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Hidden Gems: Meet Marie Lemelle of Platinum Star Public Relations

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marie Lemelle.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I champion the philosophy of “Transform Your Goals into Greatness” through my transformational branding, marketing and public relations expertise as CEO and founder of Platinum Star Public Relations, Inc., a certified MWBE, SBE and DBE, and Platinum Star Media Group, Inc., an entertainment company. Throughout my career as a journalist, author, publicist, and multi-facet entertainment professional, I leverage opportunities to create progressive platforms of empowerment for women and vulnerable underserved communities, Lauded as an influencer, I am a native of Southern California and listed in the first and second editions of the Who’s Who in Black Los Angeles.

An award-winning journalist, my quest to keep communities informed of vital issues led me to write for numerous news publications across the globe including a weekly column, “Health Matters,” to educate and raise awareness about health disparities in the Black community for the Los Angeles Wave Newspaper. To tackle the tsunami of information about COIVD-19 and other medical topics, the Wave newspaper tapped me as the columnist for its weekly “Rx Report.” After co-authoring the inspirational, informative book, “The Female Code: A Woman’s Book for Empowerment & Confidence,” I continued to find ways to provide solutions for any individual who resonated with struggle with pivoting when life gives you surprise. That said, I am the author of two upcoming books, “I Am Not My Illness: Personal Stories of Inspiration and Hope” and “Lights, Camera, Action Plan: How to Survive and Succeed in Hollywood.” As the Chinese proverb states, “Any book you open will benefit your mind.”

My journey in the entertainment industry was unconventional and was birthed in a male-dominated sports. I started as a pro boxing publicist for the Mongoose Boxing Team established in San Diego, CA and chaired by the legendary light heavyweight champion Archie “Old Mongoose” Moore who hold the record in knockouts at more than 130. Ever-evolving my brand and knowledge, I accepted the challenge to take on additional roles as a casting director, unit production manager, talent manager, and producer. In advancing diversity and inclusive media, I mentor individuals of all backgrounds and gender identity.

A committed humanitarian, activist and civic leader, I am a member of the New Frontier Democratic Club, Glendale Democratic Club, League of Women Voters, the National Congress of Black Women, the National Association of Black Journalists, Women In Leadership Vital Voices, and the Los Angeles African American Women Public Policy Institute. I also serve on the Public Broadcast Service (PBS) Community Council.

My civic service record is broad. She was a former commissioner for the City of Glendale’s Commission on the Status of Women and formerly a Board Member of the California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. I am an active board member of the L.A. Humanity Group Foundation.

For my unwavering commitment to empowering and mentoring women, young girls, and the community at large, I serve on the YWCA Glendale and Pasadena Board. I have received numerous honors and certificates including the National Association of Female Executives Women of Excellence Award for Community Service and the Community Advocate of the Year by the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. I serve as the Chief of Staff for the Honorable Consulate Isatu Timbo for Sierra Leone, Africa to create a digital footprint and raise awareness about medical missions.

Higher education has been a great foundation to navigate in a multi-cultural world, I hold a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of La Verne, a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Regents College, earned a certificate in journalism from UCLA, a leadership certificate from the USC Los Angeles African American Women Public Policy Institute’s Public Policy and Leadership Program, and a Cultural Diversity and Inclusion certification from the City of West Hollywood. I earned certifications in the Fundamentals of Media Relations and the Fundamentals of Social Media.

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?
The path to anyone’s destiny is rarely smooth. My obstacles and challenges mostly stemmed from venturing in uncharted waters, in other words, industries that were unfamiliar to me. When I was tapped to join a boxing promoter and later a record label, there was little time for a learning curb and I stumbled from time to time. My biggest lesson was to learn from mistakes and to understand that “rejection is a chance for redirection.” I forged friendships with professionals who mentored me and allowed me to shadow their work ethics and performance.

I am no stranger to adversity or systemic racism. As the eldest daughter of Clayton and Theresa Lemelle. Who grew up in the Jim Crow era, I was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in the San Gabriel Valley suburb of West Covina. My early life experiences in a then predominately white city and school system could have been a difficult period during my formative years. Fortunately, the wisdom I acquired from her parents, teachers, college years, and international travel prepared her for the veiled discrimination.

