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Success Story Podcast

How to Quit Your Job, Follow Your Passion & Build a Media Empire with Tressa “Azarel” Smallwood, CEO of Megamind Media

By June 16, 2021March 5th, 2022No Comments

About The Guest

Tressa “Azarel” Smallwood is an award-winning Book Publisher, Movie Producer and Entrepreneurial Coach. In 2003 after writing her first novel, Tressa resigned from her teaching tenure in the Maryland school system to fulfill her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Since then, she’s published numerous books resulting in over 162 published titles some of which are now being adapted to film and TV series on BET, TV ONE , Urban Movie Channel & more.

As a content catalog owner, Tressa’s entrepreneurial work as both an author and movie producer have been featured in Black Enterprise, EURWeb, The Source, Shadow & Act, Rolling Out and many more. Expanding into the film industry with MegaMind Media, her award-winning film company, she recently produced the 2019 American Black Film Festival & BET award-winning film, “ALL IN”  starring Lil Mama, Elise Neal & Lyric Hurd which airs on BET SPRING 2020, and The Available Wife starring KJ Smith, Terayle Hill, and Roger Guenveur Smith.

Tressa is currently in development for two of her scripted TV Series, Caught Up, Positions and she is also touring to promote Sinners Wanted , a faith based phenomenon that airs on TV ONE April, 5th 2020.

Talking Points

  • 03:23 – Coming from a family of entrepreneurs.
  • 04:43 – Having a passion for teaching.
  • 10:26 – A rundown of Tressa’s various businesses.
  • 15:46 – The transition from book publishing, to film.
  • 22:42 – Self doubt, faith & entrepreneurship.
  • 25:04 – How to make sure you align with the right people.
  • 29:25 – Double checking & due diligence.
  • 31:25 – Why today’s education system is failing students.
  • 38:43 – Some advice for young entrepreneurs.

Show Links

  • tressaazarel.com
  • twitter.com/CEOAzarel
  • instagram.com/ceoazarel

Show Sponsor


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What is the Success Story Podcast?

On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups and entrepreneurship.

The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

Read The Transcript (Machine Generated)

Scott: [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of the success story podcast. Today, I sat down with Tressa Azarel Smallwood. She has built her own book publishing company. She has built her own film production company. She regularly teaches at community events, teaching young individuals, young creatives, how to grow up into entrepreneurship.

She has given everything back and then some, we spoke about her life. Her lessons learnt. We also have three incredible sponsors for today’s episode. We have Gusto. It is a one. Stop shop for payroll solutions. We have mint mobile. They are revolutionizing the way that you use your cell phone and the cost involved as well.

And then we also have BKA content, one of the best content writing services for copy SEO websites. Social I’ve ever seen. So they all have incredible offers for all success story podcast, listeners stick around until halfway through, you know, how it goes. All right. Without further ado, let’s get right into another episode of the success story.

Okay. Thanks again for joining me. Today. I am sitting down with Tressa Azarel Smallwood. She is an award winning book, publisher movie producer, entrepreneurial coach in 2003, after she wrote her first novel, she resigned from teaching shoes working in the Maryland school system. And she wanted to go into entrepreneurship, which is a lofty goal, but listen to what she’s done.

So you’ve published numerous books resulting in over 162 published titles. Some of them are being adapted in the film. You are a content catalog owner. Your work has been featured in black enterprise. Your web. Source shadow and act rolling out. You’re building out mega mind media.

That’s your award-winning film company and you recently produced the 2019 American black film festival and bet award winning film all in that’s an incredible resume. Right now mega mind is becoming the fastest is positioned to become the fastest growing independent film producing company for book to film adaptations in America.

Racial equity is at the forefront of all the projects that you take on your company is. Basically building on your love for education. You’re also doing some, you know, some charity work with the Washington mayor, Marion Barry and her mayor’s youth program. You’re teaching students techniques to be part of the creative economy, through mentoring Tressa.

That’s a very impressive very extensive resume and, you know, congratulations for the work you’re doing.

