James Bleyer is working hard on making his dreams come true

Photo credit: Allan Naylor

James Bleyer is just like any other young man with a passion for acting. The o difference is, James came into this world as a baby girl but always felt he had been assigned the wrong body. He is most certainly not alone, some reports have found that about one in two hundred people worldwide identify as gender variant.

James describes it as his body and his true self living two lives next to each other. I think that is a great description of what it feels like and have found it to be similar for individuals I know who are experiencing or have experienced similar. I also understand that there are some people who believe it is more of a choice, just like some think being gay is a choice. I am so glad that men and women like James are wiling to speak out now and try to help everyone have a better understanding. There is so much going on in our world and so many lives have been lost, and are lost, due to differences that should not matter to anyone.

I’m going to let James tell you his story through our interview and hope it bridges some gaps, opens some minds, and shuts down some misconceptions:

Q: Can you explain what being transgender means to you in your own words and tell us a little about your own story?

James Blyer: For me it means, that I’ve been born into a wrong body, which I can’t feel good with and really live a happy life. I always explain it this way. My body and I are living two lives next to each other.

Q: What has the process been like for you physically and medically?

JB: Medicaly: One year ago, I started with the hormone treatment and the first things that started changing, where my voice and moods. They changed very quickly and sometimes I could not handle them very well, but they are good now.
On the physical level I started to gain more strength and have more power during the day.

Q: What was the hardest part about telling your family and friends? Were they able to fully understand?

JB: The hardest thing was, that I didn’t know how they would react. I always knew, that they always love me and there could be nothing wrong with telling them, but still I was afraid.
Some of my friends didn’t understand it and didn’t want to loose the person they liked so well. The thing is, they would not loose me, I would only change, and that is something lot’s of people don’t understand. They think the person will be gone, only because they start with the treatment, and that’s completely wrong. Only the look and some small things are changing, but the person will always be the same and be there.

Q: What are some of the misconceptions about being transgender and how do you deal with them when you are faced with people whojust don’t g

Photo Credit: @ChameleonEntertainmet

JB: Well there are people who think that I only do that transition, because I would have a bigger chance with the acting at some point, since men sometimes have a bigger chance. But

Q:What advice would you give to your younger self now that you have come as far as you have?can you imagine that? Doing that, making all those decisions, only because of an easier way of work? That’s rubbish. We are humans, and we are not supposed to be men and woman only, there are so many different genders and I don’t care about those thoughts. Of course they make me angry, but I don’t take them on me.
On the other hand, people in the art world like those new things, they like to work with those things and in my opinion there are more things, than being transgender. One always has more to tell, than only one story, wouldn’t you agree?

JB: I would have told my younger self, that I should have told my parents earlier and not waited so long. Maybe when I went to school or something like that. And I would have told myself, it’s right what I do and feel.

Q: What would you say to other people who are struggling with their own identities and may be afraid to speak about it?

JB:That’s not an easy question to answer, since you never know how your family and friends would react. I know why people are afraid to talk about those things. But I am always talking and not being silent on it. We only live one time and we should always try to live a happy life and that includes being true to ourselves.

 Q: I know you are interested in acting. Do you plan to pursue an acting career?

JB: I went to drama school for three years now and still have half a year to go. In the beginning it was not easy at all, because I simply couldn’t fully let myself go and just play, because I had no hormones, it

Photo credit: @ChameleonEntertainmet

sounded wrong and weird with my voice, felt wrong with that body so all in all I could not really work. Nearly one and a half years ago, I started to understand something about acting and myself and I could work with it. I started working with my inner self and not look so much on my body and then it started to work more than before. I had to allow myself more and find the key to my work.

I plan to go on with acting and find a way for me that works.

Currently I play two roles in drama school, that are definitely male without a doubt and it’s not a problem, that my body is not biological male and to be honest…I don’t care about that.

Q: What other interests/hobbies keep you busy?

JB: I have a lot of interest. I like classical music very much I like reading theatre pieces and literature and enjoy going to exhibitions.

Watching other plays is also very important for me. And when there is some spare time I enjoy a good run or some fitness, but at the moment my drama school keeps me most busy.

Q: Where can people find you online to find out more about you and what you are up to?

JB: On Facebook and on Twitter: @James_Bleyer

Q: When did you first become interested in acting? Are you currently working on anything you can discuss?

JB: I’ve always been interested in acting and watched a lot of German literature films. I always wanted to discover history and different worlds. I want to understand people and life. There are so many wonders.

