Photo Caption: EM Mobile Media Reporters, Kalyn Prothro and Mycah Clay at 2018 ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans
By MYCAH CLAY
Embarking on New Orleans, Louisiana to cover the 2018 Essence Festival was an awe-inspiring experience that began immediately upon landing in New Orleans. The airport was filled with self-proclaimed and authentic, “Black Girl Magic” and a multitude of celebrities and fans vying for “selfies.” My personal and professional assignments during the festival were to gain and share perspective through the lens of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1997) and Gen Zs (born after 1998) and manage my “star crushes”.
Lesson 1: Stay Off of Your Phone! Life and Celebrities Will Pass You By.
I deplaned in New Orleans on Day One of the festival and immediately jumped on my phone to check-in on social media. I quickly discovered that momentary distractions can rob you of the benefit of human connections. With my phone put away, it allowed me to be fully in the moment so I could appreciate fully my 30-minute airport experience in the presence of 12-time Grammy Award Winning gospel singer Kirk Franklin, actor and producer Rotimi, (known for his work in Divergent, Power and Betrayal) and MTV award-winning creative director and choreographer for music legends Beyoncé and Mariah Carey, Anthony Burrell.
Lesson 2: Your Actions Have Consequences.
During a pressroom interview, singer/songwriters Ne-Yo and Amina Buddafly shared several pearls of wisdom. Ne-Yo discussed the legacy he would like to leave for his children and the Gen Z generation. He stated quite simply “I have been thinking a lot about my legacy. I would like to be remembered as a good dude, a real dude; who spoke from his heart and had authenticity.”
Amina Buddafly discussed the life lessons that she has learned from the negative experiences she endured over the past few years. Amina shared that it has been very difficult to change society’s perception of her based on her persona on Love and Hip Hop. She stated, “My life has always been told in the public eye; but not by me. For years I have felt misunderstood. Now, I am focusing on being a mother. That is the most important job in my life.” The future looks promising for Amina. She has two new projects; her first book entitled, “The Other Woman” and a new album entitled, “Mother.”
Lesson 3: People Will Respond To and Remember How You Made Them Feel.
While forever grateful for the chance to be up close and personal with Boris Kodjoe (Real Husbands of Hollywood), Nicole Ari Parker (Empire), Jussie Smollett (Empire), Naturi Naughton (Power) and the cast of Dancing Divas of Olive Branch (Reality-TV); the experience with Regina Hall, though brief, was the most memorable.
Hall best known for her roles in (Think Like A Man, Best Man, Barbershop and most recently Girls Trip) sat down to a captive audience at the Convention Center to discuss her new projects, The Hate U Give and Money Monday. Additionally, she shared insights on Hollywood and the importance of female relationships. The session was well received and seemed to be a “fan favorite.”
After the discussion, I made my way through a myriad of correspondents, photographers and fans and approached Hall to ask a question. She responded, “Can you give me a moment?” I replied yes. To my disappointment her staff whisked her away backstage to the holding area. I accompanied the credentialed crowd backstage and just when it seemed I would be consumed by the taller, older more experienced correspondents I heard a voice say, “There you are.” Regina Hall grabbed my hand, pulled me and my colleague out of the crowd. She talked with us. She SAW us. Her five-minute investment empowered and inspired two Millennials/Gen Zs to live out our dreams unapologetically!
On behalf of Millennials and Gen Zs nationwide, 2018 Essence Festival, I salute you for providing the platform for empowerment, authentic encounters, entrepreneurship and most of all, creative expression through a myriad of art forms. #BlackGirlMagic #EssenceLessons #EssenceReflections
The 2019 Essence Festival will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana from July 5-8, 2019.
See you next year.