If you're gay and black or simply live in LA then you either know or know of Jayce Baron. He's everyone's friend and inspiration. So after careful review and finding out who this guy is I decided he must be interviewed for #IndustryTalk. Not just because he's an author and I love to read, not just because he's a baptist preachers kid and I grew up in a baptist church, not because he has a degree in entertainment communication, and not because he's created a media network and I'm an actor. All of which are great but I was more enthralled with his philanthropy. I’ve learned that the character of any great artist can be measured by the friends they keep and how they give back.
R|A: Thanks for being apart of the #IndustryTalk family Jayce. You're a pretty well known LGBT Advocate here in Los Angeles. At what point in your life did you decide that this is what you wanted to do?
J|B: Ha! The funny thing is I still get a little weirded out when people call me an advocate because it was never really what I set out to accomplish, it just passionately happened. I started Kiss & Tell Networks after I saw the success of a live LGBTQ panel discussion I hosted and produced. After I saw the response I knew that this was my God given calling and I was going to do whatever it took to unify the community, but with my sense of style!
R|A: What did you want to be growing up? I mean did you know you would be a writer, a social entrepreneur, and an LGBT advocate?
J|B: Absolutely NOT! Are you kidding me? I used to fail the spelling part of the SATs in elementary all the time! I do remember writing a lot of stories and organizing full blown productions with my younger siblings for my parents, but I just thought that was me being bossy living the definition of the older child syndrome. I went to college for Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations because I knew I loved to talk and loved a good party. I modeled for a bit as well. When I saw how superficial... what I was doing for a paycheck, was becoming, I knew I needed something with more weight and fulfillment. Everything I am today career-wise was unintentional and a direct result of simply doing what I love, learning from my mistakes, and the universe giving me everything I need to fulfill my duties on this earth.
R|A: I caught an episode or two of your Itunes podcast Kiss & Tell Radio, which was very eye opening with celebrity news, dating, and sex. When did you start your podcast and for those creatives who would love to do what you're doing how did you start podcasting?
J|B: Yes Shar and I love doing our show. We have two completely different personalities so listeners get a kick out of our dynamic. I started Kiss & Tell Radio because I wanted an easy way to produce content between live Kiss & Tell shows. It was a lot easier than I thought! I got a recorder from Amazon, my sister created the intro beat, and we literally just record the set list of topics. The tech stuff with the RSS feed and getting it on iTunes was all stuff I googled and figured out. It's almost been a year since the first show and we're launching the NYC hosts within weeks. Also, we just signed on with REVRY, an LGBT entertainment platform you can subscribe to on Apple TV, Ruko, etc. It's been an extremely fun process!
R|A: You’ve recently celebrated the release of your new book: Absolutely Me. Can you tell readers what your book is about?
J|B: Yes! My novel "Absolutely Me" is finally out! The book is about a young man name Eli who is going through all the motions of self discovery with his sexuality. It's cool because each chapter is a different guy he is dealing with. Whether it's some sneaky sex scandal, just fucking, seriously dating, or your typical "situationship", he's trying to find out what the hell being gay is. He realizes at the end that his sexuality has nothing to do with others, but all to do with himself. I hate to brag, but it's a good read! I'm really hard on myself, but I have to say I am very proud with this accomplishment and even more happy with the way people are responding.
R|A: I was reading a passage of your book which was very nostalgic for me. You described NYC so well you've had to live there? What was the inspiration behind Absolutely Me?
J|B: New York City will always have my heart. My mother was raised in Queens so I was always out there growing up. I ended up moving there permanently right after college and the experience blew my mind in so many unexpected ways. I told you I'm from California, so I never owned a pair of boots, shoveled snow... nothing. I was clueless and totally had to relearn how to live. I'm still out there once a month for meetings and I facilitate a youth workshop in Brooklyn. I'd say I'm bicoastal on a budget!
A lot of "Absolutely Me" is based on experience, shared stories, or situations any young person who is trying to figure out life goes though, especially if they identify as LGBTQ. There is not really a road map on how to do this and sexual fluidity is just now becoming socially accepted. I wanted people, whatever demographic, to relate, laugh, and learn. Those were my intensions.
R|A: What advice can you give aspiring writers?
J|B: Like Nike's slogan... "Just do it." I was recently asked how I started writing my book and I literally just started writing a story and describing everything I felt during that time. I randomly found what I had written in my gmail inbox years later and decided it was the perfect time to finish and conclude the story. Same with my blog. The more you do it, the better you get. So start now! It will all eventually make sense. Hold yourself accountable meet your own deadlines and just put your heart into it.
R|A: I read that you're also a PK (Preacher's Kid). Baptist no-less, (I'm baptist...long story), what was your experience like growing up in a religious household? Personally I think we all get to a point where who we’re becoming conflicts with the principles we were brought up on.
J|B: One thing I am extremely grateful for is I was raised to know the difference between religion and my relationship with God. I was always raised in environments that got me a lot of attention and being in the first family was one of them. This made the church more human, which can be interpreted in many ways. For me, it was clear that people, whether in the first family or Peaches the stripper are humans and make mistakes. Because of that, I never really put leaders of any church on a pedestal much like fans do for their favorite music artist. When I went through my own personal journey of reconciling with my sexuality and knowing God loves me when maybe "religion" did not, it made all the difference. Jesus is and always will be the homie.
R|A: Tell readers more about your blog? What inspires you?
J|B: I just started writing about the lessons I was learning and idiot mistakes I made. I didn't even promote my blog at first... it was just for me. When I started showing my friends they got a kick out of it and encouraged me to share. Sometimes I'll wake up at 3:24am and words will just start pouring out. I just grab my phone and start writing and clean it up the next day.
R|A: What's next for Jayce?
J|B: Oh my goodness that is a loaded question with an even bigger answer. I'm always creating but I've learned to take things one step at a time. Well, 2016 is pretty much already planned out. Launching Kiss & Tell Live Las Vegas with Senator Kelvin and Woody Atkinson this summer. We have two more live shows around the country closing out the year. I have a couple outside writing opportunities. Several workshop and speaking engagements based around my book, "Absolutely Me". And lets just say if all goes according to plan I'll be completely off the grid for about a month filming. Stay tuned
R|A: What most important piece of advice would you say have helped you in life?
J|B: My dad once told a 19 year old me while I was cussing out someone on the phone that, "You're only given a certain amount of energy per lifetime... use it wisely." He probably doesn't remember but the words have become a pivotal lead in the way I navigate through life. I'm so aware of how I spend my time and energy now. I'm very slow to anger and I am extremely mindful on keeping a balanced work and personal life.