Tressa: [00:02:46] Oh, thank you so much, Scott. And thank you for having me here.

Scott: [00:02:50] Well, it’s my pleasure. And I’m very excited because I speak to a lot of entrepreneurs, but not a lot of entrepreneurs that go from education into a variety of things.

And then now you’re building up independent film. So that’s something that I’m not used to. And I don’t know anything about, I know a lot about tech and that. That entrepreneurship, but this is a whole other stream. That’s very exciting. So let’s, let’s go back and, you know, you can decide where you want to start in your life.

It could be after you finished teaching or maybe before. So walk me through your story a little.

Tressa: [00:03:23] Yeah. So one, I come from a family full of entrepreneurs. I’ve watched You know, tons of people in my grandfather, for example, he has like 12 different jobs got, and I was like, where are you going? What are you doing next?

What what’s happening here? And I’ve never understood that as a child, I just would see him zipping from one job to the next. And then fast forward, you know, I was in school you know, for college and studying marketing at the time. And I said, I like this, but I’m just not really sure. What path I really want to be on.

And I, and to be honest, I always felt like I was behind everyone else because people knew exactly what they wanted to do. And here I was in college saying I’m getting this degree, but I don’t really know what I want to do. I really, I don’t know. I’m not sure. Always had a love for teaching. My grandmother was a teacher and she would always say to me, You’re going to be a teacher.

And I said, I’m not going to be a teacher. I’m going to be an entrepreneur. And sure enough you know, got my undergrad degree, started working in a marketing field and got married. And my husband said, okay, all of this traveling, what are you doing? You need a steady job. What did I go do, Scott? Teachings.

And so, you know, the first

Scott: [00:04:40] job, the safest, most steady job, right.

Tressa: [00:04:43] I would say to me, and so I remember you know, I went back and I got a master’s in education. And when you know, throughout my teaching, I remember just saying, I love teaching, but I still want to be an entrepreneur. There’s something about me.

It just had that in my spirit. And so fast forward, 2001. I was three months pregnant with my daughter Bailey who’s 19. Now that tells you how old I am. Scott don’t tell nobody else. Just so she, I was pregnant and went to the doctor. The doctor said you’re having some, some health challenges here with your pregnancy, and we’re going to have to put you on bed rest for six months.

So I couldn’t even process it. It was like six months, like in the bed starting went and he’s like starting now. And so that changed my life forever. I literally went on bed rest the next day. Didn’t go back to work and. During that time period on bed rest, I had a family member who said, you should write a book.

Cause I was like, how do I pass the time? I don’t want to just keep clicking the remote here. And so I decided to write a book, not because I had always wanted to become an author, but I knew I needed to do something. Like I just had that spirit in me that I need to keep moving. I need to accomplish something.

And so I wrote this book while on bed, rest fiction, crazy to the wrong, crazy, crazy book. And. That’s where the name AZA rail comes from. As a rail means a gift God’s gift. But I knew that writing fiction and being a school teacher, my, my thought process was I’m going back to work after I have my daughter and I’m going to a new author and my students cannot find out that I wrote this crazy book over here.

And so I wrote the name you know, adapted my pseudonym as a rail and. Ended up publishing the book. After I had my daughter, it was a huge success, made 40 K in the first two months, self publishing, both independent. Now get this back in 2001 with a master’s degree as a teacher, I was only making $43,000 a year.

Scott: [00:06:44] I was going to say that’s a hit for a first time novel.

Tressa: [00:06:47] Yes. So that was in within two months. So I said, well, I’m onto something, but again, that’s the business side of me. That I knew how to put this book into the marketplace, studied how to do this on this totally self-taught. So of course this was an opportunity for me to stay at home longer with my daughter.

So maternity leave for me turned forever. I never went back to work. All of my family and friends, bye, what are you doing? You had summers off and this is like the safe job. And what are you doing? I was like, you know what, I’m going to do this. Full-time I’m going to start my own publishing house.

And I’m going to do the same thing that I did for myself for other authors. And so I did it. And so by 2005, We were already bringing in revenue of like 400 K a year. And so all those people, those naysayers that was like, don’t do it. The entrepreneurship is risky. I was like, no, this has been in my bones forever.

