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Meet Bernard Kojo Essiful of The Zenith Class in Downtown Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bernard Kojo Essiful.

Bernard, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was originally born and raised in Ghana West Africa; I moved to California in 2006. Moving into a whole new continent was quite frankly a bit of a tough transition. Leaving friends and family thousands of miles away felt like a very scary thing but overtime, I got to assimilate into my newfound home. I had initially learned English back in Ghana as well as five other languages but upon my arrival to the states, I faced language and grammar challenges due to my accent. Learning new words like “awesome” and “weird” had me thinking I was in a totally new world. From a young age, I have always had a very innate strive to face challenges no matter the odds I worked towards learning the American culture, I tried interesting food such as pizza which I thought frankly was one of the most interesting foods I had ever seen. “Like who puts tomatoes on bread?” Certainly not something that I had witnessed before in my life until I moved to the US. Growing up in a third world country, I can certainly attest that it was not easy. In the duration of 14 years of life in my country, I can tell you that I had lived a tougher life than an average Joe in the US would ever live in their lifetime.

Through all the tough times, I managed to excel in academia, I learned how to play the piano and the trumpet with the help of my grandfather. I have always been the kind of individual who constantly challenges himself. I always strive to do anything and everything. I have this notion that “if another human can do it, why can’t I”. This type of determination led me to breach into the realms of arts and science. I have been blessed with a good family who have managed to keep me on the right path all throughout my life. They have always supported me highly in education, sports and creativity. In May of 2016, I founded my creative company by the name of “Zenith Class” in my undergrad university library and asked a few of my friends to tag along on my journey. I have been blessed to graduate from a prestigious 4-year University (Cal Poly Pomona) with a degree in Kinesiology Exercise and initiated into the greatest Fraternity “Kappa Alpha Psi” Kappa Omicron Chapter. I am currently at Howard University working on my master’s and Doctorate in Occupational Therapy. I constantly get asked, “why I have interests in arts and sciences”. To me, they are all tangent in the language of the human psyche.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Smooth road? Definitely not. There certainly have been bumps and I am very thankful for that because it made me braver and more courageous. Those bumps have shaped me into the man I am today. From the cultural shock to the language barriers, creative struggles and career pilgrim. I would not change any of it. I have been in this country now for many years, yet every day I am still learning something new about it. I was once used to a world where pure love existed without having to seek for it. Where happiness did not necessarily mean making a lot of money but now, I am in a spectrum that only grants individuals the mere fine things in life through constant struggle of daily jobs. Till this day, I struggle to cope with the fact that in order for me to be happy, I have to make a lot of money. I personally believe that when you give your all into something that you gradually find the heart to believe in, the money and all that is associated will come. Seeking the greed for money is the most poisonous thing and I tend to stay far away from it. My love for all the realms of art has been nothing short of a love story. I love shapes, I love color theory, I love sounds, I love the whistles of the wind and I love all forms of human expressions.

Art without a doubt, is one thing that comes to me organically. I never had to learn it from a book nor was I forced into it. And I am curious to see where it takes me in the next years. My passion and love for art opened great advantages for me such as shooting some of my favorite musical artists, I was hand-picked and flown to New York City to capture fashion week and till this day I am the record holder for hosting the largest community art show in Los Angeles. But mind you, these opportunities did not come that easy. I come from a cultural background that does not condone aspirations in career fields that don’t yield promising income. African parents always somehow navigate your life and don’t get me wrong; I know that they care but I wish they would have introduced me to different vantage points to absorb other avenues of education and aspiration. Perhaps they did not know how or did not have the resources for such opportunities. The notion was always to make sure you have an education and it needed to be in the field of the medicine, or engineering and law. If you did not aspire to either one of those, then you were cast “an abomination”. Trying to please my family and follow my love for the arts has always being on interest journey on my life room.

