Introducing Dabriel Fulton: Publicist, Poet, and Entrepreneur
The Rai Report interviews Dabriel Fulton about her platform for emerging artists, The Mic is Open, and her views on the success in her life.
Interview by Alexis Rai Gaynor, Editor-in-Chief of The Rai Report
Dabriel Fulton is a Baltimore native and self proprietor of Dabriel and Associates LLC., a thriving public relations company since 2011. She has worked with industry leading companies and individuals such as United Way, Elle Magazine, and Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Elle Varner. She has been organizing and providing platforms for underground/emerging artist through her showcase THE MIC IS OPEN since 2011 and is currently on a 9 city tour providing quality showcase experiences for emerging artist.
Hi Dabriel. Thank you for interviewing with The Rai Report. I know that you're a publicist and poet, but outside of that, would you use any other nouns to describe yourself as a professional?
That's a part of who I am but I would really say that I am person who has been placed here to make other people's dreams come true. That's who I am.
Yeah, and I say that because what I am doing now with The Mic is Open is providing a platform for emerging artist to showcase their talent and for a lot of these people, it's their first time performing. They're like "Oh, gosh, this is a dream come true" and I'm like "Great, so I am accomplishing my goal in helping you accomplish your dreams."
Tell us a little bit more about The Mic is Open. How and when did the concept begin?
The Mic is Open began about five years ago. It came about while I was in school. I started the Black and Latino Association and within that I was having little showcases at school-poetry showcases and things like that. From there, I branched out and I started hosting them at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. They gave me like an 80/20 deal so they kept eighty percent of the money earned and gave me twenty [percent]. I am bringing in all of these people and you are going to take everything that I have worked for? You're crazy-I am going to go and do my own thing. From that, I started looking for venues but they're so expensive. What [Bowery Poetry Club] was giving me was a venue for free but it wasn't really free because they were taking all of my money. I started it because I am a poet and writing has always been my best form of communication. I am not the best at verbalizing how I feel but I can write it down and express myself way better. I started performing and letting people know how I felt through my words and it introduced me to a whole new community of people who were like me. That's what I look for and gravitate towards in life-people who I can relate to. I chose a community of poets. I said "I like the way this feels, I like being around people who are likeminded, and I want to create something bigger and better" and I did. That's how The Mic is Open formed and it's been about five years now.
That's really cool. I love that. It's funny because I mentioned to you earlier that I met a young lady the other night at The Mic is Open and she asked me if I had ever been to The Mic is Open before and I told her "No, and I feel bad because this is my friend's project and I told her that I would come before but wasn't able to show up" and then I remembered that I have. When you were hosting it at The Bowery Poetry Club, I got my friend to perform and I came with her. That made me feel good because in that moment I realized...
You've been there from the beginning.
There from the beginning, but also, a conduit for dreams. Me being there, I was supporting you but I was also plugging her into what you had going on so that she could have a platform to express herself and grow a following as an artist. I see amazing things for The Mic is Open. I was thinking about it the other day as I was preparing to attend and I thought "This is in alignment with Def Poetry Jam". Def Jam has done a lot of artist showcases that went really well.
Thank you so much. You know you're my good-good girlfriend. (both laugh)
What are three things that you do every day that are non-negotiable to ensure your success?
Three things that I do every day that are non-negotiable to ensure my success...check my emails. That's very important. Prior to that, every morning, I am blessed and thankful to be alive so I do say my prayers. I have to give thanks to God every day for keeping me through everything. A part of success is knowing that it is important to be grateful and thankful and remain humble through all it all. Staying relaxed is important in this industry so I always have a cup of tea. It keeps me calm and level-headed. In order- God, tea, emails.
What was your dream career as a young girl?
Growing up, I wanted to be a pediatrician. Then, I learned that you needed to be really good in math so that was a ixnay* for me. I wanted to be a pediatrician because my pediatrician was so awesome. I wanted to be just like her. She was really sweet to me. Then, I wanted to be a teacher. That has translated to me partnering with United Way to improve literacy for children with literacy kits and programs.
*"ixnay" means "nix" in pig latin.
