Steller The Excellence of POC

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STELLER Tiffany Terrell/Tavia Mapp-Deterville FOUNDER / PUBLISHER Vanessa Henderson EDITOR IN CHIEF CONTRIBUTORS Driune Santana, Brian Walker, T. Nicole, Bryson “Boom” Paul ART DIRECTOR Rolanda Oliver LAYOUT Be’n Original Steller Magazineis published quarterly. Reproduction or use of any part of this publication without written consent is prohibited. We assume no responsibility for the advertisements made herein or the quality and availability of the products herein.

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STELLER CONTENTS

08 Editorial 10 Janine Saulsbury 12 Joi Williams 14 Ekiuwa 18 Fire Chief Toni Washington 22 Jason C Louder 26 Dr. Jamal Bryant 30 Raheem DeVaughn 34 Jermaine Dupri

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THE EDITORS SPACE

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hat an amazing year that we have on tap for you our Steller readers. Despite all the things that are still going on in the world. We have had loss and we have had gains. We have had loss and we have had gains. I just had to say that twice so that I too would understand what it is like.

A lot of us have not seen our family and friends since last March. We have not been able to give hugs to our children and grandchildren. We truly have been taught the lessons and heard the message that life will never be the same. Will never go back to the normal that some are still waiting for. But one thing that I know as a woman of God. Is that God is still on the throne, he is still in charge of what is going on in this pandemic. We should not be afraid, that we will come out on the other side of this space. Come along with us on the journey into what celebs and our everyday people are doing to make our communities thrive even in this present climate. That is why we are so excited to have each of you read this amazing issue. We know that a lot of you are just as excited as we are. We look forward to you being apart in our coming issues. We ask that each one of you please make sure that you purchase this issue, as a keepsake. We want you to know that you all are Steller celebrities. Never let anyone tell you that you are not a STAR.

Editor Vanessa Henderson

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or Janine, what began as a regular night at Skate Key Roller Rink located in Bronx, NY, ended up altering her future. A stray bullet grazed Janine’s chest. While the shot missed its intended recipient. Janine believes it was meant for her as a wake-up call from God, which ultimately gave her a second chance at life. Admittedly, she was venturing down the wrong path in life and began following a Christ-led route after her brush with death. “Yes. It started there but growing up in Harlem in the 1990s where there were lots of drugs, crime, and poverty; I was traveling down a path of self-destruction where there were not a lot of positive role models.” This experience birthed her non-profit organization; Share for Life, Inc., which targets the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

stimulated. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) remains a field where minorities are underrepresented. Minorities, of course, are highly intelligent; they need to be provided with the same opportunity as the elites”. 2020 introduced an abrupt shift in life with COVID-19. Many businesses were harshly impacted but Share for Life was able to thrive and serve the community. “I spent a lot of time praying and asking God; “How Share for Life could make a difference?”. We started the program, “500K Masks for NYCHA,”; and the next day, Governor Cuomo introduced a similar initiative, so I called his office. We partnered with them because they had masks, and we had experience working with resident leaders throughout the five boroughs.” Another COVID-19-relief effort that

[ JANINE SAULSBURY ] FOUNDER OF SHARE FOR LIFE FOUNDATION People are often inspired to act when they encounter eternal obstacles; others react to the need to achieve something internally. Janine’s motivation stemmed from the latter. “When I look back, I know there were organizations that provided programs such as P.A.L. (Police Athletic League), and the YMCA. Many people are not aware of the services offered in their community. One of the biggest issues faced in getting people involved in our programs was “How would they find out? Therefore, we work very closely with resident association leaders for each housing authority”. Share for life focuses on helping at risk youths and seniors in public housing communities. One program offered is Arts Education. When asked about the importance of providing this and specifically the STEAM program, Janine replies, “I think people are visually

Share for Life embarked on was a food program. “We began a food program because pantries throughout the city were running out of food. A friend introduced me to a Chef Millie Peartree, from the South Bronx. She had a restaurant that closed before COVID-19 and wanted to give back to her community. Chef Millie raised funds and provided kitchen space, Amazon donated kitchen appliances, and Audi partnered to deliver food. Chef Millie now partners with our organization and provides 200 meals a day. We have now provided over 70,000 hot meals to these communities thus far”. You can find out more about Janine Saulsbury and Share for Life Foundation, Inc. at Shareforlife.org.

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oi Samone Williams, a 17-year-old student-athlete, who carries a 3.5 GPA, committed to bettering the lives in her community and ultimately those worldwide. Born and raised in Mobile, AL, Joi is on a fast track to success, literally.