Overtime my parent became supportive of my art but even through my successful endeavor they still encourage me to get into a career that is acceptable in their eyes. I gradually found love in medicine and healthcare and have set it upon myself to find a way to bridge it with art in some way shape of form. Some days, I wonder where I would be if I just stuck to arts and pursued it as a career. Would I be wealthy and influential? At times I also wonder what if I never embodied art, would I pose as a different character amongst men. Would I be able to love like I do now? But that’s okay because not knowing it all is what makes the adventure even more fun. I will never stop even through the heaviest burdens and worse days.

Please tell us about The Zenith Class.
The Zenith Class was founded in 2016 and we are a collective of creative theorists rounded up into a well-structured pillar that stretches influence through self-growth and discovery in ways that is tangible to the welfare of its audience. Our motto is “stretching creative and technological influences through self-growth and discovery with art and music as its platform”. We are a creative agency that reaches out to all local and a far creator and help them by representing them to deliver the purest and most organic presentation of their artworks that have not being see by an audience. We host a YouTube interview segments Called “Zenith & Friends” where we hang out and Interview our creative friends to get a better perspective on why they create certain things. Need be music, photography, painting, dancing, etc.

During the summer, we host a very large pool party or beach gathering where we link up with friends and family and vibe out to good music and food. We host an event by the name of “Zen Sesh Art Show”. Before every art show even, we adopt a philanthropy and host a community services to give to the less fortunate. Zen Sesh is our biggest event that we throw throughout the year. Some of our shows have been hosted at popular high fashion shoe stores, creative spaces and YouTube animation Labs in downtown Los Angeles, Over the past three years our company has grasp the attention of art executives from The Broad Museum and the Museum of Contemporary and they have visited our shows on multiple occasions. From actors such as Chadwick Boseman “The Black Panther” to member of the A$AP Mob music group have all visited our art show due to their love for our creativity and influences in the arts and social world.

Furthermore, this event brought so many crowds from all of California all the way to peers and fans from the East Coast. We got the attention of the city of Pomona as well as the city of LA and recognition was definitely given to us through features in newspaper articles. Red bull also lends us drinks for this event which is a huge honor. This event is hosted to round up creative artists from all walks of life to showcase their work to the general public. Through a social setting like this, The Class has managed to prove that great atmosphere does not just come from parties or recreational events but rather through creative interests and emotional connections. Between 2016 and 2020, we have host seven successful events.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start all over, I honestly would do these two things. Exercised patience and tell my loved ones I lost how much I loved them. I am frankly grateful for every circumstance that I have encountered either good or bad because it had shaped me into becoming the man I am today, which I am very proud of. I am still growing and in two years, God willing, I will be done with my masters and doctorate degree and by then have found a way to bridge art and science into a great medium that can transcend vital messages to children and youths that look like me. I want to harness my God giving gifts and skills so that I can change the world for the better before I leave it. The Zenith Class by then would be emerging into the new digital age with its own technological advancements. My whole goal and dream are to go back to Africa and aid in healthcare, education and community-based practices that will benefit and bring change. I have a deep-rooted love for humanity; and I believe that they can change. I also believe I can be that Catalyst for change in this world with the Umbrella of the Zenith Class, my closest friends and my family.

Pricing:

  • “Dark Skies Tee” – $25 (Contact us for purchase on our IG: @zenith.class)
  • “Everybody Wants To Rule The World Tee” – $25 (Contact us for purchase on our IG: @zenith.class)

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Meet Downtown LA Series Sponsor:

Michelle FRECKLES Labelle: I am a writer. My inspiration when I write is my life. God gave me a complex life – mixed with pain & struggle, but he also added beauty, grace, & talents that I could use to improve my life and the life of others. I have 2 published books available for purchase on my website right now. One of the biggest ways to support me is to order my books. I am also available to perform my Spoken Word at events. People can email me at infodafreckledpoet@gmail.com to discuss fees. I have performed at dialogues between prominent public figures, such as Dr. Cornel West. I have also performed at hair shows, school events, business events, etc. People also pay me to create videos with myself vibing to their latest music.

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