All Posts By Erin Tatum

Kelsi Davies’ Quest to Demystify the Spirit Realm

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How would you react if you realized you were psychic? For Kelsi Davies, it was an integral part of growing up. As she got older, she began to share her abilities and recently decided to use her gifts as a medium to help people heal and connect with loved ones who have passed on, altering countless lives forever. Kelsi chronicles her experiences with the paranormal on her incredibly popular TikTok and on her YouTube channel. She wants to demonstrate to others that spirits aren’t always scary or evil. When she’s not communicating with the beyond, Kelsi is empowering others through music. Her new single, “Heartbeats,” is about rediscovering joy after leaving a toxic relationship. Check out the video for “Heartbeats“ below!

Cliché: How did you first discover that you had psychic abilities?
Kelsi Davies: I have been psychic since I was young. I found out this year that these gifts run on the Native American side of my family. I would always know things about people or see future events. I did not understand what I was feeling or experiencing, which caused a lot of social anxiety in my life. My mediumship was always there, but I blocked it out. In 2020 I began to tap into my mediumship and connect others with deceased loved ones.

Was that an overwhelming discovery to make as a young child? How did you process that revelation?
I thought it was normal. I always had terrible social anxiety and my gifts would kind of shut me down. Growing up, I was introverted, the exact opposite of how I would describe myself now. Once I understood that not everyone has these abilities, I started coming out of my shell and explaining it to people; I feel more understood now.

Why do you think people are so fascinated with the paranormal and spirits in particular?
It’s controversial, unknown, and unexplainable. Many people have had paranormal experiences and have had them throughout history. It’s a topic that people are afraid to talk about, but are so intrigued by at the same time.

You’ve also recently undergone a spiritual awakening. What has it been like using your gifts to connect people with their departed loved ones and why do you believe that’s your calling?
Yes, it has been incredible. It amazes me every time with what comes through and the spirits that come to me for people. I have made some very close friends due to experiences that changed their lives. It gets very emotional at times, but usually ends in happy tears and relief. I know I have these gifts for a reason. It took me a while to understand them, but now that I do, I have seen their effect on others. I genuinely believe this is something I’m just meant to do.

What has been the most exciting paranormal experience you’ve had thus far?
I’ve had countless experiences, both good and bad. However, one of my favorite experiences was when I connected with someone’s deceased loved ones recently. The mother of a family friend passed earlier this year. Mid-conversation, I start to receive visions of her. I had never met her, so I was unaware of her appearance. Usually, I will explain who is coming to me and what they look like if they are coming through clearly.

I was able to see her height, hair color, clothes, etc. She had a few things to say, but I asked her to show me something personal. She ended up showing me a silver necklace with a cross on it and its details. As I explained it to the woman, her eyes lit up. She knew what her mother was showing me was a necklace that she wore very often.

Why is it so important to destigmatize spirits or show people that not all spirits are scary?
There is a misconception of spirit communication. Many people are taught that it’s evil and demonic, but that just is not the case. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. I just hope people can keep an open mind to things. I genuinely believe no one knows exactly what the afterlife is like until we are there. There is a balance in this world, good and evil. A lot of the time, your lost loved ones are still visiting and looking out for you.

Do you have any advice for people out there who are hoping to communicate with spirits?
Just be safe. Again there are good and evil spirits. If you feel negativity around you or feel like something is off, I would stop the session and protect yourself. There are a variety of ways to protect yourself. I don’t know much about the other side, but I have firsthand seen these ways of protection work.

For the uninitiated, please explain who Lola is and the role she plays in your life.
Lola is a sweet spirit of an 18-year-old woman. She is attached to a porcelain doll because it looks a lot like her! She was born in 1901 and died in 1919 from an illness. All of my friends have had incredible experiences with her. We all love Lola. I often see her walking around in her long white nightgown. Sometimes, she sits in the back of my car, and I feel protected. I believe in spirit guides, but maybe Lola can protect me the way my spirit guides or angels do. She doesn’t talk a whole lot, so I’m not sure. Other mediums have said she is getting stronger and braver. I feel that way as well.

On another note, you’re also venturing into the music world! Talk about your new single, “Heartbeats.”
My new single, “Heartbeats,” is about a toxic relationship I was stuck in. I wanted to turn something negative in my life into a positive. It was difficult to relive those experiences again, as it was an extremely dark time for me. However, I’m so grateful for everyone who supported me through this traumatic time. They helped me turn my pain into something extraordinary. I learned and have grown from this experience. I have found my authentic self because of it. “Heatbeats”  is about moving past that toxicity in your life, no matter what it is. Knowing you do have the strength to get past it and be authentically yourself.

Do you have any advice for people who are afraid to leave a toxic relationship because they don’t want to be alone?
Ask yourself these questions about the person you are with. Do they make you happy? Do they trust you? Do you trust them? Do you see a positive future with this person? If you answered no to any of them, it might be time to rethink some things. It’s like ripping off a bandaid. Things will get better as long as you know your worth. Also,  don’t be afraid to talk to others about your situation. You are strong.

You frequently collaborate with PrideHouseLA! What message do you hope to send to your fans who also identify as LGBTQ+?
Yes, PrideHouseLA are great friends of mine. They helped me have the courage to come out as a pansexual. I hope that anyone part of the LGBTQ+ community knows that you are so loved and accepted here. Be your unique self. If people don’t accept you, there is a huge community that will.

Read more Music Interviews at ClicheMag.com
Kelsi Davies’ Quest to Demystify the Spirit Realm. Photo Credit: Tim Schaeffer Photography @timschaefferphoto. Hair and Makeup: Christine Hazelhurst @christine_pro_makeup.

Model Robbi Jan Launches New Interview Series “Miracle Mindset”

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Fitness and fun are paramount in Robbi Jan’s life. The Australian model and social media star is bringing these topics – and many more! – to the table in her new interview series, Miracle Mindset, featuring a number of highly prominent guests. She and boyfriend Alex Costa also intend to continue travel vlogging. Next stop? New York Fashion Week! Follow Robbi on InstagramTikTok, and YouTube.

Cliché: Give us some of your favorite healthy summer recipes!
Robbi Jan: A few of my go-to recipes for breakfast in the summer have been overnight oats with granola and berries (if you haven’t tried overnight oats, you can thank me later), as well as protein smoothies. For the protein smoothies, I love just using a bunch of frozen berries, some oat milk, and my protein powder. Simple, healthy and yummy. For lunch, one of my favorite healthy/easy recipes is Vietnamese spring rolls. You can add any protein you like to them, such as shrimp, chicken, or tofu. Here is the link to the recipe I use. These are SO yummy, and when you pair them with a little sweet chili or peanut sauce, ooof. So yummy!  With dinner I typically will do some kind of lean meat and vegetable, like salmon or tilapia and arugula salad or kale. I also usually do some type of grain on the side like brown rice or quinoa. I love cooking, but as I often run out of time, I prefer recipes that I can create in 15-20 minutes!

With people staying at home more, what is your go-to at home workout routine?
I recently created a 3-week Ultimate At Home Booty Guide and it has been my go-to! But I also love doing different HIIT workouts with online videos from YouTubers like Whitney Simmons and Chloe Ting, they’re so quick and following along with a video is motivating so it’s a great way to workout if you’re in a rush or don’t have time to get to the gym or a class.

Tell us about your Ultimate At Home Booty Guide!
I created these guides, in conjunction with a personal trainer and we had the lifestyle of a busy woman in mind. The goal is to build your lower body – while still incorporating cardio! The great thing about this workout is that you can do it from anywhere, with no equipment. It’s 3 workouts per week, which is a realistic goal for most people. It’s not overwhelming. Everybody is different, so results will always be different. But if you work hard, then you will LOVE the results. I have had an overwhelmingly positive response from women all around the world, saying that they love their bodies, and that these workouts are fun. I would love to make more sometime in the future!

Why do you think maintaining a healthy mind, body, and spirit is so crucial to our overall quality of life?
My message is simple.  Health starts with taking care of your mind. There is SO much power in our thoughts and often we get so consumed with taking care of our physical bodies, that we neglect taking care of our mental health. The two are so intertwined, the body is a system, and that system can’t work to its highest ability if we are neglecting one area. Part of taking care of your mental health is learning to control your mind, and your thoughts. Having a healthy mindset (that leads to me being the happiest, most productive version of myself) starts in the morning. When you wake up, and you’re not in a good mood, our brains often choose to see that negative in the day, because that’s what we are focusing on. The good things are still happening all around us – but our minds are so focused on all the negatives, that that’s all we notice.

You have a new talk show, Miracle Mindset. We want to hear all about that!
The concept for Miracle Mindset was originally a podcast, but I have recently decided to instead create a YouTube series focusing on the same topics. It will be the same quality content – just on a different platform. The purpose of the Miracle Mindset series is to explore health, wellness and have conversations about real life things. The nitty gritty. I already have a presence on YouTube, a supportive and incredible community,  so for me it’s a natural progression and I am going to focus all my efforts into that. The saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”  reminds me that it’s better to do one thing very well, than spread yourself too thin. As well as the series, I will continue posting health, wellness and personal development and fun vlogs along the way! 

In your mind, what makes a strong interview?
A strong interview is made with honesty in asking the right questions, boldness in those answers, and openness in the discussion of those answers. My goal is to have guests on the show who will talk about their opinions, experiences and thoughts in an open, safe environment. I want my guests to be honest, and have fun in their interviews, really speaking their full truth. It’s refreshing to see an interview where someone is being real, and I hope for my subscribers to feel encouraged after watching my videos.

