INDUSTRY TALK: Q&A (CHRISTOPHER LEON)

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Thanks for tuning in to this weeks #IndustryTalk interview! Today we are featuring a St Louis native rapper Christopher Leon (Formerly Young Leo)! This dude is dope, if you’re following his Instagram you’ll see he’s dropping multiple vids that showcase his talents as a young future rap star! At only 27 Christopher Leon has created quite the following ready to take La La Land by storm! Let’s see how he came to be, and what his deciding moment was that propelled his move to a city famous for creating stars & reflecting the broken dreams of many. 





R|A: Christopher Leon thank you for being apart of the #IndustryTalk blog! You’re very talented, and I’m sure LA, NYC, and maybe the ATL were places you thought about moving to in order to propel your career, why LA, and what was the deciding factor? That this is it moment? 

 

C|L: I appreciate the compliment! The easy answer as to why I came to LA instead of anywhere else was I had an opportunity and had to take advantage! It was a heat of the moment, ‘you only live once’ kind of decision. But honestly, I’ve always thought it would be amazing to live in California anyway. I didn’t know at the time that technically you can make it ANYWHERE nowadays. The internet made it so you don’t have to come to the high cost of living places such as this. But I truly love living here, so for me it worked out perfectly!

 

R|A: What’s the most terrible thing someone has said to you about your art, and how did that affect you?

 

C|L: I guess the worst thing someone has said to me was your standard no-name, anonymous commenter who posted under one of my videos saying something about how I’m the worst rapper to ever grace a microphone and how I should fuck my mother and die... I’m paraphrasing of course but seriously, who’s putting any real energy replying to people like that 😂.

I don’t pay any mind to comments unless there is some kind of constructive criticism. What I hate the MOST are ‘yes’ men. If I am asking for an opinion on a song and all I get is ‘yeah, that’s dope’ or ‘that’s fire!’, I’m a little turned off. Not all of my songs are good, and if I play you something I know is trash and all you have is a nonchalant head nod while staring at your phone, but you get hype once the song is over because you think that’s what I want... I won’t be inviting you to the next listening session :P







R|A: Who are 5 people that inspire you? Artist or otherwise? 

 

C|L: Childish Gambino, Joe Rogan, Mac Miller, GaryVee and the newest person to make the list is Russ.

I’m a huge fan of podcasts, and I have heard my fair share of episodes where Joe Rogan or GaryVee say something that sparks me to work. Gary will talk about a new strategy to ‘hack’ the market or connect with people. Joe will talk about the grind of forming a new stand up routine and how tough it is to get it started. It teaches me that everything you try to get good at is a grind.... so if you want to get good GET TO GRINDING!

When it comes to Gambino and Mac, I just love their styles. Neither of them were afraid to experiment and try something different than they’re used to. I always find inspiration in that.

When it comes to Russ, I just love the hustle and grind it took for him to get where he is. He’s famous for the ‘drop a song every week’ strategy and it’s a really great one. He seems to love the grind as much as I do and that always makes me want to keep working hard when I see it paying off for others.






 

R|A: You have this new IG comedy skit-show with your girlfriend, what was the creative concept behind the skits and have you always been a comedian?

 

C|L: Ironically enough the comedy thing was just a joke at first! We had a little idea for a video and people really seemed to like it so we continued doing it. The concepts are easy enough, anytime we have an idea or a ‘that would be funny’ thought we talk to each other about it and see if we could actually make it fun. It’s a challenge but a great way to stay creative when I’m in a musical slump.

I have always been one to crack jokes, mostly at someone’s expense, but I’ve always been more of a fan of the art than actually in it. I might give stand up a try one day 😎






R|A: What’s something most people do not know about you?

 

C|L: Even though I was born in St Louis, I spent most of my childhood growing up outside of it. I moved to Illinois at a young age and lived in a very small town called Jonesboro. Which was DIRECTLY next to a town called Anna.

Decades ago, someone historically put a sign up next to the ‘Welcome to Anna’ billboard that read ‘ANNA- Ain’t No Niggers Allowed’.

As you can imagine, being the only kid in school with a black father was not the best experience in my younger days. And being a REDHEAD on top of it?! Oh boy, I was ripe for the bullying.




R|A: If you could have lunch with anyone dead or alive who would it be and what would you ask them?

 

C|L: This may sound like a cop-out but I would want to have lunch with ANYONE who was already deceased. My questions would be simple. Is there an afterlife? If so, what is it like and is there any reason to fear death...

Hope I didn’t bum anyone out 🤣

 

R|A: How would you describe your music? Is it more commercial, raw, political, what does Young Leo rap about? 

