“Doing the Best She Can With What God Has Blessed Her With.”
An Interview with Mrs. Zabrina Hamilton.
By Morgan Thornton
This St. Louis native, Zabrina “Lady ZMG” Hamilton, is the proud daughter of Ruben & Willie Mae Williams & Richard Grisby Sr. She is a graduate of Sumner High School, where she graduated Class Vice-President and Valedictorian. She attended Saint Louis University, and received a Bachelors degree in Social Work & minored in African-American studies. Upon graduation from SLU, she entered the work force, and worked for AmeriCorps, where she was chosen as a delegate for then President Clinton, President’s Summit. After completing 2 years with AmeriCorps, she was offered a position as a Behavior Therapist with Hopewell Center with the St. Louis Caring Communities Program. Later she joined the St. Louis Crisis Nursery as a Family Support Counselor. During this time, Zabrina attended the University of Missouri St. Louis, and received a Masters of Social Work degree with a concentration on Children, Youth, and Families. Zabrina was instrumental in locating the Crisis Nursery’s 1st community outreach center, and after 7 years of employment and being promoted to Senior Family Support Director, Zabrina was offered a position with the 2nd largest school district in Missouri. She currently is an elementary school social worker.
While attending St. Louis University, Zabrina was encouraged by Professor Barbara Woods to publish her works of poetry and stories, which Zabrina submitted for various assignments. Zabrina dismissed the thought as she was focused on earning her degree and entering the work force. During the summer of 2000, while contemplating getting a part-time job to supplement her income, Zabrina decided to publish her work. Thus The Gifts of Love, Peace, & Wisdom was published in 2001 & in 2002 ZMG Books was founded where Zabrina serves as the CEO/Author. Later in 2002, her second book, Keepin’ It Real was published. In December 2014, Zabrina finished writing her first original stage play, Under Construction. Under Construction debut was in St. Louis, MO on April 18, 2015, and the 2nd debut took play on April 16, 2016 in Centreville, IL at The Village Theatre. Zabrina enjoys entertaining, and as a result in 2015-2016, she presented Lyrics & Laughter, an evening of spoken word, comedy, and soulful music grown folks style. This event was made possible with local StL talent, and was held at the Signature Room in Overland, MO.
Zabrina is married, a mother to one daughter, & the oldest of two children. She enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and relaxing. She is a disciple of Friendship Baptist Church in East St. Louis, IL.
Her motto: Doing the best I can with what God has blessed me with.
Morgan: Good Morning Mrs. Hamilton. We are so excited to have you speak with us this morning! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Zabrina: Well I am from St. Louis. I am a career social worker right now, I am currently working for a school district as an elementary school social worker for Kindergarten-5th-grade children, and I have four schools that I service. In addition to that, I am also the author and CEO of ZMG Books. Under that business, I have written two books, I have written and produced a play called, Under Construction, which we’ve done twice, and I also have down an event called Lyrics and Laughter. Moreover, so currently I am working, along with one of my friends and her business, ITAV Enterprise, we are about to ignite a Not Easily Broken Women’s Empowerment Workshop, which takes place this upcoming Saturday, which is a women’s empowerment workshop?
Morgan: Awesome! So you said, that you’re author and CEO of ZMG Books, and through that, you have written and published books and even plays. So what made you want to get into publishing and writing?
Zabrina: Well for publishing and writing, it was actually just a hobby. And when I was in undergrad at St. Louis University, I took a class called the African American child because my minor was African American studies. And so the professor at that time, her name was Barbara Woods, and we had to write a child book for a project. So I wrote a book with just pictures from a magazine and a storyline. I turned it in, and she turned it back into me the following week, and I received an A+. She then encouraged me to publish my book. At that time I was not interested in publishing; it was just a hobby; it was a project for a class and that was that! And it was not until about 10 years after I graduated from undergrad, that I was looking to do something part-time to supplement my income. I didn’t really want to go to a part-time job and have to clock in and do all of that so I just figured I would continue with my book! And that’s essentially how it started!
Morgan: That’s really interesting. Something as small as looking for a part-time lead you to doing something bigger. Really cool!
Now you told me you write books, you write plays, you also do events; you seem to do it all. How are you able to balance and transition so well in various forms of writing?
Zabrina: Let me say this, I’m also a member of a church and I have always been very active in my church. And the one thing I did as a member was overlook our drama ministry. And so I would write plays and stuff for that so it kind of just came naturally, it’s just a gift is what I would say, because that’s simply what it is. And so the play that I wrote, which is called Under Construction, and it deals with African American men and depression came about because I had recently gone through a miscarriage, and it was my second miscarriage. So it was my own way to grieve in a sense but it also was around the time where the situation in Ferguson happened where Michael Brown was shot by the police. And so all of this came around the same time and I was writing the play and the play was gonna be about depression. But as I was writing the play, the holy spirit told me that women deal with their issues, men are the ones who don’t. Men don’t go talk to people, Men don’t talk to their friends to say “hey I’m sad, I’m depressed.” Men don’t do that. But women will do that. So, therefore, the play then became focused on men; African American men, in particular, and depression. So as far as going back and forth, I can’t really say there is a difference because for me I enjoy writing and always have, I even had a diary from about the age of 7. So it’s something that comes natural to me.
As far the play, I started writing in October and, by December it was done. And that was me writing almost every day.
And by January we had a cast and we did the first show in April. So it just lined up really well, and the cast did a phenomenal job. It was just all God-given.