Who would be your dream guest to interview?
Someone who I’ve admired for a long time is Desi Perkins.  I would really love to interview her on Miracle Mindset. Desi is such an inspiration to me -she’s an incredible creator, entrepreneur and refreshingly real on her social media. 

You and your boyfriend, Alex Costa, create a lot of travel vlogs together. Where are you headed next after the pandemic subsides?
Yes! We will be attending New York for Fashion Week in September, (which we will definitely be vlogging) and I’m so excited! I truly miss traveling, but really I would just love to visit my family in Australia as soon as possible. It’s been nearly two years since I have been back to Australia and I miss my family and friends terribly. I’m hoping and praying for the border to open soon. I’m one of 6 kids, so my family is so important to me, especially my siblings. 

Read more Celebrity Interviews on ClicheMag.com
Model Robbi Jan Launches New Interview Series “Miracle Mindset.” Photo Credit: Ben Cope.

Saje Nicole Makes Her Debut in the 2021 “Sports Illustrated” Swim Issue

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Determined to be a role model for her daughter, Saje Nicole boldly entered the modeling industry. She’s made a splash in more ways than one, most recently being featured in the coveted 2021 Sports Illustrated Swim Issue. The historic issue showcases three Black women on the cover for the first time – Megan Thee Stallion, Naomi Osaka, and Leyna Bloom! Saje is honored to be part of such a trailblazing issue. She wants to continue to inspire conversations around diversity in the industry and pave the way for other curve models. You can also see Saje in the new Amazon Prime series, Making The Cut

Cliché: What was behind your decision to leave nursing school to pursue modeling?
Saje Nicole: I thought that because I loved seeing people happy and healthy, that a nursing career would be great for me. But once I started the classes, I started to realize that nursing just wasn’t my passion, and there are many different ways to help people be happy and healthy. I wanted to go after my dreams. Especially, because I tell my daughter that she can do anything, so I want to be the best example for her. I made the decision to pursue modeling and I haven’t looked back.

How do you deal with the lack of diversity in the industry? How can we work to ensure that the modeling industry has equal opportunities for women of color?
The lack of diversity in the industry has been a topic for many, many years. It’s not until recently that brands are starting to really listen. I think as consumers, we just need to hold brands accountable. Not canceling – because that doesn’t help anyone, but being open and honest about what makes us feel represented. We are in a time where brands want to do better and help shift the culture. I’m happy to see that they are so open to this new change. There isn’t one type of beauty or one body type. The more we continue to push the narrative forward, the quicker we will be able to get real and lasting change.

Tell us about your new show, Making The Cut.
Being a part of Making The Cut has truly been such an honor and dream come true. Not only did I get to work with amazing designers, but I’m on a show that I’m actually a fan of! We also filmed this during the pandemic, so the fact they were able to pull this off under extremely strict health guidelines is so impressive! I cannot wait to see the rest of the episodes, the designs are EPIC!

How would you describe your relationship to body positivity? How has that relationship changed and developed over time?
My relationship with body positivity is one that is always changing and evolving. I allow my body room to grow and change. Whatever that may look like. But of course, it wasn’t always that way. Paying attention to images in the media or certain influencers can really take a toll on your perception of beauty. So my method is to eat well, exercise daily, remain in a great mental space, and focus mainly on my health. Everything else will follow after that.

Any tips on improving body confidence?
Oh yes!!!! My advice would be to love your skin, your curves, your frame, and your flaws too. I think it’s all the imperfections that actually make you beautiful. It makes you unique. It allows you to stand it. I have stretch marks on my hips and buttocks, I have a small fupa, I have hip dips, and last but not least I have size 10 feet! If we spend all day criticizing ourselves, we would be miserable. Let’s celebrate every single part instead.

What was it like being featured in the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swim Issue?
It has truly been a dream come true!!! I have looked up to the women of Sports Illustrated Swim since I was a child. The exotic locations they traveled to, the women and their stories, the bikinis, the level of sophistication. All of what we know to be Sports Illustrated Swim today. So, to see myself in the magazine is absolutely surreal! I’m still in shock and it hasn’t fully sunk in yet. I’m sure it will in the coming weeks. 

What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to be involved in an issue that showcases so many powerful Black women?
It means the world to me. Before this issue, the only Black women that were on the cover were Tyra Banks and Danielle Herrington, who are both great and beautiful women, but the magazine has been in circulation since 1964. To be a part of this legendary triple cover issue makes me feel so happy, represented, and seen. Thank you, Sports Illustrated Swim!

In what ways do you want to inspire others?
I want to represent an idea. An idea that no matter where you were born, your past, or even your current circumstances, you can do whatever you desire. I’m an immigrant that came here at the age of three, had to learn English in ESOL class, and whose dad passed away at age eight. If I can do it, I want those who follow my story to know they can do it as well. We all have different dreams, and we all need to unapologetically go after them.

Do you have any advice for aspiring curve models out there?
My advice to all models is to stay focused on what you want, your message, and don’t take no for an answer. In the age of social media, you can create your own audience, spread your own message, and launch your own products. There are so many avenues you can take. Just make sure you’re doing what’s best for you.

Read more Celebrity Interviews on ClicheMag.com
Saje Nicole Makes Her Debut in the 2021 “Sports Illustrated” Swim Issue. Photo Credit (in order): Alanna Gilbert, Lalo Torres, Megan Claire (third and fourth photo), and Ronald Wayne.

Kennie JD Blends Makeup with Bad Movies in Hit YouTube Series “Bad Movies and A Beat”

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Makeup enthusiast Kennie JD originally conceived of her YouTube channel as a way to help herself learn Korean. An avid fan of fellow YouTuber Bailey Sarian’s “Murder, Mystery, & Makeup” series, she decided to combine a similar concept with her ardent love of bad movies. In the resulting series, “Bad Movies and A Beat,” Kennie does her makeup while dissecting the most laughable and cringeworthy elements of terrible films. When she’s not devoting hours of her life to sifting through cinematic garbage, Kennie has started to further explore her interest in music and is excitedly awaiting the release of her upcoming EP this summer. Check out her music HERE
 
Cliché: Would you say makeup is an avenue for you to express your personality?
Kennie JD: Definitely, it’s a great way to be a little bit of a different person if you choose to, or even show off different parts of yourself.
 
Which looks do you gravitate towards the most?
It depends on the mood of the day honestly. If I’m feeling more dramatic and over the top, then I can reflect that in my looks. The same is true on calmer days. 
Describe the essentials of your summer beauty routine. 
Sunscreen! I’ve gotten a lot better at using it more religiously. Also, lightweight/glow makeup (tinted moisturizers/lightweight foundations, etc.), a lot of blush and bronzer, and just taking it easy because it’s hot and gonna fade throughout that. Lighter/glossy makeup tends to fade more gracefully than heavier makeup.
 
Why did you decide to start your YouTube channel?
Originally, to help learn Korean. But over the years it’s kind of followed all of my various interests and it’s been a fun ride watching what it becomes each year.
 
Your “Bad Movies and A Beat” series is particularly popular. Where did that idea originate from?
I was a big fan of Get Ready With Me content and while watching Bailey Sarian’s “Murder, Mystery & Makeup” series I realized that I had a niche in loving bad movies and makeup and thought it would be a great idea to try it.
 
What’s the most bizarre or most memorable movie you’ve reviewed? 
Cats. Never again.
 
What’s your favorite makeup look that you’ve created during a review?
My Showgirls look is pretty great, haha.
Are there certain elements that can elevate a movie into the coveted “good trash” category?
I think there’s an element of sincerity needed. When movies try to be bad, they tend to be forgettable and annoyingly try-hard. But ones that come from a genuine desire to make a serious/respectable film but fail are usually the most enjoyable. 
 
Do you have any projects or collaborations coming up that you are particularly excited about?
Been delving more into music making these last few years and have a new EP coming this summer. But I have two out already on all streaming sites!
 
Read more Celebrity Interviews on ClicheMag.com
Kennie JD Blends Makeup with Bad Movies in Hit YouTube Series “Bad Movies and A Beat.” Photo Credit: Courtesy of  Kennie JD.

Overall Management Founder Rosabelle Eales on Shaping the Future of Music Management

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Fully enamored with the music industry, Rosabelle Eales eagerly jumped headfirst into music management at 23 – as a founder of her own company, Overall Management. What resulted was a thriving coalition of artists and collaborators. Rosabelle plans to expand Overall to include a record label and management service for other creatives. She feels an overwhelming sense of pride and respect towards her Overall family and everything that they’ve been able to accomplish together thus far. Check out Overall Management on Instagram and Twitter.

Cliché: What originally sparked your interest in music management?
Rosabelle Eales: I have always been a lover of music, and as someone who isn’t terribly talented it felt like the best way for me to be involved in something I love so much. 

Why did you specifically want to create a grassroots, women run music management company?
I don’t think it was ever really a cognitive decision to do either of those things, I guess I saw a hole in the market for a management company run the way I wanted to see one run – so I created it. 

Tell us all about the ethos and mission behind Overall Management. 

We are good people fighting for the good people. My entire company is built off this principle and that we work to empower the voices of both our clients as well as those around us. 


You were only 23 when you founded the company. Was it daunting to be so young? Who did you look to for advice? What words of encouragement can you offer to other young women business owners? 
I think it’s more daunting looking back on it than it was in the moment – I’ve been blessed to have a great group of friends and mentors around me and also learned to really trust my intuition at a young age. The best advice I can give is that there is always enough space at the table, sometimes you just need to pull up your own chair. 

