Name: Melanins Reigns
Job Title: Freelance Writer and Radio Host
Melanin Reigns is a freelance writer and radio host of WOLB 1010 ‘The Mentoring Clinic’. Born and partially raised in Pittsburgh, PA to two Liberian parents. Owner of Melanin Reigns Essentials LLC. However, she is more than just a writer and entrepreneur she is a spoken word artist, emcee, youth mentor and more.
For quite some time I would hear the name “Melanin Reigns” around the poetry and arts scene but had yet to meet the woman so many spoke highly of. One day, I finally had the chance to hear her spit some poetry. Her flow was deep and amazing, her voice, mesmerizing. Though her talents had Me enraptured, I could not ignore her physical beauty.
She wasn’t “pretty”, to simplify her that way would be an insult, she was stunning. Her movements were regal, her clothing told you she was proud of her heritage, she didn’t have to have anything showing to command the attention of all in the room. Her jewelry, you could tell was handcrafted and hand-picked, each ring, earring, bracelet to invoke or ward off. I had to get to know her, so I started to follow her on social media. Then I knew I had to introduce her to you.
Sapphire: You’re very well known and loved in the Baltimore arts scene, yet you’re a Pittsburgh native. How long have you been in the Baltimore area? How is the Baltimore arts scene different from the Pittsburgh arts scene?
Melanin Reigns: I’ve been in Baltimore for about 9 years now. Although I have yet to truly experience the Pittsburgh art scene, I can definitely say that there isn’t enough indigenous people and that for me is an issue. The Baltimore art scene is far more diverse and more importantly the soul still lives here.
Sapphire: You’re not just a poet but also have a beautiful singing voice. How did you first discover your talents? Do you remember your first time performing something you wrote?
Melanin Reigns: I’ve always known I was multi talented, however, I didn’t do much performing until I joined the Speak Life Tour. As far as performing, a spoken word artist by the name of Epiphany inspired me to step out and use my voice to its full potential. The first time I performed something I wrote, was a little over a year ago for Stephanie Rawlings Blake’s Mayoral Youth Domestic Violence Forum .
Sapphire: You happily live a vegan lifestyle. For those unfamiliar with Veganism, can you explain what that is? What led you to this lifestyle?
Melanin Reigns: So I actually do not subscribe to the label of vegan, simply because I shift my diet often according to resources and needs. However, I primarily live a plant based lifestyle and it was influenced by the quality of chicken that became popular in the market around 2008. They were injected with so many steroids that it could still be tasted through preparation and cooking. Long story short I started my journey around 2012 to eat to live instead of living to eat.
Sapphire: Speaking of veganism, on Fridays, you cook up a beautiful vegan meal and go out and feed the homeless and those in need. What inspired you to start “Feed a Friend Fridays?” How long have you been feeding strangers around Baltimore?
Melanin Reigns: Feed a Friend Friday started from my desire to engage with strangers. As crazy as it may sound, a lot of people could use a friend. What better way to commune than over food? From that basic thought came the element to provide those individuals with quality meals that would nourish their bodies as well. We prepare free, tasty vegetarian and vegan food. A win, win situation in my book.
Sapphire: You also run Melanin Reigns Essentials, LLC, a company that creates and sells natural products, hand-crafted jewelry and even performs spiritual readings. Can you tell us more about Melanin Reigns Essentials, LLC and what you offer?
Melanin Reigns: Melanin Reigns Essentials is a multi-faceted brand dedicated to making your online experience a one stop shop. We promote healthy living and all natural products that work with your enzymes, rather than disabling them overtime. We offer natural hair and body products such as; body butter, hair oils, soaps, toners etc. Our spiritual services include:tarot readings, spacial energy cleansing, touch and sound healing. The alkaline jewelry line is created with healing stones and crystals custom made just for YOU! All of these services are pioneered by profound sisters in the community. Rychel Reigns Accessories, YOUniversall Multi-media Co. ,Kifalme Royal Naturals and Mytia_styles are all incorporated within Melanin Reigns Essentials LLC.
Sapphire: What exactly is a spiritual reading? What does one usually get from it?