Morgan: That’s great. Mental health is a very controversial and topic that is not often talked about, especially in the black community and definitely with men. So it’s awesome that you took that issue and made a play out of it. That’s awesome.
You talked about you plays, books, events, and I just really respect how diverse your work is. How do you really figure out what your next step is when you’re getting ready to create something new?
Zabrina: Well for me, the next step, which is all in my head I have not put it on paper yet, but I’m definitely doing another play. And about a year ago, I finished Under Construction, the Prequel. There are things in the play, related to certain characters, that the audience had questions about and I wanted to answer those questions with the prequel. When looking into, I first wanted to make it in a YouTube Webisode. However, as I was getting ready to do that, I got pregnant and had my baby. So my life is kind of on pause right now, this workshop on this upcoming Saturday is kind of my reintroduction back to ZMG Books. But that is gonna be the one thing.
As far as entertainment, I enjoy hosting game nights and family event, so I think events are something that come natural to me as well. I think the biggest piece is, St. Louis is not really a creative arts hub, so sometimes trying to network better, you have to almost leave St. Louis to make that happen. However, I am at a point in my life where I am not willing to leave St. Louis, so I’m not sure how much bigger we will get. It just depends on the amount of connections we make outside of St. Louis.
So I know, as it is stated in your biography, that your motto is “doing the best I can with what God has blessed me with.” So what exactly does that mean to you?
Zabrina: Well He has blessed me with the gift of writing. I also believe He has blessed me with the gift of being a good listener with a passion to help others and be a servant. So even with being a social worker, although it’s work, it’s not really work, I actually enjoy doing it. And yes, there are days where I am tired and mentally drained, just because of the things I hear and see from the kids I work with or the parents I may talk to. However, after I unwind and de-stress, I am a big self-care advocate so I make sure to take care of Zabrina, so once I self-care and “woo-sah,” I am okay the next day. So that’s what that means to me. Whatever gifts and talents God blesses me with, I’m gonna do the best I can because at any point, I may not be able to physically or mentally. Or if I don’t use the gifts or talents he blessed me with, He will and can take them away. And I definitely don’t want that to happen because of my disobedience and doing what He has told me to do.
Morgan: That’s beautiful. Really good stuff.
So now, knowing your gifts and already looking at how much you do, are you thinking about maybe going further into entertainment? Possibly making one of your books or plays into a film or television show?
Zabrina: I would love to see something on maybe Netflix or maybe even on the big screen! Because I do believe that more African Americans are being able to enter into film and into the bigger arenas, like Netflix, Hulu, or even on the big screen. So I would definitely love to see something I do on the big screen! What I will say, is maybe in 3-5 years, that would be the way I would. But as of right now, my child is a 1-year-old and I am on complete “Mommy-Mode” and that’s just what it is. And so I would need to make sure she is healthy and safe, and once I get more settled, I am gonna look into YouTube and see what that is like.
Cause even I have thought about it, some people say you need to have a manager and all of these other things, I just think that you can network, reach-out, write, send emails, and try to meet the right people because you never know what can happen. Thus my interview with K.I.S.H. Magazine! I just saw an article with a few people in St. Louis, and I thought everyone has a story to tell, why not tell my story?
And here we are!
Morgan: Good stuff! And that’s really what we are about!
Speaking of that, K.I.S.H. Magazine is all about embracing the dream within you. And just speaking with you, I’ve learned that you are doing nothing short of embracing your dream and going after what God placed in your heart.
So what advice would you give to anyone who has a dream, maybe similar to yours, and wants to know how they can go after their dreams?
Zabrina: The best advice I give to anyone regarding going after your dreams, is to do to just that! Don’t let the naysayers make you feel like you can’t do it because of your gender, race, how you grew up or whatever it might be. And definitely, don’t let jealousy make you feel like you can’t. Because you think people are in your corner and you start doing things and you find out who is really is not in your corner. So don’t be afraid of that. If someone tells you that you can’t, make them a liar and that you can do it.
If it’s your dream and your passion, just go for it!
Nothing fails but a try, and when you fail, try again.
Morgan: Exactly! The worst thing to do is not try. Because the only way someone can truly fail is no try at all. So I definitely agree with you there. Awesome.
So how can we continue to keep up with ZMG Books and everything else that you are doing?
Zabrina: I have a Facebook page which is just ZMGBooks.
I have a website which is zmgbooks.com
You can also follow LadyZMG on Facebook.
And right now the focus is this women’s workshop coming up this Saturday which will be consists of 3 speakers from St. Louis:
We have Rhonda Aldridge, who is a Pastor.
We have Dr. Relda Owens-Matthews, a career social worker and the President of the Missouri Baptist State Convention.
We also have Sinita Wells who is an author and media personality.
I believe that these women are gonna do a phenomenal job at this event!
Also, we will have vendors available. So we are really excited.
So just be sure to follow us on Facebook and we will be live during the event on Saturday to show what is taking place.
And I am also on Twitter, @ZMGBooks.
Morgan: Well we enjoyed having you speak with us and learning more about ZMGBooks. We are excited to have you featured on our online blog and wish you the best of luck with all of your endeavors!
Zabrina: No problem! Thank you for allowing me to come and share my stories with your listeners and readers!
I’d once again like to thank Mrs. Zabrina Hamilton for conducting this interview with K.I.S.H Magazine and on behalf of our editor in chief Dr. Kishma George.
Tune into the next Dreamers Spotlight! If you feel that you have a story to tell to be featured in dreamers spotlight, give us a call at (302)-399-6477 or visit our website at http://kish-magazine.com/