Q: Who would you like to work with? Actors, producers, directors?

JB: I am always interested in working with new people and certainly there are some big names I would like to work with. But it’s more a dreaming of working in different countries in the first place. I do drama school in Germany and would very much like to work in England, France, Italy, Germany (of course), United States and many many more.
One can only dream and work hard of course.

Off-Broadway Musical A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK to release cast Album May 22nd, Harvey Milk’s Birthday

***Press Release***

“Surprisingly fierce little musical. Brimming with warmth and clandestine power.” Zach Stewart, Theatermania

 Click Here to see “Love Harry” Music Video

New York: The Off-Broadway musical, A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK, will release its digital cast album on May 22 in honor of Harvey Milk’s birthday, it will be available on itunes.comamazon.comgoogle.com etc. and in stores at a date TBA. 

The cast album of A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK, which recently announced an extension at Theatre Row’s Acorn Theatre (410 W 42 Street) through June 30,2018, through June 30,2018, is produced by Michael Croiter, co-produced by Laura I. Kramer and Jeffrey Lodin and executive produced by Lisa Dozier King.  The cast recording will be released on Yellow Sound Label.  

San Francisco. 1986. What could Harry, an amiable but lonely retired kosher butcher have in common with Barbara, his young lesbian writing teacher at the senior center? Is it enough to bridge the divide?

When Harry fulfills a writing assignment to compose a letter to someone from his past who’s dead, he writes not to his late wife Frannie, but to Harvey Milk, the first openly gay political leader in California. Barbara is stunned. Harry’s letter evokes life-changing revelations that neither could have foreseen. This musical — with its soaring score and deeply-felt, surprisingly funny lyrics — deals with issues of friendship and loss, the grip of the past, and the hard-won acceptance set in motion by the most unexpected people.

LETTER TO HARVEY MILK opened on March 6, 2018 and has caught the attention of audiences and critics alike who have said: ”While Fiddler on the Roof might be the quintessential Jewish musical, A Letter to Harvey Milk feels like the essence of American Judaism.” Plays To See

“This is one of those musicals that stows away in your heart without you even noticing.” Zach Stewart, Theatermania; “The musical is not just the clichés or the humor; instead, it shines a light on Judaism and homosexuality, on loss and on loneliness. “A Letter to Harvey Milk is a moving exploration of Judaism and the trauma that comes from publicly being who you are. I was laughing through my tears.” Plays To See; “A true gem that is totally fulfilling. They don’t get much better than A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK. Put it on your must-see list. The songs are fresh and emotionally rewarding with tears that are inspired by both razor-sharp humor and poignancy. There is nothing in this musical that doesn’t work. The chemistry between Heller, Knitel, and Stern is sublime, and the entire cast is superbly talented.”  ELJ NYC; “A Letter to Harvey Milk seeds into your heart, and blossoms with love.” Diandra Reviews it All; “Fun and laughable, in the good way.” Times Square Chronicles; “A Letter to Harvey Milk offers an honest truth in a time that needs it.” Curtain Up; “This is a letter worth reading and seeing, and well worth the wait.” Front Mezz Junkies; “An inspiring musical about Harvey Milk, voiced by an unlikely source. A Letter to Harvey Milk is one of those rare musicals that dares to confront both LGBTQ history and Jewish history. And it does so with visceral wit, grace, and a full heart.” Gay City News; “A Letter to Harvey Milk is a breath of fresh air.” Stage Buddy; “Touching and Schmaltzy. There’s a lot to like about this show!” BroadwayWorld; “Genuinely affecting and enjoyable.  It is a rewarding and touching piece of musical theater.” Jewish Standard

Based on the short story by Lesléa Newman, the musical A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK has music by Laura I. Kramer, lyrics by Ellen M. Schwartz, with additional lyrics by Cheryl Stern, book by Jerry James, Laura I. Kramer Ellen M. Schwartz and Cheryl Stern and will be directed by Evan Pappas with music direction by Jeffrey Lodin, orchestrations byNed Ginsburg, casting by Stephanie KlapperA LETTER TO HARVEY MILK is presented by Letter Productions LLC, Associate Producer/Production Supervisor SenovvA Production Core and is executive produced by Lisa Dozier King.