I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I just didn’t know what to do, how to do it. So that was the thing, Scott, that they, that was the battery in my back. And I have not stopped since.

Scott: [00:07:57] That’s an amazing story. And one thing that I love about that, and I want to understand. I want to know if you even understand where your, your fire comes from.

Cause if that’s something you could pack up and give to somebody else, that’d be incredibly valuable. Because one thing I noticed is every single point in your life where you could have just. Relaxed and taking it easy. You didn’t and you turned it up. And that’s something that I see seen a lot of entrepreneurs and people that are just very ambitious individuals.

They always turn it up. Like when you went on maternity leave and you started writing a book, no one does that, like really, no one does it. Like people don’t do that. Right. That’s not a normal thing for people to do for most people. And then even when you made 40 K in two months, which is a, that’s a, that’s a success.

Cause a lot of people. Don’t make anything when they first try and build something or do something you just didn’t decide to write another book. You decided to open a publishing house and, and, and, and because you live, it just written another book, right. And you could have just gone on and written, you know, four or 5, 6, 7, 8, whatever more books.

So do you know, why do you know why, or do you understand why that is or what drives you or so I think

Tressa: [00:09:03] so. I think again, I watched my grandfather growing up. Always, he always made a way. It was never, I’m going to sit and relax. It was what’s next? What are we doing? How are we, you know, how are we doing this?

He took, he took me. To a lot of those jobs, you know, it was, it was like, Hey, I’m going over here to do this. We, you know, we, we had a pool growing up and he was like, no, I’m not gonna call the pool company. I want you to learn how to do the pH and you fix you to the point. And I’m like, oh, okay. So right now, if I haven’t needed a job, I can go and do pool.

I could serve as fools that watching that definitely fueled me from the beginning. And then over the years, it’s just always been in me to, I don’t, I don’t do mediocre in anything that I do. It’s just not in me to do mediocre and I’m not, and I know my children are tired of me because I’m now see me doing the same thing to them.

It’s like, Hey, I know you’re in school. Well, what else are you going to do? Hey, I know you have this or whatever what’s next. And how can you take that and, and do it better to just what we do.

Scott: [00:10:07] Now you do, you do a couple of things now. So I’m actually curious if you can give us a rundown on, on the stuff that you’re working on, because when I even want to go to your website, like you’re obviously still the publishing house, there’s film, but then you’re also working with entrepreneurs.

I’m not mistaken as well. So what’s, what’s the, you know, who is stressed that today?

Tressa: [00:10:26] So, you know, the thing is the Lemu can start with the publishing house because I’ve been running that for almost 20 years. Now that can run itself. The evolution of printed books. You know, is, is that that’s just a small portion of the business.

It’s books are mostly done online now. Right? So we, you know, we have editors, we have submission reviewers. That part of the company can run itself, honestly, without me, I just kind of oversee. So I do, I spend most of my time. Running the film company, Megamind media, and I will never give up my teaching.

I teach entrepreneurs and filmmakers all the time through my mentorship programs. That’s the love that has stayed in me since teaching. It’s never that I teach youth use on some of my set you know, creatives that want to be in the film and TV industry. And it’s funny. Cause if I say, if I announced that I’m doing something with the youth, the adults are like, Hey, well, How can I get in?

So what’s the age gap. So, you know, well, you know, teach, I teach the adults twice a month because I’m like, y’all are not the focus. It’s the youth. We need to train our young creatives so that they can graduate from high school, then college with the skillset to be able to go out and produce movies and to do you know, years ago, this was unheard of.

If you did not live in Hollywood, you did not have these kinds of opportunities. And so I’m bringing those opportunities to a lot of the communities so that our youth can get involved and be on set and watch movies you know, go from a script to on the screen. So that’s really important, the educational aspects.

So today that is still number one for me, it’s where my heart lies. And of course, you know, I can produce a couple of

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All right, let’s get back.

