When you come from the hood or projects, sometimes, most of the time, the luxuries that are provided for those coming out of affluent areas aren’t available to you at an easy access. You have to work to get it or go the extra mile to find it. This is why companies, such as Jountre Dope Studios is needed in our urban communities, which house Black and Brown people.
Jountre Dope Studios was founded by Bri Webb which focuses on people perfecting their own craft or for those who are learning something different or who want to get their foot in the door to whatever industry that they plan on going into.
“I am 30 years old (I hate to say it) because it feels like time has passed by so fast…I was just 21 a couple of days ago (laughs),” Webb explains the inspiration behind her company. “I have been engaged with my community since day one, ever since I can remember I have been learning how to interact with people. I have just been a people person. I have always been one to want to help people or to want to be a part of what is going on, right then and there”
Because of Bri’s passion of interacting with people, this has helped her grow into the women that she is today, which is the kind of person that goes out and speaks to other people to inspire and motivate then while still learning about herself.
I recently interviewed Bri where she chatted more on her organization and inspirations.
Leslie: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what it is that you do?
Bri: My name is Bri Webb and I am the founder of Jountre Dope Studios and that is a corporation mainly made to focus on
It has helped me to grow into the woman that I am today which is the kind of person that goes out and speaks to other people…being a motivational speaker, while still learning about myself.
Leslie: I like that, when you go into the community, you are not just doing it for “The Gram” you are out there because you care about us, you care about the people in the community. That is why you go so hard; we see that, and we definitely feel that.
How did you determine that Jountre Dope Studios was a need in your community?
Bri: To be honest, growing up in poverty or growing up without the necessary resources that you need in order to improve yourself, can make you feel as if you are nothing at all or that you are not able to accomplish anything at all. So, going through that and seeing other people go through that like friends and relatives who feel the pressure from society that if you do not have a million dollars or the necessary resources then you will not make it…and that is not true. So, by bringing Dope Studios to the community, it helps people to understand that no matter how much money you have, no matter what neighborhood you live in, that you are still accepted here because of the natural raw talent within you, that makes you who you are.
Leslie: Exactly, you are not looking to diminish the God-given talent within, but you are allowing it to flourish by being accepted in a space where you are able to become a better version of yourself. I see that you have made a space that is free for everyone to be able to express themselves regardless of what it is that you bring to the table. That is acceptance and that is dope.
When did you become interested in visual arts?
Bri: I have been interested in visual arts my entire life. My mother always made sure that I had a sense of diversity in my life, expressing myself and being able to be a part of arts and craft fairs or going to different festivals… things that would help me to understand that music and art are the main things that keep people at a steady pace and keep people focused, so learning the true meaning of what it means to be a visual artist, to be someone in the industry, those are the core things that you need in order to survive. So, I realized that I may not be able to draw as well as someone else or I may not be able to sing as well as the next person, but I definitely have something that I think the world needs to see. So, knowing that helps people in different ways, it helps people to build their confidence and it is like why not do something to help people to feel empowered because a lot of people lack the motivation and they lack the ability to recognize that your talent is all that you need in order to make it.
Leslie: That is beautiful. You went through it and your mom presented you with the opportunities where you were able to feel confident in being you. You had the confidence to express yourself artistically in a way that was authentic to you. If you could do it then someone else can do it too. Whatever your talent is bring it to the table and there is a feeling of acceptance that goes with that.
Bri: Yes, why would you want to be fake and be someone else instead of just being yourself? We are interested in promoting the belief that you do not have to be like anyone else, just be yourself. We do not know everything, so instead of pretending to know everything be willing to learn from someone who knows something about what you are interested in learning about, at the end of the day just be yourself, you have a lot to offer in your own right.
Leslie: You are right, you cannot compare yourself to other people because we are unique in our own ways. We just have to learn how to be great in our own lane. What have been some of the challenges that you have had to overcome since starting your own studio?
Bri: I have had to overcome anything that you can possibly think of; ridicule, the constant pressure of thinking, what if you do not make it, what if you do not succeed. Basically, everyone else’s fears were placed upon me and I was put into a box where people were banking on me to fail, but it motivated me even more to want to succeed. It made me want to get out of that box and to let people see that this is the greatest thing, to work for yourself, doing what you love to do, doing it with passion and excitement and then all of those negative thoughts that people have about you, that just goes out the window because no one cares about trying to fit in anymore. What makes people stand out the most is when you are being yourself. The fact that someone else may be afraid just shows me that you will not make it to the place that I am going to, and I cannot let that stop me. So, you need to stay in your own lane…period.
Leslie: It is true, I tell people that all the time…what I have going on may not be for you, but I am doing what I need to do so that I can be great.