A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK stars Adam Heller (Broadway: It Shoulda Been You, Elf, Caroline or Change)Julia Knitel(Broadway and National Tour: Carole King in Beautiful, Bye Bye Birdie)Cheryl Stern (Broadway: La Cage Aux FollesThe Women) along with Michael Bartoli (National Tour: Joseph/Dreamcoat), Sarah Corey (International:  Death for Five Voices), Jeremy Greenbaum (Broadway: Newsies), Aury Krebs (Regional:  Rent, Hairspray), Philip Hoffman (Broadway:  Into the Woods, Cabaret), CJ Pawlikowski (National Tour: Book of Mormon, Memphis) and Ravi Roth (National Tour: Alter Boyz, Seussical).

Creative team includes set design by David Arsenault (Off- Broadway: Terms of Endearment. Broadway: The Color Purple (associate)) costumes by Debbi Hobson (Liberty: A Monumental New Musical), lighting design by Christopher Akerlind (Tony Award for INDECENT, Waitress), sound design by David Margolin Lawson (The Crusade of Connor Stephens).

A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK was proud to be a selection of the New York Musical Theatre Festival’s 2012 Next Link Project where it won five awards, including Most Promising Musical. It was also a finalist for the Richard Rodgers Award.

Listing Information:

A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK

through June 30, 2018

Theatre Row’s Acorn Theatre is located at 410 West 42nd Street

 

Performance schedule:

Tuesdays – Thursdays at 7pm; Friday and Saturday at 8pm;

Matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm; Sunday at 3pm.

Tickets are $79 – $99 and can be purchased at Telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6200.

Follow on Social:

Facebook: @ALettertoHarveyMilkTheMusical

Instagram: @ALettertoHarveyMilk

Twitter: @ALettertoHarvey

A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK Production Photos by Russ Rowland

Ms. Kramer, Ms. Stern, Mr. Pappas cast, and creative team are available for interviews.

To arrange press interviews and press seats please contact JT Public Relations / joe@jt-pr.net

 

Who’s Who:

 

LAURA I. KRAMER (Composer/Book) A Letter to Harvey Milk (NYMF 2012 Next-Link Project and Most Promising Musical Award; Richard Rodgers Award 2012 finalist.) Music for As The Years Go By (lyricist Mitchell Bernard); choral piece Woman’s Sphere finalist, Denver Women’s Chorus Choral Music Competition. MA Music Theory/ Composition, Montclair State University; BS Music, Skidmore College; commissioned by Skidmore to write commemorative choral piece, A Musical Instrument. Studied choral composition with renowned composer Alice Parker. BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Member Dramatists Guild, IAWM.

 

ELLEN M. SCHWARTZ (Lyricist)’s first work was writing children’s songs with Bonnie Lee Sanders including “Meet the Care Bears”, “Care Bears Bedtime Story”, and “Meet the Mr. Men and Little Misses”. She collaborated on individual songs with artists including Sue Maskaleris, Barbara Carroll, Gail Wynters, Joel Diamond, and Luiz Simas. Ellen also worked with other collaborators on a number of theatrical projects including Come Up ‘N See MeThe Trapped Family SingersA Letter To Harvey MilkA Cast of ThousandsSecond Avenue Rag, and Tangled Webs, which was left uncompleted when she passed away in May 2013.

 

JERRY JAMES (Book) won the 2012 NYMF Award for Excellence in Writing-Book for A Letter to Harvey Milk. He is the author of a dozen plays, variously produced in New York City and across the USA, as well as in England and Germany. After a forty-year career in the New York theatre, where he spent ten years as PSM of Forbidden Broadway, he retired to Tucson, AZ, where he writes essays for the education program of the Rogue Theatre.

 

CHERYL STERN (Book/ Additional Lyrics) recently received raves Off-Broadway for her solo musical Shoes and Baggagewith music by Tom Kochan. She created lyrics for the Jonathan Larson Award winning Off Broadway musical, Nor’mal (now retitled Pretty To The Bone). Other credits include: The AudienceRequiem for William, Being Audrey (Transport Group), That’s Life!A Christmas Survival Guide, Are We There Yet?, Famous, The Gene GameBuffalonia ( EST). Cheryl is a resident member of the cell theatre and a graduate of Northwestern University.