How would you describe your dynamic with Overall’s talent?

Super collaborative! We are all a family & everyone supports each other. 

What do you look for when searching out new talent?

I don’t know if I ever “look” for new talent, we kind of just find each other. All the clients at Overall and I have similar values and goals which allow us to best support and work together. 

What would you say has been your proudest moment at Overall thus far?
I know this is a little bit of a cop out, but every day I’m proud. I’m proud of my clients, team and the incredible people who we get to work with on a day daily basis to bring amazing music into this world. 

Do you have any plans for the future of Overall that you can share with us?

Currently we are working on launching Overall Recordings which will be the record label component of the company as well as Overall Creative which will serve as management to creative directors, videographers, photographers, designers ect. 

Read more Music Interviews at ClicheMag.com
Overall Management Founder Rosabelle Eales on Shaping the Future of Music Management. Photo Credit: Lindy Lin.

Actress Connie Giordano Shines in “Mare of Easttown”

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A Philly local, Connie Giordano delighted at the opportunity to play a character close to home – and opposite Kate Winslet, no less! Connie stars in Mare of Easttown as the titular character’s high school friend, Patty DelRasso, whose daughter quickly finds herself neck deep in the town’s murder mystery. Connie hopes Patty and Mare’s relationship can be further explored in later seasons. All the more reason we have our fingers crossed that Mare of Easttown will return for season two!

Cliché: Who or what encouraged you to pursue acting?  

Connie Giordano: I’ve been performing since I was a kid. My parents always encouraged me and my twin sister, we took piano lessons, dance, etc. My father has always been a tremendous support to me especially, and he’s not in the entertainment industry at all…he was in Insurance Sales and Real Estate. I have family members in the entertainment business. My second cousin, Patsy Grady Adams, was in Serial Mom with Kathleen Turner, and my cousin Denise Stout, is a performer in Chicago. So it’s in our genes! 

Tell us about your Mare of Easttown character, Patty DelRasso. 

Patty and her husband Tony own an Italian restaurant, DelRasso’s. She’s also a nurse. Our daughter Brianna attends the local high school. My character was a basketball teammate of Mare’s in high school. We’re part of a very close community in Delaware County. (Delco)

How would you describe Patty’s relationship to Mare? Do you think the fact that they grew up together gives her any kind of special insight?

Their relationship is something I’d love to explore in another season! I think there’s a mutual respect, but I’m not entirely sure how much respect.  I think their history provides insight for Mare, sure. She is pretty familiar with my daughter and how she’s been raised because of our high school relationship, and being in such a tight-knit community.  

 

The show delves into the dark side of the community and the secrets we all keep. How do you think Patti perceives her own role in Easttown?

 I think Patty assumes a matriarchal role to her daughter and her husband. I don’t necessarily agree with that personally in regards to her husband Tony, but I think she’s quite the “Mama Bear.”

What was your favorite scene to film?

Well, I filmed one that didn’t make it into the final cut, but that happens sometimes! Besides that, my scene with Tony and Mare outside her home when Tony approaches her to “talk.” 

What attracts you to murder mysteries? Did you ever think that Patty could have something to do with the multitude of crimes plaguing Easttown? 

Sure, why not? Everyone has a dark side! I love mysteries, and I loved the writing from Brad Inglesby because I never guessed correctly when I was reading each episode. I loved that!  Life has so few surprises; mysteries are a real treat! 

Kate Winslet has raved numerous times about the magic of Wawa. Did you get a chance to try it? 

Oh yes, I love Wawa. I grew up in the Philadelphia area, so I’m well-acquainted. Their food is always fresh since they have a dairy in Southern Chester County, and they have great coffee! 

Read more Celebrity Interviews on ClicheMag.com
Actress Connie Giordano Shines in “Mare of Easttown.” Photo Credit: Ken Volpe: www.transposure.com Hair and Make Up: Brittany DeCheine at D Cheine Beauty.

Montis Talks New Single and Being an Independent Artist

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Having enjoyed a broad musical upbringing, Montis has launched his musical career with optimism and ambition. His new single, “Lemon Sugar,” features improvised live sax as the beating heart of the track. In the future, he hopes to get signed in order to be able to better network and collaborate with other artists. For now, he’s dreaming of playing his first set. Listen to “Lemon Sugar” below.

 

Cliché: Who were your musical inspirations growing up?

Montis: There was always great music being played in my house, artists that I didn’t really appreciate until I was a little bit older. My dad in particular had quite eclectic tastes – he listened to some really good artists, who I’m sure influenced my music, artists like Sade, Dave Brubeck and Kate Bush. My mother is Nicaraguan so I was also exposed to a lot of Latin American music, artists like Manu Chao and Buena vista social club were often playing whenever we had family round. There’s something about the energy and rhythm of Latin music that I found quite infectious and it’s something I wanted to try and incorporate in my own music. More recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Jazz influenced indie music coming out of London at the moment. King Krule, Jerkcurb, Puma Blue, and Oscar Jerome are all great examples.

How would you describe your sound? 

 I always find it really hard to answer this question, I think that people often put me in with other R&B artists, but I don’t think that my music fits in with any specific genre as such. I tend to use jazz chords in most of my songs and I love using effects which add a vintage feel to the music. Most of my songs are guitar led since it’s my primary instrument, so the guitar has always been a key element of my sound. But actually I think I’m still finding my sound to be honest.

How has COVID impacted your development as an artist?

As is the case for most musicians, it has definitely had both a positive and negative impact on me. I have been able to really focus on getting better as a producer and songwriter. I have also had time to engage with other art forms. A friend of mine introduced me to David Lynch at the start of lockdown and Twin Peaks has become one of my favourite series. I also started looking into some of the street artists in new York in the 80s, Keith Haring and Jean Michael Basquiat for example. I found their attitude towards art so inspiring and it really made me consider the importance of aesthetic in music.  However, I wasn’t able to practice performing the songs I’d written over lockdown which has made me quite nervous about performing live. But there have been a lot of artists who have spoken about this issue which has made me feel a little better about it. 

Talk about your newest single, “Lemon Sugar.”

 I actually wrote it a long time ago. I produced the demo myself, but at the time I had only just started on Logic. I wanted to sit with it for a while before I released it, I couldn’t say why but it felt like the right thing to do with the song. I have been really lucky because a close friend of mine, Jimmi Herbert (a very talented musician and producer), wanted to help me with the track before I had really figured out the production software I was using.  So I almost had a mentor with the production of this song. I was listening to a lot of Jazz around the time I wrote the track, which is why I wanted to put live sax on it. I approached a jazz saxophonist with the idea that I would just send him the track and that I wanted him to improvise over it a few times and then I would just pick my favourite take. I think this process worked really well, the sax is the most immediately recognisable element of the track. It was also the first time I worked with a visual artist for the cover art, I approached an artist (Poppy Vinciguera) working out of Brighton who coincidentally went to my secondary school. I was really happy with the way it turned out, I think in the future I’d like to work with visual artists much more, whether it be designing merch or something, it’s definitely something which I’ve realised the importance of with the release of “Lemon Sugar.”

What’s your songwriting process like?

I still don’t have one set way of doing things. I’ve not been writing songs seriously for very long to be honest. I usually start with the track and then write lyrics afterwards, but it really depends on the mood. Sometimes I’ll start with a poem and then I’ll make a track with that in mind. I don’t think there’s a correct way of doing things, and I know loads of musicians that have their own way of doing things. For “Lemon Sugar,” I actually had the song finished, and I later went back and rewrote the lyrics because it didn’t feel like they applied as much as they did at that particular point in my life.

How does it feel being an unsigned artist during COVID?

I don’t think it would’ve been a great time for me to get signed, I don’t like to think about it too much though. I’m just trying to focus on getting better as a musician at the moment and hopefully people resonate with what I’m making.

Are you looking for any particular quality in a potential label, or would you want to stay independent?

For the moment I’m happy independent, but I think that if a label could help me get in touch with other artists and producers that would be a really great thing. I’m really looking forward to collaborating with other musicians, I’ve only really just started working with other artists and I think it’s maybe the best way to develop your own skills as a musician. 

Now that the pandemic is easing, what are your hopes for your career over the next year?

I want to put together a really special performance. I have enough tracks for a set now, so I want to get together a group of really tight players and put on a great show. Aside from this I would like to have an album out by this time next year at the latest. I have only released singles up until this point, so I feel an urge to work on a coherent, well put together project. An albums album, something you would listen to cover to cover. So many of the albums I love are written this way – To Pimp A Butterfly, Blonde, The Dark Side of the Moon. I love the idea of people taking time out of their day to sit down and listen to a project the whole way through, the way I listened to those albums. I don’t know, maybe it’s a bit optimistic but that would make me so happy.

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Montis Talks New Single and Being an Independent Artist. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Montis.

Mike Heslin Satirizes Pursuit of Social Media Stardom in New Mockumentary, “The Influencers”

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Many of us dream of becoming an influencer. But how far would we go to achieve fame? What happens when we lose control of our manicured Instagram persona? Creator Mike Heslin affectionately parodies this scramble to the top in his new series, The Influencers, which follows a group of thirsty social media starlets as they battle it out for a brand deal. The Influencers is now available to stream internationally on Revry, the first LGBTQ+ virtual cable network.
 