 

C|L: All of my projects are about things I’m going through at the time.

My last project was called ‘26 In LA’ and it was about my first year here. The project I’m working on right now is all about my relationship with my girlfriend. I’m very excited to spill the tea. 😂

 

R|A: What great piece of advice have you gotten, that you would say has helped in your career development? 

 

C|L: YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN SCHEDULE! Stop comparing yourself to Drake; stop comparing yourself to your friend who got a deal before you did. None of that helps your situation and only creates mental fatigue. YOU will make it when YOU are meant to. The beauty of today is it’s easier to make it than ever before. You just have to be consistent and always growing. Once I stopped being impressed by people on social media I noticed my life became sooo much less stressful. I would advise the same for others.


R|A: What’s something a new rapper should have before walking into a record labels doors?

 

C|L: Have your dignity and values in hand. Understand one thing, by the time a record label wants you... you are in a position where you no longer need a record label.

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YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN SCHEDULE! Stop comparing yourself to Drake; stop comparing yourself to your friend who got a deal before you did.

 

R|A: Lastly to make it fun, who are your top 4 female hip hop artist, and top 4 male hip hop artist past/present that you think changed the game?

 

C|L: Lauren Hill, Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj and Lizzo.

For the fellas I would say Slick Rick, Kanye West, Kid Cudi aaaaand weirdly enough maybe Young Thug.


INDUSTRY TALK: Q&A (SHANTI LOWRY)

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In 2016 for my 26th birthday I planned a trip to Europe! Along the trip was my best friend, a guy I dated for nearly a year and remained friends with, and another friend from NYC. I’ll always remember the night I met Ms. Shanti Lowry- the guy I had previously dated was shading me the entire evening and I was completely over it. In the middle of this Japanese restaurant in London I walked out, even leaving my best friend. I found the Tube station and calmly acted like I knew where I was lost. Out of another passage my best friend emerged and through about passage Ms. Shanti Lowry! Now at this point I’m fuming- but my friend and I were huge fans of the television series The Game which was currently playing reruns on BET. My friend suggested we go up to her, me being an actor I try not to fan out- I was like she’s on vacation, let the girl live! She looked a little lost herself, so then I was like okay seeing other lost Americans might be helpful. So we went up to her fanning out (by accident) and she was so sweet. She chatted with us, and even took a pic with us. After getting back to the States I had to ask for an interview- here we are two years later! #IndustryTalk fam let me introduce you to Mrs. (yes she married guys!) Shanti Lowry aka Dionne Taylor “Hi, Girl Melani” of the hot sitcom The Game. Shanti can be seen on Amazon Primes series Bronx SIU & Bounce TV’s series Family Time. She has a list of credits from Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle, D.E.B.S & the list goes on! Let’s get into thirds questions!

 R|A:Thank so much for being apart of the blog! To Start with a list of over 42 IMDB credits & counting as early as 2000, and recently nominated for a daytime Emmy (congrats!).You’re seeing almost two decades in the industry- what advice can you give aspiring actors?

S|L: Hey Roman! I’m very happy to answer some questions. Two decades in the business? When I read that first question I had to sit back and actually think… Two decades?? Yeah. Wow. I guess the only real advice I feel certain of giving anymore is that you better just love it. Plain and simple. It’s not like a lot of other jobs - You’re going to spend hours upon hours everyday obsessing over why you don’t GET to work as much as you want to... You better really love it.

R|A: Did you always want to be an actress? From your Instagram I see you’re also a trained dancer and sing as well?

S|L: I always wanted to be a performer and entertainer, yes. I can remember, as early as 2 or 3 years old, putting on shows and skits with my brother. We had a difficult childhood and stepping into the shoes of a Clown or an Actor or Singer meant stepping out of my own. Something that was very attractive to me at the time. And therapeutic.

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 R|A:What are a few things you learned on set you don’t learn in an acting class?

S|L: You learn so much on set that’s just impossible to learn in class. Like understanding that our own personal energy and emotional availability is not endless - A long day on set needs to be managed properly or the work at the end of that day will suffer greatly. You know that 4 o’clock contagious yawning fit that rips through an office? As an actor you have to look as fresh and think as clearly at 2 AM as you do at 10 PM. You just can’t replicate that experience in class.

R|A: With 20 years in the business what keeps you motivated & invested?

S|L: As I said before, I wasn’t even aware I had been in the business that long. Time flies when you’re having fun I guess lol. Truthfully, I think I could live many lifetimes and never feel bored in this business. There are just so many moving and captivating stories to be told. So many talented people to dream of collaborating with and so many worthy characters to bring to life. And nowadays there are so many interesting ways to share content. A lack of motivation is never an issue.