Yeah. So let’s, let’s talk about, let’s talk about, so I have, I have some follow-up questions they’re going to shelf for later, just based on like how you’re working with youth and whatnot. And some, some things you teach over to them, but let’s talk about, let’s still go back to your career, cause I want to bridge that gap.

So you, you are building up this publishing house. Where did, where does film come in to this? Cause that’s another pivot. Well, not a pivot in addition, excuse me.

Tressa: [00:15:04] Yeah, it’s a natural progression. So if you think about it with the books, last content and content is king period. And so I want to say by 2014 I built an extensive catalog at that point in the book industry.

And so that’s attractive to people who need content, you know, so I would have independent producers executives of networks saying, oh, goodness, God. So forgive me for that. No,

Scott: [00:15:31] no, no, no, it’s fine. Listen, I get, I get dogs. I get kids. I get, I get, you know, phones like it’s it’s it’s this is the word from home life being worried about

Tressa: [00:15:40] it.

Hopefully you’re honest, Oprah. Is that over? Would

Scott: [00:15:43] you, if it is, you take it right. You don’t don’t wait up for me.

Tressa: [00:15:48] Yeah. So some, I would say for me 2014, the calls started coming in and saying, Hey. You have all of these books, have you ever thought about selling the rights to some of them so that they can become book to film adaptations?

They’re like, you know, lots of, lots of books, you know, become movies sometimes. Like I hadn’t really thought about that. So when it started happening more and more, I said, let me research this a little bit more. I started attending film festivals and asking questions and researching and realize, okay, I really have something here.

You know, there are, this is pretty valuable, but because I, I understood the success of my book company and the fact that I own the rights to all of these projects and what that residual income looks like. I was like, there’s no point of me going to sell, sell the right way to a particular book for, you know, 50 to 100,000 when I can take that price and do the movie myself and out, I’ll make, you know, 500 K a year or so, you know, with this one.

And residual income. So the numbers just didn’t add up for me. However, I didn’t have a background film. I knew nothing about film. So it’s that educational piece in me that said start learning, start utilizing resources, meets people. Yeah. That’s what I do. Well, that’s what I do. I I’m going to always, if you tell me you knew something, Scott, I don’t care where you live.

I’m probably like Scott, I’m going to get on a plane next weekend. I’m coming to take you to lunch because I want to know. What it is that, you know, and how, you know, we can work together. So I decided I finally took the big leap. Remember 2014 started the cost started coming and started research and spend a whole year just.

Talking to people 2015, I finally made the decision. I’m going to shoot my first independent movie from one of my books. I didn’t know which one it was going to be, but I said it would be one of them. And so I ended up going to, to meet with a director. His name is Jamal hill because I knew in order for me to do this successfully, I’ve got to hire people.

Who’ve done this before and I can, I need to see their work on screen. I don’t want them just to tell me that the debt that they did it, I want to see it. That’s where we go wrong. Out here in this entrepreneurial world. And especially with social media, we just find the first person who says, I can teach you how to do that.

And you sign up and you don’t even know if they can really do it. I was like, I want real credentials. So I met with Jamal hill who directed a movie called brotherly love for queen Latifah’s movie company. He had directed deuces with Lorenz, Tate and Lance gross, you know, some pretty reputable names. And I said, Hey, I really want you to write and direct my very first movie, I told him about the book catalog.

He said, pick your top five books. You think you want you want me to direct? And let me read the books. I gave him five bucks. He came back and said, secrets of a housewife. That’s the one that we should do. And so from, we started you know, we started right then at that very moment and said, he’s, he decided that he was going to write the script for me.

He wrote the script within like a three-month period. We started casting and we shot the movie December. No, I’m sorry. November, 2015. And by 2016, I was at the American black film festival with this finished product. And it was licensed by BEC so for me, School teacher author who knew nothing about filming to be able to have an opportunity like that to, to put, oh, and I didn’t share Scott that the unique part about this is that I financed this movie in house with my own family.


Scott: [00:19:29] that’s not normal. I don’t know much about film, but I know that’s not normal.

