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Photo Courtesy of Aaron Maybin

How One Writer Paved The Way For Others To Share Their Stories

People

Dabriel Fulton is kind of a big deal. She’s spent time in the studio with Rick Ross and LL Cool J. She’s planned events for Fabolous and Elle Varner. She’s been on Elle Magazine’s “Rap Therapy” with French Montana. She’s taken the stage for speaking engagements at WeWork and career conferences in New York City, inspiring a plethora of young women to make things happen for themselves whatever that “thing” might be.


And, now? Well, now she’s the Founder of a New York City showcase of talent called The Mic is Open. True to its name, The Mic is Open is a chance for her to bring audiences the top underground poets, singers, rappers, and comedians all in one show. The self-described loyal, charismatic, and driven Fulton, whose friends and family would call hilarious, generous, and high-maintenance, she says, grew up in Baltimore Maryland and attended Towson Catholic High School. She actually was working on her Bachelor’s degree at Marymount Manhattan College when she founded The Mic Is Open.

How she got where she is quite a ride, although not surprising considering her passion and grit. Her secret? It’s one she’s more than willing to share, and her path to success reveals it all.

Photo Courtesy of Upcoming HipHop

1. How would you describe yourself as a kid?

As a child, I was fearless! I had a lot of friends, was popular but nice to everyone. I was also a hustler. My mom would go to Sam’s Club and she would purchase whatever candy I wanted because I would sell candy to the kids at school. A hustler from the beginning.

2. Have you always been a writer and performer in one way or another?

I’ve always been an entertainer and a writer. Poetry is a way of performance. I can entertain people with my writing in that way. I would say I’m definitely a writer first.

3. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a pediatrician. My doctor was so sweet and understanding. She made me want to help others. I also wanted to become a teacher. We all had that one teacher who made you want to save the world by teaching others.

4. How would you describe your career path?

I’d describe my career path as unpredictable to say the least! It’s been exciting and rewarding...but it has also been challenging. I’m a hard worker and I’ve seen that when I work hard at one thing, another opportunity or interest pops up. Then I do that. Then I do the next thing.

I’m definitely a jack of all trades. From running my own event business, to giving motivational talks, to founding The Mic Is Open, and performing my own work as an artist, it’s all come together just by following my curiosity and being kind to people. That’s key. The people I’ve met along the way have introduced me to new ventures and ideas. Being a people person allows that to happen in those seemingly random ways.

Photo Courtesy of Upcoming HipHop

5. How was “The Mic is Open” born?

I was hosting poetry showcases at my college and it blew up—people outside in line weren’t allowed in because we’d reach capacity. Then a poetry club offered me a weekly gig as the host. They gave me a horrible deal: 80/20. But I was young and just happy to be hosting and bringing people together. I was happy to have people come to my showcases.

But I knew I could create something on my own. The Mic Is Open was born because, truthfully, I just wanted to create a platform for people like me—artists, poets, musicians—to be able to come together in unity and express themselves. I’m more of a writer so when I perform, I’m vulnerable. You have to be comfortable at some point with either yourself or the crowd to continue on. I always make sure that The Mic Is Open is somewhere anyone could feel comfortable with being vulnerable.

6. How would you describe the experience of watching the first “The Mic is Open” happen?

For me, it was like giving birth to something I worked really hard for, for months and months. Seeing it come to fruition, it was exciting, rewarding. For a lot of our talent, it was their first time performing ever. I was just so grateful they trusted me to help showcase their talents.

7. What inspires you to make helping others part of your platform?

A lot of people do not have an outlet. I believe it’s my calling to help as many people as I can. Someone once asked me, “What’s your job?” “I make dreams come true. How about you?” I said with a laugh.

But seriously, I’m someone who has really bad stage fright. For a lot of people like me, performing your work feels like taking off all your clothes and just baring yourself. But when I started performing for the first time, seeing how receptive the audience was, I began to open up. Seeing talented artists with stage fright open up on stage is so awesome to watch.

That inspires me. Seeing people conquer their fears and allowing their work to be seen and heard is amazing. When you let that light out, you just want to go out and share it with everybody. Helping others share their light has this like a super positive chain reaction in the world.

8. What specific challenges do you feel like you’ve faced because you are a woman?

I’ve been truly blessed to work in spaces surrounded by awesome people who support me. As an entrepreneur, I choose who I want to work with and keep it moving. The people I’ve encountered, thankfully, know my capabilities and treat me as a peer. That’s how it’s supposed to be in the industry.

9. What specific challenges do you believe you have faced because you are a black woman?

Honestly, we all know the challenges black people face in this country and in my industry. This is why The Mic Is Open is so important to me. It’s open to everybody. Every single person has a voice and my job is to pass that mic to them literally and figuratively. We’ve created our own spaces when we weren’t seen. The Mic Is Open will continue to be a safe space for people of all races, backgrounds, religions, sexualities, gender identities, etc., because I seek to push beyond the noise. I’ll utilize the platform I have to lift up others around me.

