Lee Mekhai…Talent Beyond Words

KMP came across this very creative, well-rounded, focused and talented young woman, Lee Mekhai is her name. KMP just had to interview her, 12 questions were asked and a phenomenal story was given; Philly seems to be full of talented people… I hope you enjoy the interview…

KMP:
For those of us who do not know who you are or what you do, briefly tell us about yourself.

Lee Mekhai:

Well, I am a Writer/ Producer, Emcee & Actress born and raised in Philadelphia, currently residing in Montgomery County, Pa.

KMP:
What are 3 words that you would use to describe yourself?

LM:

If I were to use three words to describe me they would be, Shy, Ambitious, Optimistic

KMP:
Are you influenced or motivated by anyone real or fictional, alive or dead?

LM:

I am influenced a lot by Queen Latifah. She’s my inspiration. In a world and industry ran predominately by men, she stood her ground, demanded her respected, expressed herself the way she wanted to despite what others thought and has achieved success on many levels in the entertainment industry, from hip-hop, r&b, jazz to film, television and modeling. She also runs her own production company which are aspirations of mine as well.


KMP:
You are a talented well-rounded individual, how do you stay focused, what motivates you to keep going?

LM:

I keep the right people around me. They wont let me get out of pocket…they’re always there to keep me grounded and in check. My small circle of close friends-extended family, and business associates are the best. Shouts out to Lee Colston, Chris Lyons, Shon Penn, Kash Goins… they stay on me, they keep me focused.

KMP:

I like your remix to Kanye West’s Heartless. You also have a few other videos listed on YouTube. Do you make these yourself or do you have a creative team to help you?

LM:

Awwwwie, Arie I’m glad you like the video. I’ve gotten many responses on the Kanye “Heartless” remix. Yes, I do the videos myself. Me and my trusty sidekick (Macbook pro) with the help of the iMovie software available through iLife 09′

KMP:

How long have you been acting or singing?

LM:

Hmmmm, well I’ve been singing ever since I could remember. I use to grab the brush and stand in the mirror and sing Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” then Id put my t-shirt on my head and act like it was long, flowing hair, like Mariah Carey’s and start singing “SomeDay”. But it wasn’t until I formed my first singing group in 5th grade that I really started putting lots and lots of energy into singing and performing on a daily basis. I knew then that I wanted to be a star.As far as acting, well I was always a little performer, I demanded the attention from my family members at all the family functions. I’d performed in many school plays but my first big ‘gig’ was an independent film I did called, “A Diamond In The Sky” Directed By Philadelphia, director/producer Bernard Gray. That was about 5 years ago, since then I’ve done Voice over work for radio, and booked work in Commercial television, film and theater.

KMP:
I know you’ve done some plays and films, which one was your all time favorite and why?

LM:

Oh, you’re gonna put me on the spot, lol …I really don’t have a favorite project that I’ve worked on, and I’m not just saying that because its the PC thing to say. Many of the projects I’ve signed on to do have meaning to me, are relevant to what’s going on in the world and the communities i live and have lived in, so they become very much part of me. I’ve been blessed to have had directors and casting agents give me an opportunity to work with a script that wasn’t just thrown together. They’ve actually taken the time and put some thought into make it relatable…which I absolutely love.

KMP:
How hard would you say it is for people to make it in that industry? How is the competition?

LM:

How hard is it to make it in this industry? here’s a statistic about 98% of actors are not working, that’s union and non-union. 2% of those actors are, but majority of them are not in the major motion films you see in the theaters today. IT’S HARD, IT’S A HUSTLE point blank, there’s no way around it. It’s doubly difficult for African American Actresses to make it in film and television. That’s why I can’t stress enough the importance of creating your own opportunities. Every one’s vying for that spotlight and no one is going to just give it to you. It’s the same scenario on the music side, Kevin Liles is not going to show up at your door with a deal, you have to prove that you’re worth investing in. At the end of the day, you’re a product and it’s a business. People tend to forget that, if you’re not willing to invest in yourself, and not just dressing the part, but learning your craft, investing the time that’s needed to hone your skill, and taking it seriously ALL the time, no one is going to want to invest in you as an artist. Nowadays, you pretty much have to come already packaged and put together, already tight with a following. Coming to a label only for something that may be challenging to get like distribution or marketing/advertising budget. But in this digital age even that, you can do on your own, and that’s what I mean about creating your own opportunities.

KMP:
What are some challenges you had to face to get to where you are at right now?

LM:

Sacrifice, I think anything worth having is worth sacrificing for. There’s a quote that says “sacrifice is a prerequisite for success.” My story is no different, I’m sure. I stopped working in Corporate almost two years ago to do music full time. I was a broker for a Fortune 500 company, with great benefits and stability. When I left that job, my family looked at me like I had all of a sudden grown 2 heads, with nothing but air in between the two ears. For a while I had to deal with the silence, the looks of disgust. Personally it was an adjustment for me too. I’ve always been independent, since I was 14 I’ve always held a steady job and been my own person. I always had money in my pocket, in account(s) and investments, I kept thinking, I couldn’t live off of that alone and what would happen when that’s no longer there. It was scary, but I knew that I had to take that leap, corporate was not for me, even if it meant eating Ramen noodles every night, sleeping on couches and crashing at friends houses, (all of which I’ve done), spending nights in studios have become the norm. Giving up my apartment, moving back home with mom & dad, not knowing how my bills are going to get paid, scared the creditors are going to repo my car, all of that, and I’m still grinding. I’ve got to…I have no choice, my art is my oxygen.

KMP:
Do you have any advice for anyone that wants to pursue music and/or film industry?

LM:

My advice for anyone who wants to pursue film and music, just like myself, is to learn, learn, we never stop learning, learn, learn your craft but most importantly learn the business. I recently sat down and had a great conversation with a good friend of mine, Chris Lyons of Lyons Den Music Group, and we were talking about having the right people around you and building the right team, and one of the things I couldn’t stress enough, is that people are picking teammates based off of the wrong principals and thought process, he and I both agree that members aren’t pick so that they can do what you can’t do or don’t want to do, but because you’re capable but they’re better and you’re BOTH bringing your strengths to the table.

In my case, because I am heavily involved in music and film, both of which require 110% of my attention 110% of the time, it’s impossible to be everywhere at once, but I’m building the members of my team based off of my knowledge of their positions and my own as well as their proficiency level and how I can be of service to them. Point blank, Do Your Homework and Network that’s what I’m learning everyday.

KMP:
What is next for Ms. Mekhai? What are some projects you’ve been working on?

LM:

What’s next? Well I’m going to conquer the world grrrrrrrrrrr. lol, no but I have a film project of my own that I’m getting off the ground, pitching it to different production companies now, so that’s on the horizon. I also write treatments for shorts and music videos and I have a film that I just got cast in directed by Lionel Cook so I’m looking forward to working on that production. I just completed two films, hopefully they’ll do well in the festivals one of which potentially will be premiering on Network Cable Television.

I recently toured with the 5th Avenue, theater production, “Secret Society” and will be touring in the spring of 2010 with another. So I am excited about what lies ahead.

KMP:
How can your fans reach you or know more about you and your work?

LM:

Lets see how to get in touch with Lee, well you can definitely hit me up on twitter at twitter.com/msmekhai or Facebook – Lee Mekhai. I do have a fan page on Facebook as well. I have videos online at youtube.com/lmekhai and myspace.com/leemekhai. For bookings or to view my resume you can visit www.leemekhai.com

KMP:
Do you have any shows coming up?

LM:

I do. I will be headlining a show at Warmdaddy’s, Columbus & Reed St. in Philadelphia, Pa. on November 23, 2009. I will be performing songs from off of my upcoming mix tape n’Retrospect. Tickets are $10 and the show starts @ 8pm. For Tickets contact Lyons Den Music Group @ 1-888-552-7235. I’ll keep you posted on how the show goes.

Thanks so much for the interview, it was great! I really enjoyed your questions, it was therapeutic for me on some level, so thank you. And thanks for KMP on all the latest news and trends…. you’re the best Arie!