Tressa: [00:19:34] Cause most, most, most times, and my family, they do throw us girls a little bit crazy now that she was crazy before, but she’s really crazy now. And they were like, you’re going to do what and how, and I’m saying now, one of the things that I do believe that always helps me is the fact that I have a proven track record.

I am not one of those entrepreneurs who are just out there just doing things and not researching. Like I am, I go in the black. And so because of that, they were like, I’m getting with you. And so that movie was successful. It was my first movie. That you know, licensed to BT again, 2016 here I am now 2021. I have 14 movies under my belt by continuing that same process.

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That’s an incredible, it’s an incredible story. And I think there’s a lot of, a lot of things that have come naturally to you that I think people should pick up on. And if they don’t come naturally to people, they do want to be successful. They have to pick up on these clues, like these hints that you dropped about building a, you know, building a solid foundation aligning with mentors, but the right mentors and ignoring all the bullshit that’s out there that you just have to stay away from, but also, you know, leveraging and learning from people that have done it before.

These are all great. Great lessons. So in, in summary building an incredible, you know, book and film empire is no different than any other entrepreneurial venture, obviously. And all the things that you, sorry.

Tressa: [00:22:42] Yes and no, it’s, it’s honestly the same thing because in the beginning for me, it was, I kept, you know, self doubt will sink in when you’re, when you’re on your journey to doing something new, there was always going to be that little person on your shoulder saying you can’t do it.

You don’t know how to do it. Don’t, don’t do it when you’re wasting your time. And so it’s good to know that you can, and it’s good to hear from some, if I can do it, anybody out there can do it. Cause I literally did not have a background in anything film related, nothing.

Scott: [00:23:16] And let’s let’s, let’s ask them some classic entrepreneurial questions and I want to figure out your motivations for some of the non motivation, excuse me, your drivers.

So when. How do you stay motivated when, for example things aren’t going well, or you’re not getting, for example, results that you’re, you’re, you’re looking for. What’s your, what’s your go-to.

Tressa: [00:23:35] Yeah, I think for me, it’s my faith. My faith is strong. I do realize that every single thing that has happened in my life, that my steps are ordered by God.

For sure. Cause none of this is normal. I think you, and I’ve just said over and over again. Oh, that’s not normal. No, that’s not normal realization for me. Is that nothing that is happening in my world is normal. So I need to just stay the course. I spent a lot of time helping people and giving back. I do believe that that is, that is a big key to my success.

I get a lot of great, I get a lot of great things coming my way, you know, phone calls that come that I’m like, is that such as such calling me why? But I do believe it’s, I’m getting back what I put out. So I do believe that people need to understand that if you’re someone that you’re looking for help to start your business, but other people have reached out to you to ask for your help.

W how did you handle that? Cause you get back, what you give, period. Energy is everything. I

Scott: [00:24:36] love that. Okay. Another, another tip. How do you find, you said you found people that have done it before mentors that have really helped you. How do you separate, you know, the good versus the bad what’s your process?

Tressa: [00:24:47] Yeah, so I think number one, it’s got to start with credentials, right? That’s that’s the number one. And then once. You know, for example, I am DB pro if you’re, if you’re, this is for all my creators, I know this is a podcast for tons of entrepreneurs, but if you’re in the world of film,

Scott: [00:25:04] for sure. Yeah.

Tressa: [00:25:05] Yeah, I am be a pro.

You look at somebody’s credits right now. I, you know, my publicist could have emailed Scott and said, Hey, Tressa does all these movies, et cetera. You can go to the IMB. And if I only have two movies, then it’s like, well, you said you did 14, but I only see two going to ask questions, ask questions. Okay. I get tons of people who send me messages, you know, and it’s never, it’s not true, but I research everything.

So I would start there. Number two, after credentials, let’s move on to just personality and who people are before you go into business with someone and ruin a situation, or get yourself tied up into something that you should not be tired of. Again, research who is this person. Sometimes you can learn a lot about a person just from an hour lunch and it’s like, oh, okay.

