On October 7th, The Creative Collective NYC kicked off its 6th annual CultureCon event in Brooklyn, New York. This year the conference was presented by Max and partnered with other major brands including Google, American Express, Shea Moisture, and Clinique.
Hundreds of aspiring creatives, entrepreneurs, and small business owners gathered to celebrate Black culture and the leaders who’ve pushed the boundaries in the media industry while also having access to skill-building workshops, career opportunities, and resources to help turn your passion into a career. The weekend kicked off with a panel dedicated to productivity and making the most out the time that you are spending towards working on creative projects. Day one also featured a host of celebrity guests and media creatives including Marsai Martin, Lola Brooke, Jayda Cheaves, Aaliyah Jay, and Terrell Grice of The Terrell Show.
Emmy award-winning actor, Jharrel Jerome took the stage as the first Creative Genius panelist to share his experiences as a young creative and his journey through exploring his ideas through all forms of mediums. Known for his work on the screen with works such as I’m A Virgo, Full Circle, and Moonlight, the Bronx native is transitioning into dominating another field-–the world of hip-hop. His debut single, “For Real” was released in 2020. Since then, Jerome’s been using music as an exploration and isn’t afraid to tap into different sounds. In his debut album project titled “Someone I’m Not,” Jerome adopted a unique approach by releasing each of its four parts individually, presenting them as distinct rap packs. The most recent installment, “Trip Pack,” became available just last week.
During his panel, Jerome spoke on his influences in juggling both his career as an actor while also creating his own lane as an artist-– naming Childish Gambino, the actor and musician-–as one of his biggest influences. “He’s an artist who’s been able to dabble in both fields with no limitations. Lady Gaga also shifted our minds from viewing her as not only an artist but an actor as well. Artists like that who are able to have no limits really inspire me,” he said.
Jerome wasn’t the only star to hit the stage though. Issa Rae-– actress, screenwriter, producer, and CEO of Hoorae Media-– graced the stage to share the importance of nourishing creatives of color and providing resources to make their ideas more feasible. One of the central themes of CultureCon is the importance of mentorship across all fields, as a stepping stone towards success. Aligning her values as a creative herself with this theme, Rae has been a huge advocate for mentorship in the creative field. So much so that she created a program dedicated to making getting that mentorship a little bit easier.
Rae’s Find Your People program, created by ColorCreative, launched in February, and creates a space for emerging creators to build community while also getting mentorship, training, and resources to help the filmmaking process easier, and more accessible, to women and people of color. When asked about the inspiration behind the program, Rae called back to her earlier days as an up-and-coming creative herself. “It was reflective of my own journey. So much of my rise has been because of the people around me and I often get asked, ‘how did you find your team?’ by budding creators […] I decided to start this program to be able to help others find their own people.”
Rae was also awarded with the inaugural Creative Pioneer Award in recognition and appreciation for her endless dedication and efforts to continually uplift the culture and her community.
CultureCon also featured another Creative Genius for its first day – none other than the singer, dancer, choreographer, and creative director Teyana Taylor, who discussed her journey as she’s worked through different mediums to fuel her creative spark. Having taken a step back from creating music herself, Taylor is now using her creativity to develop and direct performances from other artists including Lola Brooke, Latto, and just recently, Lil Baby.
During her time on stage, she shared how her admiration for fashion and curating aesthetics that can be dated back to her younger days as a child growing up in Harlem. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m from New York, but when I was younger I was the person that had the outfit laid out on the bed before the first day of school. So I think I got it now. I’m kinda good at it, so now I think of a lot of ideas when it come to fashion and performance.”
Taylor was awarded the first-ever CultureCon Legacy Award for creative disruption and innovation throughout her decade-long career.
To end off the night, comedian and writer Ziwe was the final panilest of CultureCon. She discussed her upcoming book, Black Friend: Essays — using personal anecdotes and pop-culture references to work through her own grappling ideas around understanding her identity. Ziwe has used her platform and comedic talents to discuss the uncomfortable topics concerning racial disparity and making light out of white people’s uneasiness with discussing race on her self titled show, avaible on Showtime.
The culture doesn’t stop there though. The conference continues tomorrow, October 8th with more panelists and celebrity appearances. Stay tuned for what’s to come!