Melanin Reigns: Readings involve utilization of a medium to see what energy is willing to surface from the underworld aka the subconscious. So as a tarot card reader, I utilize my ability to transmute energy unto the cards, in order for clients to see them as well. The confirmation then comes from the client’s ability to identify where the “past position” messages are relevant in their life. (As they have already happened and can assist in gauging accuracy in the rest of the reading.) After which comes your present position then future. Depending on what spread is used, things like financial abundance or issues can show up. In regards to love, messages about divine partnerships, marriages, blockages due to residue from your ex and third party situations can appear also.
You will be assisted to your highest good if you stay in alignment with @mrsmelaninreigns advice. What intrigues people about “psychic intuition” is their ability to connect with things that appear outside of the self. People want to know how does this occur and how can it be validated? Find out for yourself, diagnostic readings begin at 7 dollars and 11 cents. Our theme at MelaninReigns.com is to stop avoiding your healing process. The driving force behind the readings is to offer guidance in healing. You absolutely cannot go wrong with evolving authentically.
Sapphire: Ask Melanin? I love the concept. How long have you been doing “Melanin Mondays” on Facebook? What topics do you find most people come to you for guidance on?
Melanin Reigns: Melanin Mondays will soon be embarking upon it’s one year anniversary. Most people inquire about a starting point to heal and advice on how to pursue their true passions. I can always be reached on melaninreigns.com! Click the “Ask Melanin” tab under ‘Contact Us’.
Sapphire: Any big summer plans or performances coming up?
Melanin Reigns: I am touring Baltimore, DC, Philadelphia, New York, Virginia, California and MORE all summer long with the Speak Life Tour. Be sure to log onto speaklifetour.org to find out dates and invite us to your city! We have a lineup of phenomenal artists, hand picked by our founder @Cspeaksofficial. If you’ve never experienced our host @EpiphanysWords then you definitely need tickets to the next show.
Sapphire: You have some cool performance videos on YouTube, do you still perform live?
Melanin Reigns: Gratitude beloved. I still perform live and Melanin Reigns the music artist has plenty of gifts in store for fall!
Sapphire: Where can people follow you and purchase your natural products?
Melanin Reigns: Your healthy addiction begins at MelaninReigns.com ! Please keep in mind that when you support Melanin Reigns Essentials LLC. , you’re supporting a variety of small businesses that give back to communities like yours!
@MelaninReigns on all social media.
Name: Shae McCoy
Job Title(s): Journalist/ Photographer (freelance)
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore’s own Shae McCoy has been consistently blazing platforms and leaving her media footprint within the DMV ( DC-MD-VA) area and beyond. At the ripe age of 22, she founded Uncommonrealist.com, a media source positively cultivating the minds of the public in not just the realest way but in a “realist” way.
McCoy’s deep passion for pop culture, the arts, and news has enabled her to expand her brand and be in the same room with the greats. Shae has had the honor to interview actors, activists, community leaders, and local politicians. One of the highlights of her career was interviewing the Michael B. Jordan, who starred in the Wire, Fruitvale Station, and Friday Night Lights.
Shae fell in love with words at an early age. She was enamored with its power to move, motivate, and inspire. As a young girl, she wrote personal narratives and short stories. As Shae grew older, she grew fond of journalism and realized that is how she would make her mark on the world.
She recently started Coy-Op Photos, a photography brand that caters to various types of photography.
Sapphire: Though you’re so young, your journey as a photojournalist has been a long one. Can you tell us how you got started? Which came first, your love of writing or love of photography?
Shae: I started this journey as just a blogger/journalist in 2013. Uncommonrealist really was something that was created in the same day that I thought about it. For years before that, I wanted to create a blog, but didn’t know where to start. I literally just had a day off from my retail job and got to work. The name of my blog came as fast as lightning, I didn’t have to put too much thought into it. I wrote my first article about Fruitvale Station and once I started receiving feedback about my article I knew that this was something I was meant to do and to keep it up.
I started doing photography in July of 2016. I originally picked up photography to be able to add photos to my articles so that I wouldn’t have to search for images via google. That plan didn’t stick too long because it was festival season, so I ventured out. I took my first collection of photos at the African American Festival and was pleased with results. That was also where I picked up my first paid gig.
