1. So, you’re quite the entrepreneur and Renaissance Man. Can you tell us about the projects you’ve worked on?
Well, first off I love the sound of being called an Entrepreneur/Renaissance Man. Yes! I would love to tell you about projects I have worked on. I have done many club events in Hollywood and Orange County and have had artist celebs such as (Nas & Damian Marley, Jeramiah, Ray J and Bizzy Bone. I have also worked with a charity event in East LA with R&B Singer Ne-Yo, Vanessa & Angela Simmons for a children's charity called "Ne-Yo Compound", where he gave 650 kids Christmas gifts to the less fortunate and Vanessa & Angela Simmons passed out shoes and clothing from their line (Pastry). I have to say it was a great feeling to hand out toys to those boys and girls.
|Jahi Harris and Eric Roberts|
Naw I haven't always lived in L.A., I was born in Torrance in 1982 but my parents moved out of Torrance to Norwalk, CA a year after I was born. I liked in Norwalk for 15 years so I guess u can say that's my stomping grounds. I moved from Norwalk in '96' to Corona, CA where I went to Corona high school for 3 years, then went to Santiago high where I graduated in 2000. Then, in 2006, I relocated back in Los Angeles and I have not looked back since. I just feel like there are much more options in businesses and entertainment in L.A. than in the boondocks. I'm a city kid and I like being in a fast pace environment because I like to get things done ASAP.
3. How did you get your start in the entertainment industry and what were some of the challenges you faced along the way?
I like telling people how I got started because I never saw this career coming. I was a truck driver for an electrical company in Corona and I had an L.A. route weekly. I met a guy there that kept asking me if I knew any rappers or R&B singers and I would say, "Are you asking me because I'm black?” He laughed and said "No! You just look like someone who would know people." Anyway he said he needed a manager because he was a rapper, so I told him I don't know the first thing about managing an artist, plus I didn't know how to market a Hispanic rapper. I listened to some of his samples and they were great!! So, I set out and found us a studio to record a real single and I found him a couple spots to do a performance at. So we gained a great friendship and I became his manager and he gave me the nick name, "Crown Jewel," because he said you shine in everything you do, but I hated that name at the time. I wanted something cool and crazy like "J-Bezzy.” Then, I got him signed to a clothing like called "Privacy Wear," based out of Norco, CA and I started going to major events and talking to anyone who looked like they were somebody and exchanged info.
Things didn’t work out with my first artist and he ended up leaving me for someone within the clothing line because he thought I couldn't fulfill his dreams (what the fuck?), even though I got him to where he was at that time, right? And it was my fault that I didn’t contract him (Lesson #1).
After that downfall, I started going out to clubs in Hollywood and getting to know many promoters at the hottest clubs, and I love fashion. So, I decided to do fashion shows as an add on to a regular club night. With that going on, I met lots of people like promoters, public relations people, executives etc. and that's where I started networking. Then I jumped into promoting clubs in Hollywood , Orange County and I had a few connections in Las Vegas as well. My personality kind of changed coming up in this business because it’s a dog eat dog industry and I have been cheated, cut out of deals, not respected because of lack of experience, etc. Then, I finally found a business partner by the name of "Lisa Stewart," who is a publicist who actually has credibility in the industry. I ran into a lot of people who say they are someone who are really nobody’s. She was a big help for me because I had no college degree in this and yet she decided to work with me. She told me that she saw an amazing about of ambition in me and that's really all it takes.
4. Looking back, are there any lessons you learned, mistakes you’ve avoided, that could possibly help young entrepreneurs?
Oh yes I learned a lot my five and a half years in this business. I learned that you can never ever mix business with friendship because business is emotionless and you can’t be side tracked if you want to focus, also if anyone is getting into management with an artist or model or whatever, make sure you have all your legal documents! I can’t stress that enough. This game is all about watching your own back.
I have not stepped on any one’s back to get to where I am and I don't plan on starting now. This is my passion and my dream job. I love being the go-to guy that solves problems, and if you don't have the love for whatever you do, you are bound to fail - please believe. Also, I want to show the industry and future entrepreneurs that even if you don't know anyone in the industry, be ambitious and hustle and you will achieve all your life’s goals.
