame. My family and extended family were pretty nomadic before I was born. They’ve lived in Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Canada etc. I have family all over the world and I can see how a nomadic background plays a role in how I view and navigate through life. It’s hard to say how that is what shaped my photography, but the kindest compliment I’ve gotten was that my photography is beautiful because I capture the beauty and the heart of people. I would say that comes from a nomadic background, generally just being open to the world-seeing family beyond just people related to us by blood. I absorb a lot and photography is a medium where I can unleash.
What opportunities has photography led you to? When talking to underclassmen and high school seniors I always mention turning their hobby into a skill. Photography has opened the door to so many opportunities, it feels surreal. I’ve met celebrities and politicians, got backstage access to exclusive concert venues and events. I’ve met organizers at protests and assisted in social documentaries. I’ve worked with NGOs and the university. I met a lot of my good friends just by going to an event as a photographer. I don’t think my college experience would be what it was without having a camera strapped around my neck.
Whatâ€™s your favorite type of photography? I love fashion photography and have a crush on street photography. Do you hope to be a full time photographer after college? Oh no. Sadly, I think photography will be something that Iâ€™ll do on the side. However, hopefully my career can incorporate photography as a form of service.
Lastly, where can our readers find your photography work? You can find my work on instagram: @salemsnaps; or my website meriamsalemphotography.squarespace.com. Thank you so much for considering me!
/ NYOTA MAGAZINE 64
what you donâ€™t know about us
the dark knights of industry by: alexis arnold
Millennials come under a seemingly endless stream of criticism on everything from our upbringing to our work ethic. On top of all of the other criticisms, we are blamed for not supporting industries in the traditional way. It seems as if our elders believe we ruin everything we touch. For example, millennials were credited with the decline of the napkin industry, traditional retail, diamond sales, big oil, etc. But is it a bad thing? Millennials should not be expected to support these industries in the first place. Itâ€™s not our job to ensure their survival. They should have to fight for our business and not the other way around. The generations before us were often at the mercy of the industries when it came to buying products. Consumers bought only what TV commercials and celebrity endorsements showed them. The companies that made certain products like oil or diamonds werenâ€™t going to talk about the exploitation or environmental harm necessary to get the product to us. As a result, people continued to finance these industries in blissful ignorance. However, we donâ€™t buy like our parents. Maybe it is because we just love taking down poor, helpless giants of industry. Maybe it is because we have so much available information, it feels almost criminal to ignore the consequences of our consumerism. Or maybe, between a skyrocketing cost of living and crushing college debt, our priorities are quite
different. Take the napkin industry for example. Paper towels are out competing napkins because millennials realized that it is inefficient to buy two paper products. Paper towels can do the job of napkins and more, so we can just save the extra money for other things like, oh i donâ€™t know, avocados or rent. Our affinity for the possibilities that the internet offers has also changed the way we buy. If we donâ€™t want to be restricted to the limited set things a single retail location can provide, we can go online and order anything we want. We can support small businesses across the country and even crowdfund the products that big box stores would have to wait to be approved. Our every changing and diverse market desires drives retailers crazy. But again: why is that a bad thing?
not the ones it needs right now. What it needs are people who are loyal to big box stores and name brands regardless of consequences. What the industry deserves is a shakeup of monopolies that will increase competition and keep sellers on their toes. So they will complain about us, because we can take it and because we are not Baby Boomers. We are socially aware. We are internet surfers. We are Millennials.
We are the consumers and they should have to cater to us and our desires. There are a lot more of us with a lot less in our pockets than our parentsâ€™ generation. If they want millennial money, they should have to earn it. Like Batman, the dark knight of Gotham, they will have to complain about us. Because we are the consumers that the industry deserves, but
by: breanna riddick
I started writing this by asking my roommate, Mona Zaiei, “what’s one thing you wished people knew about millennials?” After a slight pause, she said, “how smart we are… low-key.” That’s the foundation of this whole article: how smart we are. The description of this generation has been reduced to lazy, self-absorbed, and social media addicted. Rarely do people acknowledge the intelligence and power our generation has. So here are four things millennials wish you knew about them.