Sapphire: Three years ago, you started your own company, The Uncommon Realist. What inspired you to launch your own brand? What did publishing under your own brand do for you as a journalist?
Shae: I’ve loved to write ever since I was a kid, I started out with creative writing. I always wrote the best stories, narratives and poems in my classes. Writing is something I can do with my eyes closed as long as it isn’t being forced, because no one wants to be forced when it comes to something they love. As I grew older I kind of strayed away from writing for a while because I was going through turmoil at home.
Once I got to college and saw that there were classes dedicated to writing, I picked it back up. I always knew that I would find a place in the media field, I just didn’t know where I would be exactly. News reporting always sparked my interest, but I didn’t think I was fit for TV so I gradually moved into writing in a journalistic style. I started Uncommonrealist in my sophomore year of college and then left school for three years. I didn’t think I was focused enough at the time. Starting Uncomonrealist definitely is shaping me as a professional and developing me as a person. As a journalist, it has presented me with plenty of opportunities.
Sapphire: You’re a contributing writer to the newspaper at the University of Baltimore, The UB Post; How long have you been writing for the publication? What are you majoring in at the University of Baltimore?
Shae: I have been writing for The UB Post since February of this year. My major is Digital Communications.
Sapphire: You recently wrote an article about the state of Baltimore’s inner city communities, focused on generational poverty and gentrification. What made you decide to write the story? What kind of response did you get?
Shae: I wrote that story because I am living that story as we speak. I am in a better space than I was growing up, but I am still in the same neighborhood I wrote about. The way that it is changing before my eyes is mind blowing and I had to express that because I know a lot of inner city residents can relate. The responses I received were mostly in concurrence with what I discussed. People were offering suggestions and trying to help.
Sapphire: There’s a huge LED billboard on Charles Street, a major Baltimore thoroughfare; it’s located practically right outside on Baltimore’s Penn Station which is a central transportation hub for the east coast. What does it feel like to have your work on a billboard with the capacity to reach millions of people daily?
Shae: It was a great feeling, a small success, but a great feeling nonetheless. It was just something on my list that I wanted to do. It was cool to see my work up that high and for people to stop and take pictures. I made sure that I included photos that I took of people I know so that they could see themselves up there as well.
Sapphire: Photographers tend to be shy, quiet thoughtful types. Who is Shae McCoy? How would you describe your personality and personal style?
Shae: I’m someone who appears to be very social, but really likes to be around a small amount of people or alone. I’m always shy in the beginning until I feels like she is comfortable enough to be open and fun around you. I’m outgoing and outspoken, which can appear as a contradiction to my usual laid back self. I just likes to be comfortable when not out working hard, that usually requires a loose outfit and a place with a great view.
Sapphire: Where do you see yourself five years after graduation from UB?
Shae: Working in a newsroom, but if print media is still relevant in 5 years I can see myself in that field as well. I see myself as a photographer for huge companies and both of my brands expanding in a major way. I never really answer this question too well. [lol] The world is forever changing I just hope to be on the good end of things.
Sapphire: I’ve noticed and have been enjoying your summer photo series. What can people expect from you this summer?
Shae: Thank you. I plan on having a book made for 2 of my photography collections, one old and one new. While preparing for that I will be around at some of the local events this summer snapping photos and doing shoots.
Sapphire: Where can people keep up with your work and find more of you?
Shae: People can keep up with brands by:
Visiting and subscribing to Uncommonralist.com
Liking “Uncommonrealist” on facebook
Following “Uncomonrealist” on soundcloud
Following “Uncommonrealist” on Tumblr
Thank you so much for having me!
Dionne Halsey is a song writer, event host and mental health/self care advocate. She’s also the co-founder of Heal Baltimore and Creativity and Conscious Sippin, Dionne currently co-creates events that bring people together to support art and to give back to their communities. Dionne also hosts a popular variety show in Baltimore called #ThursdayNightRealness and facilitates workshops that focus on mental health and self care. Let’s take a minute to get to know her a little better.
Sapphire: I was initially drawn to you because of your drive. I first noticed you as an event hostess. I was pleasantly surprised to find out you had much more to offer. In three sentences or less, how would you pitch yourself. Who are you?
