There are so many factors that affect how our lives turn out, but one of the most interesting is how our backgrounds give us unique strengths and perspectives that affect who we are as adults. We asked rising stars from the community to tell us about their background and upbringing and how they feel it’s impacted who they are today.

Ashley Gilmer | Founder and Creative Director at Divine Eye Media Ikram Omar | Creative Strategist at Divine Eye Media | Ashley is the Creative Director and Ikram is the Creative Strategist

AG: I grew up with a loving family in Greensboro, North Carolina. My parents owned their own real estate agency, and I spent a lot of my childhood watching them run the family business and help other families actualize their home ownership dreams. My parents have always been super supportive of my interests and invested in my education and enrichment activities. I would often attend academic and creative arts summer camps and after school programs. My mom, Thelma, was always there to help me with homework, papers, and school projects. My dad, Paul, never missed an awards ceremony for me and has quite literally my biggest cheerleader. Read more>>

Greg McNeal | Rapper/CEO

I’m originally from Chicago, Henry Horner projects. It wasn’t an easy life, the ability to deal with adversity, make adjustments when needed have made me very resilient Read more>>

Antwone McAfee | Co Owner/ Artist Neostar Music. Co Owner Neostar Home Renovation Co owner Jet Fuel Kyngz Rolling Papers

I’m originally born in Hastings Nebraska. But have spent most of my life in Lawrence Kansas. Unlike most of my peers I had the luxury of having both parents in my life. Both my parents thought me discipline, hard work, and good morals. With me and my pops both stubborn as hell we didn’t see eye to eye all the time. I took to the streets around 15. That landed me in the system off and on for most of my life. With that said I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve learned how to interact with any type of individual, and being in the system for so long has giving me a drive to excel in my goals and business ventures Read more>>

Brandon Pain | Artist/Singer/Songwriter/Producer

I know it’s pretty common to hear artists say things like “I’ve been singin’ since I was 3yrs old…everybody always told me I had something special…” well that is NOT my story. Music did play a very pivotal role in the overall direction I took for my life, but it didn’t start with singing. I was born and raised in Philly. My mother, Carolyn Bolger Payne, is a very talented gospel singer within her own right. She’s done some pretty amazing things throughout her career, including landing in the Smithsonian for her tribute to one of gospel music’s pioneers, Mahalia Jackson. Read more>>

Toni Moore | Business Attorney and Coach

I grew up inngoss poverty in a little city that is located between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child, I spent most of my life hoping, wishing and dreaming for a rescuer to take me far, far away from my realities. During the rest of my time, I was mad that life dint deal me a better hand. As a growner version of myself, I realize that there are no rescuers, life is what we make it abd we hold the keys to manifesting our own version of happier ever after. Read more>>

Lo DeRamus | LesLo Events – Chief Creative Officer

LesLo Events is a team of sisters, originally from Dallas, Texas. Growing up, some of our fondest memories were when family and friends gathered for special occasions – birthdays, weddings, and holidays. This upbringing directly contributed to us ultimately founding our business as we both naturally gravitated to event-related work in our respective careers sparked by that love – for family, celebration, and coming together. Read more>>

Ebony Magic | Indie Artist & Songwriter

I am originally born in Germany. I’ve lived in the Atlanta Metropolitan area since I was 5 years old. I grew up in Riverdale and Jonesboro and graduated from Mt. Zion High School. My family moved to Stockbridge my sophomore year of high school. Growing up in the south definitely shaped my charm and hospitality. I am a true southern belle, but very cultured and open to experiencing new places, people, and things. I believe coming from such a diverse city made me that way. Read more>>

Chase N. Cashe | Executive

I’m from New Orleans and it made me who I am. It is a very small city with a diverse cultural background that enabled me to learn about a wide range of things at a very young age. We are a very musical and artistic city without the proper infrastructure to monetize it a high level so it helps you create from a passion purpose first. With that type of upbringing I always put my passion first before money. The goal is to make money but importantly make history that can be passed down as tradition to the next generation. That’s my biggest goal with my companies. Read more>>

Jamar Blackmon | Motivational Speaker/Author/Entrepreneur

I feel them 3 words coming… I’m EXCITED!!! YEAH!!! I’m from the inner city of Akron, Ohio. Being raised by a single mother and seeing her hustle and struggle was a big influence on me. It inspired me to want to be successful! I can see her now crying looking at these white envelopes. My first thought was who is this guy making my beautiful mother cry? I’m a beat him up!! She goes into the other room, I sneak and see what she’s looking at and it was bills. Only way you can beat up bills is with money. Read more>>

Alexander David & Jenesa Dawn AKA: Jenesia | Musicians- Jenesia

Alexander and Jenesa were both born in the Edmonton area. Jenesa grew up in small-town Stony Plain while Alexander lived in numerous communities across the country before returning to Alberta. The two met at MacEwan University while studying in their music program in 2013. Both came from families of 5 with differing Christian values. Unfortunately, Alexander suffered nearly a decade of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a man his family had living in their home. This trauma shaped his adolescent years, marked with depression, anxiety and addiction. Read more>>

William “Will” Feagins, Jr. | Videographer & Documentary Filmmaker

I think what sets me apart from others is not me, but rather who or what I choose as the subject of my work. It is my intention and desire to highlight people who may be overlooked, who work hard at what they do but often don’t receive the attention they should that sets me apart. I got to where I am today by working as often and as hard as I can. I learn and improve by doing so I just try to “create” when I feel motivated, even if its not something I eventually share with the public. Read more>>