Inspiration! Where you at? I like to keep my writing candid so to be honest with you, it’s taken me a minute to put something out cuz there’s been no real stimulus! For the first time in a while I haven’t had an event to really get me excited/passionate/pissed off to the point I’m cranking out an essay. That’s not to say nothing’s been happening – I’ve been busy as dick but at the same time I’ve kinda just been floating by.
“Aye? But you’re living the life!” What does that even mean?! We only need to look at the recent deaths of Robin Williams and Simone Battle to see that looks can be deceiving. Those really hit home for me, especially Simone’s passing – so young and talented with so much potential and promise. I met her after G.R.L’s showcase and thought to myself she coulda easily been one of my friends. To think she saw no way out except suicide is devastating.Don’t worry, I’m not that far gone! I have my rough days though. I’m grateful for where I’m at but we all have our struggles. Our individual conflicts may or may not seem that major in the grand scheme of things but I think it’s important to take time to address them properly, regardless. Mine are relatively simple – new city, new career, no friends, no guidance. Ok it’s not that destitute but to come from full immersion in university/school environments for the last ten years which I’d say are the single most easiest places in the universe for meeting heaps of like-minded people to going part-time in the ‘sea of celebrity’ is an adjustment. I worked in education for ages and mentoring played a huge part in my life. I’ve been part of communities rich in role models, sharing experiences and advice on how to navigate the spaces we’re in but out here I’m still kinda searching for that. I’ve got some solid friends in Sydney but we’re all spread out and on completely different schedules. I’ve honestly felt like a drifter [a little reminiscent of the isolation I first experienced in Ohio]. Talking to others from back home who’ve made the same move, I learned I’m not the only one to go through a lull. One of those things that just takes time. I get easily frustrated when things don’t move as fast as I want them to – pulling out my hair, talking about “I’ve been here 3 months!” then my peers remind me that it’s only been 3 months. “That may as well be 3 minutes!”
Rightio! That’s long enough for me to need a good recharge. How do I deal with my shit? I get the hell outta dodge! Time Out [but not that Jamaica level Time Out]. The Video Music Awards [VMAs] were coming up in LA – perfect excuse to head Stateside! Scoring my role at MTV, there was no doubt in my mind that I was gonna attend this year’s VMAs. It’s the biggest event of the MTV year – what’s the point of being a VJ if you can’t go, right?! Like much of the shit going on in my head, this idea didn’t quite translate neatly/practically in the real world – this would require money and as glamorous as the world of television may look, it’s not always there! Especially not for someone who just got in the game. Neat/practical has never been my thing though – the way it usually goes is if I wanna do something, I just do it. So I did.
Get your calculators out! This is how you rock the Hollywood red carpet on the sniff of an oily rag! My Dad always said, it’s not what you know but who you know and thank goodness I know some awesome people. My friends took care of flights, tickets to the show and accommodation. Why? It took mad wheeling and dealing but at the end of the day it’s cuz I’m lucky to have people who look out for me the way they do. They pull through every time so thank you! You know you who you are. One thing you’ll quickly learn about me is I remember EVERYTHING [good, bad and just plain useless for instance I can name all the original Power Rangers, their Zords, weapons and individual story arcs] and I’m a motherf.en Lannister when it comes to paying my debts [I mean you should love thy neighbour regardless but if I may “cut the shit” as my Mum often instructs me to do, you have my back, I’ll have yours too].
Once I had the basics covered everything started falling into place like I knew it would. My boo Court said to me “leap and a net will appear”. At the last minute [I’m talking confirmation less than 24 hours prior to events] my PR manager, Milena aka Milly of the Faders DJs, got me access to some wicked gigs where I made some crazy contacts who hooked me up even further.
A prime example of that are my new friends from MTV’s New York legal team. I was at a concert when I saw a Tongan girl walk in [I can spot an islander a mile away!] Naturally I had to go up to her immediately and ask her where she was from! Some people find it strange that I did that but for us, we’re quite often sparce at mainstream functions or even the general public [when I was at Lehigh, a university of over 7,000 students, I was the only Samoan] so when you see a familiar looking face, you gravitate! We hit it off then she introduced me to her colleague, Aziza.