EVAN PAPPAS (Director) Off-Bway: Liberty, Wonderful TownDuBarry Was a Lady, What Will People Think? Regionally; The Color Purple, Sister Act (Arts Center of Coastal Carolina) Kiss Me Kate, Evita , West Side Story, The Daughter of the Regiment (Opera North), 7 Brides for 7 Brothers  (SF Critics Best Production Award, and Director nom), Funny Girl (SF Critics Director nom) Lucky Stiff (Arizona Broadway Theatre), Murder for TwoMy Way  (Depot Theatre), CarouselA Man of No Importance (Montclair State Univ), West Side Story (Santa Fe College), ). Some Place Like Home (Best Director Award Soundbites Festival, NYC), Broadway Babes (Covent Garden), Assoc. Dir. on Being Sellers (59E59), Moscow (Samuel French One-Act Festival), Parallel Lives (Theatre for the New City), Daily Sounds (Finalist in Strawberry Festival), etc.  As an actor he has starred on and off-Broadway in My Favorite Year, Parade, Putting It Together, A Chorus Line, I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Café Society Swing, etc., and in London’s West End in Follies and Merrily We Roll Along.

 

JEFFREY LODIN (Musical Director) Thrilled to be working with this amazing cast and team. Music Director of the World Premieres of:  Liberty: A Monumental Musical, The Kid Who Would Be Pope, The Sphinx WinX and Glimmerglass. Also a composer, Jeff’s scores, with longtime collaborator William Squier,  include: Disney’s Doug Live (Walt Disney World), 100 Years Into The Heart,  Top Of The Heap, and Merrilee Mannerly (Off-Bdwy, 2018). With collaborator and father-in-law, John Allen: Rebels 1775 and Young Abe Lincoln (Theatreworks, USA). Conductor (most notably Chita Rivera) and Pianist (Andy Gibb, Mongo Santamaria). Faculty member IAMDA (NYC).lodinandsquier.com.

 

LESLÉA NEWMAN’S (Source material) 70 books include the short story collection, A Letter To Harvey Milk; the poetry collection, I Carry My Mother; and the children’s books, Heather Has Two Mommies, Sparkle Boy, and Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed. Poems from her novel-in-verse, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard have been excerpted in the libretto of the fusion oratorio Considering Matthew Shepard composed by Grammy Award winner Craig Hella Johnson. A past National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellow and poet laureate of Northampton, MA, she currently teaches at Spalding University’s low-residency MFA in Writing program.

 

LISA DOZIER KING (Executive Producer) has offices in both New York and Miami, which have managed more than 100 professional theatrical productions. Upcoming: Unlikely Heroes, Hit Her with the Skates, Shoes and Baggage and Ben Virginia and Me: The Liberace Musical. Past Off-Broadway highlights: The Crusade of Connor StephensVincent, Stars of David tour with DR Management, PromisingBedbugs the MusicalBreakfast with MugabeFinal AnalysisF#%king Up EverythingSistas the MusicalBronteTen ChimneysThe Duchess of MalfiHow to be a Good Italian DaughterThe Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall. Lisa is also the BFA theatre management program director at the University of Miami, producing director for the newly founded organization Miami New Drama, managing director for InProximity’s all women Project W Festival now in its second year, and has also served as the general manager for the National Alliance for Musical’s Festival of New Musicals for the last decade.  ldkproductions.com

Hush Manhattan is the Private Oasis Every New York Man Needs

You know I LOVE my spas and my spa treatments. Normally, I travel to other locations to experience the best spas and find the latest treatments like in Ft Lauderdale at the Grand Resort and Spa (which I need to do again this spring!) and I’ve been to Grail Springs in Canada but I really wanted to find a space here in NYC where I could escape, relax, and recharge. I actually searched for a while in between my trips to the others but never found a good one here until last year. I finally had the good fortune of finding Hush Men’s Spa in Manhattan!

I’ve been there countless times for massages and body scrubs and I recently added eyebrows, hair removal, and glorious facials. Let me tell you a little about the space and the services.

First of all, Hush Men’s Spa is located near Times Square on 47th Street but don’t let that scare you. Once inside the first floor apartment, you are in a total zen, peaceful, and quite space. I know, you don’t believe it’s possible.. but, it’s true! You don’t hear any of the outside noises, you are greeted with friendly faces, relaxing music, and aroma therapy. They got everything right from the lighting to the ambiance, and customer service. You are always offered water, a chance to use the bathroom in case you have traveled there, and I have rarely had to wait for my appointment. Actually, thanks to NYC subway schedules, I think I have been a few minutes late here and there. The best part is, just like the Grand Resort and Spa, Hush is for men only so you don’t have to feel like you are using a female spa and you can be free to relax comfortably.

There are three spa rooms where massages, body scrubs, hair removal (sugaring and waxing), and facials are done and there is one bathroom with a full shower so you can leave all fresh and clean.

The staff is completely professional, friendly, knowledgable, and amazing at what they do. I tend to ask lots of questions when I’m trying new places but they have been more than accommodating in answering and teaching me a few things.

I’ve had massages, eyebrow shaping, and facials from Julio who seems to always know what I need before I ask. I tend to carry my stress in my neck and shoulders but when I leave there, I’m good until I go to work again haha. During my facials, I always ask about what is being used, what I should use, and how I should use the products suggested. Julio is always willing to answer, offer advice, and discuss. He even suggested coloring my eyebrows and lashes since they tend to get so lightened from the sun. I’m totally taking him up on that very soon before one of my upcoming events. Guys, when was the last time you spent a full hour cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing your face? When was the last time you used steam on your skin? Trust me, do it!

I’ve also received massages and body scrubs from Louis, who really takes massages to another level because he has definitely mastered the art of energy work. If you are aware of energy, you will feel it for sure. I’m telling you, there are times where he just puts his hands over a spot that is troubling you and without physical contact, you FEEL the pulse of energy working through your muscles. If you’ve never experienced it, it may be hard to imagine but trust me, it is powerful. He also has this habit of infusing good energy into you all through the massage so you leave feeling extra good and ready to tackle anything. And of course, the body scrubs are so soothing, plus so good for your skin. We don’t usually pay enough attention to the skin on our body like we do to our face and hands. It feels good to let someone else do that for you. He’s also so good at answering any questions you have and since he’s a wiz with the energy, he tends to know what’s up even when you don’t remember to tell him.

No matter what service you get, you always leave feeling better. It’s so important to take that time for yourself and so often, we don’t even realize how long it’s been since we allowed ourselves to just chill. You don’t have to book a big trip to do that if you live in NYC, just head to their website and book a treatment or call! If you’re planning a trip to NYC, make sure to make this spa a part of your itinerary. You will thank me for it!

 

Eli Brown is doing his best to Shine the Light On Mental Health Issues

I was recently introduced to a company and movement I immediately clicked with called Shine the Light On. Shine the Light On is on a mission to bring a voice to mental health issues impacting youth. I’ve had a few phone conversations with the charismatic founder, Eli Brown, who has impressed me even more! You should head over to the website and check out the Our Story video to see him in action speaking on stage and giving away t-shirts like a rock star! But, it’s not all fun and games, on the homepage you can view a video explaining more about the company and the Our Cause page tells you that “with every purchase, STLO donates one educational program to advance mental health in youth.”

The facts may be a bit shocking to some but “1 in 3 youth from all walks of life suffer from mental health related issues. Two out of three suffer in silence due to fear of rejection and alienation.”

From the first moment I spoke to Eli, I felt like I knew him and his own struggles. His battle with his issues began after he was sexually assaulted at a young age. The shame and difficulties navigating his feelings were familiar to me in my own experiences and struggles as a youth. I know his story will resonate with many young people and adults and his advice is important.

As with all Social Good issues, the most important part is that WE CAN HELP others in what may seem like a small way. Buying a shirt or a few shirts may not seem like much but once you see what they are doing you realize that collectively, it will help a great many people. After you read our little chat, be sure to head to Shine The Light On to check out the merchandise for yourself.

Q: For those who aren’t familiar, tell us a little about you and how Shine the Light On came about?

Eli Brown: Shine the Light On is a clothing company that uses thought provoking designs to let people suffering from mental illness know they aren’t alone. People wear the clothes and become billboards, carrying the message with them. We work with non profits to partner and send this message throughout the communities who need to hear/see it.

We want to shift the conversation from reducing the stigma to acceptance and for every purchase we donate one educational program to help advance mental health in youth.

Q: As you have said, when we suffer certain traumas in our lives or carry certain secrets, we tend to feel we can’t talk to anyone about it because they won’t understand. Looking back, do you think now that you could have come forward earlier?

Eli Brown: Looking back now, having gone through sexual abuse I think I could have said something earlier and gotten help. It can be embarassing and difficult. As far as sexual abuse, there is a lot of shame and embarrassment. I was pretty uneducated on the symptoms of depression and anxiety so I thought it was normal freshman college issues. I went through sexual abuse at the age of 14 and kept it inside for years. At 18, 19, I turned to drugs and alcohol to cope. That caused the mental struggles to grow.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who is suffering in silence or struggling with their mental health?