Bri: Exactly, we may still have the same goals, but we are not going to go down the same path. We are not meant to be exactly the same. We were created to be different. We are meant to stand out and to do things differently and there is nothing wrong with that. Inner growth is so fabulous, it feels good to know yourself and to stand flat footed even when you are told that this is not you, no…yes it is, it may not be you but I think that it is the best feeling when you can stand on your own two feet and declare who you are regardless of what someone else has to say.
Leslie: We are constantly learning about ourselves and the older that we get we start to realize what we like and what we do not like. The new you is who you need to become comfortable with and at the end of the day, you need to discard that negative vibe that you get from other people. What is important is that we be okay with who we are and that is all that matters. Who were some of your inspirations?
Bri: One of my inspirations to this very day is someone that not a lot of people care for but in the same way that I do not care about what anyone else thinks, he too feels the same way, 6ix9ine, it is crazy but he just does not care about what people think and that is what I like about him. He has no filter, whatever he feels, whatever he wants to express, he does that. The true inspirations that grabbed me and inspired me to be the woman that I wanted to be…honestly have to be, people like the late, Whitney Houston, seeing how strong she was and all that she went through as an artist. Drake, he went from being this little guy on T.V. to breaking out and unleashing this talent that no one even knew that he had, just taking off and succeeding across the country. I would also have to say the late Maya Angelou, just to witness a Black woman speak so powerfully, knowing who she was and understanding that she had a clear message in every word that she spoke, how can you not feel empowered by something like that? Anyone that has had a positive impact in this world, especially because we are surrounded by so much negativity, we need to more of that, we need to see people who are doing great things in the community.
Leslie: That is true. There is so much going out there that could stagnate us, sadden us and so to have positive people and positive thoughts encourages us to keep moving. What we put out there, is what will come back to us. What is your ultimate vision for Dope Studios?
Bri: The vision for Dope Studios is to make it a franchise across the nation. I want to introduce it everywhere that I possibly can, especially in places that are deprived, and poverty stricken. The reason being, is because it is an essential tool for people to be able to express themselves. A key feature that is going to set Dope Studios apart from everyone else is the fact that is available 24/7, it is not an expensive place, but it is a comfortable place. You are going to get fed, you will be doing things that will be beneficial to you and your future, and you are going to learn things. I will also have a S.T.E.M. program (Science Technology Engineering and Math), so you are not just coming there laying down tracks, but you are being educated as well. You have to know the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic. I envision myself to be a all in one brand and I want to these studios up everywhere; like Paris, California, of course I want to make sure that is one in Missouri, in Atlanta and in New York. I just want to touch everybody because we need to have a place where we do not need to have a lot of money or where we feel like we are being put on a timeframe, because there are a lot of performing arts studios that are 9 to 5, and it feels like a job. You should be able to get up at 2am and go paint if you want to, tap dance or rap, or to sing while feeling safe in your environment, knowing that no one is going to judge you for being you. It is important for my studios to be everywhere because everyone has talent and for those who do not think that they have it, it is because they may not be willing to push themselves to see what it is that they are good at. I do not want to see people on my block or in my community sit back and waste their talents.
Leslie: Why do you think that it is so important that we continue to stand and not allow our passion on the subject of social injustice to die down like we have in the past?
Bri: That is a simple answer. The time is now. The time has always been now. But we are seeing the eagerness for social justice more so now than ever. I have been protesting for a very long time. Why do we have to keep making speeches or marching in the streets so that we can be treated equally? We have the right to stand up for the things that we believe in. We have the right to stand up against injustice, but the problem is that we are not paying attention to the other branches of our government where daily decisions are being made that impact our communities, people like judges and senators…these elections are just as important for us to participate in because they need to be held accountable too. This upcoming presidential election is an opportunity for us to use our collective power to demonstrate just how powerful this movement is. Any way that we can get involved, whether you are a motivational speaker, a protestor, an organizer…whatever it may be, find your voice and your position and let us stand united in our efforts. We need to do all that we can to dismantle systemic racism. I do not want my children to have to go through the things that we have had to deal with, and I do not even have kids, but I am afraid to have them because it is so messed up out here. That should not be a fear that a woman has when it comes to her desire to bring forth new life but that is what causes me to stand strong against this messed up system. We should be tired of turning on our televisions and seeing yet another person that has been murdered by the police. I believe that now, the world is tired. People are protesting all around the world and I know that for the sake of my family, I will keep fighting this fight and I will keep standing.
Leslie: That is commendable Bri, it is something that not all of us can do but it is something that has to be done. For you to be out there standing up for all of us…I just want to say, thank you. It is important that we make sure that our voices are heard. Like you said to turn your television on seeing the mistreatment of people of color over and over again, you do get tired! Not everyone will be out there protesting but it is important to ask ourselves what we can do in order to do our part to help changes things.
Bri: People feel think that the little things do not matter. Even if you are not out there protesting, something as simple as dropping off a case of water to a protest is helpful. Posting positive messages on social media can also help. That goes a long way! It amazes me to see that you will get more likes for posting a fight than you would for showing someone standing up for your rights!
