Trust the process — Some days you might feel like you’re sitting on top of the world and other times you might feel like the world is on top of your shoulders. Whatever the day might bring, just remember to walk through the situation with grace and with your eyes wide open!
As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Angel N. Livas of IAMBLACK.org
When it comes to connecting to the hearts of audiences, you must be relatable, transparent, honest…and quite frankly you have to know what you’re talking about. Angel N. Livas marries her tremendous life experiences with her spiritual compass to guide others through managing life on and off the clock. Her direct nature draws audiences, but her keen story-telling captures their attention and provokes them to take action. She’s the award-winning producer for the I AM BLACK documentary “The Enlightenment,” the recipient of the 2019 Communicator Award for her radio program “The Woman Behind The Business” Talk Show, and an international best-selling author. Angel Livas is helping individuals not only live but be #ALIVE.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?
After studying broadcast journalism at Howard University — I knew I wanted to create impact through storytelling. Upon graduation I was afforded my first opportunity in mainstream media at Bloomberg Television in Washington, DC. While I enjoyed the idea of being a field producer for a mainstream network — I wasn’t a fan of politics or Wall Street — so, working on the show Money & Politics wasn’t a great fit.
Fast forward through jobs at NBC and a local radio station I found my flow at AARP where I ultimately served as the youngest executive producer in their media department and earned the title as Director of Radio. It’s funny, I always say that Howard University made me — but, AARP raised me. Here’s why…I spent 10-years of my life being groomed for the moments that are my today and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and growth I gained through my time there. But with all things — time brings about a change and my shift happened the winter of 2014. I believe all major corporations and nonprofits go through phases of realignment — this time it left me without a job.
As a child my dad always told us to have something to fall back on because no job ever owes you anything. He would say “You can be their best employee, but, if budget cuts come and you’re costing the company a lot (salary wise)…you’ll be the first to go.” When this became my reality — I wasn’t afraid or really worried — however, my overachiever nature felt like I had to figure out my “what’s next” and fast. After a few months of failed interviews and empty offers I decided to start my own business. I mean, why not — I’d made previous employers millions … Why not create that for me and my family? So, in 2015 that’s what I did when I created DC Media Connection.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?
One of the funniest mistakes that I made when I started hosting television programs was funny, but also embarrassing. At one of the studio shoots that I was recording standups for — I forgot that my mic was hot (i.e. on) when I left the stage to rush to the bathroom. Fortunately, nothing embarrassing took place in the stall — but, just knowing that the control room could hear me peeing … it was funny and still embarrassing…lol. That moment taught me to always turn or take my mic off when I’m not recording!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
For the more seasoned readers — I’m sure you remember Larry King…well, when he left CNN, I was the executive producer for his radio program Larry King Droppin’ In. I also created an online radio program as a compliment to Jane Pauley’s weekly “Your Life Calling” appearances on The Today Show. Throughout my career — I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with many celebrities including Russel Simmons, Dick Gregory, Dan Rather, Chaka Khan, Marlo Thomas and one of my most favorite interactions was with best-selling author Terry McMillan.
One of my favorite memories is when Larry King’s ex-wife Shawn Southwick invited me to his surprise 80th birthday bash King’s favorite baseball stadium…Dodger’s Stadium.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m excited to announce the upcoming release of the #ALIVE project. This project is designed to help individuals not just live but be alive. Over the past few years, especially throughout 2020, I’ve watched people fall into mundane routines and later complain about feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied with where they are in life. I never pass judgement on these people, because I understand what it feels like to be in a rut and suffocating because you feel trapped in a particular situation. This was my reality. It was my life…however, I knew it wasn’t my destiny. About 6-months after my divorce in 2019, I was introduced to the book “Your One Word” by Evan Carmichael. The premise of the book is essentially that we all have one word that clearly speaks to your life’s purpose. Yup…just one. Initially, I thought it was totally absurd ..until I went through the exercises and after months of selecting a word…and later deselecting it. I prayed. I waited. I listened. And I discovered that my one word is ALIVE. When I consider what my personal brand represents…when I think about all of the many tasks that I juggle…it all boils down to helping others feel ALIVE. This revelation led to a complete brand overhaul that is slated to go live on Thursday, October 1st. The ALIVE momentum is built on the pillars of Courageous, Conqueror, Catalyst.
Under the Catalyst pillar you’ll find my most recent platform “I AM BLACK,” created to enlighten, educate and ultimately evolve our country to a state of truly being united. We are currently working on part three of our I AM BLACK series that is slated to take place in November 2020. The upcoming conversation will focus on the power of the black dollar and coincide with the impact the Montgomery Bus Boycott had on impacting change in America.
The first installment in the I AM BLACK series premiered the award-winning documentary “The Enlightenment” followed by a panel conversation that featured: Michael Eric Dyson, Thomas Dortch, Jr., Rev. Dr. Howard John Wesley, and other affluent men in the Black community that discussed their thoughts on moving the country forward. Then on the 57th anniversary of the 16th St. Baptist Church bombing we hosted — Her Story — featuring Sarah Collins Rudolph, the only surviving little girl from the bathroom explosion. In addition, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Sue-Ann Robinson, esq, and Angela White joined the conversation around what it means to be a black woman in America during the 21st century.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
I am most fond of the strong, yet silent type of individuals. Those who know their influence towards change — yet, don’t feel the need to boast about it. For even the bible says: “Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6:4
Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?