DaHitWryter: First let me thank you for this interview. Alright so, I’m a motivator, team player and creator. I build, create and work with others to do the things that align with my purpose, and provide positive change.
Sapphire: You’re so diverse and I love it. You originally got your start in music. How did you get into song writing? Was writing always a hobby or passion for you?
DaHitWryter: Writing is so therapeutic for me. I wrote my first song for church when I was about 9. Then I got consumed with my first love, basketball. So I actually started writing consistently again when I was in high school. I actually would write for my peers and hang on my front porch and write and spit verses with the guys in my neighborhood.
Sapphire: You been lucky enough to work inside the music industry as well learning more about the industry. These days you even guest host and interview some cool people. What have you learned from working inside the music industry?
DaHitWryter: Working in the music industry, I learned about the business and most importantly I learned a lot about what’s for me, and what’s not for me. It’s important to be self aware when you are constantly around others and exchanging energy.
Sapphire: Do you prefer to be in the spotlight or more behind the scenes? Why
DaHitWryter: I actually prefer to be behind scenes because I love supporting others and seeing other people take my words and give them life when I write a song or some other piece for them.
Sapphire: You have many artistic talents, I love that you nurture them. How long have you been doing graphic arts? Was it hard to learn the craft?
I’ve been doing graphic arts, without realizing it, for over 10 years. I’ve always been the type to play around with gadgets and take things apart and put them together so once I taught myself the program, making flyers and all that, became easy. It definitely saves and creates additional income for me.
Sapphire: You are co-creator of Heal Baltimore and Creativity and Conscious Sippin, what can you tell us about these organizations and how you became involved?
DaHitWryter: Heal Baltimore came about after the riots that took place in Baltimore. It was actually an uprising as well. I kept saying the affirmation Heal Batimore so I reached out to my business partners and said, hey, would you be interested in putting together events that support and give back to our communities? And they were all in. We have artistic events, and we put together drives to collect things for those who need them. CCS is a mobile paint and sip company. We bring the sip and paint to your home, office, bar or wherever we are needed. Another business partner of mine was looking for ways to incorporate her artwork into her brand. So we did research and reached out to a company for her to work with. At the time they didn’t have any openings so I encouraged her to start her own company and ended up becoming a business partner. We also put together artistic events for the public too.
Sapphire: As someone diagnosed with mental illness Myself, I was extremely drawn to your need to share your story of battling depression. I’m glad that you got the help you needed. How has battling depression affected your life?
DaHitWryter: Battling depression would always have an effect on me being consistent with my career. There were times where I just wanted to sleep all day and let life pass by.
Sapphire: In the Black community, mental illness is generally overlooked or downplayed. We are told to Suck it up, pray and the like. How supportive was your family and inner circle when they found out You were battling with mental illness?
DaHitWryter: My inner circle really stepped up once I revealed that I was feeling depressed and suicidal. At the time, I had a partner who went to the end of the world for me, and I cherish her for that. My family didn’t really know because I shutdown after coming to a family member about it and it not being taken serious. That family member was depressed too.
Sapphire: What’s up next for you? What can fans expect to see from DaHitWryter?
DaHitWryter: Fans can expect more hosting, workshops about mental health and self care, motivational speaking, and new music! More businesses and merchandise too.
Sapphire: How can people keep up with your work? Drop them links on us.
DaHitWryter: I’m big on hashtags so if you’re on Twitter, IG or Facebook it’s @DH_DaHitwryter or just plug in #TheDHExperience. To hear music from me as a lyricist and also a songwriter, check me out at www.soundcloud.com/dhdahitwryter. My website will be returning soon. Thanks again Queen and to all those supporting.
I’m coming out the house this weekend and I can’t wait to hit this event. It’s like a coming out event for Me, so many people know of Me but have never Me. I’ve been out the house recently more in Baltimore. This past weekend I had My second radio interview in two weeks to promote this site as well as My other business ventures. I’ve been asked to come back and co-host on March 31st.
This Sunday I’m all geared up for the DMA
I’ll be in the building with business cards, fliers and promo issues of Experience Reality Magazine. I hope to meet some new fans, and contacts. I love My job, in fact, I interviewed one of the panel members, Brave Williams, for a magazine cover last year.
