For the Artists Who Like to Remain Strictly Out of the Box
AJ has always had a passion for empowering women, especially the portrayal of women in media. From this passion AJ started her own media production company. A.Willa Media is named after one of her biggest inspiration, her grandmother. A.Willa Media’s mission is to produce innovative content that engages, empowers and starts a conversation with a specialized focus on women.
AJ Williams is the Digital Editor/Social Media Manager/Columnist/Writer for the Michigan Chronicle, FRONTPAGE Detroit and Praise Connect Detroit. She’s a local media personality who has worked with Mason Radio on 107.5 FM, host of The MIXX TV Show with UDetroit and producer of the “The LovEXperience Series for ARCH Executives. Under her personal brand “I AM AJ Williams” she provides voiceovers and talk show formats including hosting and interviewing.
AJ is the creator, producer and host of Life.City.Love., an interactive online network that highlights people, businesses, relationships, fashion and pop culture in metropolitan cities.” Life.City.Love’s first city launch will be in AJ’s hometown of Detroit, MI in Fall of 2012. Detroit is the ultimate example of a misrepresented city, and Life.City.Love will highlight all the positive movements and people that is within this GREAT city.
1) Can you remember the moment that you knew you wanted to be a writer? What is it about writing that excites you?
I knew I wanted to be a writer in high school. I wrote on our school newspaper which at the time was printed in the Detroit news. Every month, we went to the Detroit News office and submitted our stories. I was taken bitten with the journalism bug right then.
2) I see that you have a lot going on aside from being a columnist for the Michigan Chronicle and Front Page Detroit. You’re also a host for a local TV show and a producer on several other projects, and you do voiceovers as well. How did you move from being a writer into also being known as a media personality with quite a large presence? What influence do you hope to have, or do you feel that you already have, in today’s media industry?
Along with being a columnist, I am the digital/social media editor for the Michigan Chronicle and Who’s Who Publishing, both are Real Times Media companies. The journey to this point in my career was really backwards. I attended University of Michigan with a concentration in finance and business and started a career in investment banking. In a span of six years I worked with Chase Bank and Fifth Third Bank as a personal investment banker. However, I wasn’t truly, but during my time there, I met people that saw a deeper passion in me and helped me move from banking into radio hosting and then onto blogging which turned into being a columnist for Frontpage Detroit then into my current position.
3) You have a passion for empowering women within the media industry. Why do you feel it is that women are not necessarily afforded the same opportunities as men in media and what do you think you bring to the table in changing how we are viewed?
Most industries today have the ‘Boys Club” mentality and although equal oppourtunites for women are making strides, more needs to be done. Men get more oppourtunities especially in media, because it is usually men making the decisions, they are generally the publisher or the person making the call on who to hire so they tend to lend towards men. If women began to create publishing companies, production companies, then we have more control of women being hired and how the media portrays the image of women.
4) Writing is not just an art form in which one hopes to profit from anymore, it is a business in which writers, or artists if you will, are their own brand. How do you feel your previous career in finance as a personal investment banker helps you in sustaining your business as a writer and media personality?
Think it helps a lot, I am good at crunching numbers and trying to see how to make money behind my creativity. I think my background in finance helped. One of my mentors always tells me, “AJ the idea is great, but how do you make money from it” The goal is to do what you love and have the provide an avenue of income for you.
5) Do you think there is ever a time limit on someone being able to achieve their dreams, particularly with goals within the media industry?
NEVER. I started on one path and now I am on a completely different one. I think every place I’ve been and every person I met, helped create the person I am today. This interview would not have taken place without the journey I had before us meeting. Nothing is happenstance. I believe it’s never too late to persue a dream. My biggest fear is lying on my death bed regretting what I did not at least try to do. One of my favorite quotes is from Steve Harvey, You can be too early for success, but you can never be too late.
6) So where do you see yourself within your career in the next 5 years? Can you with us what projects you are currently working?
In five years, I look to have my media company A.Willa Media more established with us doing more video productions and content. I also plan by then to have written my first book and be host of my own show and/or inspirational speaker. Currently I am working on my project Single Black Chick and Married Black Chick which is launching 2.13.14 (www.singleblackchick.com & www.marriedblackchick.com) along with hosting, acting, social media mgt and writing of course.
7) If I were to go look on your bookshelf right now what type of collection of books could I expect to find? Who are some of your favorite authors?
Because I have a vast interest in so many things, it’s hard to say who my favorite author is…when I read it’s to feed something specific to me at that current time. But I always subscribe to psychology today, astrology, Td Jakes, Gary Coleman. I follow a lot of bloggers and subscription sites, like Myliek, the owner of curlbox and subscribe to sites like fastinc.com. This is my current kindle list: Dr. Seth’s Love Prescrption, Astrotwins Love Zodiac, The Startup Owner’s manual, The Lean startup, You are a Badass, Tiny Beautiful things.
8) I feel like so many of us writer’s, us artists in general, are made to conform to other people’s idea of what we should be. I think we creative types should be unafraid to be whoever it is that we feel we have the right to be. So what is your write 2 be? What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity?
I feel I have a Write 2 Be my authentic self. I creative, quirky, direct-to the point and comfortable in my skin and my journey! I make no apologies.