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Daily Inspiration: Meet LaJonel Brown

Today we’d like to introduce you to LaJonel Brown.

Hi LaJonel, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Time flies when you’re moving in *your* purpose, and I’m still exploring the idea of purpose (laughs). My passion as a creative goes back to my childhood. The dream to become a filmmaker really started to take shape when I was 12; I fell in love with the art of directing music videos. This was back in ‘97 when hip hop and R&B videos were becoming a pinnacle of our culture. I went on to study film at Temple University (screams “T-U!”) in Philadelphia, PA where directing music videos evolved into a passion for creating content for both TV and film. Fast forward to 2015, I created my first podcast, “Unfinished Business”, a lifestyle show hosted by myself and friends, in which we share our ordinary and not-so-ordinary perspectives on all aspects of life. In 2017, I co-hosted and co-produced one of Philadelphia’s popular online radio shows, “The Cave Show”. I love radios and podcasts too, as you can tell. (laughs) My move to LA in 2018 is when my career really took off, and I hit the ground running as soon as I landed. At 31, within weeks of moving here, I secured a dream job working for one of the production management teams at ViacomCBS. Simultaneously, I was hired as a producer for one of the best producer teams in town for an indie comedy series, “Outta Pocket”. In the three years I’ve been in LA, I produced multiple short films, unscripted digital shows and directed my first major music video (the first of many to come). I’m looking forward to what’s next!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
After spending a summer semester in LA interning at several companies, I knew LA was my city and I would ultimately land here and grow as a creative. Although I wanted to move right after I graduated college, I wouldn’t move here for another ten years. So was it a smooth road to get to this point? Of course not! (laughs) What I’ve come to understand about life at this small age (laughs) is that every seed planted matters. Leading up to my move, I worked at several companies: a popular television shopping network, a boutique market research firm, a major non-profit, and I couldn’t begin to name the odd jobs I worked in between. I used to be so down on myself that I wasn’t where I wanted to be.

But reflecting on this now, I cannot stress enough how much my past job experiences taught me the importance of being present. Keep pushing forward toward your goals, of course, but be present wherever you are on your journey. The value in every moment is priceless and remaining open to receive the gems in each moment is key. Obviously, they weren’t industry jobs but each experience definitely prepared me in their own special way for this chapter. That fear of failure is real! I still struggle with being vulnerable, it’s scary as hell to put yourself out there…and here I am. (laughs) I recently came across a video of a woman singing, “Sucking at something is the first step to becoming sorta good at something.” (laughs). I’m still discovering my voice as an artist. The first steps never end! There will always be new projects to learn from, new relationships to nurture, new ideas to develop–they all challenge me to yet again, take that first step, to continue learning about my craft and myself.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I love connecting and collaborating with people, and pair that with my passion of bringing a script/idea to life, it really is a dream come true. Producing a compelling story is just one part of what matters to me though. How it gets done is equally important to me. From hiring a star crew, managing the budget it takes to get a project made, establishing and nurturing the relationships along the way, and ensuring the project is executed in an upbeat and empowering environment is important to me. One way of looking at it, producers are advocates for the writers, the director, the crew, the studio, the story itself. It takes honesty, integrity, persistence to figure it out, and the courage to ask for help along the way. At the end of the day, if I’m not approaching my work like this, I’m not really doing my job, my way, and I’m not being me. Each of those values makes up my personal compass on this wild journey. In this season, I’m focused on sharpening my skills as a producer, and there’s still so much to learn. I recently took another leap of faith and transitioned from corporate to working in TV/film/podcast production as a freelancer.

Within the last six months, I wrapped two Netflix shows. I’m also producing a new podcast series and directing my first short film this year. I am beyond grateful and excited about the future. Overall, I’m proud to call LA my second home, and I’ve met a lot of good, like-minded strangers-turned-friends. We’re all driven, ambitious, and grounded; it’s nice to share this journey with them too. That means a lot to me. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made, the work that I’ve helped produce, and the belief I’ve developed that I can actually do this! That is my constant battle. I’m a firm believer in the mantra, “You can do whatever you want, never assume barriers.” My willingness to follow the path created for me while advocating for others is what truly sets me apart. I’m just thankful to muster up the courage each day to keep going for the amazing support system of family and friends and the different people I meet and collaborate with daily on this journey.

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
I listen to so many different types of podcasts (laughs). If it keeps me laughing, encourages me to reflect, and offers insight to better myself and lifestyle, I’m here for it. I especially love self-help podcasts, and astrology is my jam too (laughs). My sister jokes that I’m always listening to interviews, which is true. I love an entertaining and thought-provoking interview. Some of my fave podcasts below: Dropping Gems with Devi Brown Drink Champs Small Doses with Amanda Seales Million Dollaz Worth of Game Ghost of a Podcast: Astrology and Advice with Jessica Lanyadoo Brown Ambition with Mandi and Tiffany Human 2 Human with Stacy Ike Reaganomics Podcast hosted by Reagan Gomez has been a fave of mine for years now Passing Through hosted by Nneka J Myleik Teele’s Podcast is also another long time fave With books, similarly, I lean more towards self-help/motivational books and memoirs. I just started Cicely Tyson’s beautiful memoir, “Just as I Am”. I’m looking forward to getting deeper into her legacy. “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle is a classic. “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert is a must-read for anyone but especially for those who desire, as per the book’s tagline, “creative living without fear”. More specific to the work I do, check out “Producer to Producer” by Maureen A. Ryan. Another must-have for emerging and professional producers.

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Image Credits:

Adam Simms Chris Lewis

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