Hey guys and dolls,
As you can see I’ve been pouring My heart into making this site a place devoted to real talent, diversity and supporting the independent artist/entertainer.
I love what I do and I love helping other showcase their talents. Tomorrow afternoon I have a radio interview to talk about the things I do through this site, My new book and more.
I hope you tune in and show support.
I’ll be on The Artist Exchange Radio Show
The Artist Exchange Radio Show
Topic: – Let’s Talk Business PT.2
Nate Couser (Host)
Guests: Teara Booker & Melony “Sapphire” Hill
Real Artists⭐Real Talk⭐Real Live
My segment should be around 1 p.m.
Call in at (410) 702-5657
Name: Latonia Martin
Measurements: 5’7″ 240lbs 42-46-48
Latonia “Shostoppa” Martin is an up and coming model and actress out of Chicago Illinois. A plus size model, Latonia is hoping to help change the way plus models are perceived in the industry. Also a budding actress, Latonia shows her diversity as she makes her way up the ladder.
Sapphire: I appreciate you taking time out your busy schedule to sit down and talk to me. How long have you been in the entertainment industry? How did you get your big break?
Latonia: Actually, I just got into the entertainment industry in November of last year. I got my big break at my runway graduation from Chocolate Modeling Academy, when Shettima Web, another plus size model, opened the doors to opportunity for me.
Sapphire: When we met, I thought you were just a model, I was pleasantly surprised to see that you’re an actress as well. Can you tell us about Undercover Detectives?
Latonia: Undercover Detectives is a show about corrupt detectives that will be starting soon. It is directed by April Whitaker, I play the part of Patience. The cast is currently on a radio tour to promote the show, we most recently did Intellectual Radio with Brandi Love in Chicago.
Sapphire: Inquiring minds would like to know, how did you get the name “Shostoppa”?
Latonia: A group of my friends gave it to me for my comedy and clothes when I come in people look at me so I’m the Shostoppa.
Sapphire: How long have you been working with the Plushsize Modeling Agency? How did you end up joining the team?
Latonia: I’ve been with them only for a few weeks. By chance meeting I met Felicia, who owns the agency. We hit it off and she scooped me up for her agency and pus sized magazine.
Sapphire: As a plus sized model have you found the modeling industry to be open and welcoming? What is your biggest challenge as a plus model?
Latonia: Many Designers still have to learn to work with diversity, the industry and world is changing as we speak.
Sapphire: You looked beautiful at your Scholarship 2017 event. For those unfamiliar with the event, can you tell us about it?
Latonia: I’ve been a part of St. John Grand Chapter in Chicago for 17 years. We raise money to give scholarships to High school Seniors towards college. Every February we have a large banquet
Sapphire: Are you more of a tomboy or a girly girl? How would you describe your style?
Latonia: Both actually. I can go to 0 to 100 real quick, switching from a fully beat face to gym shoes and jeans
Sapphire: What advice would you give to young girls who aspire to be models even though they don’t fit the traditional standards of the modeling industry?
Latonia: Learn to take constructive criticism you will be told no. You have just keep going and put God first
Sapphire: What’s next for Ms. Shostoppa? What can fans look forward to seeing from you in the near future?
Latonia: I’m planning to make My way to New York Fashion Week, see the Bulls play and to hone my acting talents
Sapphire: How can someone book you and keep up with your work?
Latonia: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Nafrini is a Conscious Hip Hop artist hailing from the Midwest, on a mission to bring back authentic storytelling and substance to the art form of Hip Hop. In the spring of 2015 she released ‘All Day (Promo)’, a freestyle over Kanye West’s track of the same name where she addressed the braggadocio nature of rap music. She followed that up in the winter of 2015 with her first official single ‘In My Hands’—a laid back hip hop record detailing the obstacles of her spiritual journey followed by the release of the ‘In My Hands’ music video in the spring of 2016.
In the Fall of 2016 she released her second single ‘Lovin’ Him (That Was That Bullshit)’ detailing a past relationship that ended in regret. 2017 promises the next chapter in that tale with new music & visuals, live performances and as always, a focus on telling true-to-life stories.