W e’re not lazy
Not too long ago, the college process got really difficult. All of a sudden, it wasn’t just about good grades and being class president like it was for our parents. Instead it was about being class president, captain of the [insert sports team], an active member of [insert club] for x amount of your high school career or being president of it, active member of [insert outside of school organization], all while maintaining a high GPA in high schools where the daily homework load for a class has the potential to be longer than the class itself. So forgive us, if in our one hour to ourselves we just want to scroll Twitter, watch an episode of whatever show on Netflix, or partake in whatever our favorite past time is. And this doesn’t stop in college either, the only difference is that the workload is so heavy that we actually don’t have that much time to run for class president, and unless you’re a really talented walk-on the sports thing is covered by scholarships. We are only able to join one or two clubs, all while maintaining a high GPA in colleges where the daily homework load is meant to take longer than class. But now it just sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not though.
W e’re really smart
No, really! And, it’s not just because of Google (although, growing up with all this new technology has given us an edge over everyone else). We know how to use technology to our advantage, which helps research and work really well (and maybe even better than other generations). Not to mention that there’s so much money in the tech industry, we’re the generation creating apps that we want. But our intelligence doesn’t just come from our knowledge of tech, we’re understanding people way better. Our generation has a lot of empathy and that takes a lot of intelligence and open-mindedness.
W e have a huge amount of power that people seem to forget about
People love to say the youth is the future until we actually mention that we are the future, at which point they love to drudge up how lazy and social media obsessed we are. But, we have a huge amount of power. So much power that several news outlets wrote articles explaining how we had the power to decide the 2016 election. Our generation sets trends whether it be slang (that our parents then try to mimic), fashion trends, or deciding which app will be the next big thing (and those last two things push along the capitalist economy that this country runs on).
W e’re not as social media obsessed as you think
We’ve grown up with social media and cellphones, the same way our parents grew up with TVs and record players. It’s silly to berate us for using the things that technology and innovation gave us. Anyway, getting to social media specifically, we’re not as bad as you think. We use social media just as the designers of the apps and cell phones intended. But even more than that, we’re not all just using it to post meaningless selfies and retweet funny videos. Like I said, the foundation of this article is how smart we are. Many of us, including me, use social media as a tool to stay on top of breaking news. Sure, there are still newspapers but the newspaper can’t pop up on Twitter at 3:23PM while you’re taking a break between classes, now can it? Not to mention, social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter are used to promote and raise awareness for different social justice and equality movements like Black Lives Matter, body positivity, and countless feminist issues. Even if we are “social media obsessed,” at least it’s for good reason.
Tiffany Chamberlain by: Carol Wright
When did art become a part of your life? I always did art, and I was always creative. I would do small things around the house or when my parents would tell me to clean my room I would pile up clothes and then make something out of it. Hours would go by and my room wasn’t clean but I would have this collage of clothing. So I was always creative, but I don’t think I actually started participating and looking at the arts until more recently, to be completely honest. In high school I took courses where I became intrigued with different mediums. I don’t think my high school gravitated to the arts as much, with the exception of one teacher there wasn’t much that pushed me; and then there was always the fear that you’ll be a starving artist. I never decided to further my education with art until now.
What do you hope to convey through your art? I’m still trying to figure out what my art is, and I feel like my art is spiritually driven. Around the same time that I started to get more involved in the church, and my faith and seeking out truth on my own, art became more prevalent. I felt like that’s what God was calling me for, that’s my purpose. I think I’m still trying to figure it out, but that’s the exciting part to me. I realized that the art may not necessarily be the finished products that I have, the painting that goes up, or whatever instillation that I do. It’s the process of figuring it out, which I think mirrors life in general. I’m really big on thinking anything in life can be art, but at this point I’m waiting to see what God reveals to me.
How long does it usually take you to complete one piece? The funny thing is, some of my paintings I paint over. For example the three lady figure (pictured) took me two months with other projects going on simultaneously. This one became a more technical approach to how I’m actually painting.
Who are your biggest art inspirations? I gravitate towards a lot of more contemporary artists. There’s an artist named Kehinde Wiley and he does a lot of African-American figures with these classical type of backgrounds, that often seem very fabricated. And I once gravitated towards him until we had my theory class, and found out the theory behind his work. It’s not like I don’t appreciate him anymore but I see what (his art is) beyond how I visually look at it. Other artists that I gravitate towards are probably the same way, where it’s more aesthetically how I look at them, but now I’m really starting to look at the theory behind what they’re doing, and asking: what are they really trying to say?
One person that has kept coming up a lot during my critiques is Alice Neal. She does portraits, and it’s not as detailed, it’s not as perfect in a sense of the way she may paint, but it’s the expression that she puts in these figures that makes her art completely different. I think a lot of people associate that to me because when I do the figures I want to gain some type of empathy within the people that I’m painting, and be less about the actual outcome of the picture and how they’re painted. But more about, am I really portraying the essence of the person that I’m capturing.
What was it like finding out your art would be shown here at the Katzen art museum? I started displaying my art at Michael Tomen’s gallery in Atlantic City. I kind of started to feel the excitement or the rush behind actually displaying my work because most of my stuff I would put into small exhibitions. When I was displaying my art in Katzen it was very different because of the entire preparation behind it. We had a whole week of installing, we were working with a gallery, putting our stuff up, and meeting certain deadlines. I’ve never felt rushed as far as deadlines, and openings, so that was pretty exciting. It definitely opened my mind up to different responsibilities, rather than just making a painting and saying hey who wants this. The gallery also brought a different crowd, and that was one of the reasons I wanted to be in the D.C area. I wanted to see what type of crowd I was formulating. Have you ever had artist block, how did you get through it? I feel like I have it all the time. One of my professors who I really look up to said I’m just like him and I overthink everything. I think that’s what it is, sometimes, especially with artists or anybody who has a creative mind, we tend to think way too much. Even though that sounds productive, it almost becomes not as productive because you’re overthinking each step. I think if I allowed things to be as they should I would be more productive, in terms of actually producing work. What tips would you have for our readers who want to pursue a career in the arts? Don’t be afraid of what society says about artists as far as career wise. Look at it more as a moral obligation rather than a self interest, as far as the money you’ll make. If it’s always attached to something greater there’s always going to be inspiration and you’ll always be successful as long as you’re invested in it.
/ NYOTA MAGAZINE 74
Playing with Plants Photographer: Raissa Sapardan Model: Carol Wright
Check out Raissaâ€™s website for more: raissasapardan.squarespace.com/search
#NYOTAEats words by Niara Wright During our trip to LA, we got to eat at some of the coolest restaurants and cafes. Be sure to check out these spots yourself when you hit the sunshine state.
Umami Burger LA is known for their burger joints, so when we were invited to Umami Burger, we couldn’t say no. Umami is a phrase coined by the Japanese to mean “deliciousness” and boy, was our food delicious. We had Japanese style wings, french fries, truffle fries, beer battered onion rings, and the brand new Impossible burger. Why is it impossible, you ask? It’s a double cheeseburger piled with caramelized onions, American cheese, miso-mustard, Umami house spread, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato! But here’s the kicker, the two juicy, “meaty” patties are veggie burgers but we couldn’t even tell! Take it from us guys, you have to try one. umamiburger.com
Tocaya Organica California has some of the freshest, purest and most organic foods in the country. Tocaya Organica truly lived up to that. Specializing in modern organic mexican food, Tocaya makes each dish with the mission for eating better. With so many things to choose from I decided on the Baja Chipotle tacos with shredded chicken, shaved cabbage, sweet chipotle sauce, cilantro and vegan chipotle crema. I even got to replace the tortilla shells with lettuce. They were spicy and tangy but overall delicious. tocayaorganica.com
Pink Taco Pink is truly the color of our generation but I never thought that would apply to our food. That was until I tried Pink Taco. Located on the Sunset strip, itâ€™s hard to miss with its pink exterior and fiesta lights. As soon as I walked in I fell in love with the interior design. It has a cool rocker edge with an influence from Mexican culture. Already being a lover of Mexican cuisine. I wanted to try everything on the menu but I had to see what the pink taco was. Before long, out came three fresh and steamy soft tacos with achiote chicken, black beans, avocado, arbol salsa, cotija cheese and topped with pink habanero pickled onions. The flavor exploded in my mouth as I took the first bite, and I quickly cleaned my plate. No place does delicious authentic mexican cuisine quite like southern California.
Mama Shelter On our last two nights in the city of angels, we stayed at the coolest hotel in LA called Mama Shelter. It truly was a space for the artsy and cool and I felt at home right upon walking in. The lobby was a bar/restaurant/cafe and we decided to have brunch there one morning prior to exploring the city. I wanted something small but satisfying so I went with the smoked salmon potato latke topped with poached eggs, avocado, sitting in a bed of mixed greens. It was simple but truly hit the spot. I canâ€™t wait to go back and try the other meals Mama Shelter has to offer. mamashelter.com
Words of Wisdom from Rhonda Cowan by Carol Wright & Niara Wright
After eating a delicious meal at Tocaya Organica, we got the chance to chat it up with Rhonda Cowan. We couldn’t wait to hear the words of wisdom she would impart on us, considering she has one of the best work ethics in the business. We discussed obstacles in her industry, what it takes to be in entertainment, and how she manages to stay grounded through it all.
