We had the good fortune of connecting with Robbie J. Atkinson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robbie J., do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
“In order to go where you’ve never gone before, you must do what you’ve never done before.” I don’t know where this quote originated from but it resonates with me on several levels and, in hindsight, applies to several changes that’ve taken place in my life. A lot of my unusual projects, collaborations, business decisions and even life decisions can be traced back to this saying.
For me, this is a powerful reminder of a single principal: that in order to continue to grow you have to be willing to try something daring, scary, or simply different. Which, in turn, requires the willingness to continue to learn, to remain open minded, and, ultimately, is a principal that will fail if you only try it one time–you have to be brave and persistent even in the face of failure.
I love this quote so much that I actually have it taped to a vision board that peaks out between both my laptops in my work space! Whenever I’m about to approach someone for a collaboration project, whenever I’m about to try to learn a new technique, take a risk or try my hand at a new endeavor–I glance at that board and, often times, defer straight to that quote.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’d say that I’m very proud of RPX’s work within the K-pop industry and I’m also proud of our most recent self-initiated work as well.
The main highlights of 2020 were our interview with the rapper BeWhy and the previous collaboration project with the Korean choreography company Peace Maker (피스 메이커) and the producer R3dblossom for the song “Boom”. The latter was our first serious attempt at capturing a visual dance performance that was filmed very much like a music video and it took a great deal of planning and creativity–from the outfit that the dancer (Joana Cruz) wore to the lighting and even the specific alley way with the graffiti design (made by Eric Hornsby). I think that project was also a Segway into exploring our own uniqueness and creativity with vibrant colors contrasted with dark space. Overall, for that to have been one our first self-initiated projects, it really felt like a step in the right direction especially because of the fact that, pre-COVID19, the majority of our projects were arranged by our partnerships in event coordination and K-pop.
What’s more, this project was an international collaboration that took place during the pandemic! The producer and choreographers participated entirely remotely– via Instagram and email while RPX took care of the stages of production. Seeing that most businesses and creative fields were heavily restricted by the presence of COVID 19, being able to work around physical limitations was a blessing.
In hindsight, I reflect on how getting to this point in my life has taken a lot of work. but, I don’t regret the amount of effort put into things so far because everything has worked out exactly as it was supposed to–even the moments full of uncertainty helped contribute to RPX being able to recalibrate and understand our direction. I’d say that part of the process to overcoming challenges stems from being able to ask for help before its too late and being open-minded enough to re-direct your approach when you see that another approach isn’t working. I’ve witnessed leaders fail because they refused to ask for help, were dishonest with their team and ultimately were too prideful to whole-heartedly learn and better themselves. The lesson I took from that observation is that you never stop learning and the challenges never stop coming; however, what matters most is your attitude towards challenges. You can’t be a selfish or prideful leader and expect your team to trust you!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hmmm… I’d first take them to The Garden Room for an enchanting, flowery ambience! We’d probably have conversation over a plate of Skinny Fries and then I’d take them to Piedmont Park to walk around and let the food digest! I’m big on self-care so, at some point, we’d definitely have to go to Spaland (in Duluth) and get a body scrub, enjoy a plate of Ddeok-guk (duck- gook) or relax in the Charcoal room to detox! For some excitement, it definitely depends on what kind of excitement you’re looking for? If you want a party vibe then we’d go to Moon Dog’s but if you want a thrilling adventure then we could go to Six Flags! I also love museums so that’s always an option for adventure time for me!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oh, there’s a list of people that I’d like to shout out–my journey has taken a lot of initiative on my part but in no way are my milestones comprised of my actions alone and I’m beyond grateful for the people in my life who have helped me:
First, I’d like to shout out my parents! Since I was a child, my Mom and Dad have always encouraged my creativity. Their generation of Jamaicans who immigrated to America (and I’m sure many first-generation Americans can relate to this observation) chose jobs that were for survival and they did well for themselves…but they know what its like to do work that’s strenuous, overwhelming and, most importantly, unfulfilling. So, part of their vision of a better life for me was to be incredibly supportive of my work and business and I’m so grateful for that. Love you Mummy! Love you Papa!
Second, I’d like to shout out RPX Media Production’s Cinematographer Tina Somphone! She has been such an amazing friend all these years and has grown along side me as we make steps for RPX. Years ago in college, we worked together for a group project in class and the professor told us that we made a good team… I couldn’t agree more!! Meeting her and honing our complimentary skills together has had a huge impact on my life and I look forward to the many accomplishments that we’ll tackle together!
Third, I’d like to let out a resounding “Cheers” to all of the other creatives, artists and companies that have worked with us as we’ve grown and improved. Part of taking risks and trying new things entails approaching people and being brave enough to ask for opportunities–a lot of which we’ve gotten as a result of kindness. I treasure those connections and friendships made and look forward to building a legacy together.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge that without God’s direction none of this would have neither happened nor been possible. There’s a myriad of ways that my life could have gone and there are so many things that, regardless of how hard I try–I can’t control. Actions alone can easily return null and void; therefore, I know it takes faith and favor to go as far as we have and I’m grateful for the clarity and lessons I’ve developed as RPX strives towards its goals. This is the flip side of the coin–the quote that I mentioned earlier–radical actions also require radical faith!
Other: The website to my non-profit as well: https://fieratlanta.org/ IG for FIER: https://www.instagram.com/fier_atl/ Twitter for FIER: https://twitter.com/fier_atl Facebook for FIER: https://www.facebook.com/fieratlanta/
Behind-the-Scenes photography by Marissa [Bee] Panyasith and Keson Graham.