Sapphire: Your portfolio on Model Mayhem is stunning. Each photo more mesmerizing. I see you’ve been modeling for 11 years, what got you started in the modeling industry and how hard was it to find your niche?
Name: Mecca verdell
Sapphire: When I met you I was introduced to you as Mecca but I’ve come to know you as M E C C A ~M O R P H O S IS. How did the name come about?
Mecca: I got the name from another nickname actually, “Meccaroni” and I wondered what other words I could play around with. So it went from Meccaroni…to Meccatron…then one day Meccamorphosis was born and it sound awesome to me so I stuck with it.
Sapphire: You perform as a part of DewMore Baltimore. Can you tell us about the program and how you got involved?
Mecca: Getting involved with DewMore had to be the best experience of my life so far. I came into the program through a club they had for western high school then started writing more and more. I was looking for an outlet since Western didn’t have a theater club at the time and poetry was a perfect blend of acting and writing. Now to be a writer is a career I hope to have.
Sapphire: How long have you been writing and performing poetry and spoken word? What influenced
Mecca: I’ve been writing for little over a year now, and I owe it all to my mentors at Dewmore Baltimore.
Sapphire: You’re not a Baltimore native but you’re making quite a name for yourself in the city. Where are you from and what was it like relocating here? Did you find it easy to assimilate?
Sapphire: I’m from New Jersey and I was just starting to have a footing there but right when things started to go right it went sour with family issues and such. So having a complete new start in Baltimore was a huge change for me. Especially with Baltimore being so other worldly but then again so am I in my own way. I awkwardly felt at home as soon as I started to meet the right people.
Sapphire: You recently hosted your own open mic event for the first time. How’d you pick the name
Ryhmin Noodles? What was it like to host your own event?
Mecca: Recently I started the first independent youth open mic, and it was the most stressful time of my life. I was worried but it was nice seeing my dreams come true. I called it “Rhymin noodles” after a verse by one of my favorite artist Chance the rapper. “I should rhyme, rhyme with ramen noodles.” Its was a good success for a first open mic and I owe to my poetry family, my parents, also the owners of Breaking Bread restaurant for letting me host the show at their establishment.
Sapphire: You’re a co-host on VVC Radio? What is your show about and when is it on?
Mecca: I started co-hosting on VVC online radio in November I believe. It was right after my first interview they asked me to join with Speak, the main host of the show. The show is called Speakeasy Poetry Radio. We talking about current events in music and poetry locally and nationally every Monday at 8 on VVCRadio.com
Sapphire: What inspires you? What topics do you find yourself compelled to write about?
Mecca: I write about everything, at least I try to. Because I don’t want to be limited at all. I wanna make poem on almost every topic in a new refreshing way.
Sapphire: Switching gears a little, you’re not just a spoken word artist/writer, you’re also an activist. You marched for justice for Freddie Gray and locked yourself in a government building
overnight in the name of justice. Were you arrested? What inspired you to get involved
Mecca: I got involved because my friends needed me to but I don’t like calling myself an activist just because I got arrested. It wasn’t solely for the cause even though I was in the moment. I did it because I wanted to make sure my friends were safe. And that they weren’t hurt in way. But now I’ve been more active ever since. I’m an ambassador at LBS (Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle) where I use art to give attention to different issues. I still feel like I cant call myself an activist. Not just yet.
Sapphire: What can we expect to see from you in the near future?
Mecca: I hope to push poetry to new limits as my writing grows. I don’t wanna give to much because I have such a big mouth, but I’m working on a poetry mix tape called “Unaprosegetic.” It talks on all social issues about blackness in a new way. But I’m also making this mix tape to kind of “scratch” black lives matter poems off my list. I also have a lot of projects coming up so stay tuned.
Sapphire: Where can people follow your work? Drop them links on us.
Mecca: As I always say “you can follow me everywhere but my house” @meccamorphosis on all social media.
I just love being able to highlight and showcase talented people. There’s something about watching others shine that brings Me a real inner joy and peace. I think because in so many way I’ve achieved My dreams I love other dreamers.
Yesterday the new issue of London LeBlanc Magazine was released featuring two interviews I conducted. This is the third issue of London LeBlanc I’ve written for. I’m so happy to be able to offer talent not only the opportunity to be featured here but also in print.