10. Right now, black woman are FINALLY being recognized for the myriad of contributions they have made in every arena. Why do you think that is finally happening?

Black women are finally being recognized by the mainstream. As a people, we have always recognized each other within our communities. So, it’s about time mainstream media is starting to recognize us as well.

I don’t know why people are just now hopping on the bandwagon. I try to see the positive in every situation, so with that being said, I’ll say “Better late than never.” There’s a lot of unlearning to be done when it comes to race in this country.

11. Is this how you imagined your life?

For the most part, yes! I’m happy; I’m healthy; I’m loved; I’m loving others; I’m healing: and I’m helping others heal in the process. I’m changing lives. I’m putting in the work. This is all I ever wanted from life, to shine a light on those who wish to be seen.

12. What are your hopes for the future?

Personally, I’d like to get married to the love of my life and have children. For now, though, I am single and focused on securing an amazing future. My goal is for The Mic Is Open to become international and put on TV’s around the world! My intention through all of this is the same, to motivate artists to be the best they can be by sharing my gifts and knowledge in this industry.

13. What advice would you give to other women – and specially women of color - in terms of turning their dreams into their realities?

I’d say, be true to yourself. Never compromise. There’s a lot of pressure to become someone you’re not. But trust your gut, always. Also, I’d say, always support other women. We need to show up for each other and create that community. There’s room for everybody!

For more information on upcoming events go to The Mic Is Open website.

3 Min Read
Lifestyle

Tempted To Dial Your Ex: 5 Ways To Know Whether Or Not You Should Contact An Old Flame

Thinking of ringing up your ex during these uncertain times? Maybe you want an excuse to contact your ex, or maybe you genuinely feel the need to connect with someone on an emotional level. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, I was surprised at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when friends were telling me that they were contacting their exes! But as social distancing has grown to be more than a short-term situation, we must avoid seeking short-term solutions—and resist the urge to dial an ex.

It stands to reason that you would contact an ex for support. After all, who knows you and your fears better than an ex? This all translates into someone who you think can provide comfort and support. As a matchmaker, I already know that people can spark and ignite relationships virtually that can lead to offline love, but lonely singles didn't necessarily believe this or understand this initially, which drives them straight back to a familiar ex. You only need to tune into Love Is Blind to test this theory or look to Dina Lohan and her virtual boyfriend.

At the start of lockdown, singles were already feeling lonely. There were studies that said as much as 3 out of 4 people were lonely, and that was before lockdown. Singles were worried that dating someone was going to be off limits for a very long time. Now when you factor in a widespread pandemic and the psychological impact that hits when you have to be in isolation and can't see anyone but your takeout delivery person, we end up understanding this urge to contact an ex.

So, what should you do if you are tempted to ring up an old flame? How do you know if it's the wrong thing or the right thing to do in a time like this? Check out a few of my points before deciding on picking up that phone to text, much less call an ex.

Before You Dial The Ex...

First, you need to phone a friend! It's the person that got you through this breakup to begin with. Let them remind you of the good, the bad and the ugly before taking this first step and risk getting sucked back in.

What was the reason for your breakup? As I mentioned before, you could get sucked back in… but that might not be a bad thing. It depends; when you phoned that friend to remind you, did she remind you of good or bad things during the breakup? It's possible that you both just had to take jobs in different cities, and the breakup wasn't due to a problem in the relationship. Have these problems resolved if there were issues?

You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you.

Depending on the reason for the breakup, set your boundaries for how much contact beforehand. If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

If you know you shouldn't be contacting this ex but feel lonely, set up a support system ahead of time. Set up activities or things to fall back on to resist the urge. Maybe you phone a different friend, join a virtual happy hour for singles, or binge watch Netflix. Anything else is acceptable, but don't phone that ex.

Write down your reasons for wanting to contact the ex. Ask yourself if this is worth the pain. Are you flea-bagging again, or is there a friendship to be had, which will provide you with genuine comfort? If it's the latter, it's okay to go there. If it's an excuse to go back together and make contact, don't.

Decide how far you are willing to take the relationship this time, without it being a rinse and repeat. If you broke up for reasons beyond your control, it's okay. If your ex was a serial cheater, phone a friend instead.

If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

As life returns to a more normal state and you adjust to the new normal, we will slowly begin to notice more balance in our lives. You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you. Some do's and don'ts for this time would be:

  • Do: exercise ⁠— taking care of you is important during this time. It's self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: shower, brush your teeth, and get out of your sweats.
  • Don't: be a couch potato.
  • Don't: drink or eat excessively during this time. Again, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: think positive thoughts everyday and write down the 3 things you are grateful for. Look at the impact of John Krasinksi's SGN. It's uplifting and when you feel good, you won't want to slide backwards.
  • Don't: contact a toxic ex. It's a backward move in a moment of uncertainty that could have a long term impact. Why continue flea bagging yourself?