Eli Brown: The best advice: Find a support network that will help you get assistance. Guidance counselor, teacher, health professional. Reach out so you can start to receive help. Telling one person or two people creates a support group of your own and will give you the courage to go forward to seek out professionals. A friend or family member, talking it out with them helps you to get guided and ready to talk to professionals.

Q: Movements like Shine the Light do help to erase some of the stigma that surrounds mental health issues but there is still lots of work to do. What would you say to loved ones of anyone who is struggling?

Eli Brown: The stigma around mental health is definitely decreasing. I can say that when it comes to the people who reach out to me, I can only listen with no judgement. Hear their pain and their story, and then help them to seek professional help. Validation and support are key.

Q: You’ve been open and honest about your own struggles and the things you have done to self medicate. We see so often that individuals get to the point of overdose and many times it ends tragically. Are there certain signs we can look for in the ones we love that could prevent things from going so far? There is a difference between experimenting as we grow up and abusing to escape. Is it a difference that can be caught in time?

Eli Brown: I do think it’s something that can be caught. It depends on whether people want to act upon it. Weight loss, sleeping in, suddenly pale complexion. There are tons of signs but sometimes it’s difficult to confront someone about it. I went from being a high performance athlete, playing tennis, getting up early, eating healthy  to not working out, not eating healthy… you may notice changes.

Q: I know you have some exciting things going on and coming up, can you tell us some of your future plans for Shine the Light On?

Eli Brown: One exciting thing is that we are going to start donating a significant part of proceeds to affordable housing for people who struggle with mental health and addiction. We have found that being able to afford a place to live can be difficult for those you are dealing with these issues and trying to seek help.

Another thing is that we will be launching in Europe. Mental health awareness is different in each city in the states and each country in Europe. The Royal family in the UK is on the leading edge in that. They are doing some ground breaking things for the people there and they have been open to doing what it takes to help.

Q: I ask this of everyone, What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

Eli Brown: One thing I can’t live without is this little book I carry with me where I write daily activities, phone numbers, notes. I love writing stuff down. I keep all of my notes and numbers in there. And ice cream! I love ice cream so I’d definitely say that.

I wish that at meals people could live without their phones. I don’t what it is, it really bugs me. People are out on dates or together in groups and are on their phones instead of paying attention to each other. People should pay less attention to technology during intimate dinners or gatherings and more attention to the people who are present there in the moment.

Q: Since you are so open about your own story and have spoken about it at events, do you have any particular stories that have touched you in surprising or memorable ways?

Eli Brown: I think one of the main things that surprised me is how many people there are that are impacted by mental health. When I was going through it, I felt like I was alone and I’ve found out so many others are going through it. So many of the stories I hear are impactful. Always very, very impactful stories after I speak somewhere or meet people through my work.

Q: I LOVE the partnership of Social Good and fashion, would you consider doing clothing for other causes?

Eli Brown: Yeah, when we initially started that is something we discussed. I think as we go on we will continue to Shine the Light on other social causes that impact youth.

Q: Where can we find you and Shine the Light online to learn more and to order some items so we can proudly and stylishly support?

You can go to our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and visit the Website for more info on us, to find out where I’ll be speaking, where we will be featured, and of course to order our clothing.

Q: Since you are someone who had a vision and made a success of it, what advice would you give to those who have passions, dreams, and visions but are having a difficult time getting stared or haven’t been able to overcome certain fears that come along with pursuing them?

Eli Brown: One of the most difficult things to do is to stay focused and to stay tight on your vision.

There was too much feedback on what I was trying to do. I was getting sidetracked listening to eveyone else.

My biggest piece of advice is once you have that vision established, stay on that course until you start to see the vision becoming a reality.

Tommy: I want to thank Eli for sitting down with me for this interview and I definitely look forward to working with him more. I’m proud to be one of the brand ambassadors for Shine the Light On and would love to do something possibly for the LGBT community with them at some point in the future.

 

Charles D Clark is building an Empire of Inspiration

I was recently blessed by being introduced to Charles D Clark via mutual Twitter friends and was so impressed by his kindness and his story that I had to get him for an interview. You may know Charles from his role on Empire on Fox or his role on Greenleaf on OWN TV. You may have been lucky enough to hear him speak and hopefully have been motivated and inspired by him as well.