Cliché: How excited are you to be able to have the opportunity to work with Revry? 
Mike Heslin: Super excited! As a queer filmmaker, it feels like a great fit since Revry is a LGBTQ network. One of my production company’s missions is to elevate LGBTQ+ stories, characters, and artists – so we are thrilled to find a new home and partner in Revry. 
Tell us about your new show, The Influencers.
The Influencers is a new satirical comedy series that follows six social media “stars” as they compete in a series of creative challenges under one roof for an exclusive brand deal with the latest millennial juice craze: Jücytox. As cameras capture each influencer in real life, the manicured versions they present to the world online implode before our eyes. Witty and fun with a dash of heartbreak, The Influencers combines the best of mockumentaries such as The Comeback and Best in Show with the latest obsession-worthy reality TV formats to provide a satirical behind-the-scenes look at the lengths people will go to in their quest for (insta)fame. 
 
What about the influencer world lends itself to the mockumentary format? 
Everything! Influencer culture is all about a perceived, curated “reality”, so the idea of a show within a show where we get to see both the filtered versions they present online as well as what they are like in reality when they can’t perfectly edit and manicure everything really tickled me. For people who so carefully curate their image, I thought it was a compelling and interesting idea to see what these people would actually be like if you put them in a big-brother style house where they no longer have control of the edit.  
Influencers are often stereotyped as vain and superficial, which is perfect for parody. Are any of the characters inspired by your own experiences or interactions with influencers? 
Some of them but I can’t reveal which characters! I was between acting gigs and was freelancing for a social media agency working as a social media director and creative director. Casting and contracting influencers was part of my day to day and while there are tons of influencers out there who are super intelligent and incredibly business savvy, I happened to work with a few that were gorgeous, sweet, but who were lacking any real skillset. I started to wonder what would happen if these individuals had to prove themselves in a real public forum and how they would fare on an unfiltered platform where you couldn’t perfectly curate your persona. Thus the inception for The Influencers was born! 
 
Would you say you’re attempting to poke fun at the influencers or humanize them? Or a bit of both? 
It’s satire, so a bit of both. Most of us are active participants in today’s social media culture in some shape or form, so I think it’s important to be self-aware, to laugh at ourselves and to not take everything so seriously. 
What do you think it says about the current state of our society that everyone is so obsessed with follower counts? 
I don’t think it’s a new phenomenon. I think with or without social media, everyone just ultimately wants to be liked and respected. That being said, social media certainly can exacerbate the need to be liked and can be very polarizing (especially in times of political turmoil and a pandemic). I worry about the effect it has on our youth who are being raised in an era of unrealistic standards, but ultimately would argue that social media connects us and brings us together despite all of the negative attributes that can come with it, and connection is always a good thing. I feel connected to more people and like checking in with and keeping tabs on distant relatives or old friends from back home that I probably would have lost touch with had I not had social media. I also think it can be a great tool to market and educate but again, it definitely is a double edged sword. 
 
Does the show examine what drives people to want to become social media influencers? 
It more so examines what comes with online fame and the lengths people will go to to achieve it. It also examines what happens when you put someone who essentially doesn’t have a real skill set in coveted positions of power and/or responsibility. 
 
If you were an influencer, what kind of content would you make? 
I try to do my part to help advocate and educate for my LGBTQ+ community online already, but if I could be any kind of influencer I’d want to be a travel influencer. Getting paid to jet set around the globe and stay in five-star hotels in different countries doesn’t sound like the worst job in the world.
 
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Mike Heslin Satirizes Pursuit of Social Media Stardom in New Mockumentary, “The Influencers.” Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mike Heslin.

 

From Anti-Blackness to Anti-Racism: Deconstructing White Supremacy with Jordan Simone

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            At 6’ tall with a statuesque build, Jordan Simone was frequently encouraged to pursue modeling. Her friends convinced her that TikTok would be a great way to gain exposure, so she created an account. One day, she decided to post a video about the seven things she felt the Black community needed to work on. The enthusiastic response blew her away. “I was like, ‘Wait a second. If you want to hear what I have to say about Black people, wait until I have to say things about white people.’ At the time, I was thinking a lot about white allies and white activism. I’m like, ‘Do that, but also y’all do that in a weird way. Here’s some critiques. Here’s gentle critiques that were gentle, but not gentle.’” Her videos became a source of education for users eager to learn about anti-Blackness and how to enhance their allyship. “I just started answering people’s questions or making content around what people were saying. It became its own thing from the things I was already passionate about featuring this need as a society. Society was like, ‘Hey, I actually want to know more about this and you deliver the information in a way that doesn’t make me angry or upset. You’re not yelling at me making me feel like an idiot. There are things I don’t know, but I appreciate that you’re not making me feel bad about not knowing things.'” Despite amassing nearly 300,000 followers, Jordan continues to focus on her contributions to various movements, characteristically conscious of the perpetual drive to grow and improve her own awareness of social issues. “I always called myself an aspiring activist, because I never feel like I’m doing enough. Maybe that’s the imposter syndrome. But ever since I was 16, I have a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong and what personal liberties are versus what the collective needs. And so when life decided (and TikTok decided) that this was something I was good at, I was like, ‘People have questions, and I actually have the answers.’” She extends that same understanding and compassion to her followers. “My mom’s always been a teacher, and as someone who is a teacher and teaches and has always been around teaching, I’m like, ‘I know I can’t judge you for not knowing things. Thank you for just asking and being willing to learn and listen.’ And so that’s made a safe space on my page,”
            Unfortunately, TikTok is notorious for having a contentious relationship with Black creators, suppressing their discussions of racism and whiteness – while happily enabling white creators to profit off of content stolen from Black creators. It wasn’t long before Jordan found her own content was being censored. The community is rallying to demand change, planning a Blackout for the first half of May, strategically targeted to deprive the app of content to make a statement about the power Black creators hold. “I know there are a lot of conversations happening about leaving the app for a little while, because it takes a trend two weeks to come in and out of fashion. The two week trend will end-ish sometime in early May. They’ll be looking for something new. We’re not there to give them something new.” There are some simple ways users and creators can show solidarity with Black creators. “You can support Black creators by actually watching our content all the way through, or even most of the way through, engaging with it and making sure that people give credit where credit is due, and hearing us when we speak.” Most crucially, don’t avoid or ignore conversations about racism because they’re difficult. “When Black creators have something to say, listen to it and hold it with value. As opposed to just ‘It makes me uncomfortable, so I’m not going to engage with it.’ We need to be as okay as we can be talking about race and racism. Because if you’re not, all that upholds is the systems of whiteness and white supremacy and TikTok is already trying to push down those videos. You have to be willing to seek them out and engage with them, so TikTok can’t do that. Because at the end of the day, it’s just a computer we’re fighting. But we are losing to a computer and that feels wrong.”

           
Recently, white creators have found yet more ways to appropriate from the Black community, most egregiously by co-opting Cynthia Erivo’s “Stand Up” (a song about breaking free from slavery) as the soundtrack for the 97% movement, which aims to spotlight the overwhelming proportion of women subjected to sexual harassment. And while the 97% movement is extremely important, so is allowing the music to continue to exist in its original context. “When you’re Black and seeking representation in music or on TikTok or wherever, that impact matters. And so if a Black creator makes a song about Blackness, it’s important to leave that alone,” Jordan says. “Because number one, that was the whole point. I wrote it down so that we can use it for this moment. But number two, is we don’t have a lot of spaces we can go. We don’t have a lot of sounds that represent who we are, and while it feels like it shouldn’t be a big deal because white people don’t have to have that desperate search or that desperate cling to something to feel represented, Black people do.” She urges critique of false calls to unity. “It’s great to say, ‘We’re all people. We’re all equals.’ It’s a great concept. It truly is. It’s something we all should aspire to, but we’re not there yet. And until we get there, these things matter because it’s what we have. And also just listen to the lyrics. Just put your listening ears on and just hear what they’re saying or read it or whatever you need to do. But I think it’s very intentional, both on behalf of the creator and on behalf of the user to be aware of what they’re saying and what their goal was, and also what that impact is. And so if that song speaks to you as somebody who’s not Black, that’s great and that’s cool. But recognize what they intended and move accordingly.” Most often, this insistence on “coming together” is a barely disguised pressure campaign designed to silence Black folks within the very spaces they themselves crafted as safe havens. “The point is, you have other places to go. You don’t need to come into my house. Why are you in it? And more importantly, why are you shoving me out of it in that?” Jordan wonders. The full weight of TikTok’s algorithm is already behind white creators, so the least they can do is be more intentional in their song selection.”TikTok loves white people. The internet loves whiteness. And so all of those things are automatically boosted to the top of the algorithm, to the top of the For You page. All of that is just boosted straight to the top. And so it’s important to know that and be aware that the privileges that you hold mean that ‘If I do this thing, I’m going to be seen, and I’m going to be heard. I need to be aware enough to not interject myself in this space. Does it mean maybe I miss out on a cool sound? Sure. Do I have literally 8 million other songs to listen to or to actively choose? Yes. And so in my awareness of the privileges I hold, I will move accordingly until I don’t have to.’ And if we all have that mindset, we can probably knock out systemic racism in like 20 years. It’s hard, but it’s really not that hard.”
            This sense of whiteness as default fortifies resistance to criticism, which Jordan attributes to white people’s misconception of racism as only confined to overt hatred and violence. “Number one, we need to redefine what being racist means. Growing up, we learned racism is the lynchings of the 60s, the KKK (which is still around…what the heck?) And hate crimes. Cool. Important to talk about. Essential to talk about, because all those things are still happening today. But racism does not start and stop there. Racism is a systemic issue built into every industry that we have, because when we built this country in oh dark 30, the foundation was led in a racist way. When this country started as three fifths of a person, that doesn’t end because you changed that one law. The foundations are still there. Our building has rot, and we need to take the rot out. And, when I say, ‘Hey, somebody taught you something racist, and you’re doing it.’ You’re not a bad person. I’m not saying you are the KKK. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is in this racist system, you learned a racist thing, and you need to unlearn it in the same way that I do.”Jordan has spent years unlearning her own internalized biases, which ran so deep that they impacted (and dictated) perceptions of how she spoke. “We all have racism built into us. I have anti-Blackness built into me. Growing up I spoke in AAVE for 11 minutes. My mom was not having it, but I spoke that way. I had a Southern accent. I still say things like ‘six one way, half a dozen the other.’ And nobody knows what I’m saying, but I was taught that talking like that is ignorant. It makes you ignorant. It makes you dumb. You won’t get a job. I went to speech therapy. I didn’t particularly need it. I just spoke in AAVE. But I went to speech therapy. I had it beat out of me. And now I say things like ‘exponentially’ in casual conversations, which stresses other people out. There’s no balance here. It is what it is. But it took me years to learn that you’re not dumb for speaking in AAVE. That is its own dialect. It has its own rules. There’s a form to this. And even if it wasn’t, you’re still not dumb. But it’s a studied, researched, mini language of its own, and it’s not bad to speak like that. It’s stigmatized. If I have to unlearn that as a Black person, you mean to tell me that as a white person, you didn’t pick up on a shred of racism growing up? You did, because you and I went to the same school. You learned what I learned, and what I learned made me hate me. Which means you in your own way definitely learned something that should make you not like me or have some prejudices or stigma. It is what it is. Stop fighting it.”

            We must re-engineer these conversations to shift understanding of racism as a whole. “If we restructure the conversation around – this is what racism is. It’s not just active hate. Racism is active hate. It is also a system we were all born and brought up in and we all have some unlearning to do. We can have those conversations around…‘Okay, so this is how white people uphold racism. This is what a microaggression looks like. This is all this other stuff.’ Now we can have productive conversations.” Failure to acknowledge the spectrum of racism inevitably leads to acquiescence to white fragility, corroding the vitality of the movement long-term. “I read this article. Some activists and organizers were talking about how they have to be very mindful of what they protest against. They have to be very mindful with what they preach, because white people have briefly started putting themselves on the front lines in terms of protest. If the police show up, white people will make a line with their bodies to make a barrier. Great. If they upset too many white people, they will stop coming to the protests and Black people lose that source of protection. Now organizers are like, ‘We have to be very intentional with what we do in a different way to protect whiteness. Because if we don’t, we lose the help that we have.’ And that’s not a productive way to go about this. Because at the end of the day, we want to undo those systems that mean you need to be on the front lines at all. But I can’t undo those systems if you’re not in this to win this. And that means you also have some learning to do.” The process would be smoother if we could all learn how to soften our defensiveness and be more receptive to criticism. “People don’t like to be told that they’re wrong. People don’t like to be told that they did something racist, because we made racism rightfully, but also in a way, wrongfully, this big, bad, scary thing,” Jordan muses. “It’s like saying you did something racist does not mean you lynched me in the backyard. It means that you called [my natural hair] floofy. I didn’t like being called floofy. Just adapt and learn. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world, if you don’t take it to that place. But that’s where we are taught to take it, because in your defensiveness, I am forced to uphold whiteness. It was a beautifully designed system. But if you don’t check yourself or let me check you, all we’re going to do is uphold the same system. We will simply rebrand everything under a new name for the 15th time and call it a day.”
           
White women in particular have a penchant for weaponizing their whiteness as a means of dominating discussions around misogyny to cajole Black women into silence when they attempt to talk about the violence they’ve experienced through the lens of race and misogynoir. Jordan herself was harassed by white users into deleting her video discussing her personal connection to the 97%. She recalls: “Other women went viral for the same conversation. But I wasn’t allowed to have it. I wasn’t allowed to be in that space. There was nobody letting me exist here. I’m like, either A, stop crying or B, let us have our own spaces. Black women do have these conversations in our own spaces, in our own ways. But white women always find themselves, ‘Oh, this happened to me too.’ Great. Perfect. Fine. But then it becomes about them. It becomes about their comfort. It becomes about their safety and not at the cost of our own.” This erasure is especially harmful because understanding the intersection of anti-Blackness and misogynistic violence is imperative to fight sexism. The intense focus on white women in the media gave young Jordan an incredibly dangerous false sense of security. “I didn’t think Black girls got kidnapped growing up. I didn’t think it was a thing that happened to us. I was like, white women are desirable. White women are cute. When I looked at the milk carton, it’s a white girl. When I look at the posters, it’s white girls. Black women don’t get kidnapped. I’m safe. And then doggone it, I grew up. And one day I was scrolling through Twitter and they were like, ‘Oh, yeah.’ It was like 60,000 Black women are missing right now. Black girls, Black kids are missing and we’re not talking about it. And…I was like ‘60,000? We get kidnapped?’ And they were like, ‘Yes, we get kidnapped most often.’ But we’re so far pushed out of the conversation that I genuinely thought that was not a thing that happened to us on a regular basis, when it happens to us at a disproportionate rate. By centering all the conversations around whiteness, we create not only an exclusion of Blackness, but a culture of ignorance. I was so dumb, I could’ve gotten kidnapped. And I would’ve been none the wiser.” Black women deserve spaces to speak freely without worrying about tone policing or having to accommodate white women‘s feelings. “We need to make these safe spaces, because if we don’t, people walk around like me. Dumb as a sack of rocks and thinking it can’t happen to you, when it totally can and totally does. I think that to have these conversations, you have to be able to say, ‘This happens to Black women, even though they’re strong, even if you think that they’re all tough, because we’re just humans. Even if you think we’re masculine.’ We’re not, but okay. It happens to us. We need to be a part of these conversations too, in all of the ways that they come in and our input is valuable. And I think either the best place to do that is you either let us talk about it in our own safe spaces with each other, so that we can at least know what’s happening. Or stop silencing us because you didn’t want to talk about it on Monday. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s cool. That doesn’t mean I can’t talk about it. It means you need to leave, because I need to talk about it today. That’s not to say my comfort trumps your comfort or whatever. But if we’re having a conversation about trauma, and I decided to speak up on it today, you can’t decide I can’t speak up on it because you don’t want to talk about it today. I respect you and your choices, but that means you need to leave. Not, I need to be quiet, and that’s okay. I don’t need you to hear me. I mean I need you to hear me, but if you can’t do it today, as somebody who has experienced trauma, okay, I respect it. Go ahead, but I also need to process my grief and my hurt. And if you can’t be a part of that today, that’s cool. Goodbye. But you can’t tell me not to talk because you don’t want to hear it.”
 
           
On a broader scale, the process of dismantling white supremacy to rebuild an anti-racist society relies on sweeping change. “I think on a big level, we need to do some big institutional work. And this is the thing that I think will take the most time,” Jordan says. “That’s why when people are like, ‘Do you think if we worked hard enough we could end racism tomorrow?’ I’m like, ‘Absolutely not.’ Our infrastructures will crumble. Everything will fall apart. No, but the work needs to be done. Because things like policing, for example, because that’s on my mind lately. It was built on slave catching. The whole system needs to go. It wasn’t designed to be safe. It just needs to go. We need to replace it with something else. We need to reallocate funds. The whole thing needs to go. We need to try over. That’s going to take time. It’s a big deal. It’s necessary. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take labor. Or politics. Our political systems were created when I was three fifths of a human being. I couldn’t even be the whole human being. The whole thing needs to go. I think it should be replaced with things that are more inclusive. And I don’t just mean laws and acts that need to be replaced every so often. The Voting Rights Act – it’s got, I think two parts of it that are still standing. Everything else has either expired and not been renewed or replaced with something worse. And that’s our pinnacle of success is the Voting Rights Act. And it’s almost dead in its entirety. We can’t replace it with laws. We can’t replace it with acts. We need to replace it on a fundamental structural level. It’s going to be a big job. It’s going to take more than me. Good luck, Charlie.” In addition to redressing institutional racism, we also need to keep that momentum going to tackle everyday racism. “On a micro level, we need to talk about racism in terms of big and little picture. Racism is ‘I hate Black people, yada, yada, yada.’ It’s also, ‘Hey girl, your hair is really floofy.’ It’s the way that we do Black minstrel shows on the internet, where people get super dark tans and long acrylic nails and start wearing bonnets. And girls start talking [in a parody of a blaccent] all the time. And it’s funny to you. It was funny to me in 2008. And then I was like, ‘Oh, that’s how they see me.’ The joke is funny if it’s not harming people, but when it harms people, stop the joke. We need to stop being so uncomfortable because a critique isn’t a criticism on your whole person, it’s a critique of your actions. I had this one substitute teacher who was like, ‘I never hate you. I might hate what you did, but I don’t hate you.’ Same energy, same energy. I’m not judging you. I don’t hate you, but you did a bad thing. I will gently correct it. We can go on with our evening. That’s it.”
           
