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Phoenix White photo shoot, the energy of her smile and cinnamon toned skin radiate through the screen. However, under the title “Survivor”, the inclusion of footage capturing her surgery and recovery strike the loudest note. The eleven seconds of the video show her weak and mostly confined to a hospital bed—a far cry from the vibrant ingénue of the previous clips. A metal immobilization unit used in radiation treatment adorns her head, its screws pressing all around her skull. Her once luxurious and meticulously styled hair is shaved closely, and she wipes away tears as they fall down her cheeks. ASHES TO RISE FROM

PHOENIX’S FOCUS “The brain surgery completely changed me as a whole.” Speaking from her home in Los Angeles in an unmistakable southern California accent, Phoenix White recalls her 2010 battle with a cerebral arteriovenous malformation—an abnormal connection between the brain’s arteries and veins. “For me it helped me to go on a really big journey to find myself. Sometimes when we’re not paying attention, we lose track and end up on the wrong side of the road.” Cyclically consumed by fire and reborn from the ashes of its predecessor, for centuries the mythological bird, the phoenix has been synonymous with rebirth, renewal and resurrection. For Phoenix (née Jesseca White), the sobriquet seems almost destined. A native of San Diego, her resume as an actress and singer is lengthy- having released several singles and videos on her own and also history working with the likes of Jamie Foxx, The Dream, Anthony Hamilton, and Tyrese. Featuring segments with titles like “Recording Artist” and “Actor”—a press kit video showcases her in front of the camera, in the studio and traveling among other things. Belting notes into a microphone or stretching her toned frame across a set during a

“That caused me to reevaluate my definition of success and what ‘making it’ was.” she continues. “[I asked myself] what am I supposed to be doing? Who are you really? Without all the weave, without all the fake nails, without this stuff. Without what you think makes you a superstar, are you still happy? I found that I wasn’t.” The condition necessitated two major neurosurgical procedures within a week. In a high-risk category for post-surgery complications, she was advised by doctors to avoid stress at all costs—something not conducive to a burgeoning entertainer in Los Angeles. The quest for stardom was abruptly put on hold and in search of renewal. White left Southern California for Miami. “I knew that LA was stressful and I had to be away from everything I knew. I didn’t even talk to anyone after the brain surgery,” she says, her voice lowering in reflection. “I was just quiet. It was just my son and I. People didn’t really hear from me. I didn’t really do much. I just listened



to my spirit to get more in tune with myself.” “I thought ‘What else can I do?’ I used to take pictures and people would ask me if I could do creative direction for them. So I started doing it and people found [the photos] to be really good. And that’s kind of how Emkron was born.” Her voice bubbles with excitement in discussing Emkron Studios, the brainchild of her creative renaissance following her return to Los Angeles after a year and a half in Miami. Through Emkron, she provides photography, graphic design and creative direction services with celebrities such as rapper Big Sean, actor Michael B. Jordan and singer Melanie Fiona as part of her clientele. White also uses Emkron to produce “The More You Know,” a web series showcasing quick and easy ways for people to improve their diet reflecting on her decision to become a pescatarian after her illness (Note: through a partnership, The More You Know is featured on Urban Lux’s website). While at home in front of the camera, the move to working behind it didn’t come naturally. “I’m not formally trained in any of that stuff. I just picked it up and started doing it. I studied a lot on my own, I’m a big researcher,” she says. “When you first start in a new lane, you have to do some work. So I did a lot of it and in the process I built up a portfolio that was good enough to show to people, so they can just judge me on my work instead of anything else. I did a lot of interning and shadowing of really great photographers and creative directors.” - continued on page 36


Profile for Urban Lux Magazine

The Reinvention Issue January 2014  

In this Issue Urban Lux spent time with several individuals and wrote their stories of reinvention and survival. Conquering homelessness, we...

The Reinvention Issue January 2014  

In this Issue Urban Lux spent time with several individuals and wrote their stories of reinvention and survival. Conquering homelessness, we...