5. Living in Los Angeles, networking and “schmoozing” is a huge part of getting your name out there. Do you have any advice for people who are shy or lack confidence in this area?
Oh yes, I have advice for those who are shy because I was that person years ago. I took a speech class to get over my fear of talking in front of people because I use to shake when I had to do speeches. My advice is not to jump into this if you do not have the love and drive, because this industry can eat you alive. But it’s not an impossible thing to get into. Nothing should stop you from achieving greatness even if you’re shy or not confident. I overcame my speech problem and became a people person and now I'm the master of my abilities.
Another thing that is good to have, that I had, is a mentor. My mentors are Sheldon Thompson. He’s a realtor from L.A. and Travis Mays aka "VT," who is a music producer from L.A. They worked with me through a lot of ups and downs that I’ve had during my years of the business. Also, my pops has been my biggest supporter since I was able to remember and if it wasn't for moms, I wouldn't be the go-getter that I am today.
6. Has networking worked for you? If so, how and who helped you along the way?
I'm a networking beast! That’s how I got to where I am, because no matter what anyone says, it’s who you know. Networking has helped me tremendously in every way. My first business partner Lisa Stewart, who is a Public Relations/Event Planner and CEO of R.I.L. Productions, worked with me and guided me. Like I said before, I didn't have a college degree in this. I just had the people skills and the drive to be successful. It’s always good to get hands on experience, ya know?
Two guys I have worked with and met through networking are Leonardo Govannichi from LG Enterprises and Eric Dill from Breakthrough Entertainment. I have promoted clubs for Leonardo and that man right there, is a businessman. He runs Hollywood and my Orange County partner Eric Dill from Breakthrough Entertainment, is a heavyweight out there in O.C. I promoted for him as well. I have learned a lot from them both business wise.
I think networking helped me because now I know the game and how to speak its language. I do a lot of foot work, like setting up meetings or if one of my partners needs something handled business wise, I take care of it. Networking is the best form of business because word of mouth is the best advertisement.
7. Can you tell us what projects and collaborations you’re working on at the moment?
Well, the project that my business partner Lisa Stewart and I are working on at the moment is an event called "Teen Empowerment," and this event is a teen violence awareness campaign. Honestly, I am very tired of the senseless violence going on between musicians and neighborhoods. This event will take place in Los Angeles. This event will have it all: music, games, a fashion show and live performances. This will definitely be a one of a kind event.
I just recently booked the single release party for Actor /Model/ Host & Artist "Sam Sarpong," that will be a celeb packed event. And I also have a reality show in mind, so stay tuned.
8. I understand you’re representing a model/actor. Can you tell us a little about him?
Well, he’s not under my contract, but I did help him out, naw but he's a very talented brotha by the name of "Jermaine Goodloe" from Mississippi. He's a down south guy with the swag of a Cali man and he just landed a deal with L.A. Modeling and is going to be one of their runway models. Keep an eye out for him because he is going to blow. I met him a few months ago and we clicked instantly because we have the same mind frame and the same ambitions in life. I’m proud of him and I know he will go far in his career.
9. How do you decide which clients to work with?
It’s very simple for me to decide who I want to work with by looking at what they have done for themselves or seeing if their ambition is as big as their talent. I always put 110 percent into my clients or any other business I do, so I expect nothing less from the people I work with.
I have had clients that I have dropped because they got lazy and thought that they didn't have to do much and success was just going to come to them. If the client has the hustle and determination, you can see it and that’s what I look for. I bust my butt daily because I know that somewhere there is a guy or girl doing what I'm doing and trying to do it better so I have to stay one or two steps ahead because that's how hungry I am for success.
10. Where can we find more information about you and the clients you represent?
You can go to a couple of my sites. I always post new event info or celebs I’m in contact with or where you can see my clients.
11. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I think that's about all. I like to let my work do most of my talking for me, ya know? It seems to prove things better. Keep an eye out for ya boy Crown Jewel [Jahi Harris]. And I want to give a big shout out to Disarray Magazine for taking the time to interview lil ol me. I appreciate it and God Bless.
About the Author
Questions, comments or suggestions? Contact Christy@disarraymagazine.com