Woodbridge, Virginia’s own and D.C. based creative Michell Clark is a man of many titles: social media strategist, content writer, author of Keep It 100, and entrepreneur. Personally, I found him through the Views from The Grits event being promoted on Twitter in 2018 with aspirations to go to the event. I had a chance to sit down with one of the consistent contributors in writing and promoting branding and creating.
Jay: How as a creative writer, social media strategist, and black entrepreneur, maintain the creative juices during a pandemic and the prominent fight for social justice?
Michell: I would say two thoughts: one, seeing everything happening in America made me think of how to use my voice more constructively and be able to look back and reflect on if I was able to spread any messages, give insight to context of this history and use my platform with more purpose. I did one social media campaign and they gave two thousand dollars on my behalf to DYP 100 it’s a fight for liberation for all black people. I think were in a year that may be doubly or triple-ly challenging. Everyone should be stuck in the house during a pandemic. I used this year in many ways to learn new things such as designing my own posts and photoshoots. I’m starting to embrace being my own creative director and at the ending of the day being a better writer. That’s one of the first things that I was naturally good at and intentionally speaking in spaces where I’m not the smartest person in the room to allow insight and constructive criticism.
Jay: On the Minority Trailblazer Podcast with Greg E. Hill, you two discussed getting punched in the face in a metaphorical sense. One of those punches were being expelled from the West Point College in your senior year to eventually ending up finishing school at VCU. You described how unhappy you were at West Point and how it eventually led to you to follow your passion. The other punch you discussed was being threatened of getting fired from an educational company and how it led you to coaching. If those moments never happened, do you think your purpose had changed?
Michell: Interesting question. If I would’ve never got expelled, I would’ve been in the military for five year. It’s a 15 % black school and very white dominant. It puts for better or worse, a spotlight on people like me. If I hadn’t had that experience, I would’ve experienced things int eh actual army that I would’ve imagined pushed me in a different direction. I grew up without a lot of choices as it pertains what to do in my free time. I was in all these programs that my parents had me involved in. At some point, I would’ve come to a son of reckoning where trying to chase other people wouldn’t have been mutual. I think that the job situation expedited my turn to figuring out my purpose. I think I would’ve found it regardless.
Jay: You have a series of posts on Instagram based on the hashtag called #AffirmationsByMichell that actionable affirmations for creatives and entrepreneurs. Do you feel like you’re also speaking to yourself when you make these posts on social media?
Michell: Absolutely. The posts are inspired by things whether I gone through out or someone I know. the posts are always inspired by real life experiences and it’s often inspired by me talking myself into a more positive headspace after I had certain moments where I experienced mental roadblocks or lack of confidence, et cetera. It’s an outward display of self-talk I have every day.
Jay: You have been featured on Rolling Out on an article showing brands how to climb the social media ladder, featured on Billboard in an article where you were honored by Diddy along with Deleon Tequila for the Deleon 100 list, and Jet Magazine. In the Rolling Out interview, you said that “I feel like I have an “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment at least once a week, whether good or bad.” In the 2017 article, at the time you were working with Eastside Yoga and BodyReady D.C., spreading the word on what they do. You said that they have all been affirming and awesome things. It’s just important to not get stuck on those but appreciate them. Do you still feel the same way today regarding where you’re at now?
Michell: Occasionally but I’m more seasoned. Went from being 27 to 30 and I found myself surrounding with more people who affirms outwardly. I don’t think I’m more shocked of the positions I am. I think more of how do I take all these different things and make them serve what I believe my ultimate purpose is and that’s to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves while also talking to themselves in the best ways. I shifted away from “Oh shit, I’m here” to “Okay, I been here for a bit. It’s doing well but what do I do with this to put myself in a better position in 2021? And how can it allow me to better serve my purpose and family?”
Jay: You’ve been creating content since 2009 starting with Artistic Manifesto and have interviewed several people like Jhene Aiko, Phife Dawg, and Chuck D to name a few personalities. You’ve went through the blog era, maneuvered through the transitional phase into the social media era of content creation. What do you think of the changes from the past decade through a branding standpoint as well as where do you see things expanding beyond the social media era?
Michell: Yeah, I mean the branding and marketing game has changed dramatically. I was barely on Twitter ten years ago. Instagram hadn’t even really popped. Facebook was the biggest thing back then. I had a pretty decent audience at the time: 2000 Facebook friends, 1000 twitter followers. I didn’t personally have a plan as far as a certain audience turning into traffic into profit. Now fast forward, Facebook and then IG Is the biggest platforms. Every big platform coming up, Tik Tok, Instagram, Clubhouse and YouTube which may not be int eh same realm. Video and visual basis is growing exponentially. Some things off top of my head I can say is that everything moved more experiential. Things have gotten more crowded where you must be more authentic to stand out. Professional Pictures is not enough anymore. You can get a quality picture from an iPhone nowadays. Everyone has more access to resources. It’s a matter of what to do with it and if you have a goal from your social media and stand out, you know everybody’s there now.
You can find Michell Clark on Twitter and Instagram @MichelCClark and his website michellcclark.com