I see. Now you just. Punch the weight or cause your water, you didn’t get the lemon in your water. Okay. May not dismiss you. Got it. Cause people are so hungry now for what I wanted. I want, I want it so bad, but you have to step back and make sure that it’s right for you. You can get yourself into a lot of really bad situations if you don’t study it and research the situation.

And this is specifically, I’m speaking to my younger entrepreneurs out there right now. The the, the younger folk tend to want the microwave success stories. I want it right now. I see this person on social media. They are over here and Dubai, and I’m like, no, they photo that. They were asking that in Dubai.

So I always try to tell my youth stop wondering to stop watching what everyone else is doing. Run your own race, worry about what you’re doing and do what makes you happy because all of that other stuff is short lived. But, but it boils down to what is, what is true? What is factual? So check credentials,

Scott: [00:27:03] and then, that’s and then the last question I had about some of your processes was for education and for research, how do you research?

How do you educate yourself? Both on people you work with, but also something new you want to do.

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Tressa: [00:29:24] Yeah. So I can start with the people that I work with. I. A fast fact check everybody. I mean, at this point in the game, I have a lot of relationships with different network different executives, other producers, a well-known director. So, you know, the industry, although it seems massive. It’s very close.

It’s close knit in this small. So, you know, Scott, if you were a director in the industry, And I wanted to get to you. I would literally go to your IMDV and say, oh, Scott worked with Marshall. Oh, I know Marshall. Oh, he did a movie with, oh, let me call him. And I mean, it’s, it’s pretty easy now you can really get to anybody.

So I typically will ask questions. How, you know, what was it like working with them, you know? Would you hire them again? Like I asked the real deal questions before you even go to the person. So that, that’s how I typically bring people into my world, whether they are a crew for me, whether they are even for actors, you can be the best actor or actress ever.

And if you have a bad rep in the industry, I probably don’t want to hire you for my set, because what’s the point. What’s the point. Don’t need to do it. I’m always too short

Scott: [00:30:34] to work with city people. So

Tressa: [00:30:36] I’m not really interested in them to be working. I want to stick with it. So that’s me hiring other people.

And then for me, educating myself again, I shared I’m big on education. I will never stop learning. I will never stop learning. If I listen, I have. Business school, I have business degrees. You know, I shared, I have masters in education, undergrad degree. I mean, I am always learning. I I’m thinking about going back to film school, Scott, I just got a car out at the time and not necessarily because I want to be a director, but I just want to add another layer of knowledge so that when I’m on set and hiring certain people, I have that knowledge behind me.

That’s it’s just what I love. I think I’m a professional student.

Scott: [00:31:23] Yeah. That’s and I think that’s what you have to be to be successful. And you want to be successful in your career or in, in in building your own business. I think that’s a really good attitude. I love that professional student. I really love that.

That’s good. I, and then something that you mentioned about young creatives, let’s talk about. The education that is a status quo versus what type of education people should be learning when they’re young, what’s, what’s broken in education. You I’m sure you have opinions on that too. Yeah,

Tressa: [00:31:52] I really do. I mean, when I think about all the things that you should know coming out of school, most of our youth, they don’t know.

Let’s just talk about something basic, like writing a check. Right. You know, I remember. I sent my daughter to deposit a check for me, and it was a pretty big check. The money never showed up in my account and I was like, well, it’s not here. She deposited that like three days ago. So I go to her bank account it’s in her account and she didn’t do it maliciously.

She was like, well, you didn’t tell me that you need, there’s a certain account number for. Certainly. And I’m like, no, but I gave you this deposit slip. So I didn’t know what that, so certain things they don’t teach you those kinds of things in school. How many, how many students are in school learning that about investing?

You don’t learn that, right? You learn. So I just feel like in education you’re taught the basics. So for me a child that is only learning when they’re at school, Is it, your education is going to be broken, period. If you don’t learn, it does not continue. When you get home, we have a problem. We have a problem.

Scott: [00:33:07] No, I agree. I agree. A hundred percent. So how do you, how do you fix that? How did, how did you, how did you

Tressa: [00:33:12] fix that? Parents and communities have to step up and understand. That’s why I teach entrepreneurship. You know, often every summer I partner with the mayor’s youth program and the Washington DC area.