At the top of 2020, I AM BLACK wasn’t a concept or even an idea I’d been considering. However, after the recurring deaths of black men and women I had to do something. I wanted to use my platform and my passion for storytelling to enlighten the world to truly understand the immediate struggles that black men and women face — strictly based on one color…black. I am elated to share that our last project “I AM BACK: Her Story” allowed us to recognize Sarah Collins Rudolph, the fifth girl in the 16th St. Baptist Church bombing. She lost her oldest sister in the explosion and half of her eyesight. At the end of the Her Story event we presented Sarah with a love offering of over 3k dollars. It’s initiatives like this that our team enjoys working on.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?
Shortly after the global shutdowns began due to Covid-19, I launched a weekly prayer breakfast that featured christian artists and speakers. Well, one day at the end of the show one of the black artists, who looks and is completely an innocent soul…shared an encounter he had with the police. He explained that he and his two children were being signaled to pull over — however he felt unsafe pulling over on the dark windy road. so he drove a little further up until he could pull into a well lit gas station. Upon coming face-to-face with the officer — he was yelled at and drug out of his car while his two young children cried for him from the backseat. It was in that moment that I realized that I myself had my own bias around the types of black men and women being killed by officers. It was then that I realized that if I, a black woman didn’t realize that these hanest crimes are happening to all of our brothers…regardless of their level of education, economic status, or political affiliation…being black immediately places them in harm’s way…and that was a story that I believed needed to be shared.
When something speaks to your soul so much that you can’t deny the calling on you to act — you know that it’s your responsibility to answer the call.
The amazing thing about the I AM BLACK documentary and platform was before June 1st — none of it existed. However, on June 19th, less than 3 weeks from concept we had produced an award-winning hour documentary, developed a website, launched a full media campaign, and organized a live panel with high profile speakers.
This is what I call “God’s project” — I truly believe that I was merely the vessel that God used to draw attention to this unfortunate truth for black men.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Yes, Sarah Collins Rudolph, the fifth girl in the 16th St. Baptist Church bombing, who survived the attack that claimed the life of four young girls: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair — back in 1963. This November Sarah Collins Rudolph will be 70-years old.
We were able to provide her a token of love (3,000 dollars) to help her with her medical bills or to merely do something nice for herself.
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
Yes, individuals, organizations or government entities can support our efforts through financial contributions. Because I AM BLACK is an entity of The Woman Behind The Business®, a 501(c)3 all donations are tax deductible and proceeds go towards providing compelling and impactful content.
They can also collaborate with us on projects. If they have an audience that they believe can benefit from the content that we’re producing — we love collaborative partnerships that help us spread the word.
Lastly, individuals, government entities, and organizations can volunteer to assist us with program development or at our LIVE events.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Trust the process — Some days you might feel like you’re sitting on top of the world and other times you might feel like the world is on top of your shoulders. Whatever the day might bring, just remember to walk through the situation with grace and with your eyes wide open!
- Give yourself grace — The outcome of every situation won’t always go exactly as planned and you are bound to mess up a few things along the way. Remember that you are human and are deserving of a little grace.
- Just because God gave you the vision — doesn’t mean that everyone will be able to see it. This was a hard lesson to learn. A lot of times we want our friends and family to support our goals, dreams and ambitions…however it can be outside their ability to understand or even identify with. No matter how much their lack of interest impacts you…just keep going.
- You’re going to need a village. Your “village” are those people who support you…jump in to help you when you need it…and also tell you when it’s time to refocus.
- You might lose friends, loved ones, and possibly parts of yourself along the way. For me — pursuing my passion exposed the inadequacies in my marriage…needless to say, I’m divorced now…however, I couldn’t be happier and my business is thriving.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
When you leave this world — what will be your mark to show that you were in fact here? It’s all about being a Catalyst…creating a legacy. At the end of the day your life isn’t just about you…you have a gift that this world needs. Don’t be afraid to shine…
We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I’d love to collaborate with Michael B. Jordan…I love the work that he’s doing as an ambassador of the Social Justice Film Festival.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My Life Lesson Quote is “Do it Scared” … throughout my life I have always been willing to take a leap of faith and do things that most people my age wouldn’t think of doing. For instance, just over 4-years ago, I launched a nonprofit for women entrepreneurs called The Woman Behind The Business. The original concept was to focus on the woman behind her various roles. I was in my second year of business ownership full-time and was beginning to understand the wrath from entrepreneurial burnout. It was then that I realized that 90% of women entrepreneurs probably felt just like me because they too were attempting to work on their business and in their business simultaneously. I also understood the guilt that can arise by taking a break when there is so much more work that needs to be done…so, I launched the Woman Behind The Business Retreat. I knew that in order for me to get away without the guilt — I’d need to gain something from the experience…so, that’s what I created for other working women like me. Now, I had no idea what I was getting myself into…planning an international retreat…and if I was going to do this…I wanted it to be worthwhile. So, with every ounce of creativity, passion, and fear I launched my first international retreat 4 years ago. The retreat was an absolute success and earlier this year, we hosted our 3rd retreat titled “Vision 20/20: Using Scriptures to Propel You To New Dimensions”.
How can our readers follow you online?
Please follow me on all social media platforms @angelnlivas and my website is angelnlivas.com
This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!