What's next for your career?
I want to take The Mic is Open to the next level. I want to take it all around the world. I am currently on nine city tour. A year ago, I was being interviewed and they asked "Where do you see The Mic is Open in five years" and I said "I want to take it to Los Angeles" and I met that goal four years early. I had that showcase on August 5, 2017. Expanding The Mic is Open is my ultimate goal because I really love the way that it makes people feel.
What's been your most memorable moment in your career so far?
The Mic is Open tour has been most memorable because it's been such a challenge for me. I am funding everything by myself so I have to purchase the venue, I have to buy my plane tickets, I have to get hotels and transportation. There are so many things that I have to pay for out of pocket so the highlight is me being able to do all of those things and making it work.
People who are not entrepreneurs and not trying to make their own pathway do not understand the amount of personal energy and resources that go into it.
I said recently, if someone had told me that being an entrepreneur would entail so much, I may have changed my mind. I am so far in it at this point, I won't be able to rest well at night knowing that I gave up. It takes a lot but it is rewarding when you get the outcome that you have been working toward because you know that you did it for yourself and that's what matters most.
Do you consider yourself a leader?
Yes, I do. It starts with my [younger] sister because she looks up to me. I have to watch the things that I do and say because she sees me making moves and I am her role model. The leader also comes out through The Mic is Open because I am trying to lead them to success. I march to the beat of my own drum.
What's the most valuable lesson that you have learned in your career?
The most valuable lesson I've learned is to be true to who you are as a person and not folding when presented with challenges or meeting new people. It's really important to stay true to who you are so that you do not conform to what everyone else wants you to be in order for you to obtain the goal that you have set for yourself. When you start changing who you are then it changes everything else around you so it's not as organic. You have to stay firm to who you are.
What's the greatest piece of advice you've received from another woman?
The greatest advice that I have ever received from another woman is "what you want already belongs to you" from Oprah Winfrey.
Is it safe to say that Oprah is your female role model?
Yes, Oprah, for sure.
Do you have any other female role models?
My mother and my grandmother. They are really strong black women. I can only hope to be half as great as them. They hold it down for the family.
Mothers and grandmothers are amazing in their own way. As I get older and my lenses on life change, I understand their strengths more and more.
What's your end goal for your career?
I never really put a cap on things. It's not like I just have one goal, I am always trying to achieve more than one thing so it doesn't stop. If you look at the really successful celebrities, they start with one thing but then they branch out to other things. For instance, Sean "Diddy" Combs. He worked for Andre Harrell, then he managed artists, then he tapped into Sean Jean [apparel], then he tapped into cologne, then he tapped into AQUAhydrate, then Ciroc. You start in one place then you branch out as build your name.
What advice would you give young women looking to start a career in the public relations or entertainment industry?
Don't compromise. There will be a lot of things and people trying to distract you from your goal. You can probably get further if you compromise but don't you want to say "I did it and I did it my way. I did it the right way, I did it the wholesome way, I did it the humble way. I stayed focus and I didn't let people distract me." Try not to listen to the negativity that people may try to share. It's really about staying focused. And try to save your money, especially if you aren't working for someone else.
That is all so true. I completely agree.
Now, I have some fun questions for you. What's your life's theme song?
My whole life? How do I sum that up in one song? I would say "Headlines" by Drake.
Okay, that's a good one. I love Drake.
Do you know how it goes? Let me hear it. (both laughing)
Girl, you want me to just sing one of Drake's songs? Someone thinks that they are Drake's biggest fan. You need to host a Drake Challenge night or something. (both laughing)
That's an inspiration. That's going to be a theme for The Mic is Open. I've never had a theme before but it's going to be Drake Night.
Do you have any hidden talents, aside from knowing all of Drake's lyrics? (both laughs)
I am very flexible. Not just with my body but in life and with people, you have to be flexible.
Three words to your younger self?
Confidence, transparency, and believe.
Three words for your older self?
Focus, steadfast, and believe.
Thank you for interviewing with The Rai Report!
I loved it. I had a great time. I am glad that I could enjoy myself. Thank you guys for the opportunity.
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