Interview by Visual Collaborative
July 2019 7 min read
Photo courtesy of Kyle Pompey
Michelle Antoinette Nelson better known by her stage name LOVE the poet is an artist, host, and Founder of Brown and Healthy, a global health and wellness initiative for people of color. She has appeared on CNN Live and in Forbes as a multifaceted career creative and community work. In our Vivencias interview series she talks about her experiences as an artist, aspirations and upcoming projects.
(VC) Outside the many amazing activities you are involved with, who is Michelle Antoinette Nelson and what does self-awareness mean to her?
(Ltp) I am a whole woman and as a multi-hyphenate, all of the activities I am involved in are linked directly to each other. If they were not I’d be miserable, disjointed, and exhausted. While thinking about the answer to this question I am reminded of the ‘Jack of All Trades’ quote but in its entirety, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” My self-awareness is inexplicably high and in-turn pushes me to actually master them all before I retire to a beach home somewhere yet to be determined. Self-awareness though, to answer your question, is ever changing and evolving and if I am to fully understand myself I have to learn and embody who I am in the present, whenever ‘the present’ is.
(VC) In the Baltimore Maryland and D.C areas, LOVE the poet’s words and influence precedes her. Is this a reflection of a career plan, or a natural growth mixed with serendipity?
(Ltp) I am a Capricorn woman born the day after Martin Luther King and the day before Michelle Obama, different years of course, but follow me. I have a passion and a purpose, my career plan is as malleable as any of life’s circumstances, something I believe both the phenomenal people I just named lived and have lived through. Serendipity has fueled my natural growth and guided me to various goals and objectives throughout the last 20 yrs of my adult life. If you would have told me in my early 20’s that I would be the founder and CEO of Brown and Healthy, a global health and wellness initiative for people of color, or a celebrated artist and host across the globe I would’ve believed you but I would not have been able to see the path to get there. The path is one of magic, chance encounters, universal messages and the will to be great no matter what. It is also one that I’ve created by taking one interesting and challenging opportunity after another.
My truth and the truth of other marginalized human beings is all I have, so I might as well write about it and incentivize others to do it as well, by showing them they can do it and they can be successful while doing it.
Photo courtesy of Michelle A Nelson
(VC) Spoken word is a powerful method to getting a message across. Do you rely on your instincts on message delivery or prefer fleshing out your thoughts on paper first?
(Ltp) I am a writer, I delve into my personal story and they experiences of others to craft poems that are highly confessional. I also address political issues as well. I was once asked if my work was “political” and I responded that I am black, woman, and gay everything I do in life is “political,” everyday I wake up there is somebody somewhere in the world that disagrees with my very existence and would prefer it be terminated. So I believe that if that is my truth, and I have done nothing but wake up to it, then I should write as boldly and speak as loudly and as poetically as I can so that those short-sighted and malicious people will have a real reason to fear and hate me. My truth and the truth of other marginalized human beings is all I have, so I might as well write about it and incentivize others to do it as well, by showing them they can do it and they can be successful while doing it.
(VC) In your quiet or noisy moments how do you get inspired? What makes Michelle create the work she does. Do you seek religion or get spiritual like many artists for muses?
(Ltp) My work has evolved. I started writing poems 27 years ago when I was eleven but over time I realized that I could only do so much from a stage and I’ve stood on those stages across the globe for 15 years now. I am inspired by the people I meet and their stories. I’m inspired by their feedback and their desire to know more. As a natural introvert it is in the moments that I have to myself that I can process all the things I see and feel and synthesize them for the digestion of others. I cook great food for thought. I used to think the way that I see and process things was normal but I’ve learned throughout my adulthood that unless I teach the truths of this world the way I see them no one else will. I’m not religious but I do believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience so my muse is my experiences with other beings.
(VC) As a beautiful black Lesbian woman in America, who is well traveled and been exposed to quite a lot, what do you tell the aspiring young woman or any marginalized people about success and risk during today’s cultural shifts in America?
(Ltp) Take the risks to succeed. Life is and during our lifetimes will likely always be risky here in the United States. Use that fact to your advantage. We are used to things that more privileged people fear. Use that as your shield and your armor to take the leap. Everything you have ever done and/or experienced in life has prepared you for the things you are about to do. Don’t focus on the risks just focus on nailing the results.
(VC) Many Creatives imagine a life during the Renaissance period, but If you can time-warp back to any era, what time would it be and why?
(Ltp) The 90’s but as an adult though. I was a teenager in the 90’s but I would’ve liked to know most of my life was built on tangible things like cultural resistance, the beginnings of hip-hop, the rise of black television, 8 tracks, records and cassettes, and when someone wanted to reach me they had to wait until I got home and answered their message on my answering machine.
(VC) Your fashion style is considerably “Visual Collaborative”, Are there any brands, or perhaps minimalist style houses you patronize that you can share with our audience?
(Ltp) I actually love to shop at consignment shops and thrift but I am a dedicated RayBan wearer and I love a good quality fedora, button down shirt, and some wingtips.
(VC) At this stage of your professional milestones and accomplishments, If you could collaborate with any brand or public figure in business who would it be and why?
(Ltp) I would like to work directly with Oprah. I have already worked directly with her life partner Stedman Graham and Kaiser Permanente to develop a curriculum for Kaiser’s Youth in Action program based on Stedman’s book “Who Are You?” I believe that Oprah would be a great advocate for the mission of my company Brown and Healthy which is to change the negative narrative around the mental, physical, and emotional well being for people of color; and it would be amazing to work with her for the betterment of our people.
Photo courtesy of Michelle A Nelson
(VC) What can the United States expect from Michelle within the next 36 months?
(Ltp) The world should expect to hear more from me via my @lovethepoet and @brownandhealthy IGTV channels, to see more productivity and growth form my company Brown and Healthy, and if folks attend Summit events they should expect to see me hosting the main stages there in both LA and Tulum.
(VC) Is there anything you would like to share about yourself with our international audience?
(Ltp) You can tune into my world and my work at michelleanelson.com to learn more. I will be in your neck of the woods soon and I would love for you to get involved with the Brown and Healthy movement as well!