For the Artists Who Like to Remain Strictly Out of the Box
To some, Cyrus Webb is the Male Oprah. After all, he is from her home state of Mississippi and has a radio and television show, an internationally recognized book club and has a bi-monthly arts and entertainment magazine. Since 1999 Cyrus A. Webb (C. A. Webb) has used his influences in the words of the arts and entertainment to build a brand that united all of his talents: visual arts, literary arts, his radio and television show coupled with his book clubs. All of this has been done to engage individuals around the world to be the best they can be.
Created by Cyrus Webb for Shadow Play Entertainment in April 2006, Conversations Magazine is a colorful combination of the arts, entertainment, fashion, food and health where you can get exclusive interviews, great tips and suggestions for the entire family.
Cyrus A. Webb is considered by most to be one of the most courageous, compassionate, conservative, and casual individuals in the Arts today. Above all he is seen as a fighter. I hope you enjoy the interview as I was extremely honored to have this opportunity to talk with him.
1) First let me thank you again for taking time out of your very busy schedule to do this interview. Where did it all start for you? What inspirations led up to your creation of conversations? Which came first the book club, the radio show, or the magazine and which one is the most difficult to efficiently manage?
Thanks for inviting me to chat! You know, it all started with a desire to get people talking and sharing information that I thought would be helpful. We always hear about the bad. I wanted to provide a platform where great things could be spread. It started in 2003 with the radio show. Then in 2004 I added the tv show in Mississippi. This was followed in 2008 by the creation of the magazine and the radio show. It all kind of flows together, but if there is a more difficult area it would be the television show. Anytime you are dealing with a production there is always a lot of work involved.
2) You have been able to interview not only people who are newcomers to the world of literary and arts but also some really famous and well known people, I think one of the most recent interviews you’ve done was with Erica Campbell of Mary Mary. First, how does it feel to have the honor to sit and talk with these talented people? Secondly, how do you decide who you are going to interview and I think what everyone really wants to know is how to you manage to score some of these amazing interviews?
Part of the joy I feel with Conversations as a whole is knowing that we are a platform for everyone with a story to tell, whether you are considered famous or not. For me it all begins with knowing there is a connection between me and the guest. If I feel that then I know it will be a great conversation. As far has the how it really goes both ways: sometimes I reach out and they say yes, and then other times they hear about us and what we are doing and reach out to me. Either way is an honor and a testament for the show.
3) Out of all of the people that you have had a chance to interview throughout the years, and I know this is going to be hard to do, but can you think of who your favorite interview was with and who left an impression on you the most?
That IS a difficult question, but if there was one that I had to pinpoint it would have to be Jackie Collins. She is an international bestselling author that I have been reading since I was 14 years old. To have the opportunity to interview her now 3 times and have her shout-out the radio show and magazine on our social sites and website is another testament to what we are building.
4) Was working in the literary and arts field something that you have always known that you wanted to do with your life or did it happen in the midst of you being on another path?
I have always been a reader, and I knew that books and the love of words would always be with me. Had no idea, though, that I would eventually make a living sharing that love. It has been one of the pleasant surprises of my life.
5) You have a book club that has been very successful and very well known. Who is your favorite author and what is it about their work that makes you want to just keep reading what they write? What book or books are you reading right now?
I mentioned early about Jackie Collins and the impact her books and talking with her have made. If there is another that ranks at the top it would be FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC author V. C. Andrews. Though she has passed away the ghostwriter keeping her legacy going is Andrew Neiderman. He and I have had several chats, and I am always anxious about the next book that will be released under the franchise. Currently I am reading WINDIGO ISLAND by William Kent Krueger.
6) You have been categorized by some as the male Oprah. Knowing what Oprah has done for the media industry and also what she has done for many organizations throughout this country, and other countries might I add, what does that comparison mean to you? Do you consider yourself to be on that path?