Nonetheless, a vocal and disgruntled few have taken issue with Jordan drawing attention to the racist undertones of recent trends like fake tanning and lip injections, accusing her of trying to “cancel everything.” However, it’s crucial to understand the appropriative aspects of these “hobbies,” which have insidious roots in the fetishization of Black bodies. (And a history that many would prefer to ignore, as illustrated by one user’s misguided boast that Europe is supposedly free of racism, prompting Jordan to unfurl a laundry list of evidence to the contrary. “I think I pissed off the continent of Europe as a collective,“ she informed me with a grin.) She is eager to unpack the violence undergirding the popularization of these so-called aesthetics. “I think it’s important to talk about it, because when you don’t, you think that you are doing a good thing or a non-harmful thing, when you are actively perpetuating systems of harmfulness. When you don’t see Black women on TV, when you don’t see Black women in media, but you do see Rebecca with the darkest tan that they offered from a bottle of, I kid you not, the blackest black suntan lotion with lips that she injected super large. Because these are all things that are in trend. Number one, why is my face a trend? You can’t get to pick and choose when you get to participate in my face. But why is my face a trend without me? What is wrong about me and my Blackness that makes me less desirable than someone who went and bought all the aspects of Blackness and then perpetuated them? And that all traces back to Sarah Baartman and the way that her body, when she died, was put on display. Not only did you take a Black woman from her home because she was thicker than a bowl of oatmeal and toted her around Europe for her whole life without her consent and never liberated her, when she died, you took her body and took it on the road. That trauma is still there. That fetishization is still there. That’s why that hypersexualization is all still there. And for you to appropriate it, because it’s a trend, because it’s cute, but still demonize my face and my existence. I’m still shut out of the modeling industry when you have to get a super dark, fake tan. They’re not trends. You think you need to look like that, because it’s cute. They think it’s cute, because they think Blackness is cute when it’s distanced from Black people. We need to dismantle that train of thought. Because at the end of the day, if you really want to be happy, we should probably start working on liking ourselves the way that we look for starters. But even if we don’t, even if you want to change and adapt or whatever, be mindful of what you’re participating in, and how you’re perpetuating systems of harm.” She continues: “It’s the same vein of thought, but a different execution [with] the people who bleach their skin…which please don’t, but it’s a whole industry because we were all taught that being white is beautiful. And being white and pretending to be dark is beautiful, but being dark is ugly. And in my pursuit of being perceived as beautiful, I’m told to bleach my skin. I’m told to straighten my hair. You’re not told those things. You’re choosing to look like me, because that makes you marketable. Because we all like to play Black. We all like the big hoop earrings. We all like the tan skin. We all like the big lips. We all like the fat ass, but we don’t like the systems of oppression that come with it. It makes us uncomfy. You want to play Black without being Black. And until I’m free to be Black in my Black skin, that I didn’t have to buy, you can’t pretend. That’s not cool. It is important to acknowledge that because racism is a big issue everywhere. And colorism is a big issue everywhere. And you can’t pick and pretend when you want to be Black or not without liberating Black people and all people of color. Some people will say, ‘They don’t look Black, they look Hispanic.’ And I’m like, ‘That’s also wrong.’ Racism isn’t just against Black people. It’s against people of color period. That’s also wrong. You’re still wrong for that.”

           
Complaints about “cancel culture” are often the go-to deflection to derail discussions around important issues like cultural appropriation. Jordan loathes cancel culture and is frustrated with what it’s become – namely, an empty and performative gesture centered around shame and punishment as opposed to growth. “Cancel culture I think when it started was meant to hold people accountable. It was meant to say, ‘There’s this person doing a bad thing or there’s this thing that’s bad. We should stop doing it. Cancel it.’ What happened is that it fell into the wrong hands. And so what people started doing instead was taking it to this weird extreme where it’s like, ‘I accidentally misgendered somebody. And I went back and I fixed it, but now I’m canceled.’ And in those moments of not allowing people to grow, it became this tactic for fear. And so people now are like, ‘You can’t cancel my favorite thing. You can’t cancel this. You can’t cancel that.’ Or ‘You’re canceling this. You’re canceling that.’ And in its propensity and its use of being a fear tactic, it lost all of its value. And so now it means nothing. It’s like, ‘You’re canceling syrup.’ And I’m like, ‘No one’s canceling – you can’t cancel syrup for starters.’ But even if you could, in saying this is canceled, it now has no value. All we’re doing instead is drawing attention to it, because we’re talking about canceling it and nothing is happening. We’ve lost its intention of holding people accountable, We should just go back to holding people accountable. We don’t need to say, ‘We’re canceling Tony Lopez.’ Don’t say it. Do it. Because when you say it, nothing happens. We’ll just do it. Stop subscribing, stop watching videos, stop engaging with content and just cancel it. End it. And I think that if we don’t, we will continue to have these conversations about, ‘We’re canceling this or we’re canceling that,’ without actually doing the work of…We get to blow it off. ‘That’s canceled.’ Whether it’s good or bad or neutral or whatever when I say, ‘It’s canceled. It doesn’t matter,’ we’re not learning about why it’s canceled. We’re not learning about how we are perpetuating those systems of harm that made that thing get canceled. We are not holding the people who needed to be canceled accountable. All it is, it’s a catch-all phrase for…either you’re too sensitive or you’re not sensitive enough.” Sadly, most problematic figures with actual power wind up raking in more cash as a result of the uproar. “JK Rowling is still rolling in money, mad transphobic. Do something about it. Stop buying all the Harry Potter merchandise. And it hurts to say it, because that’s really upsetting. Or stop buying stuff until they agree to take a diversity class…learn a thing, do the research, do the growth. And until you do, we’re not engaging with you. Because you refuse to grow, and I refuse to be a part of that. Instead, what happened is we were like, ‘JK Rowling is canceled.’ She wrote a letter with 50 other people who should be thrown to the wayside about how cancel culture is toxic. We set over it like a speed bump and kept it pushing. And nothing happened except JK Rowling got richer off of the scandal. Stop scandalizing and start holding people accountable, because otherwise we’re stuck in a feedback loop and it’s silly.”
           
Given the draining and continuous labor of unpacking anti-Blackness on an antagonistic platform on top of the seemingly endless reports of police brutality against Black folks dominating recent headlines, Jordan is mindful of routinely stepping back to prioritize self-care in order to preserve her mental health. “I recognize that I exist in the world, and I have a place in the world. But also I can take a break from it. It’s not exclusively who I am,” she reflects. “I do my makeup all the time, partially because it’s TikTok and partially because it’s fun. It brings me peace. It’s the same reason I braid my hair at night. It’s just very soothing for me. I dress up like a fairy and just do something else, because it brings a lot of peace. But I also know that my mental health means more than just taking bubble baths, which I can’t do. I can’t fit in a tub very well, but like taking bubble baths and lighting candles. It’s journaling every day. Do I always want to? No. I’ve missed a couple of days, but I need to process what I’m thinking and feeling in a safe space and that safe space has been my journal. Or going back to therapy and doing the hard work and working through my own traumas as an individual and also my traumas that are given to me by the world as a whole.” She enthusiastically embraces even the smallest things that bring her joy: “I have a very thick collection of Avatar books, like Avatar: The Last Airbender. Love it. Adore it. Favorite show. It is what it is. It’s a mode of escapism for me where I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m really stressed. I’m going to go read about the exact same world that I live in, but in terms of Avatar.’ Because that’s fun for me. That’s a distancing for me. It’s doing the fun stuff. It’s doing the hard work. I can take a nap, and I can come back to it later. I will always be anti-racist and pro-Black and unapologetically myself in whatever way that arises in. But I also recognize that my existence is an act of rebellion, and it’s hard to rebel all the time. I deserve the nap and I deserve the white chocolate Snickers bar. And I deserve to watch Avatar for the 1800th time between episodes of Ouran Host Club and Miraculous Ladybug.”

           
There are things that we can all do to uplift the Black women and girls in our lives. “I think the best thing you can do is hear us and validate us and make spaces safer for us. I know growing up, I felt like I wasn’t Black enough. Because I was told I wasn’t Black enough by Black folk. And I wasn’t white enough, obviously, for white folk. And it made me feel insecure in my Blackness and my existence. It made me feel hard to love. It made me feel like what I loved wasn’t worth loving. I loved Avatar. I’ve always loved Avatar. I love to read. I love to read. I’m really into astronomy. I’m also really into astrology. I was all those things at once, and I felt like they weren’t spaces that I could be in. I wasn’t worthy of those spaces and I wasn’t worthy of the people in those spaces,” Jordan admits. This sense of ostracism deeply impacted her personal life and her perception of her own self-worth. “I ended up in a string of…they weren’t bad relationships. The relationships were fine, but with people who loved me conditionally. And I gave them my all. I was like, ‘This is the person who loves me. Nobody else is going to love me. I have to make it work. I have to make it work.’ And I stayed in relationships consistently longer than I should have. Because I was so desperate to be loved, because I didn’t feel like I was worth loving. I thought we were unworthy of being kidnapped. That is a bonkers ideology to have. And yet there I was with it, because I didn’t feel like I was worthy as a writer, because everybody I read was white. I wasn’t worthy as a woman, because I felt like I was hard to love.” We can break this cycle through simple acts of listening and acknowledgment, particularly when it comes to empowering Black children. “If you make spaces safe, if you validate us when we’re little, we don’t grow up to be big and broken. And so now I’m learning how to heal from stuff. If I had been validated and felt safe and loved younger, I wouldn’t have to heal from this now. And so as a grownup, you can hear us out. You can help love and support us just by being there and uplifting us. When we want to talk about something, don’t silence us. When we say something matters, understand it matters not because we’re nitpicky, but because…if I sat around all day and picked on everything that’s racist, I would never stop talking. When I do decide to talk about something, understand that it’s probably valuable in at least some way and to hear it. Understand that that is valid and valuable and to take it and move accordingly. But when we’re little is when it matters. The people who told me I was a good writer when I was little are why I’m going to grad school today. But without them, I wouldn’t be here. And I think that’s important, because not all little Black girls have those people.”