She attends Baker High School as an Envision Virtual Academy Student. She is an avid reader concerned about the decline of reading in the community. Concerned to the point that she has created “Literacy 4 Life.” Joi’s program encourages young people to explore the infinite possibilities of life through books’ visual and mental consumption. Her program affords readers the opportunities of exploration by soliciting small businesses to

life into the lives of as many young people as she can. One of her mantras is, “Love the Skin You are In.” Just two years into this effort, she has participated in 3 major pageants. The latest of which was the Miss Alabama Teen USA Pageant. Here she was First Runner up and was also crowned “Miss Congeniality.” Through hard work and dedication, she got there with the never-ending support of her parents, extended family, and the local community. Miss Mobile County, Teen USA 2021 is what they call her. She works with Foster Children, where even at the ripe age of 17, she recognizes the need for “support.” She says the joy she gets and gives during the exchange is rejuvenat-

[ JOI JOIWILLIAMS ] IN HER HEART donate books for the cause. She holds book drives, gives away Christmas gifts in her community, and calls upon her “Model Family” to assist with this effort. She shared with Steller Magazine the time she participated in Coastal Fashion Week, where at the end of the evening, her fellow models donated books to her Literacy 4 Life Campaign. Yes, Joi is a successful Teen Model and a Pageant Contestant. Modeling has been part of this teen’s life since she was seven years old. Gap Kids was one of her first stops on the road to stardom. KLA Management represents Joi out of Tampa, FL. The KLA Management Agency books her nationally and internationally. Which, by the way, is where she ultimately wants to take her Literacy 4 Life Campaign. Joi is committed to speaking

ing. Joi wants to change lives for the better. She has a Community Initiative, in which she works with The Wisdom Foundation out of London, England, as an Ambassador. Confidence is KEY, she says, and you can be whatever it is you want to be. It is not what you know, but more times than not, it is who you know. A self-proclaimed Arts and Crafts Geek, she may even have her hand in design one day. You see, she took on the task and “stoned” one of her pageant dresses. WOW!! Young Ms. Williams is a real “hands-on” type of girl. One of her favorite quotes is, “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.” Joi can be reached at Joi Samone Williams on FB and at IG: @_ modeljoisamone_

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orn Ekiuwa (pronounced “Eh-Key-Wa”) Asemota, born of parents from Nigeria and the Dominican Republic, she is a Dance Teaching Artist and Eki’s Famous owner LLC, started in 2007, A Fashion and Performing Arts Company that is renowned, celebrated, and inspiring. She started in the arts at the early age of nine; she received her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with a dance minor at Hofstra University. Her training disciplines include Ballet, Jazz, African, Tap, Hip Hop, Meringue, Praise/Liturgical Dance, Modern, and Capoeira. Eki describes her passion for dance like this. “I Have the gift and a passion. It takes dedication and hard work to do what I do. I

characters are fictional, their mission is to evaluate, educate and express the dynamic lineage of real African women and men. Queen Amina of Zaria-Nigeria, Queen Makeda of Sheba-Ethiopia, and Queens Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Goddess Isis. Let us not forget King Tutankhamun of Egypt and even more. Through storytelling and song and dance, each queen/king shares their dynamic history with the audience. Each phenomenal experience the audience has brings them great joy and helps to build confidence and selfesteem. The workshops do this by showing true examples of beauty, encouraging building a legacy, and helping people realize their power. For the past six years, Your Queens has provided services to over 250 organizations, including public schools, counseling

[ EKIUWA ASEMOTA ] FOR THE LOVE OF DANCE

chose dance because it chose me. Dance is my way of communicating with the world. Dance is my first language. Dance heals.” In 2011, Eki launched Eki’s Famous Performing Arts and Dance Workshops. A fusion mix of choreography for Children and Adults ages 3-and up. This division of Eki’s Famous LLC caters specifically to developing the youth and adults through movement, with skills they can apply in every area of their lives. Eki strives to make the world a better place by standing for joy, love, inspiration, and unity. She motivates everyone she meets to follow their dreams. Ekiuwa is also driven to fill the need where healing is concerned. Recovery is the biggest need she sees in the community. People must heal through their trauma. Both past and present. In 2015 She started a new and exciting business called Your Queens. The First Entertainment Company bringing queens and kings of Ancient African History to life. In the costume entertainment industry, where most

centers, special events, art and music festivals, colleges. When we asked her, what was the greatest benefit for her? The greatest service to the individuals she teaches is that she gets to have that moment in time where they can all be their full selves, with no Judgement, no worries, nor any fear. Just being present while they all learn and grow together through dance.She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. and a 2015 recipient of the George M. Estabrook Distinguished Service Award at Hofstra University. As a pioneer, she continues to grow as an artist by teaching, performing, speaking, choreographing, and designing at schools, special events, and programs throughout New York City and worldwide.Her greatest desire is that everyone will follow their God-Given talents and gifts to make the world a better place. You can reach Ekiuwa at www.ekifamous.com or www.yourqueens.com