Wait are you from MTV Australia? Tall, big hair – do you know my cousin Nneka? She told me to look out for you!
That blew my mind. Aziza/Zee and Nneka are first cousins and they’re both a trip! Nneka was an Assistant Director of Admissions at Lehigh while I was studying – I remember this one time I had a barbecue at my house where I was bumping my usual 90s anthems and she sang along to every single song like she wrote them [oh and she keeps asking me to send her a Samoan man]. I found out later that Zee also knows my former manager, John McKnight, from when I was working in the Office of Intercultural Development at Lafayette College!
The VMAs rolled around and Milena managed to get me credentials on the red carpet while Zee got me upgraded from my seats down to the main floor! He-ey. I was roaming around the VIP bar and backstage when this young security guard stepped to me. He jumped on his radio and next thing there was four of them hoes circling me like I was about to make an assassination attempt on the President BUT before anything could happen Zee jumped right on dat ass. She went HAM – literally unleashed the dragon on each and every one of them. I just stepped back and watched the display cuz I wasn’t tryna get in the way. Needless to say I wasn’t bothered for the rest of the night. She was like “I do this for a living”. I said “oh I believe you”.
For me, the best part of any experience is the people. The VMAs and the parties were mean but my highlight was hanging out with friends again, old and new. It was the recharge my battery was waiting on!
I reunited with my Lehigh brethren Krista who I hadn’t seen since the sailing trip gone wrong in Chicago. She was visiting her parents in Orange County so we went roaming. McKenzie and her girls from the South hosted me too – we linked up through my buddy BJ aka Raz B who used to tell people at school that homegirl got work done on her lips [everybody prolly believed it too cuz her Mum’s Mrs Fields of Mrs Fields Cookies and no, every room and toilet in the house isn’t lined with cookies, that was the first thing I checked].
Caught up with my buddy Ryan’s brother, Landon, who I hadn’t seen since his graduation last year in Miami – now he’s an entertainment lawyer in LA . We’re prolly not the best combination [or maybe we are depending how you look at it]. We ended up crosseyed at some random house party where my cardholder [a little case holding all my IDs and credit cards] went missing. We didn’t walk out empty handed though! Woke up with an extra $100 in our pockets and some carrot cake. Don’t ask. Got it back the next day but only after two hours of hardcore detective work given we didn’t know the address or names of the people whose house we were at. It was worth the hassle though, not just for my cardholder but cuz there was more cake waiting when we got there [ooooh that cake was bomb].
My teammates from my former life in a Hip Hop crew were in town too! Amelia and Rina are both married now, balancing dance and family life. Amelia and I were at law school together [she did a semester abroad one year at the University of Washington in Seattle where I got to visit her], after graduating she chased her dreams as a dancer in LA and kick started a couple of her own business endeavours while Rina’s wrapping up her time and moving back to New Zealand but not before performing her last gig – Beysus’ closing set at the VMAs!Fit some family time in thanks to my Uncle Percy and Aunty Tupou who flew me up to the Bay Area – saw the girls as well as my Maivia/Smith cousins in Sacremento. It’s hard to believe that I hadn’t seen them in a whole year but we picked up right where we left off.
California was cool. Haven’t been a fan of Los Angeles in the past but I have a new appreciation for it now – it was a great reminder of the love and support I’ve got backing me to do what I do. Since my return, things have started to look much better!
Went straight into a 4 day intensive presenters course and it was the JAM! First time receiving some formal training. Got some great feedback from industry professionals [Tracey Spicer is a beast! She’s putting me in touch with potential mentors too!] and enjoyed the dynamics of the class – was like being at school again and if you’ve ever shared a university campus with me, you know that’s when I’m in my prime.
Got some projects in the pipeline and the social front has improved! The last two weekends here have been on point. Finally meeting more slags on the same page as me and enjoying their company. Always helps when I’ve got visitors passing through too! I have no doubt this momentum is gonna keep running.
Make sure you take the time to look after yourself. Reach out if you need to. My Mum always says “if you don’t have good health, you don’t have much” – physical, mental, spiritual, whatever. Do what it takes to keep it all in check. Love to all my family and friends who help me do that.
Ok now who wants summadiss.