And I do mentorship classes last year, we did them all on zone because. We were in, in COVID prior to that, we we had them face-to-face, but this was so great for the students because it’s youth between the ages of like 17 and 21. And they’re right at that stage where they want fancy cars. They want all these things that they see, but they don’t understand the process, how to get it.

They don’t understand. Well, you need good credit to have. To get a good interest rate to get this car. And you don’t understand it when you drive that car off the parking lot. It’s now depreciating instantly. So, so when they learn this from me, the reason why it’s very relatable coming from me is because they desire to be authors.

They want to be movie producers. They love the world that I live in. So they will receive it from me like, Hey, yeah, I like nice cars too. I like these things, but what’s important in life. And let’s start there. This is what you do. This is how you make it happen. You want to own your own business. This is where you start.

So by the time they leave, they have names for their businesses. They leave with an incredible amount of motivation and a lot of them followed through, you know, they, they DME on social media and they’re like, Hey, I got, you know, I did it, I started my blog or I did this. And so it was really inspiring for me.

Just to know that I could have an impact on the students and not still teach in the classroom. So, you know, although I’m not a teacher and no longer in the classroom, I am still doing it on a daily basis out here while still following my dreams.

Scott: [00:34:59] Yeah. That’s, that’s smart. And, and, and it’s good, you know, I appreciate that.

You take the time to give back because people that have that level of success that you’ve achieved, they all know it. They all know that education is broken, that kids are seeing all the nice thing. And I think it’s even worse now because you see all these nice things on social and you see other people live in these lives and fake or not.

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, exactly. But you know, before, when there was no social, like at least you weren’t like almost like attracted to this lifestyle of luxury and, and nice cars, nice clothes, whatever night, all these trips now it’s in your face and you don’t know how to get it. And it seems almost impossible.

Tressa: [00:35:40] Yeah. And then sometimes they feel like their failure because they don’t have it. They’re like, oh my goodness, what am I. Yeah, so terrible. So I try to touch on it all the time. I try to make sure that I’m, I’m encouraging them. I’m showing them what’s important in life and how to make it happen.

Scott: [00:35:58] Yeah, no, very good.

Okay. A couple rapid fire life, lesson questions to finish it off, but before anything else that you wanted to bring up that you want to shout out? And we’ll get some socials and stuff at the end, but anything else that you’re working on right now?

Tressa: [00:36:12] Yeah. Well, listen, I want everybody out there to go and watch some of my movies and know that people have all kinds of different platforms.

So definitely very first movie that I talked about. Cause it’s always good to go see a person person’s first movie secret. It is you can watch it for, if you have no cable at all or anything streaming, you can go and watch it on two BTV T UBI, TV for free. If you just Google to VTV secrets movie, it’ll come up and you can watch it for free.

It’s also on BTS. It’s on a lot of other platforms as well, but. Free free is always good. Right?

Scott: [00:36:48] And you can see where you started off in film. You can see where your first I, you know, you said it goes checkup. The first thing, I, I don’t know if I ever want people to see all the first podcasts I did. No,

Tressa: [00:36:59] I like, I like that because if you go and see where I started, then you can go and watch some of the other projects.

Right. And so you know, on another note I have. My social impact films that are coming out some of them are coming out in July. These are movies that will AR on bet her for their women’s health initiatives, and this is dealing with mental health. And so a lot of times mental health is the topic that people will.

I don’t want to talk about it, you know? And so we tried to come up with a way to make it cool to talk about mental health, you know, go see a therapist, you know, having people say, Hey, I got a therapist is cool. Like I want to go see my therapist. It makes me have a better day. It makes you have a better day.

And so we did these films with. Vivica Fox Mona Scott Young gay Andy Smith, a lot of influencers so that we could attract those people, Scott, that we were talking about who will probably be sitting at home, grown and wanting to be like certain people. So if you see influencers. You know, in a film saying it’s cool to get help.