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CHIEF TONI WASHINGTON: EMPOWERING BLACK WOMEN IN A MALE DOMINANT FIELD BY DRUINE SANTANA

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hief Toni Washington is breaking down barriers for black women. A native of Savannah, Georgia, Washington became Decatur’s fire chief in 2009 making her the first African American and female fire chief for the city as well as the fourth African American female fire chief in the nation. After graduating from college, she started working in the State Fire Marshal’s Office. As an employee there, she was introduced to various fire chiefs including one who made it known that he was looking to hire women for his department. However, Washington didn’t consider becoming a firefighter. Once she received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Savannah State University, Washington decided to pursue her career as a firefighter. As she continued to use the challenges and obstacles on her journey as fuel to climb the fire ladder physically and literally, Washington is not only a representation of Black Girl Magic, but also a superhero to kids all over.

You signed up for the fire services in the 1990s, what drew you into becoming a firewoman? When I got out of college, I was very unsure about what I wanted to do. In 1990, I got a job with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the State Fire Marshal’s Office dealt with a lot of the fire departments. So that’s how I was introduced to the fire departments. Although I was in the fire service, I wasn’t yet in the fire department. I was an at-will employee so I needed a job. Because things didn’t go right with the election. (Laughs) I just kind of took one of the Fire Chiefs up on his offer, they were out heavily recruiting women because they still didn’t have enough women in the fire service. One of the Fire Chiefs that I’ve met during one of my meetings, I remember that he said, “You should consider the fire service.” A lot of my peers come into the fire service because it’s something that they always aspired to be. From the very beginning, I always aspired to be the fire chief.

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Did you ever feel like you had to prove something to others in your field being that you are not only black but a woman? Absolutely! I remember way back in recruit school being challenged by some of the people that I work with. When I got out of recruit school, I had to show that I could do what they did. Even as fire chiefs people say, “Oh, well, she must have known somebody or, oh, how many fires did you fight?” Well, first of all, me fighting fires have nothing to do with my position now. So yes! Even now, because there are 1000s of Fire Chiefs and there are very few women. There probably maybe about 50 women in the whole country, out of 1000s of fire chiefs. Oftentimes I go to meetings and things and I’m there alone. People look at me and say, “Oh, you’re the fire chief? I thought you were someone’s assistant.” Did you have a thought in your head that you would’ve been promoted to such a high rank in this field?


Of course, from the very beginning, that’s what I always aspired to do. I came from one of those strong mother backgrounds. My mother, my father, my grandfather, and my grandmother always pushed us. Although, when I first started, there were no black women Fire Chiefs at all and very few female chiefs. I knew that I wanted to go there and I was going to do whatever it took to get there. Because I was going to every glass ceiling that I came up against my object was to crack it, to shatter it. Because not only did I need to go through it, but I needed people to come behind me to also be able to come through. I put in my mind, I’m getting there. I’m not sure how long it’s gonna take me but I will obtain the ranks of fire chief. When I got there. I will say that I was surprised. I was like, “Yeah, I did that.” Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced within your career? One of the challenges that I still face today is there are a lot of biases against black women leaders. A lot of things that I have to deal with are my tone, how I accept things that happen. I have to be very careful with that because as black women, we just react. That’s just who we are. We’re not angry black women. So I have to constantly make sure that I’m not perceived as that “angry black woman.” That’s from the beginning, all the way until now. I’m about 5’1. I’m not tall at all, but people tell me that I intimidate them. Tell us about the first fire camp you hosted in Georgia for young women? I think the fire service is a well-kept secret. I have been wanting to do a fire camp for women for a long time. In the city of De-

catur, I didn’t have the resources to do that. So I partnered with Atlanta Fire Rescue and the Atlanta Fire Foundation had some grant money that they were willing to spend for the girls’ fire camp. They were gracious enough to allow me to come over, and participate with them. It was a very awesome experience. I just felt like if their path wasn’t to the fire service, at least they had that connection, that we made that connection, and maybe that if their past was in the fire service, I can inspire a mentor them, to be successful in whatever it is that they decide to do in life. If you were not a part of the fire services, what would you be doing? I have my undergraduate degree in marketing. I initially went into marketing. I want to be a real estate agent. They make a lot of money and I realized when I got the telesales degree as a real estate agent, there was a certification. So I picked marketing. I worked in outside sales for a little while, but I found out that that was not my thing. I came from a long line of public safety servants. It was my calling. I just kind of jumped in and went with it. Marketing and sales, if I did not take this route. When you reach the moment of retirement, what legacy do you wish to leave for young black women who want to follow in your footsteps? The legacy that I would like to leave when I retire, which hopefully will be in the next five to six years, for sure. The legacy that I would like to lead is you can do anything that you want to do. There may be some challenges, there may be some roadblocks, there may even be some obstacles, but you can do it because she did it.

