We had the good fortune of connecting with Cleon T Day III and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cleon T, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I like movies and everything about them, the storytelling, the acting, the sets, the way it awakens one’s soul. Georgia was becoming a multibillion-dollar movie industry, the Hollywood of the South, and I wanted to be a part of it. I thought, how I could tap into this new market, make some money from it, and be close to where all the action is. Local businesses were leasing out their restaurants, hotels, museums, nightclubs, etc. for not only films but television and music video productions. I came up with a concept of creating a sort of “one-stop-shop” and setting several location scenes in one facility, Grand Prize Singles Experience. Grand Prize Singles Experience is not a group of sound stages, however, a physical functioning entertainment space. When a film production has a scene involving a restaurant, a pool/pool deck, ballrooms, or a small theater, these spaces would be available to lease. Filming would take place primarily during the day, early evening, and after midnight. After production shuts down, “Grand Prize” would be a live physical safe space for the LGBT community, their allies, and friends to eat, swim, network, tie the knot, and audition for parts in a movie, television show, or music video.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
All my life I have been told by others; I am going to be somebody. In workplaces, because of my creativity, it has been said I should be doing more than I am doing. I was not ignorant of that fact, I knew it. For me, it was a confirmation. However, I needed to find my niche, putting all my talents and gifts together and focus, and that is where I am today, in the field of entertainment! It was not easy, and it was not hard to get here. This is a new venture, something I never have done before, and yet, it has all the experiences one needs to prepare for it. Through my years in Corporate America, I learned professionalism, office politics, public speaking. Through various workshops and seminars throughout the United States, I learned how to self-publish, how to create a business plan, and put on big events. Woah, the lessons I have learned. Believe it or not, that is a challenging question. Unfortunately, through the process of working towards a goal, I lost money believing in people I contracted to do business. Yes, there were signed agreements with individuals or a small company that was broken, but financially, it cost me more money trying to take them to small claims court. So, the one thing I can offer anyone on their way to their dream is, be prepared to chalk a financial loss as never having to do business with them again. Now, when you become wealthy, take anyone to court who violates your trust! . Only work with people/businesses once if they have broken a legal or personal commitment and did not make it right, an apology alone does not cut it. Remember, people tend to want or expect more from you than they are willing to give, do not give it. What has kept me going is focusing on my vision, knowing the high and lows of getting there are important to tell my story. It is funny my friends do not understand why I’m so cool or laid back when I have been wronged professionally. I tell them, it is my story and I am sticking with it. Your story gives you a richness of your wealth of knowledge of how you got there! What I want people to know about me is, my opportunity is your opportunity to participate in something that will benefit both of us. Grand Prize Singles Experience LLC is a minority business in Atlanta focused on the entertainment industry and the LGBT community. I am most proud of my vision and the plans I am laying out in making it come true for each of us. I am excited about my entrepreneurial spirit!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would start out the morning cooking a nice breakfast for us, yes, I said we. While we are eating, I would find out from him the type of things he would like to see and do. And, of course, see if his money is right to see & do. Dutch! Maybe a few treats! Atlanta has many places to choose to explore, from The King Center to the World of Coca-Cola to Tyler Perry Studios, the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and of course the malls. Throughout the week I would take him to various eateries depending on what he has a taste for each day. All the places I have mentioned are either fun, interesting, or both. The King Center is very moving and historical. I would have to prepare my friend for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, being, it is powerful and overwhelming. However, I think the most interesting and fun tour would be Tyler Perry Studios for so many different reasons.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My first reaction is no and here is why. There is a presumption built-in that behind every success, there must be someone, some resource, something that pushed you, drove you, motivated you. However, for a certain group of us, there was nothing physical we could point to as being responsible for getting us to where we are today. It has nothing to do with anyone not wanting us to achieve success, or people around us being unsupportive, sometimes in life, you go it alone. You are a man on your own island despite being poetically told, no man is an island. We are gifted by a spiritual grace that we pass on through everything you do. So, in giving out a shoutout, I must give recognition to all the folks who go on the road less traveled, to the ones who just kept it going no matter what. I must give credit to those who continue to believe in themselves, knowing, the someday will come.
Nominate someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.