Interview by Albrean Wordsworth
Charell Star is a former foster care youth, who beat the odds and became the first in her family to graduate from college. Through years of hard work in marketing and content creation, Charell has climbed the corporate ladder and is currently the Director of Content and Innovation at Essence Global, where she leverages her zeal for telling dynamic stories with her infatuation with media and emerging technologies.
Charell Star is also lifestyle writer in NYC. Star contributes to Sister Magazine, MommyNoire, MadameNoire and She Knows and is also the energetic voice behind the popular site – Not Just A Girl in A Dress. She writes on the topics of fashion, beauty, business, and consumer technology. Star also works as a style ambassador, on camera talent and influencer for leading lifestyle brands and media outlets.
Albrean Wordsworth (Interviewer): Tell me a little bit more about your career ad what you do? As well as all the different projects that you are involved in?
Charell Star: Yeah of course. As you just stated, I do a lot, but I would say I split my time between my day job which is marketing content innovation for Essence Global. There I do things like product placement in tv and movies. If you see a really cool brand and they are talking about it in a Tv show, I might have had something to do with that. *Laughs* because that’s part of my day job, helping to break through the clutter for the brands that I work with. Also, during my free time on the side, I do a lot of content creation and story telling myself. So that includes hosting fashion and lifestyle segments for various outlets on television and on digital. So I do lifestyle contributing’s to shows such as Good Day New York and New York Live. I work with a digital network called AKC Tv, where I cover trends as well. I do sort of a story telling on both sides of the house.
Albrean Wordsworth (Interviewer): Awesome, that is great. With being the Director of content and innovation at Essence Global, how do organize & split your time to where you’re also able to write and create content for other blogs and magazines?
Charell Star: Yes, it just takes a lot of organization. Plotting out my day, you know with having a traditional 9-5, that’s a full-time job. So being able to do all of the things that are on the side, the things that are sort of my passion projects– the things I love, I really try to schedule things throughout the week, I use a lot of my vacation time to plan and produce segments and write. All the stuff I do on the side, I try to use some of my free time for and use all of the hours after work. I am a night owl, so I get a lot of my writing done at night. I also send a lot of emails out at night. I’ve learned to schedule emails when I have to request products to be in my segments for Tv. Some of my emails are scheduled to go out, I will write them at like midnight, but they will go out at like 9am. So just trying to be organized in that way helps me keep all the balls in the air and get everything that I need done.
Albrean Wordsworth (Interviewer): That is great. I agree you definitely have to be organized in order to handle all those different tasks. What drew you to writing? Is content creation something you have always been interested in?
Charell Star: I would say yes, I started off in college doing communications, I loved writing press release and writing media alerts, doing that kind of creative thought and writing. Later on as I moved up in my day job and career, I wasn’t doing a lot of it so I missed it. I missed doing that sort of storytelling for myself. So that’s really when I started blogging because I missed having that creative side. So that what lead me back to doing it on the side. I always loved being creative in some sort of way. I always loved creating a story, which now we call content but its really storytelling. I always loved doing that, so yeah it has always been something that is a part of me. When I found that I was not doing it enough, it really inspired me to go and start my own blog which is actually called That Star Life. I rebranded it a few years ago. Now I create now only for my blogs but I wrote and contribute to other outlets as well and now I do a lot of on camera work now because people came to know me for fashion, the technology and lifestyle on my blog. So I now sort of tell those stories, but visually on my broadcast segments, which is really amazing.
Albrean Wordsworth (Interviewer): Yes, that is amazing. I can tell you enjoy what you do, which is sort of the goal when you start a career. So that’s really good.
Charell Star: I do, I enjoy it 100 percent. I am one of those fortunate and blessed people to be able to love what I do in my day job because it is very creative, but I also love what I do on the side too. I just absolutely enjoy it. If you don’t love what you do, you’ve got to find your passion. Im not saying quit your job *laughs* because you can’t do that. Like with me I was working in a job that I wasn’t very passionate or excited about, so that lead me into blogging and being creative and now I am in a role that I actually really love and I am able to continue all the things that I do on the side that I really love as well. So, if you are not happy where you are, either start something yourself or go out and search for something that you love more but don’t just work the next 40 years in something you hate.
Albrean Wordsworth (Interviewer): Right, I agree. Would you say that also contributes to following your dreams and keeping your dream alive. No matter what you are involved in day to day just making sure your contributing to your dreams and passion and making sure your doing things you love as well on the side, even if you may have a day job. For you, you love what you do during the day, but would you say that looking for something you love aside from your day job contributes to following your dreams?