That was the purpose. And so those films come out in July. So we’re really excited about those. Then I have a thriller coming out in the fall. I got crazy again, deer all

Scott: [00:38:10] over the place with all these different genres.

Tressa: [00:38:13] All of these, and that’s the one thing I don’t want to ever put myself in a box. I want to be able to do what I feel.

You know, obviously some of my films are going to have more purpose, you know, my breast cancer films or domestic violence. But yeah, I’m just really excited about the space that I’m in and the number of projects that. That are coming out and I post all, and I know we’ll do later. We’ll do social media stuff, but I typically post all my trailers on my social media.

So you can go and watch them, see which ones float your boat.

Scott: [00:38:43] Cool. I’ll check them. I’ll check them all off. Now. Now you have another, I’ll probably go through all of them and see your first. I’ll see. As some of your thriller stuff. I I’ll, I’ll check out the the mental health stuff. That’s pretty. That’s good.

That’s very good too. Okay. So let’s do a couple, let’s do a couple rapid fire. Let me see, let me see which ones would be good. Okay. So advice that you would give to somebody just starting out in their career?

Tressa: [00:39:08] I would say, I would say research study the market, soak up all the knowledge that you can.

Scott: [00:39:16] Good. Good advice. What was the biggest hurdle in your career and how did you overcome it?

Tressa: [00:39:24] Finances. I’m always trying to go to the next level. The, you know, as your budgets increased, need more money. So that’s always a challenge right now and raising money for a $4 million film. I only have a million, so you can imagine a couple of sleepless nights.

Scott: [00:39:39] Yeah, no, that’s fair. Okay. One thing that you would tell your say 20 year old self,

Tressa: [00:39:48] keep your credit right. Even though my parents told me

Scott: [00:39:55] that’s a good one. That’s a good one. Yeah. Who has been the most influential in your life?

Tressa: [00:40:01] My grandfather and my father,

Scott: [00:40:05] and a resource that somebody should go check out your podcast book person.

Tressa: [00:40:11] Oh, automatic millionaire book. Definitely want you to check that out because you know, having capital is everything. And if you are saving consistently, automatically, it will change your life.

Scott: [00:40:25] Good, but I’ve never had that recommendation before, so I’m going to go check that out as well. So that’s a new one.

So thank you. I’ll put it on the bookshelf behind me. What else? Oh yeah. What does this is, this is the last question. Then I’ll get all of your contact info. What does success mean?

Tressa: [00:40:44] Oh, my success means having freedom. Freedom to do what you love freedom to do the things that will help you to leave a legacy in life.

You know, I love the fact that I’m able to be hands on with my children. There’s no work schedule or anything that can prohibit me from, from being anywhere, anytime they need me. That means more to me than anything.

Scott: [00:41:12] I love that. It’s a beautiful answer. And then most importantly, where do people connect with you online?

All your socials, your website, and everything like that?

Tressa: [00:41:20] Oh, wonderful. Yes. I would love for you all to connect with me. Website https://www.tressaazarel.com/ If you go there, you can enter your email and you can actually get they’ll send you an email for my free classes. I do a lot of free classes on film, getting into the industry, how to write a script, just getting people acclimated so that they can understand what it is.

Also we do a lot of casting calls. Most of that information you can find when you follow me on my social media every platform, it’s the same thing, @CEOazarel.

Scott: [00:42:04] I love that. And I saw your social. I saw your social. I liked the, I liked the handles. That’s a good one.

Tressa: [00:42:09] Yeah. Yeah. That’s me. That’s me. I’m there. And I’m, you know, I respond a lot to my DMS, but definitely for people, you know, most times people say, Hey, I want to get with her. Cause I know she can build businesses. She knows how, you know, if I want to become an author, a filmmaker. And so again, the teacher in me, I made it easy.

I’m like twice a month we do classes. Get on you learn and then, but see, even when you learn, you got to execute. That’s the key. You got to take the knowledge and you got to execute. Can’t sit on that couch, eating Cinnabons and flipping a remote. That doesn’t work. Okay. We got to get out there and make it happen.


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