At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be in the entertainment/ music industry? I realized early on that I wanted to be in television and I went to school and got my FCC license which was required at the time to work in television. I started working for a local channel in NY, channel 11: WPIX, which doesn’t exist anymore. Later on I went into music. I had a passion for the movement of Hip-Hop. I loved it and wanted to be part of that movement and was persistent in asking Russell Simmons for a job. I asked him every time I saw him. I would say, “You need me. You need me.” Even though I knew him since I was sixteen that didn’t guarantee me a job. It meant I had to show and prove to him why I deserved that job. So, I took a job at another company, where I helped them get videos played at the different networks and channels. In doing that I got the experience, and when Russell was ready to have his own person in-house, he hired me. So, that’s how I got started in music.
It also seems like you had to have a certain level of confidence in order to tell him what he needed “You need me” can be a challenging thing to say when you are the one looking for a job. You have to be confident to make them believe that they need you or else why would they hire you? He [Russell] didn’t think he needed his own department until I told him that. He was hiring the person I worked for as an independent and I told him “You need me, hire me.” And he did, he never went back to using an independent again.
You’ve managed to build strong, genuine relationships with people in an industry that is often made out to be fake and cut throat, how do you manage to defy that stereotype? Consistency, returning calls, and being honest and forthright. If I tell you something I do it. I’m never going to get you to promote something that’s not mutually beneficial. So if you have something I need, it has to work for you too it can’t just work for me. That’s being fair, that’s making it work for both parties. That’s how you keep relationships. What can we do to work together? That’s how you keep it genuine. When you provide opportunities for them as well as for yourself, it’s not just about you. Is it difficult to overhear gossip about your friends knowing it isn’t true? Yea, but you get used to it. You know what’s true and what’s not. That comes along with the game, that comes with the territory. Gossip and tabloids; they’re going to talk. You just take that with a grain of salt and you support your friend. Particularly when it’s something affecting them, you have to support them, be there for them and have their back.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Russell Simmons told me, “do what you love and the money will come.” So I’m never motivated by money. I’m motivated by is it a good move for me? Will it make me happy? What will it add to my life? What will I learn from it? Not saying it’s always been like that, but I try to lead that way.
Going back to school was a major achievement, what did you learn about yourself during that time? It taught me discipline and showed me how much I love to learn. If I were wealthy I could be a professional student. I would go to school full time. I was going to school full time, working full time, developing a show and I had my daughter who wasn’t out the house yet. It showed me who I was and what I was really made of.
One of the many things that we admire about you-is your work ethic and your ability to separate work from personal feelings and bring excellence to every project. How are you able to do that? It’s always been intertwined. My work and personal life in the music business was one and the same. I only went to parties or events with people that were in the industry with me. I never went to random parties. It was always a networking experience.
You have a daughter, what advice do you give her concerning work, having a family and taking care of one’s self. I told her to never depend on a man, depend on herself, and don’t come home pregnant. That was the best advice I could give her as a young lady. Also, being careful with your relationships and not getting caught up with men and money.
It does seem that girls are taught through media that they should rely on a man. Media tells you those things, it’s our job to tell them [girls] different.
What advice do you have for young people who want to work in the entertainment industry? Lose your ego. If you want to succeed in any business, particularly entertainment where people have big egos, someone has to be humble. Two big egos can’t exist in the same space. So someone has to be humble and that has to be you. You are there to serve a purpose, you are there to help that artist. Grow them, promote them, market them, or dress them. Whatever you are there to do, you’re there as a service. You can’t go into a situation with an ego and think you can coexist with an artist because that doesn’t work. I was told that being a black, female actress is the hardest job in the world and I have many friends that are actresses and so you have to understand. Not saying I ever kissed anyone’s butt but I made sure that whenever I worked with a new artist, I never saw myself as better than them. I never competed with an artist, I was there to do a job. Lose the ego, a lot of young people nowadays have egos that are going to get in their way. Don’t give into media, it’s an insta-lie, don’t play into the insta-lie. You have to work and pay your dues.
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Published on Jun 21, 2017