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JASON C. LOUDER: LET’S MAKE A CHANGE TOGETHER BY DRUINE SANTANA

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fter 17 years of being a teacher, Jason C. Louder found his passion for acting in 2009. The Atlanta, Georgia native has carved his way into the industry as a multi-talented performer. Louder has made an appearance in over 70 stage productions and independent products combined. He is a true advocate for working in the Atlanta community as he canvassed Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff’s campaign team for the U.S. Senate election. Recently, Louder is working on a new production called Sour Milk, which will produce short films, episodes, and more. While we wait for the completion of his new production, Louder revealed he will be working with Jamie Foxx next month on a new film. This year has started great for the natives of Georgia. You played a part in the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, which was the largest statewide campaign for Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff for the U.S. Senate runoff. What made you want to be a part of this campaign? It was time for a change! Even in school, I was always involved because I was the president of a Black Student Alliance. I was the vice president of NAACP, at Georgia Southern University. So, I’ve always kind of been engaged in knowing that we must be involved, and we must be empowered in our agency, right? Taking up arms when it comes to our rights. So that’s kind of always been instilled within me. My mom was like, “Hey! NACA needed canvassers for Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff. Do you want to be a canvasser?” I was like “Let’s go put his work here in!” It was more so one of those things where it was like, “Hey, you know what the work needs to be done.” I have time. I am blessed to have time to do it and they compensated us as well. So, it was like, I am doing the work that needs to be done and I am being paid to do it. That is awesome!

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How did you get involved with the prison system concerning social justice reform? My mother is an activist, just by calling. She was called to be an activist. Right? At the beginning of the pandemic, my brother got into a situation where some people tried to rob him, and he protected his family and his life. As a result, he was locked up and my mom was very intentional about making sure that we saw that case fully through. She began to see different things that were going on in the prison. She said, “No, this is not right.” This was going on during the height of COVID. The inmates were not provided tests, even if they asked for them. They were not provided a mask. They were not given hand sanitizer. It was like “Wait, what’s going on?” So, my mom just became engaged and said, “Hey, you know what, we need to be the voices. They don’t have the voice right now and we need to speak for them.” So, every single week, starting from April until August. She voiced some action items that they can help to get done in the prison system. So, that is what she did, and I was here to support her. Family and friends were all there to support her. So that helped


open our eyes to what was going on in the prison system. We already knew that there was injustice within the justice system, but when you have somebody close to you, that’s affected by it, you get to see “Oh! This is not right.”

So, I read over them and I thought that the lines were deep. When I got into the room and started reading with the director, something happened. It was like this light went on. It just came on! After we went back and forth, I was like, “This is real.”

What is the mission statement behind 21st Century Policing? Mmm... It is to empower citizens to do what they can do to engage our police here to protect the service. That is what this is, that is essentially what this is going to be about. To inform and empower while also entertaining, but essentially to inform and empower them and give them agency into how they can most effectively engage with the police.

You have been seen in not only 30 stage productions, but also over 40 independent projects. So, this was your calling? You know when you say that l, I did talk to the principal of Imhotep because there was a point where I was like, oh my god, I am giving as much as into my acting as I am to the teaching sounds like you have two passions, and she told me that you sure can have two passions. You can have two columns; you can have more than one column. So that is when I was like, okay, that is my work.

So now let us move forward and get to know who you are, Jason C. Louder. You are an actor, mentor, coach, you do it all. Besides being an advocate for the community in Atlanta, you spent 17 years being a teacher before acting found you. How did that happen? Wow! So, you want the long or the short story? (Laughs) Okay, essentially, I have been blessed to work at two different African-centered schools. One was called Romar Academy. That is why I first started teaching and I was there for seven years. I came straight out of college. 2000, straight out of college, wanting to work with our young people. So, I got a job teaching and that flourished into 2007 when I went to Imhotep Academy. One of the guys in the rap group I was a part of called me and he was like, “Hey, man, you should act, you should use all that energy you got and go act.” He told me about this audition at Georgia State and they gave me my sides. I did not know what to do with them, so they knew I had no sight of being an actor.

You have done a lot over the years, but what is something that you are manifesting for 2021? I am always in the space of abundance, manifesting abundance in every single area of my life and wealth, and abundance and health and abundance in relationships, right? So, that is where I am manifesting the abundance in all those places. Out of that or inside of that, playing in the space of manifesting a series regular role on a major network television show. So that is in the vortex as well. I love to create from a space of abundance because sometimes we create from a place of lack, or we get caught or stuck because we are in the mindset of lack so and I am guilty of that too and none of us are immune to that. It happens to all of us. However, just knowing about mindset. It is just about changing your mind.

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DR. JAMAL BRYANT PUSHES THE POWER OF FAITH IN THE COMMUNITY BY T. NICOLE

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Dr. Jamal Bryant began his spiritual path at an early age. The Boston native was raised by his Bishop father and a Reverend mother. He graduated from Duke University in North Carolina with a degree in Master of Divinity. He furthers his education by studying Political Science at Morehouse in Georgia. Bryant went on to graduate from the Graduate Theological Foundation with a Doctorate of Ministry degree in 2005. At the age of 18, Bryant preached his very first sermon at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore. He relocated to Atlanta, Georgia where he was named the new senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Bryant and his members have worked closely with various community leaders to provide aid to those in need. As well as being side by side with his Morehouse classmate, Rev. Raphael Warnock during the U.S. Senate election in Georgia. Bryant has always been vocal about empowering stance on political and socio-economic issues while being involved in many powerful movements. You have been highly active in the social justice and civil rights movement. What was that experience like for you to be involved in these powerful movements? It just felt a part of who I am. Before I was a pastor, I was the National Youth in College director of the N.A.A.C.P. My parents were activists, my grandparents were activists. So that is the environment I wished I were raised out of. It is as natural to me as Michael Jackson’s moonwalk and that is what I feel like I am supposed to be doing. Most recently, you were a part of various protests surrounding the death of Breonna Taylor and you gave the benediction during the memorial service for George Floyd. Why do you think it was so important for faith leaders to use their words to move those who were completely still at that time? Dr. Jamal: The Black Lives Matter movement is the largest civil rights movement since the life of Martin Luther King. So much as this is being led by young people, if the church was not involved, then we would not be in the equation of what is relevant for the culture. We had to participate like our life was on the line, because literally, it was.

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When you spoke about the pain in the community of those who were feeling so many emotions, was there a moment where you felt that same pain? If so, how did you heal? No, I think that pain still lingers. Because we have no resolve, and we have no closure. I think that is why so many are still hostile when we see what happened in DC recently, and how passively those that domestic terrorists were handled, compared to the peaceable Black Lives Matter protests. So, there has got to be something. That is why the heaviness of the responsibility and expectation on President-Elect Biden and Vice President Kamala is so heavy and high up because they are going to have to address it head-on. Your church, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, was able to provide aid where it was needed, what were some of the things you all did? We were able to give groceries to a half million people in Atlanta, over those 35 weeks. We were able to give free COVID-19 tests to some 5000 people. We started an urban garden for those who were dealing with food insecurity. We were able to do a whole lot of job placements


and tutorial for those who were in Middle School. I am just so grateful! We had 150 volunteers who are working tirelessly for 40 weeks. We just gave them the month of January off, but the first Saturday in February, we are back into it in high gear. Tell us about how you and Dr. Damon Kimes teamed up to provide COVID-19 testing’s and reliefs. Dr. Jamal: It was great to see the whole household pull up because we did it from their cars. Multi-generations, they just rolled down their windows, took that swab and had their results within 48 hours. People were so appreciative because a lot of them did not have health care, did not have insurance, did not have a primary doctor. So, to be able to get access was a welcome relief to so many families. The U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia was the most talked-about election since the presidential election. You and Rev. Raphael Warnock were classmates at Morehouse, how did it feel seeing him win this election? It is breathtaking and all inspiring. He gives the evidence that God can use anybody, and you never know how he is going to do it. Some would have assumed that getting

to be the pastor of Martin Luther King’s church would be the pinnacle of your career, that there is nowhere else for you to go. Now, eclipse that by being the very first pastor in the senate since reconstruction, it is absolutely mystified about how the grace of God works. What do you think was the turning point of this election besides going from red to blue? It was surreal to know that I was not just witnessing history, but I was a part of it. So, I am just grateful to God, that I was able to see it happen in my lifetime. When is the last time one race changed the helm of power for the entire country? So, I was glad to be a part of it. It is a new year with new blessings, what are some of the changes within the community you are ready to see? I am looking forward to being around family. I am looking forward to worshiping in person. I am looking forward to traveling, I am looking forward to being able to embrace my members and my friends. I am looking forward to going out to dinner! So, it is the little things that you take for granted and I am looking forward to COVID-19 being something of the past.

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RAHEEM DEVAUGHN A TRUE MUSIC LOVER, WHO’S INSPIRED BY ITS MOVEMENT BY SANTANA DRIUNE

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aheem DeVaughn has been in the music industry for over 15 years. The Newmark, New Jersey native is the son of jazz cellist Abdul Wadud. So, it is no surprise that the three-time Grammynominated artist would not be blessed with talent. He uses his music as a movement to conjure up change and emanate love with his heartfelt voice to his fans. Recently, DeVaughn has been an advocate for the community by encouraging black voters to go to the poll for the elections. As well as spotlighting those who have lost their lives from police brutality. The “Love King’’ embodies everything that is love from his discography to his non-profit organization, Love Life Foundation. DeVaughn unveiled his eighth studio album, “What a Time to Be in Love”, a body of protest songs and love anthems where he effortlessly floats on melodic and harmonic sounds. His album was truly needed during a time where the black community did not feel loved. You have done a lot for the black community that a lot of people may not know about and you have used your platform to speak about social justice. With events that happened last year and what transpired at capitol hill, how have you managed to remain positive? Positivity is a mindset from allowing myself to either be consumed or not keep my attendance up is, is more so to be, not to be fearful. Be aware of what is going on, but do not be fearful, be mindfully aware. Stay focused on understanding that this is a time for us to reach a higher level of like, consciousness and patience. Patience and reinvent us as black business owners, entrepreneurs, and we do not have to. We do not have to seek validation and a race of people or a group or a group of individuals who do not believe or support or for what we, what we stand for, and the things we demand and deserve. We like to ask for that, right? It is our right and it is our right to exercise it. When certain things happen in this country on this planet it is our right to rally and create the war cry and bring

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attention to it, too. We talked about canceling culture a lot of times, like canceling the activity. Whether it is a corporation or a business, a group of individuals, whatever. We have that right; we got that power. So, for me, it is just recognizing how power is exercised. That is what it is about. Everything that comes with that, so once you understand that it is like the sky’s the limit. The world is going to continue to change. You can either be part of that change, or you can be a victim of that change. For me, I am no longer claiming or accepting us to be victims or anything. Besides the obvious, we speak about police brutality or things of that nature, we got ways to address that and to deal with that. So that is my position. Tells us more about the recent contributions your Love Life Foundation has done in the community. Last year, with COVID hitting, we were served to the essential workers and first responders. Preparing home-cooked meals for them, those who had to be away from their families and quarantine and stuff


like that, staying at the hotels and working around the clock. We lightened the load and added food, meals prepared for them, and dropped them off at the local hospitals here. As well as different locations throughout the city surrounding areas. You also spoke about the importance of voting in the state of Georgia on your network DMG. Before that, you were a part of the Biden-Harris Shop Talks to encourage Black Voters in Philadelphia. How did you get in contact with their camp to experience this moment? They got into contact with me, I guess my region, but more importantly the fact that, my love for community, for people and for what is right. I said, “I would love to be a part, but do know, I’m sorry, I’m part of that same group of individuals that believes about accountability. Although they are not in office yet, we wait and see what is going to happen. When they get in office, it is going to be about accountability, you got our vote, now it is time to go to work, and not just be a service to us, as black folks, but to ensure that the things that need to happen in this country turn around. New policies, new laws, and a new time.

you are, you can kind of deal with things differently. They do not move you the same way. I think this time is about, and I think that is what we learned during this COVID for us as a race of people and who we are. Plus, I think a lot of conversations that maybe should have been happening are now happening. From interviews like this to Instagram and Twitter to social media like clubhouse. Some of the rooms are just so powerful and the information being provided in the views, and you can start to realize not just how you think but how the world thinks. Also, how bright, brilliant minds can have the same bright, brilliant ideas and start to execute and bring forth change.

What are some things you are working on this year to better yourself as a person and a businessman? Just being unapologetic about my business and handling my business. Just me returning on my vibration, recalibrating me. That is working on spirit, mind, body. I have recently decided to be celibate. So, I think that has helped me tremendously! I have changed my diet again; it has helped me tremendously. The sky’s the limit right now. Spiritually, tapping into a lot of music. Making music I realize it is like therapy for You released the first single “Marvin me. I got some cool things on the way, putUsed to Say” off your new album, why ting the finishing touches on a really dope did you feel that it was important to project from a producer in Detroit. That will drop this song, in particular? be coming out on mellow music imprint. Oh, man! I felt like it was important beIt is currently untitled. I anticipate maybe cause it would be 50 years, this year, second quarter or first quarter we dropped “What’s Going On” album came out. It made a lot of accomplishments, leaps and that still continuously working on and bounds, as a race of people, but as human promoting the current album as well. I want to put out a lot of music. I think it would be beings. There is still a lot of work to be done, and it is something about this vicious great for my algorithms. I think it would be cycle or like this purgatory that we seem to great for the fans and I think they want it. It be in or allow ourselves to be in. Once you is a microwaves world; you must give the understand how powerful you are, and who people what they want.

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JERMAINE DUPRI: THE INSTRUCTIONS OF A SO SO VEGAN BY BRYSON “BOOM” PAUL

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A

legendary producer. A legendary music executive. A legendary songwriter. Jermaine Dupri, 48, is known and adored for being a trailblazing original, but another feature we can admire about the Atlanta icon, the hitmaker is a long-time vegan. Fifteen years and counting, to be exact.

Veganism is pop cultures’ latest trend. As early as 2016, being vegan or eating vegan has spread throughout A-listers like the current pandemic. According to 2019 reports, the lifestyle has grown into a 2-billion-dollar business. The textbook definition of veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. An individual who follows the diet or philosophy is known as a vegan.\ For Steller’s debut cover piece, Bryson “Boom” Paul sits down with the music mogul behind Mariah Carey, Bow Wow and Usher to discuss his animal-free-eating journey from the beginning. He reveals the future business plans within the lifestyle that include his own signature vegan ice cream.

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You have been practicing veganism for 15 years now. Was there is any person that guided you on being Vegan early on? It was multiple people I spoke with. Different people I spoke to that knew about it. Different people I spoke to that tried veganism and went back. So, I asked a bunch of different people -- as many people I could find, I was asking questions. What is the biggest misconception about people trying veganism? The biggest misconception. Oh! I think the biggest misconception is that one, you are going to eat vegan and you are just going to lose weight -- and you are going to start looking different. You still must watch your carb intake. It is still the same mindset of eating if you were not vegan. Too much of the same thing will, you know, increase the same way it does if you eat other foods.

even ten years ago, it was rough. Facts, I can only imagine 15 years ago, you would damn near have to scour the Earth for vegan meals…? I knew where to go. It was just the fact, the vegan-friendly-ism, you know, and the fad of veganism was not here yet. People did not understand it. It was almost like a thing, where I would say it to people, and I was almost like an alien -- and then it was so many jokes about it. Because one, I am from the South. And to be from The South, and you do not want fried chicken, and be from The South and you not want barbecue ribs, or to be from The South and you not wanting Soul Food. I do want that, but I want the vegan-version (laughs).

As you mentioned, The South is heavily known for the meat. For people that are barely starting out, what would be some things you would advise to make it Have you referred others to the easier for them to transition? veganism lifestyle? Umm. The easiest thing I would say is to Yes. Well. Being around people and really identify with what food you really being vegan is difficult. At least in the like, right. And then, find what food does beginning because a lot of Black people not work with your body. It is interesting did not understand me being vegan. In the now, this late in my lifestyle of veganism, I beginning of me going to eat, a lot of times, am finding out that Tomatoes are not good it would be like, “Okay, we are going out to for my body. I did not know this ten years eat...” ago. I am not good with a whole bunch of And I would be like, “Alright, well… You will tomato intake. I kept feeling like this heart go head, go there. I’m go get my food, and burn-type situation in my body, and I am I’ll meet you’ll back.” like, “What is this?” “What’s driving this?” “What food are doing this?” And people would be like, “What? What You find out it is too many tomatoes, is that? What are you doing?” absorbing too many tomatoes. So, it is just And I am like, “I got to go to a vegan restaurant” because I knew most of those finding what fits your body. Also, veganism places that were here, in Atlanta, were not and eating healthy is just that… It is about even vegan-friendly. Now, places are more feeling good. I can imagine a lot of people vegan-friendly, so it is a little different, but eat and do not feel good, they just eat

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because they believe that is what they should be doing. Ultimately, I have seen multiple people eating and be like, “Man I got heart burn” or “Man, that messed my stomach up, but it was good.” That means they do not actually feel good after they just eat, they just ate the food, and people continue through life like this. I know I have so I know other people do this. They eat the same food, repeatedly, thinking that “Aw, it was just bad last night.” No, it is your food intake, and your system does not really agree with it.

feel bad. It is no way in hell you are not going to have one of these encounters. I think, at first, people want to joke so much at first, but then they have one of these encounters and they be like, “Oh, I’m not eating that...”

Started your transition 15 years ago, but when do you believe you had successfully made the transition into a veganism lifestyle? Soon as I did the fast. First off, when you fast for 25 days, your body, your body parts, stomach-wise, becomes like a baby. It forgets how to eat, and it forgets how to hold food. So, you almost must wing yourself back in and you must drink orange juice for two days. You cannot do solid food because your stomach cannot hold it. You almost must train your body. Once you go through that process, I do not advise anyone to do that by the way; that was just my way in. it is very disciplined, you must be very disciplined to do the master cleanse for 25 days. I think that will drive a lot of people crazy, so I do not advise people to do that, but I am saying that is the way I got in, and once I got in there, it was no turning back.

It is just like drinking [alcohol]. When people drink and they drink too much and they get drunk, they be like “Man, I’m never drinking again. I promise you. I’m not drinking again.” It is one of them type of moments. It is the same thing with the food. People have bad encounters with the food, and they be like “Aww man, that’ s it. No more red meat for me. I’m just going to eat fish.” Ok, so then you got people doing that, and then they get off the red meat and they just be on the fish, and then something happens with the fish. And they like, “You know what, I’m try this vegan thing. Let me see what’s going on.” It is just like that. People joke so much about it but then they have these encounters. The one thing I can say when you become vegan -- and once you figure out what it is, you are doing. The only problems that you usually have when you become vegan is that your hungry more (laungs) because your intakes not the same and then, ummm… Your taste buds, you are trying to get your taste buds right. Other than that, you are not going to have no cramps or stomach pain and that type of stuff. You will go to the bathroom in the beginning a lot because, like I said, your stomach is not used to what you are putting in your body.

As a Father, have you persuaded your children to eat vegan? Well matter of fact, my oldest started, for this year (2021), basically being vegan for… I do not know how long she is going for but that was her new year’s resolution. People make all these jokes about veganism, and then, people have these encounters with food, that makes them

How has the lifestyle affected you, creatively, rather good or bad? Creatively, yes because it makes me wake up much earlier and get my day started and be a lot more present. I was a guy that use to stay in the studio all the time, I mean, I stay in the studio all the time, now. I would stay in the studio until about 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning. Then, come

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home, and sleep till’ two or three o’clock (afternoon). 15 years ago, I would not be doing this interview, right now with you because I would be sleep. I would sleep half-of-the-whole-day, then I would wake up and be done missed everything. A whole bunch of messages, people would be like “Jermaine, we called you, blah, blah, blah.” This was my ritual, what I would do when I came out of the studio, I would, then, drive to Waffle House. So, I would live the studio, at six in the morning, I would go straight to Waffle House. At six in the morning, thinking like “Oh, it’s breakfast time.” I would eat all this heavy food. My food use to be: two eggs, over medium, hash browns with cheese, double wheat toast. I would eat this every day for, at least, 20 years straight, at six in the morning. As soon as I would eat the food, I would be in Waffle House like, “Oh my god, I’m so tired. I can’t wait to get home.” All of that “I’m so tired, I can’t wait to get home,” sluggishness, because of the food, is not right. Food is supposed to be energy. So, that is one of the things that people need to get out they mind. Food is not supposed to make you sleep; food is supposed to energize your body. To make you keep going and want to do more. We eat food and we think, we ‘pose to get the “itis.” “I got that itis, that food was good.” With me, I was being sluggish. I would eat that food; I would go home and then I would sleep. So, the food is just sitting on your body and its already bad food. So that is basically what my lifestyle was, and I felt it. I could feel it when I woke up in the

afternoon, I could feel it, it was just like, I got to get rid of this. This must stop. My journey started with me working out and just eating cleaner. Trying to just eat grilled chicken. I started the way most people start but I just ended up being vegan. I know a lot of people ask where you get your protein from in veganism. But I know for a lot of us within black culture, the real question is, we want to know where do you get your desserts from in veganism? [Laughs] Well, dessert… Oddly enough, vegan dessert, to me, is better than regular dessert because it is lighter. It is sweeter because, to me, almond milk and the things you put in as a replacement of what normal is, like almond milk vanilla is sweeter than regular white milk, right. If you add that (Almond Milk Vanilla), that automatically gives it a different taste. So, my mother made us sweet potato pie last Thursday, all vegan. Amazing. I eat these ice cream sandwiches that are in Whole Food. It is a place here that sells vegan Cinnabon, and they sell vegan cake. I am talking about creating my own vegan ice cream soon. I feel like people need it and my idea is to, basically, fill in the holes where I believe they need to be filled. So be on the lookout for Jermaine Dupri ice cream. For more on Jermaine Dupri and his eating vegan lifestyle, follow the mogul daily on Instagram. Check out the extended version of our interview on the official Steller Magazine website, coming soon.

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