           
Ultimately, Jordan feels as though we’re in the midst of a transformative cultural moment as a society and remains cautiously optimistic that we might finally be ready to undertake those growing pains as a collective – if only we can be patient with ourselves. “I think that it’s important to not just have these conversations. We’ve been having them for generations, but to really actively engage with them. I think it’s important to not just think like…I think this past summer was a wake up call for a lot of people, which is wild. Because the Black community was sitting around looking at each other like, ‘They got another one. Tragic.’ But for nonblack people, it was seeing it for the first time. And in that moment they experienced the exhaustion, the fatigue and the trauma. And I think it’s important to remember and to recognize and to hold close that this is not just a one-off incident. This happens all the time. There are so many more that we don’t know about, because they weren’t on camera. And to hold that close and to think, ‘I’m tired today, but I can’t stop now.’ Because I like to think of it as a backpack. You can carry your backpack around. Maybe your backpack is 10 pounds, and you carry a backpack everywhere. It’s got your laptop. It’s got your notebook. It’s got everything you need in it, but it’s heavy. It’s okay to put the backpack down, but you can’t abandon it somewhere. It has all your stuff in it. Activism’s like that. You can put the backpack down. People don’t understand either you’re on or you’re off. No. I have days where I sit down with a thing of Oreos and I watch Ouran Host Club, because my brain can’t take another heavy thought. I can’t do it. I get back up tomorrow or the next day or after therapy or whenever, and keep going. People like to either do it for now and then stop. Or they don’t like to do it all, because they know it’s heavy. We need to do it. We can also put the backpack down and pick it up later. It doesn’t have legs. It’s not leaving you. It’s going to sit there, and you can pick it up when you’re done.” The next step involves reimagining our activism to be more substantive. “I think that we need to push past the…for number one, the infographic being peak activism. It’s not. They’re very cute, but it’s not. But also recognizing that we can decide what the future looks like. As nothing matters, nothing is real. We can pick and choose what this looks like for us. And if we really want to have a world where you can wear box braids and you can wear your sari in public and you can do whatever it is that people like to appropriate, we have to push past moments like these to get there, because no one’s saying you can’t wear a sari. The issue is that I can’t wear it in public and therefore, neither can you, the person who made the decision that I can’t wear this in public. You know what I’m saying? Either you can take the selfish route where it’s ‘I want to do what I want to do, I have to push past this,’ or you can take the ‘we’re all in this together and I care about other people’ route. I don’t care which route we take, but you’ve got to push past it to get to whatever the end goal is. And it’s going to be scary. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to take a lot of unlearning and a lot of practice.” Above all, our activism must be unconditional and steadfast. Jordan knows this firsthand: “I misgendered onlyjayus the other day. I felt awful,” she says. “I recorded the whole video over again. I felt terrible, because I didn’t think to check their bio before I filmed. It slipped my mind. Did it suck to take another hour to record a video about somebody who intentionally threw slurs about my community around? Yes. But what that says is, and what that means is that the people like all my nonbinary friends know that I’m still a safe place to go to even if we have beef, even if there are grievances. Because it’s not just about me, it’s about all of us succeeding. Even if it takes extra time, even if it’s extra labor, even if you don’t want to, even if you hate that person, you gotta do it.” What’s at stake is nothing short of our generational future. “We get to decide if we’re going to live like Republicans for another 50 years, or if we’re going to do anything else. Anything else besides that. Take the backpack off if you need to. Take the breath, get some water, sit under the apple tree and discover gravity for all I care, but come back to it when you’re done.” However long the journey takes, we must commit ourselves to bringing everyone along for the ride.

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From Anti-Blackness to Anti-Racism: Deconstructing White Supremacy with Jordan Simone. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jordan Simone.

 

Filmmaker M.H. Murray Examines The Anxiety of Modern Dating in New Short Film, “Ghost”

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Many of us are all too familiar with rejection when it comes to dating. And whether intentional or not, we’ve all probably ghosted someone at some point – or been left wondering why we were ghosted. Filmmaker M.H. Murray explores this sense of anxious abandonment in his new short film, Ghost, which follows a gay man, Benjamin, struggling to come to terms with the reality that he’s been ghosted by his lover, Simon. Murray believes that kindness and underscoring one another’s humanity is key to a more compassionate dating experience. 
 
Cliché: What kinds of messages do you attempt to convey through your films? 

M.H. Murray: I think that most of my work is about love, in some way, shape, or form. I’m interested in the way we as humans express or don’t express what we feel, and how those expressions or lack thereof can affect our interpersonal relationships. I am drawn to telling stories about queer characters who struggle with feelings of anxiety or loneliness, or people who feel isolated from others. Growing up, I definitely yearned for more queer characters on screen, especially in romance or horror movies, and I want to continue doing the work to help fill that void for the next generation. 
 
Tell us about your new short film, Ghost
Ghost is a short film about a gay Torontonian man named Benjamin (played by Mark Clennon), who is “ghosted” by his lover, Simon (played by Nykeem Provo). We follow Benjamin over the course of one day as he indulges in various distractions to avoid the painful sting of rejection. I’ve had this film bubbling around in my brain for years. When I met Mark, we clicked creatively, and this film was the perfect opportunity for us to collaborate, explore, and create something special together. 
How was the experience of showing the film at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)? 
I was a bit bummed that the festival had to be virtual this year because I have always wanted to visit Seattle. I love the west coast. That being said, the virtual festival was awesome. The programmer, Cory Rodriguez, was a dream to work with, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to screen at a big festival like SIFF. I hope to screen there again and again and again. 
 
The film features no spoken dialogue. Is this intended to be a commentary on the psychologically isolating effects of ghosting? 
Definitely. I wanted to play with form and use things like framing and sound design choices to bring the viewer deeper into Benjamin’s mental space, and the choice to exclude any spoken dialogue, I think, heightens those feelings of dread that often manifest when you are waiting for something. 
 
What difficulties have you found with modern dating? Would you say that dating in the LGBTQ+ community either magnifies these differences or presents its own challenges? 
I don’t know. I like dating. I like meeting new people, getting to know them, learning about them. But I also think that being vulnerable and opening yourself up to someone else can be difficult. When you throw being gay into the mix, it complicates things even further. I remember being in high school and struggling with my sexuality and being a bit envious of my straight friends who didn’t have to worry about that extra layer that I had to worry about… The fear, the hiding, the societal pressure to come out, the bullying, all of that. I think many queer people in general have a hard time loving and accepting love because of the different ways our sexuality can expose us to harm as we grow up and because of the way people negatively perceive us and treat us. It can be hard to carry that baggage and to not let it colour the rest of your life and experiences. And I think all of that trauma sprinkles into the dating scene. 
 
Why do you think so many people prefer ghosting nowadays? Would you say it’s the endless choice of dating apps and profiles making people more complacent about individual connections, or just general self-absorption? 
I know that whenever I’ve ignored a message or left someone on read, it was usually a mistake or due to intense laziness. It is rarely personal. That being said, if someone hurts me and then they try to apologize or reach out, sometimes it does feel good to keep them waiting a little. I think every situation is different. But I think the problem I’m exploring in Ghost is when the communication isn’t there; when someone leads another person on emotionally and sexually and then leaves them hanging. Some people get a kick out of using other people and then dropping them, ignoring them, or making them squirm, which I think is messy. 
Many times, the person doing the ghosting simply moves on without a second thought, but the healing process for the person who is ghosted can be much more complex. The main character of Ghost, Benjamin, deals with these feelings in real time throughout the film. Have you found the experience to be different from typical rejection, and if so in what ways? 
I would say that being rejected, whether it is face-to-face or virtual, hurts. But I think with social media, sometimes everything can feel oddly heightened. We can see each other’s profiles; we are often documenting our lives in real time. Before cell phones, maybe the mystery made things easier. I don’t know. Sometimes being ghosted by someone you like is a blessing in disguise and sometimes they come crawling back—in fact, they usually do, in my experience. I think the best thing you can do in the face of rejection, like Benjamin does in Ghost, is to find solace in yourself, in your own body, in your own space. Whatever that looks like for you. And I would also prescribe a good binge watch to distract yourself. I recommend HBO’s Search Party
 
Do you think the increasing role of technology in modern dating means that we have to more consciously buoy our own self-esteem from within and make an intentional effort to recognize the humanity of others as more than just an endless stream of profile pictures? 
Sure. I think recognizing each other’s humanity is a key element of existing, for sure. When it comes to dating, I think it is important to move on from the social media/app phase as fast as possible and get to know the person behind the pictures. What do they do when a lull happens in a conversation? Things like that. Simple things like speaking on the phone, seeing each other in person, or even on FaceTime, can make everything feel more real, which is a good thing. It should feel real. Ultimately, I think we need to be kinder to each other because we will all die someday. Like Paddington’s aunt Lucy says ,“If we’re kind and polite the world will be right.”
 
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Filmmaker M.H. Murray Examines The Anxiety of Modern Dating in New Short Film, “Ghost.” Photo Credit: Courtesy of M.H. Murray.

 

Ramona Blue Has No Time for Lies in Debut Single, “Curious”

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After spending her formative years in a punk band and inspired by other LGBTQIA artists, Ramona Blue decided it was time to carve her own path. Confined in lockdown and reeling from her ex’s infidelity, she penned her first single, “Curious,” an empowered assertion of her worth. To anyone else coping with the aftermath of cheating, she wants to emphasize that it’s a problem with them, not you. Stream “Curious” below and follow Ramona on all her socials HERE.