R|A:Which role has been your favorite & why?

S|L: I fall in love with each character I play but feel confident in saying that Yolanda Rodriguez, my Bronx SIU character, has been the most fulfilling of my career. She feels so fully realized. With deep and almost unforgivable character flaws. For some reason it’s very rewarding to bring a character like Yolanda to the screen and have the fans fully embrace this deeply troubled and lonely woman.

R|A:You’re currently on Bronx SIU with Brian White, Miguel A. Núñez Jr. and so many talented actors- what do you learn watching other actors?

S|L: I always learn a ton from every set I’m on. Partly because I’m a very curious person and am constantly trying to understand anything that I don’t, LOL. And partly because we’ve all had different experiences and therefore have different things to bring to the table, so to speak. Sometimes it’s a simple trick of how to land on your mark without looking or how to take a great poster picture. How to section out your script more efficiently or cheat your lighting. We are always learning from each other. Or should be!

R|A:Describe your character on Bronx SIU?

S|L: As I mentioned earlier, Yolanda Rodriguez is my Bronx SIU character. Season 1 she is the newest detective on the elite Special Investigations Unit run out of the Bronx police department. She’s smart and capable and really good at her job - when her demons are dragging her down. Yolanda is still trying to move past a horribly abusive childhood and too often finds herself blurring the line between good guy and bad.

 R|A: What advice or piece of wisdom did you get from someone or wish you had gotten before entering the entertainment industry?

S|L: I don’t really remember any one piece of advice that I got before I entered the business. I just remember my mom always telling me that if I worked hard and stayed patient and consistent, anything was possible. She didn’t necessarily mean in any one industry but that advice ended up being very sound in my life.

R|A:When handed a new script what are you looking for within a character?

S|L: That’s a great question. I’ve never really thought about what I’m looking for when I read a script or consider a character. Off the top of my head - I’m just looking to be engaged. I’m hoping to see a complex character that will take some effort to untangle.

R|A:Where do you see yourself in say another 10 years?

S|L: I love all aspects of creating film and television. I think in 10 years I would like to be Producing and Directing more projects and perhaps even eyeing a production company.

R|A: You work on multiple series at a time. I believe 3 right now? How do you do it?

S|L: I do you have multiple shows on right now, yes. Family Time, has aired 6 seasons on BounceTV (we’re about to shoot 2 more seasons!) and Bronx SIU is currently airing its 2nd season on UMC/Amazon Prime. I also have several movies coming out this year. In the end, it all comes down to scheduling. Different shows shoot at different times of the year and a lot of times the Producers will have to work around my schedule a little. But I would always rather be busy so no complaints.

R|A: You have a strong passion for Human & Animal rights- what organizations do admire and encourage readers to look into?


S|L: I do have a passion for human and animal rights. Because I just have a passion for life. All life. And I hope and pray for all of Gods creatures get to enjoy their gift of life equally. I support so many different organizations but would love to highlight, Women for Women International. It’s such an incredible organization doing really special work around the world. As a member of their Sponsor Program I am currently sending a woman named Hauwau, from Nigeria, through a support program that helps her with everything from health and hygiene to vocational skills and banking. I get updates with pictures and she and I can send each other letters. It’s incredibly important to me to remember that - There but for the grace of God go I.

 R|A: Since I met you abroad I must ask which of your favorite country to vacation?

S|L: I absolutely adore traveling. I don’t know if I could choose one place to call a favorite vacation destination though. It would definitely depend on what kind of a vacation I was looking for; Ko Samui Thailand is the closest thing to a tropical paradise that I’ve ever seen, but Eze France is like living in a castle in the clouds. And Iceland! ...did I forget Italy and Ireland? Lol.

R|A: Lastly how can fans and readers stay informed about your projects?

S|L: People are welcome to reach out through @ShantiLowry on Instagram Facebook or Twitter.

INDUSTRY TALK: Q&A (AMBER NICOLLE GILBERT)

This week's guest on the #IndustryTalk entertainment blog is none other than my girl- actress Amber Nicolle Gilbert. We met through previous actor and friend to the blog Dueal Andrews and I honestly must admit I admire this woman's hustle. Not only does she work, but she's constantly studying her craft and at the moment is learning stage combat. Let's sit down with Miss. Niccolle and find out what it's like being a black female actress in Hollywood and what we can expect from her in the future.

 

 

 

R|A: Thank you Amber for being apart of the #IndustryTalk blog family. So I guess my first question would be why acting and when did you know realize this was something you wanted to do?