Charell Star: Yes, no matter what you are doing in your day job, you should always be going after the things that you want and the things that you really love. I can’t stress that enough. You just have to focus on what you really want. Don’t look at your day job as something that is holding you back. Leverage your day job, to do what you really want to do. If you work retail, what about the hours that you are not working. Can you use what you do in your day job and leverage that to help you get to where you want to be and the things you really want to do. One of the stories I always tell is when I first got out of school, it took me forever to find a job. I graduated during recession, it took me forever to try to find a job, then I found a job in data entry. I was entering customer comments into a computer and I like literally pivoted that particular position into a public relations position at the same company because I was like you know what? I am a really good writer, instead of doing data entry can I write a press release for you guys, and maybe that will help some supporters to come to some events. The company was like yeah sure do it and after a while they sort of depended on me to do that one task and it became a PR role. So what I always tell everyone, even if this is not what you want to do right now, figure out how you can fit your passion and things that you are really good at into that role and maybe you might be able to pivot what you don’t love into what you do love. So, I always stress that to people.
Albrean Wordsworth (Interviewer): Yes, I definitely agree with you in that aspect, it is very important to use what you have to do what you love. What advice would you give to marketing student that enjoys fashion, business and consumer technology just as you, but is looking for the right direction to go in to start their career?
Charell Star: So, I say to everyone, just start. If you have a wide range of things that you love, just find something that will check off one of the things that you love to do and bring all of yourself to it. You know I sort of moved from one industry, starting with public relations and sort of moved into more marketing and doing content innovation for my day job. I also been able to bring all of that to my day job as well as expand and amplify that into what I do on the side. So I say just pick one thing, lean into it and bring all of you to that. There is so many things crossing over, especially in marketing, if you have skills in social media, you can do that for a fashion company or a tech company, you can do that for just about anyone because those skills are transferrable. So, don’t feel like you have to find something with everything. Pick one thing, lean into it and grow your skills, bring more of your passion into it. You’ll see that you have a wider range to choose from as you grow.
Albrean Wordsworth (Interviewer): Definitely, I agree. Having that mindset is what have made you successful, thank you for sharing that. I know you write on different topics, what would you say is your favorite topic to cover?
Charell Star: I love everything I cover, but here is my rule, I only write about or do segments on topics I actually love and care about so fashion, beauty and technology, those are things that I really care about. I say lately I’ve been leaning more towards fashion. If you see my closet you will understand why *laughs* I have always loved fashion. I love covering trends, I love the fact you can express yourself and creativity through fashion. What you wear says so much about who you are and what you want to go after so that might be my favorite right now. Again, I love technology, I am a big techie and I have always been. So, I love covering tech as well and beauty, so all of those together. But right now, I have been covering more fashion. If you go to my Instagram, you can see me having fun with various clothes and different trends. It’s really just me having a lot of fun with fashion and what you can do with it.
Albrean Wordsworth (Interviewer): I agree. Fashion is an art; you can get really creative with it. So, what would you say is the highlight of your career, also what are some challenges?
Charell Star: A highlight of my career, one moment I can say that was really big to me is I got to meet my idol Maya Angelo a number of years ago. I got to meet her, and I got to spend the entire morning in her living room in Harlem, because I was working with her on a campaign for one of my brands. It was an absolutely great experience. It was humbling and Maya was absolutely incredible, she gave me advice on my own personal career so that had to have been the highlight of my career. I mean I have read every book by Maya Angelo, some of her poems got me through some really hard times being in foster care. So, being able to be in her face and in her presence was life changing and groundbreaking for me. So, hands down that was a big moment for me. Though I’ve had tons of great moments, that one was a dream moment that I got to actually live and experience. For challenges, I have challenges all of the time. Even thinking that a project/ campaign that I am working on right now is going to be really big and especially when you’re talking about telling stories and creating content, and you think that I really going to resonate with people so you get really excited, and your like I’m pouring all of me into this and its crickets. When nobody is excited about it as you are, and you get no comments on social media and your just like well that didn’t go well. You spend all of your time creating something and people just don’t resonate with it, the way you really hoped and thought they would. It happens all the time and you just got to roll with it. Everything you create may not be for everyone. You may create something, but it may not be the time for it. I’ve had things I created, put it out into the world and got nothing. Then, like 6 months later people are like really into it and that the moment. It’s like maybe I was just too early. Sometimes things that you put out into the world isn’t always going to be received right or taken in the way you expect, so that can be really challenging especially for creatives. When we create something, its apart of us and it can feel personal when someone doesn’t like something that you wrote or produced. But you got to roll with it and can’t take it personally because it is not personal.
Albrean Wordsworth (Interviewer): Yup, that is true. We all have challenges; it is all about how you overcome them and make lemonade with your lemons.
Charell Star: Exactly!
Albrean Wordsworth (Interviewer): How can our readers connect with you on social media?
Charell Star: On Instagram @CharellStar. You can also go to my website www.thatstarlife.com and If you are in New York city, I am on Tv also on NBC, Fox 5, New York LIVE