Cliché: When and how did you get into music?
Ramona Blue: I began with being really into musical theatre when I was a kid and I was always obsessed with different singers and how they sang the way they did. I was very inspired by strong and powerful singers like Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato from a young age but then grew and began listening to EVERYTHING ranging from Lana Del Rey to Muse to Rico Nasty. I like to listen to a range of music so I can inspire myself in all different areas and come up with something really uniquely personal and ‘me’. I started my own post-punk band with some of my close friends when we were 15 and spent three years playing gig after gig. It was so invigorating to be a young teenaged girl and to feel the entire room of like-minded teens screaming your songs right back in your face. I decided to branch out as I wanted to create my own sound from all the music I’d been listening to and to find who I was as an artist without any labels attached. 

The LGBTQIA community is a central part of who you are. How do you identify yourself and how does that influence your music?
I personally identify as a Lesbian woman and have felt so grateful to have such supportive family and group of friends who accept and love me for me. In fact, I never actually ‘came out’ as I never felt that being gay should be any different from straight. I just date who I love and that’s that. I always listened to my friends’ stories of their struggles with coming out and not feeling free and comfortable to fully be themselves and I just always felt that there was a lack of mainstream representation of LGBTQIA artists in the media. I feel that if there were, more young children would feel comfortable and identified, regardless of what their family believes in. I wanted that to be an integral part of my music and brand because I lacked a role model growing up and I want others who lack the support I so luckily had to feel that they have that, no matter where they are in the world, through my music and my message. 
 
Who are your favorite LGBTQIA artists?
I think the main one is Lady Gaga because, not only is she bisexual but also used the FUCK out of her platform and success to stand up for the LGBTQIA community. I always found that inspiring considering she is one of the biggest artists in the world where most artists would shy away from supporting a community in fear of losing followers or money. Demi Lovato also raised me and her coming out was another major inspirational moment for me. Later on, I got into a variety of LGBTQIA artists from Hayley Kiyoko to this really underground girl punk band called GRLwood. 
 
How would you describe yourself as a musician?
Blunt, feisty and strong. I won’t ever sugar coat anything and will always be 100% authentically me within my music and my identity.
What has your experience been like within the music industry?
Interesting. When I was in my band, I experienced a fair amount of misogyny from industry people making comments like ‘you’re good at punk for a girl’ and just a lot of general demeaning. Patronising and belittling comments. Things like this never affected me because, growing up with such a strong-headed mother who always taught me that all humans are humans regardless of anything, I always felt I was fair game and that me having a vagina changes nothing. Having spoken to a few different labels, managers and agents throughout the last three years has really made me realise that the industry is a business and that artists aren’t seen as anything other than money makers which can be discouraging when you are trying to create your art, but once you learn how to use this to your advantage and essentially become an entrepreneur, you won’t be manipulated easily. I am still learning myself and growing every day.
Talk about your debut single, “Curious.”
I wrote this track around a year ago when the first lockdown started. It was one of the first songs I wrote on my own and it was a MASSIVE confidence boost for me and really the moment that I realised that I had something there. I always knew I wanted this to be my debut single because I think it really shows the attitude I want to bring to pop music and all the rest of my songs. Pop needs more anger and more fire and I want to bring that.
 
The song is about an ex who cheated on you. Did writing the song help you in your healing process?
Yes! Of course. Music is therapy and always will be.
How did you move on from that betrayal while keeping your self-worth and confidence intact?
Someone betraying you like that is so damaging but I learned that it’s nothing that I am lacking but they evidently need to fill some hole in their soul that is missing that has nothing to do with me and my worth and my confidence in myself and my love will always stay.
 
What advice can you offer to folks dealing with infidelity or dishonesty in their relationships?
Toss away, forgive and move on. Don’t be scared to trust and love again. Your love and generosity is so powerful and trumps all dishonesty and negativity. Do not waste time trying to understand why or find the ‘reason’ because there isn’t one and they will most likely try to make you feel responsible for their deep rooted issues. You gave all your love and they didn’t cherish it so it is ultimately their loss. Your love and time is too precious to be wanted on someone who would rather give it away. 
What are your plans for the future?
I am planning on releasing 3 more tracks this year for you all to stream until your ears bleed. 🙂 I have so much I have to share with the world and I am never stopping until my message is heard. 

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Ramona Blue Has No Time for Lies in Debut Single, “Curious.” Photo Credit: Kasia Dabrowka.

TikTok Superstar Sienna Gomez on Her Journey to Self Confidence and New Maybelline Partnership

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After years of struggling with body image while pursuing competitive dance, Sienna Gomez had her entire perspective change thanks to one insightful judge. She began posting body positivity videos on her TikTok, quickly going viral. Within weeks, she was crowned as one of TikTok’s 12 Trailblazers in the Latinx community. Sienna’s career has skyrocketed exponentially since then and she recently announced a partnership with Maybelline. She is excited to embrace one of her favorite brands and hopes to continue to spread her a message of confidence for all. 

Cliché: How did you first become involved with dance? 
Sienna Gomez: I started dancing competitively five years ago for a studio in my hometown. I took recreation dance classes for several years before being asked to audition for Company (the competitive program). I made it that first year and didn’t look back! I’m no longer part of Company just given how crazy my schedule is right now, but I try to get onto the dance floor and train at least a few nights a week in either my hometown or in LA, depending on where I am.
Competitive dancers often face a lot of pressure to have a certain body type or look a certain way. How did you learn to embrace yourself and your differences in that environment? 
In 2019, I was called on stage during awards at a regional dance competition by one of the judges, Wyndee McGovern. She presented me with a coveted award unique to that competition for my stage presence and power – each of the judges could call out one specific person from the competition. She told me, “You were born to stand out. Have confidence in who you are and what you bring to this stage because I promise, you will be a star.” I literally cried on stage because here was this woman who zoned in on and called out my biggest insecurity: I had spent years comparing myself to my tall, thin friends and always felt so short and big next to them. That day – her words on that stage in front of all of my peers – released me from whatever that insecurity was. That’s the moment I started embracing what made me different – my skin color, my big muscular legs, my curvy figure – and started really loving myself for who I am. I think just being seen and validated and encouraged among the hundreds of dancers there was the fuel I needed to really start on this journey of self-love.

You went viral on TikTok for your body positivity videos. What message do you want to send to your followers about body image, especially now that you have such a massive platform? 
The biggest message I want people to take away from my content is that they are beautiful just the way they are and that we are all struggling in our own ways – meaning, no one is “perfect” despite what is depicted on social media. Because I’m on a journey of finding self-love and body confidence myself, it only makes sense that that’s part of what I post on TikTok. I think many people feel alone in their struggles – whether that’s struggling to accept themselves or their body, eating, friends, etc. I want people to feel like they aren’t alone – that we are all more alike than we are different – and that it’s super empowering to put your real self out there.
How does it feel to be chosen by TikTok as both part of their Top 100 list and as one of 12 Trailblazers in the Latinx community? 
It fills me with pride. Just a few weeks after my first video went viral, TikTok reached out and told me they would like to include me as one of 12 “Trailblazers” in the Latinx community. I only had 1 or 2 million followers then, and they said they had no doubt that I was on my way to becoming one of Gen Z’s Latinx digital entertainment leaders. Then in December, they recognized me again as a “Voice of Change” in their 2020 “Top 100” list. Both designations mean so much to me. The Trailblazer award really made me feel validated, like I had “made it” on the TikTok app and was representing for so many other people. The Voice of Change designation made me feel proud. It’s not easy being vulnerable on TikTok but that’s what I try to do with my content: to show that you don’t have to be “perfect” to be powerful, or be skinny with a face of makeup to be beautiful. Being considered as a trailblazer and voice of change for our generation is something I definitely do not take lightly.
Tell us about your partnership with Maybelline! Why did you decide to partner with them? 
I am so honored and excited to be Maybelline’s newest ambassador. It’s the first time in Maybelline history that they have enlisted a Gen Z, Latinx, digital-first talent for a long-term partnership. I’ve been using Maybelline products since I was a little girl in musical theater, so partnering with them was such an easy decision. I love that they are okay that I like being a little more “natural” looking and also appreciate that our very first campaign together was angled more at teaching young girls how to properly apply makeup vs. assuming that they already knew how (with celebrity makeup artist Ariel Tejada on Maybelline’s YouTube channel). My values and Maybelline’s also really align: that you are beautiful the way you are. 
What was it like learning to do your makeup with Ariel Tejada? 
Amazing – he is literally so talented and kind! Ariel and I still stay in touch and text often. He is one of my very favorite people, and I know we will work together again soon.

What projects do you have coming up with Maybelline? 

I make regular content with Maybelline products, which is super fun for me. I’m also really excited about hopefully attending New York Fashion Week this year. I love getting dressed up and going to events, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it happens! And I recently partnered with them on their global cause initiative around mental health, called Brave Together. I’m looking forward to supporting that initiative however I can. 
How can we all learn to be more confident in ourselves? 
I get this question a lot. There’s no magic pill for confidence, it’s just something you have to work on every day. I have to work on it every day! I think the most important thing centers around learning to love yourself, whether that’s your body or mind, or both! You only have one body (or mind) and learning to love it or at the very least accept it, even when it’s not perfect, is step one to being happy. Every person in the world has both flaws and strengths but it’s so much better to focus on what you like vs. what makes you feel insecure. If there are things about your body (or mind) that you want to work on, then do it in a fun way. But most importantly, I would focus on what you love about yourself and pour all of your energy into that. Self-love is an awesome step toward confidence.

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TikTok Superstar Sienna Gomez on Her Journey to Self Confidence and New Maybelline Partnership. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sienna Gomez.