Charles is not afraid to talk about his past, the path he has been on (including the wrong turns), and his hopes. It’s refreshing to see someone with a dream who also knows he has responsibilities along the way that he cannot ignore. I hope we see lots more of him on the small screen, the big screen, and at his speaking gigs!

Q: From looking at your resume, clearly you have so much to be thankful for. From looking at your website and social media, clearly you know how to show your gratitude. As we go into a new year, what are some of the things you are most grateful for from 2017?

Charles D Clark: I truly am grateful for life itself. One must have life to live to do great things. I’m grateful for my family, friends and my social media fan base because as we know social media is very, very important in marketing and branding.

Q: Speaking of the new year, what are you most looking forward to in 2018?

Charles D Clark: Where do I start lol?! I just want to become the next greatest actor. In that transition I want to also not just inspire, but to continue to change lives through my platform as a professional actor and speaker. I simply want everyone to win.

Q: I see one of your buddies is someone I admire greatly as well, Devon Franklin. How did you guys connect and what is the best advice he’s given you?

Charles D Clark: I meet Devon by entering one of his contests that was partnered with an AT&T social media movement called Inspired Mobility. Devon chose 4 winners who created the most inspired impactful quote. I was blessed to be one of the winners. From there I was honored that Devon became my mentor and friend. Both Devon and Meagan are truly a blessing to my life. Their commitment to spreading God’s love & wisdom through books, films and global events is phenomenal.

Q: You are on two shows I enjoy, ‘Empire’ on Fox and ‘Greenleaf’ on OWN TV. Can you tell us a little about your experiences working on both?

Charles D Clark: Well, let me start with Green Leaf first because I was just on there as a featured extra once. However, the experience was amazing meeting the main cast and Kirk Franklin who was a special in the episode. To be on an OWN Network set, and mind you I’m an Owner so I’m part of the family, lol, it was a great experience.

On the other hand, Empire was the highlight of my acting career that opened up so many doors ! To start as background driving 13 hours from VA to Chicago approximately 7 times under 2 months is nothing but superb dedication and crazy faith! I didn’t complain and I put a lot of work into it because even as a background the Empire cast and production treated me like family. Now I have a ( Director’s Pick Recurring Role ) as one of Shyne’s main goons/enforcers. To be officially part of a prime time hit show is a dream come true. Xzibit is phenomenal and always gives me great wisdom. The entire Lyons family is simply amazing and down to earth. Terrence and Taraji are just gifts to this world.

Q: As someone who has been chasing his dreams and living them, what advice would you give to others out there who are in the beginning stages of doing so or who are struggling with it all?

Charles D Clark: Simple..Listen to God and not people!

Q: How did you get involved in motivational speaking and what drew you to it?

Charles D Clark: Motivational speaking came natural for me. First you have to have a testimony. My father died when I was 6. In my late teens I got involved with drug dealing and gang banging. When I was about to turn 22 I was arrested and served nearly 8 years in Federal Prison. Then I got I started sharing my story to churches, schools, events, boys homes, and any other place that God sent me. My name started spreading and I won 5 awards as a speaker and through my advocacy I won another AT&T contest as the grand prize winner called ” 28 Days Moments That Matter “. This contest was during Black History month, which is 28 days in February. AT&T wanted to recognize the newest leaders in this time. Because of my work and advocacy during the Baltimore Riot in bringing peace and love along with my volunteering work, AT&T chose me.

Q: If you weren’t an actor, what other fields would you see yourself in?

Charles D Clark: Well, I majored in psychology and I was working with individuals with mental & physical disabilities, so it would in that field. I love helping people and supporting those who feel like there is no hope.

Q: Where can people find you and keep up with you online?

Facebook: Charles D. Clark

Twitter: @cclarkinspire7 IG: @cclarkinspire IMDB: http://m.imdb.com/name/nm5645633/

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

Charles D Clark: I cannot live without God, my mother and my beautiful 7 year old daughter Cynne’ Clark. I wish we could all live without hate. I’m totally against racism and even though I’m not gay I will not hate anyone because of their sexuality. I love all people because only God can judge. All love and no hate is what I stand for!

Q: What’s up next for Charles D. Clark?

Charles D Clark: There,s so much, especially since I’m a SAG actor now! God gets the Glory! Expect to see me in even bigger roles and on the big screen. The main thing is not just stardom, but just being a part of making this world a better place. I can’t do it by myself but I can be apart of the process.