SAMURAI SIT DOWN: ACTRESS, MODEL & SINGER – GENESIS VAL LEON
Multitasking is a term that people toss around a lot. It’s true that today we find ourselves doing various things at the same time. Well, today I want to present to you a woman that truly embodies the definition of multitasking. A triple threat in everyone sense of the term, meet Genesis Val Leon today’s Samurai Sit Down feature.
Please introduce yourself, where you’re from and what you do?
My name is Genesis Val Leon and I am a curly-haired actress, singer, and model from the Bronx, New York
What was your earliest Inspiration for acting and modeling
I’ve been performing as early as 8 years old. I was that kid that would dance to TV commercials and even the car alarms that would go off on my street. My first classical music/ voice classes started when I entered second grade. I vividly remember my dad playing music from an old record player. We literally would go around the world through music. I remember him playing Tommy Boy, Queen, Whitney, Michael, Prince, Ana Gabriel, Selena and so many other. He gave me one of my greatest traits which my broad music palette. It was something we shared and still till this day do. My dad is an engineer but has an immense love for music (singing)
As for acting, my mom. My mom has the most electric and contagious personality I have ever encountered. Think Rosie Perez meets Sofia Vergara with the most beautiful accent. I remember attempting to imitate her while she would try to reprimand me and getting in so much trouble. I also remember writing apology songs and performing them whenever I got in trouble. My mom is also a huge Novela ( Hispanic Soap Operas) fan. And boy, that’s where the fun really started. You have not really laughed until you’ve watched a novela episode.
As for modeling, it just came with my personality. My first “pageant” was when I was 5 years old. I wish you all can see this video. I always had big hair and I guess my mom had put my hair in two ponytails. Well, I decided I wanted my hair out. Next thing you know, I walked out with my hair out in this gorgeous fro and strutted my way across the runway, made a detour and walked through the crowd- absolutely messed up the entire order and the organizer had to go and get me.
I love seeing the reach and evolution of my culture. My family is from the West Indies island of Antigua. I was born and raised in NY. Hip Hop and Caribbean elements run through the life blood of everything. As such I respect folk that embrace, support and treat those elements with respect. That brings me to Ms My-My who holds it down as a Jane of all urban trades. Writing, hosting, dancing and modeling are just some of her roles. We were just recently enjoying the festivities of Hennypalooza in Brooklyn and I got to chop it up a bit with her about her background, goals and influences. Check out part 1 of our conversation.
Music Publicist • Hip Hop Journalist • Poet • Model • Host • Freelancer • Filipina
What’s good My My! To start, please give a lil intro of who you are, where area you from and what you do.
Maria Myraine is my government (legit two first names) but most call me My-My (pronounced MY-MY NOT Mi-Mi). I was born & raised in the outskirts of Cebu City on the Philippine island of Cebu. I moved to America when I was 4. Grew up in CT where my older brother introduced me to Hip Hop culture at a young age. If it wasn’t for him introducing me to the culture, I don’t think I’d be doing what I do today. After years of blogging as a Hip Hop fan, I now handle publicity for indie Hip Hop artists as well as write for various Hip Hop websites, along with my own. I also started hosting podcast shows, online radio shows, Hip Hop showcases/events and parties. Just expanding my personal brand after Graduating from St. John’s University with a degree in Communications, I also freelance in the fields of social media and advertising/marketing. A lot of people tell me I’m trying to do too much but honestly, after surviving a near-fatal car accident in 2004, nothing is impossible for me. God is good, sky’s the limit.
Why you definitely put a lot of your plate. Tell us more about your introduction to Hip Hop & Caribbean culture. What was the appeal?
I owe a lot to my big brother. He’s the coolest mofo I know, seriously. He introduced me to both cultures as a young buck. He got into the Hip Hop culture as a b-boy in a break dance crew, battle rapper and visual artist. We used to share a room as kids so I was constantly surrounded by all of that. I still remember the day he played me Wu Tang, Fugees, Beastie Boys & Nas in the same day. That’s when I probably “fell in love with Hip Hop.” As for the Caribbean culture, again, my brother was also big on Dancehall and like Hip hop, i picked up on it. In both cases, I just loved how the vibe I got from each.
I’m curious what was the reaction of the people in your social circles regarding your appeal to what folk essentially consider black based culture? Was it all love or did people not initially accept you?
I’ve had a mixed reaction throughout the years. Those who really know me understand my upbringing and my appreciation for “urban culture” since I was a kid. And of course, there are those who aren’t as accepting of a Filipino who embraces the culture. “What do you know about Hip Hop?” is usually the question that gets thrown in my face. They obviously don’t know anything about Hip Hop and how widely accepted it has become since its emergence. Especially in Asia, Hip Hop is bigger overseas than it is in America. It’s just something I’ve grown to ignore. I just gotta keep doing what I love. There’s no racial boundaries to that.
That’s so true. The purity of Hip Hop truly does exist more so internationally then it does domestically these days. Keeping along the lines of acceptance, what has your family’s reaction to your career path been?
It’s an ongoing battle. It has its good days, it has its bad days (lol). My dad is still pretty old school and traditional (like most Filipino parents) and he doesn’t really understand the path I chose considering I earned my college degree. For him, he thinks a 9-5 with my degree is the road to “success.” My mom, on the other hand, understands me a little more. She always tells me “do what makes you happy as long as you can take care of yourself and us when we’re older.”
Working in Hip Hop music you get to see more of the behind the scenes, moving parts of the business. Give your feelings and views on working within the independent music place vs. dealing in the mainstream?
As a listener/fan, I appreciate both levels. On the business side of things, however, I definitely prefer working on the indie side more. More freedom. Simply put.
So what have been some of your career highlights thus far?
Working with Clear Soul Forces. Those fellas are a talented bunch and I’m happy to have been a part of their growth as artists. Another highlight would have to be doing a publicity campaign for Ski Beatz and his “24 Hour Karate School presents Twilight” album. And I think being able to network, link, help and make new bonds with such talented indie artists is a never-ending highlight in this career.
Speaking of highlights you’ve recently put out a lot of interview material, and you host a few online shows. Tell us about those platforms.
I conduct interviews for the various websites I write for, as well as for my own website – which will be launching soon (www.MariaMyraine.com). As far as hosting goes, I used to host on DTF Radio. Currently hosting a podcast series title, R&B(S) which will premiere soon on YoYouHeard Radio and my website. I also host various events in the city (showcases, open mics, and parties usually).
You’re also a very creative person too. You’ve put out samples of poetry, music and you have modeling imagery all over your IG. Do you want to pursue all these expressive paths? What do these various acts mean to you?
Yes. On top of starting a one-stop-shop for indies, I would like to market myself as a brand as well. I do not want to limit my skills (and income). Like I said, after surviving that car accident.. the sky is the limit.
Stay tuned because we dive a little more into Ms Myraine’s personal life when I share part 2 of our conversation soon.