 

A|N|G: At first playing basketball was my passion. I was very proficient in basketball as well as track and field. My dream was to play professionally for the WNBA. After high school, I ended up choosing another career to pursue which is acting. I feel that acting encompasses all aspects of humanity and that is something I want to be a part of.

 

 

R|A: You’ve recently just completed a short with friend to the blog Dueal Andrews titled Former Flames, what's the film about?

 

A|N|G: Former Flames is about two friends reminiscing on the good memories they had with each other in high school. Both friends end up having too much to drink and sleep together. This short was based off a true story that happened in my life. Dueal and I were high school sweethearts as well as good friends. I always wanted to collaborate with actor Dueal Andrews, so when given the opportunity, I took advantage.

 

 

R|A: Many times in this industry we befriend other entertainers and we want to create the art we want to see. What was it like working with your best friend, and what advice positive and negative would you say can arise from working with friends?

 

 

The best advice I can give to aspiring entertainers is NOT TO GIVE UP and to keep striving towards your goal.

 

A|N|G: It was a great learning experience working with someone on a project from the ground up. It definitely teaches you your strength and weaknesses in the business. My advice is just to have fun and definitely keep a cocktail or two around (ha-ha). You want to make sure that you take everyone’s vision into consideration. COMMUNICATION IS KEY without that you wont have a successful joint venture.

 

 

R|A: Do you plan on releasing your project online, or submitting to any festivals?

 

 

 

A|N|G: Yes, I will be releasing the short on my website and submitting it to festivalsonce post production is finished. Former Flames will be released sometime in the summer.

 

 

R|A: You have a very impressive resume, what would you say was your most favorite role to play and why?

 

A|N|G: My favorite role would have to be playing a lawyer. At times, I get type cast due to my tattoos. I work really hard to be taken seriously as an actress and prove to people in the industry that I can play other roles besides the “the tough chick” or “the seductive girl”. It is a great feeling knowing that people see me for my acting ability, not just based off my exotic appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my tattoos and will never get rid of them (they are a part of me). Surprisingly I get more roles and auditions that requires me to be “the girl next door” or “the conservative role”.

 

It takes determination to get to your destination.

 

R|A: What advice can you give aspiring entertainers?

 

 

 

A|N|G: The best advice I can give to aspiring entertainers is NOT TO GIVE UP and to keep striving towards your goal. There may be times when it is rough, but you can’t let that affect you. Always follow your dreams and if this is something you want to do, don’t let ANYONE discourage you. It takes determination to get to your destination. Most importantly, it is very important to stay focused and to have positive people who are going to motivate you. I strongly encourage aspiring entertainers to get involved in social networking events (it is so important to network). The last advice I will give is to collaborate with other actors and start making independent projects. The industry has changed so much over the years, so it’s a lot of ways to get noticed these days.

 

 

R|A: I understand you're currently taking combat training… What made you want to learn that technique and how often are you in class learning?

 

 

 

A|N|G: I am currently studying a Filipino martial arts called Pekiti Tirsia Kali. Action is one of my favorite genres in TV and Film. I want to be prepared when auditioning for roles that require combat training. Actresses who have done a lot of action films such as Zoe Saldana and Angelina Jolie are my biggest inspirations. I will love to have an opportunity to work in an action film. Combat training is not as easy as people think, it takes a lot of self-discipline and dedication. There is a lot to learn such as how to properly use a weapon on set, even throwing a punch or kick. In order to keep my combat training skills sharp, I train three times a week.

 

 

R|A: How do you prepare for a role?

 

 

A|N|G: When preparing for a role, I like to first read the entire script. After reading the entire script, I began to break down the scenes and develop character choices. I forget about being “the actress” and really focus on becoming who the character is. I want to be able to have that connection to the character and be in the moment. I like to find elements of the character that I feel are different and similar to me.

 

 

 

 

R|A: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

 

 

 

A|N|G: In five years, I see myself being on a series also in action movies. Outside from acting, I will like to get into more writing and producing of TV and Film, I also want to develop affordable acting programs for aspiring actors/actresses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R|A: This industry is very discouraging. What would you say was the most discouraging thing someone has said to you in the industry and how did you overcome that?

 
 
I forget about being “the actress” and really focus on becoming who the character is.
 

 

 

 

A|N|G: I haven’t really experienced someone specifically in the industry saying something negative to me. I will say that just being in the industry and dealing with the ups and downs can be very discouraging itself. Whenever I’m feeling discouraged, I remember my purpose and know that all of my hard work will eventually pay off.

 

 

PHILIPPIANS 4:13 I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHICH STRENGTHENS ME.