As the founder and CEO of the public relations firm Platinum Star PR, I surrounded myself and befriended people from global destinations and all walks of life. When it came to homeownership, it was a no-brainer for me to find a home in Southern California. I chose Glendale, the fourth largest city in Los Angeles County. My father, a real estate investor and native of Louisiana, who is now deceased, advised me about homeownership and the importance of researching a neighborhood before buying property and kept me focused on crime rate, the school system, and city services but not necessarily the Fair Housing Act of 1968 or the existence of Sundown Towns.

Being a resourceful woman and as a journalist, I avidly conducted my research. Or so, I thought! What I didn’t know is Glendale had a racist past and known as a “Sundown Town.”

Glendale’s white citizens turned to violence and harassment in making sure Black people would not remain in their cities after sundown. It was well known that Glendale wanted to ensure that its white communities remained white. In 1964, Glendale was selected as the West Coast headquarters of the American Nazi Party. Glendale is among the more than many 100 sundown towns in California.

“Glendale, a growing, progressive city, checked off my boxes to call this townhome,” I said. “My realtor was a white woman who seemed resolute to steer me away from Glendale and redirect me to Burbank and other surrounding cities. I remember suggesting we look at a premier high-rise condominium in the heart of Glendale and to my surprise, the realtor became extremely reluctant and showed me units that did not deliver on my desired view of the Los Angeles skyline.” The building was a showstopper so I determined to open escrow. However, the realtor further insulted me by questioning the validity of my ability to afford a home in Glendale.

After some thought to get what I really wanted in a home, my resourcefulness kicked in and I made inquiries about who was a powerhouse realtor in Glendale. I was introduced to an Armenian realtor who was totally accommodating and showed me a well-appointed unit that was exactly my style. I made an offer and, in the process, forged a longtime friendship with the realtor. To the first realtor’s chagrin, I showed to her a $50,000 check and subsequently canceled the escrow.

“Many of my family and friends were concerned about my choice because of the city’s racism especially in the 1960s,” I explained. Aware that the demographics in Glendale are less than 2 percent Black; I was already accustomed to being in environments that lacked diversity. I have resided in Glendale since 2005.

“Serving my new community has always been a driving force for me,” I shared. In spite of Glendale’s racist history, it did not stop me from becoming the second Black commissioner on the City of Glendale Commission on the Status of Women, alongside current Mayor Paula Devine. My later state appointment as a board member for the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology has given me great pride in participating in the government system. I am a member of the Coalition of an Anti-Racist Glendale.

“My role as a commissioner on the Glendale Commission on the Status of Women in 2008 was bittersweet,” I said. “While I participated in many of the community activities including the city’s YWCA programs for girls and women, my name or contributions were not properly acknowledged nor archived as one of the women in leadership in Glendale. I chose to rise above the racist exclusion.”

Glendale’s history books also excluded the identity of the first Black woman commissioner appointed in 2003. It wasn’t until 2021 that Karen Compton’s name was finally recognized. She was one of the Commission’s founding members. “Karen paved the way for women like me,” said Marie. In 2019, the blatant omissions were brought to the attention of YWCA Glendale Executive Director Tara Peterson who annually honors all women leaders in Glendale.

In 2019, I learned that Peterson led the charge with other organizers and presented a game-changing report for the City of Glendale to acknowledge its historical contributions to racism including banishing any person of color from its city at sundown, allowing KKK rallies in the city, and precluding Blacks from purchasing or renting in its city.

On September 15, 2019, the Glendale City Council took the historic step of acknowledging the city’s long history of racism and adopted the Sundown Town Resolution. Glendale is the third former sundown town in the U.S. and the first in California to publicly apologize and adopt the resolution. The influx of a more diverse population, Glendale includes one of the largest communities of Armenians in the U.S. Today, I am serving a three-year term beginning in 2021 as a board member for the YWCA Glendale and Pasadena branch.