Leslie: It is not just for the sake of an individual, but it helps the collective because we are all in this together. Black and Brown families, we see it and we have been touched by it one way or another…directly or indirectly so we are all in this together.
When you speak at these protests, it sounds like it really hits home for you, is that the case?
Bri: Yes. August 9, 2014, changed my life. I had a family member lose their life, so when I speak, I am coming from a place of having dealt with this up close and personal. I am reminded about the incident each and every day because I live right where it happened. In witnessing something like that, being impacted by it, how can you not speak up about it? A lot of times people will ask if I write my speeches down but I do not because I want people to feel what I am saying authentically, I want it to pierce their minds and their souls so that they can feel exactly what I am feeling. When we protested in Ferguson, we actually made videos that stated if something should ever happen to me, I did not kill myself but that I died doing what I believed in because you never know, this could be your last protest and I warn people about that on a regular basis. So, when I speak at a protest, I make sure that everything that I say is as real as it can be, because I feel like I have been making history, I feel like I have been marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself as he encouraged us to march peacefully but to stand up for what we believe in and for us to remember that we have the right to speak up, we do not have to feel suppressed. At the end of the day you do not have to be a part of an organization to get involved, you just need to understand the message and know right from wrong, that is all that matters. It is not about color; it is about people vs. the government. They attempt to distract us with racial division so that we do not unite and overthrow them, but we can because there is strength in numbers.
Leslie: For you to be out there protesting and sharing your story, letting people know how to stay positive in the midst of all of this, that is what touches people. Sad to say but until you have been affected by this personally, it is hard to understand what it is that people are feeling. Where do you see the Black community going in the next couple of years?
Bri: Through unity, I see us building a lot of Black Wall Streets. I see us standing up in a way that we have never stood up before. I see us actually meeting the goals and expectations of our ancestors. If we just overcome ego and pride, we will be able to open doors for those who are coming behind us. We can educate other races of people, other communities because the only true race that always existed was the Black race. Building and educating within the Black community, that can be done right now! It is so exciting to know that we have so much going for us and that we can be anything that we want to be. There are a lot of people out there that can be the next Steve Jobs, who are Black but if you do not have the resources, then it makes it difficult to apply yourself. That is why it is important for us to come together and learn about one another. It is going to be awesome, in the next couple of years Black people are going to take over, I feel it!
Leslie: Before the ugliness of slavery, Black people were Kings and Queens! Black people had their own thing going on. They had villages and resources; they were out there doing their own thing. So, slavery disrupted greatness within the Black community. So, like you were saying it is time to bring that back. Black people are full of greatness! Before slavery, you all were doing your own thing, you had all of the resources and ability to be great! Like you said, you may not know how you can help me or I may not know how I can help you but until we get over that hump and communicate with one another, we will never know. So, it is about communicating, networking together to see how we can all help each other within our own communities. That is what it is all about!
Bri: Period! It is that simple. We keep spending money recklessly when we should be pooling our money together and opening up our own businesses. That is how you get things going. We need to develop our own businesses and pour money into our own communities. We keep pouring our money into communities that do not care about us. We need to think about what we can do to make our neighborhoods better, safer, and peaceful. The world was made for everybody.
Leslie: That is what we are dealing with these days, fighting for the right to be seen as an equal. It is going to take some time; it will not be done overnight. But it is possible. It takes a team effort.
Bri: It definitely does. I mean there is no “I” in team so how do you expect to win if you cannot be a part of the team.
Leslie: What words of wisdom can you offer to the Black community during this time of civil unrest?
Bri: Continue to stand strong, continue to stand firm, do not let this movement die down. Let this be an eye opener for all to know that regardless of what you are going through, we are all going through something but let us be unified in order to help us get through this. In being you, doing you and loving you, remember that no matter how much support you have, you came into this world alone and you are going to leave this world alone too. It is about learning to love yourself and that is something that I am still learning how to do. I have been given the necessary tools from my parents to be a strong Black Queen and that is what I plan on being and if you plan on doing the same, then you have to know why you are here, if you are not able to answer that question then you probably should not be there.
Leslie: You have to know where you come from so that you know where you are going. I appreciate the person that you are becoming. You have to be comfortable in your own space, use what you are given in the circumstance that you are in and make something great out it.
Bri: Exactly, because if I would have allowed everyone’s fears to hold me back, I would not be here right now talking to you. Be you, do you and love you, that is the best advice that I can give…be strong.
Leslie: We have our families and our friends and God is always there but at the end of the day we have to love ourselves and be comfortable with ourselves so that we can be strong enough to conquer whatever it is that comes against us. Thank you for taking some time out of your busy day, I really appreciate you. To our audience, you may not be out there protesting but do what you can do to help those that are out there on the front lines. Thank you Bri, I appreciate you.
Bri: Thank you for having me and thank you all for listening.