The “Male Oprah” label is something that began here in Mississippi in 2004 when I started hosting the tv show. I embraced it initially, and though I know it is seen as a compliment, I would rather just be the best Cyrus that I can be. Oprah is Oprah, and I can’t be any version of her. I can be Cyrus, walking in my own purpose and using the platform I have to inspire others. If anything I think Oprah would agree that we all have to walk our own path, be our own person and live life our own way.
7) Really quickly, since I brought up Oprah, it made me think about Tyler Perry. I know that you have interviewed Tyler Perry in the past and I just wanted to know, as one of his biggest fans, and not just of his movies and television shows, but of his work ethic and his hustle, how was it to meet with him and be in his presence because I imagine him to be so down to earth and easy to talk to?
That was really surreal. He was in Mississippi in 2006 with his play MADEA GOES TO JAIL. Was my first and only time I have met him, and my only regret is that I was limited in what we could discuss. Questions had to be submitted ahead of time, and there was no opportunity for a follow-up. You’re right: he’s quite a gift to the world. Was definitely a great opportunity to share a piece of his story with the world.
8) You’ve developed quite a brand for yourself. When it comes to people in the literary and arts industry how important do you think it is for them to not just have a business that they run themselves but to have a brand and be synonymous with that brand?
Thanks for the compliment. You know, branding is something that we do whether we realize it or not. It’s just up to us to manage the brand and make sure it is the representation we want for ourselves. Every post, every conversation, ever tweet comes together to create a profile of who we are seen as. I try to share with others to make sure that they are mindful of that as they go throughout living their lives in the public arena.
9) How important is marketing and social media important to maintaining someone’s brand? Do you feel that it is possible for artists to be recognized for the best work that they do if they didn’t conform to the new ways of promoting themselves and their work?
Very important, especially because the internet has made the world so much smaller. You can make it as an individual. I have been doing it through Conversations—but you have to be willing to put in the work. Anything that is original has to work twice as hard as a copy.
10) How hard is it to juggle all that it is that you do for the community of artists and still maintain some sense of a personal life outside of your work? Being a CEO of your own company, does it ever get to be too much for you some days?
This is where it becomes a personal decision. I decided in 2008 that being an effective CEO was more important than my being a boyfriend, husband or father. Again, that was my choice. I believed that to do things at the level that I do it with the intensity that I do it is impossible while trying to juggle a relationship and kids. Will sound harsh to some, but it is my truth. I would rather be single and effective as a leader than be married and not giving those in my personal life my full attention.
11) What advice would you give to other aspiring writers, artists, or media moguls in the making, who are struggling to hang in there and reach the level of success they are striving for?
You have to be willing to do the work. The opportunities are out there. I see it everyday. It all comes down to how big is your dream and how dedicated you are to making it a reality.
12) I know you have a book coming out soon. Can you tell us a little about the book and when we can expect to be able to get a copy?
Very excited about this, so thanks for asking. It’s called WORDS I CHOOSE TO LIVE BY, and it’s being published in November by Bonita and Hodge Publishing. The book gives you affirmations for every day of the year to help you in building your life on positive words and thoughts, even allowing you to share your own. It’s available right now on Amazon for pre-order.
13) So you’ve done so much in your life already and you’ve been such a huge inspiration to so many artists, including myself. What’s next for you? What is your next adventure in the media industry?
Over the next 2 years I am stepping up my reach on radio and through the magazine. You can look for a part of Conversations LIVE to be entering syndication in 2016, and Conversations Magazine will be making its way into select stores beginning in 2015. A lot of great things coming through the pipeline. You can stay in touch with me at www.cyruswebbpresents.com.
14) I feel like so many of us writers, 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 was told by my high school art teacher Bette Phelps that I was greatness in the works. She saw that in me back in 1993, and I never forgot it. For me it’s all about knowing that the only way you can truly be happy and really successful is if you live your life as the individual you were created to be. Everyone else is taken. If you can do that then being authentic will be a way of life.
To see how you can be featured or to advertise with Conversations, contact Cyrus Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601.896.5616. Also to stay connected to Cyrus Webb or for information on how you can log onto his radio show or subscribe the Conversations Magazine listed below are a few ways to reach him: