Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
Hello, my name is Ceola J., and I am married to my wonderful and talented hubby, DreLovesGod. I’m an encourager who also happens to be a published author, inspirational speaker, five-time playwright, and screenwriter. I love God, people, and helping others! Oh, I am also a licensed Minister and certified life coach.
I have a passion for encouraging, educating, and empowering women. My desire was birthed from my personal and traumatic experiences of sexual assault, homelessness, struggles in school as a child and domestic violence, and more as a young adult. I find it simply amazing that I get to do what I love to do through various forms of creativity; hosting a podcast, Real Talk with Ceola J, a magazine, Home with Ceola J., a network, CJ Network TV, and CJ Productions, LLC. I get to do all this, including writing, producing, and directing stage plays and movies. It’s different forms of ministry and coaching, giving my life purpose and joy. How awesome is that?
Through all the work my hands have to do, I want people to know their past does not destroy their destiny! Obstacles can become opportunities! Past pain can become your purpose in life and any hurt they’ve experienced, their “how-to” guide for helping others! I’ve realized perspective is a “game-changer!” With the right “perspective,” painful past experiences can be a launching pad for discovering passion and living purposefully! My faith in God has shown me how to view things from a place of hope!
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
I realize what I do is not about me but the people and the lives I can impact. Caring and having the lives of others drive me is an entirely different qualifier in terms of being unique, especially in the entertainment industry. Entertainment entertains people and provides them with joy that is likely to be temporary. I want people to live a life of purpose and fulfillment that last a lifetime! My writing, speaking, authorship, etc., is done with others in mind. And waking up every morning with “How can you impact someone’s life today” is a beautiful way to wake up.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
I recall two defining moments that brought the realization of who I was and my life’s purpose. They were:
1. When I shared my story with a group of women on an international prayer call, I could not believe it:
a. How many similarities are in our stories.
b. How receptive and appreciative they were to the transparency shared.
c. They were willing to embrace the similarities and encourage one another.
2. At my second stage play when several people came up to me crying and expressing:
a. How retable the story was
b. Expressing their gratitude for a story that gave them hope in their situation
c. Attendees asked me about the characters and wanted to know if they were coming back in the next play and what was happening in their lives. I was honored to see the impact of the stage plays on so many people’s lives.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
The “what if” factor. What if what I am doing turns out to be successful? What if what I am doing fails? What if people are not accepting of my writing, whether it is my books, magazine articles, plays, blogs, etc.? I decided to take and apply what I learned early on, and that was to change my perspective. What if it is successful? Success means I’m impacting the lives of others in a positive way that’s making their lives better. It means the various works provide multiple ways of impact and change, which is all very good! I had to take one step at a time, growing with each and learning to accept the process and what it produced in my person!
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
1. Denzel Washington – I have watched Mr. Washington’s movies and loved them all over the years. However, what I have watched and admired more than his films, is his character off-screen. I believe the wisdom of how he has successfully navigated the industry, maintained his character and protected his family would undoubtedly elevate my career and business, providing the tools for sustainability in the industry.
2. Viola Davis – I have liked Ms. Davis for years, and her acting is transformational! But there was an episode in “How to Get Away with Murder” where she took off ALL of her make-up, wig, and eyelashes, and how she removed her lipstick was POWERFUL! I was mesmerized, and I remember thinking, if more women removed the masks we hid behind and were as transparent and raw as she was in that scene, we would see so much liberation in women. What Ms. Davis did in that scene was purely liberating for many women; I KNOW IT WAS! The combination of this scene I saw years ago, learning why she did the scene this way during her recent interview with Oprah, and her transparency on that show only increased my desire to pick her brain on how women can come together and be greater allies to one another. I would also love to collaborate with her on a program benefiting women and children of sexual assault and more. Ms. Davis’ passion and personal experience with overcoming trauma would be a huge help to my career and business since the foundation of both are my personal experiences as a child, which is similar to that of Ms. Davis.
3. Cookie Johnson, Magic Johnson’s wife – From day ONE, Mrs. Johnson was, in my mind, the epitome of strength, grace, and tenacity! You don’t see much of her in the public’s eye, which speaks to her knowing who “she” is. A woman who has her own identity, her own voice, and is comfortable in her own skin! Talk about powerful! She had my respect many years ago and still has it today! The wisdom I believe she could share on navigating the challenges that come with being a public figure as a woman and how to remain true to one’s self is something I believe she could share, and it would be a tremendous help to my career and business.
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