I always say, “if it was easy, we would all do it.” The Chinese proverb, “a single tree makes no forest; one string makes no music,” emphasizes that we need to surround ourselves with brilliant, positive minds with the same common goal of achieving success because you will not thrive without teamwork. I also go by the philosophy of the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” My best advice is to recognize your weaknesses and adjust any shortcomings. Don’t fake it until you make it. Be accountable about what you don’t know and open your mind.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Platinum Star Public Relations?
I believe in establishing several streams of income. That said, I founded two companies, Platinum Star Public Relations and Platinum Star Media Group.

My entrepreneurial spirit led her to establish Platinum Star Public Relations, an award-winning global marketing and communications firm. Services include strategic planning, research, creative development, media planning and buying, community organizing, casting/talent relations, red carpet logistics/VIP publicity, grassroots outreach, event production and management, and media relations. My company has pivoted in response to COVID-19 to include other services including the manufacturing of reusable custom face masks and sports apparel for men, women and children.

Platinum Star PR, a MWBE, DBE and SBE, was established to assist under-served businesses and women business owners to achieve their goals through positive and consistent exposure. Ever evolving, my clients have covered the gamut from boxing to fashion, the entertainment, film, live theater, and music industry and from health and wellness, corporations and to nonprofit organizations that provide services to military veterans and other vulnerable populations. As an entertainment publicist, I have increased the star ranking of several actors, producers, directors, writers, musicians, stylists and fashion icons at red carpet events, special events, and beyond. I utilize my passion and savvy for public relations, community outreach and branding/marketing to assist nonprofits.

Throughout the years, I have diversified and expanded my company to manage some of the best in the entertainment industry from award-winning directors, writers, actors to singers, songwriters, and musicians. My company has branched out globally through my collaboration with the African Country Sierra Leone and to the next level as a one-stop shop to provide distribution, production and more. I am a certified TV/Film producer at Pasadena Media and Foremost Entertainment. I was blessed to produce the feature film “Flint Tale,” about a family affected by the Flint Water Crisis. I am one of the executive producers for the “Flint Tale” official soundtrack mixed tape.

My entertainment clients include, but not limited to, Century Studios, a recording studio in Jacksonville, Florida; Foremost Entertainment, a film production company founded by Marc Cayce; and Eyedeal Image founded by Liana Mendoza. I am a former member of Women in Film and the Association of Talent Agents.

I launched a subsidiary entertainment division under Platinum Star Media Group for TV/Film projects and talent management.

My purpose is to guide careers to the next level. At the same time, I protect brands and ensure they have the tools for success. The Platinum Star Media Group team recognizes the enormous responsibility to manage careers in an ever-evolving industry.

Specifically, this means that our team are fully dedicated and responsive to individual’s needs. This way, we ensure that your experience will be productive and informative. I view the fast-moving industry as an opportunity for clients to position themselves as sought-after talent in various markets. I believe that there is no limit to what you can achieve with hard work and through the relationships established by Platinum Star Media Group founder and team over the years.

In spite of the pandemic, this is the time to pivot your goals and continue to expand your talents. Never stop learning. Whether it is a master class, webinar, acting coach or acting workshops, learn something new as often as possible.

Empower yourself with knowledge from producing to writing, motivational speaking, virtual meetings, auditions, and networking. You bring more value to any table when you educate yourself about this business. Ask us, and we will find the solution to whether the universe has in store for you.

While the entertainment industry changes and trends emerge and disappear again, Platinum Star Media Group team ensures that we are always able to keep up with the times and act accordingly to be of value to our clients on any path they choose to take whether it is in front or behind the camera.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
As the firstborn of two siblings, I was an ambitious and adventurous girl. I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. My junior high and high school experience in the beginning was a challenge since there were very few students or families in that neighborhood who were Black. I felt on some levels I did not get the education about my culture and heritage. When I graduated and earned a 4-year college scholarship, I gravitated to the Pan African Studies curriculum. What I specifically learned was we need to tell our own stories, our full history. That experience, in turn, led me to a love for writing. It also made me curious about the world and people beyond our borders. From the moment I set foot in Africa, it was always in my blood to explore other countries and connect with different cultures.

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Photos courtesy of Platinum Star PR Personal photo: Ken Jones

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