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June 14, 2024 28 mins

Two-time Emmy and Three-time NAACP Image Award-winning, television Executive Producer Rushion McDonald, interviewed Alexiou Gibson.  He grew his Sea Moss Business From Zero to Multi Millions in Less Than a Year.  Black-Owned Sea Moss Brand Secured $600K 'Shark Tank' Deal With Kevin Hart and Mark Cuban.  The Transformation Factory (TTF) is the passion of founder Alexiou Gibson. In his current role as CEO and President, he leads the company as a continuation of his own transformation from one seeking answers, to one providing answers. TTF is the culmination of his more than 10 years of battling health issues. He has used every disappointment, achievement, heartbreak, success, and learning moment to create the concept of TTF as a resource and inspiration for those trying to become their best selves. The TTF website will become is depository of information, tools, support communities and products. These are things that Alexiou feels would have helped him a great deal when he started his “Alexiou 2.0” journey. The good news is that “Alexiou 2.0” has culminated into The Transformation Factory – a place that will give everyone the tools they need to succeed on their own journeys.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:05):
Welcome to the show. I am Rashwan McDonald, the host
of Money Making Conversations Masterclass, where we encourage people to
stop reading other people's success stories and start planning their own.
Listen up as I interview entrepreneurs from around the country,
talk to celebrities and ask them how they are running
their companies, and speak with nod profits who are making

a difference in their local communities. Now, sit back and
listen as we unlock the secrets to their success on
Money Making Conversations Masterclass. Hi, I'm Rashan McDonald, our host
a weekly and money Making Conversation Master Class show. The
interviews and information is that this show provides off for everyone.
It's time to stop reading other people's success stories and

start living your own. My guest is the founder of
the Universe Soul Circus, an African American man who had
a vision of creating a circus with a large percentage
of people of color performing. Is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Please he's working with the Money Making Conversation Masterclass. Mister
Cedric Walker. How you doing, Cedric? Hey, Sean, I are

you and thank you a lot? This opportunity, you know,
it's great. First of all taking the time to come
to my show. I know you're traveling around the world
and around the country of the United States. What city
are you in right now? That's in New Orleans, Louisiana. Wow,
that's a good Cajun food. Good food down there that
if everybody wants to Now you know you're traveling man,

and I traveled Like when I was ninety four, I
wanted to be a stand up comedian. I want to
a tease said. I thought I was gonna be the
next Richard Pride. I thought I would be next Adye Murphy.
Now in eighteen ninety four, you had an idea about
a circus. How can that happen? Please help explain it
to my audience, because it sounds incredible to me. A

vision will come to you like that. Yes, So we
were doing gospel plays. We actually had a play. I
was working on a play called Wicked Ways and with
Michael Matthews out of Detroit, and Wicked Ways was about
a lot of the challenges that our community faces. It
dealt with It dealt with kids growing up in the

inner city and getting into gangs. It dealt with fathers
raised and step signs as teenagers it dealt with professional
wives and mechanic husbands. It just dealt with a lot
of the challenges that our community faces. And I saw
kids in the theater. I saw whole families, and it

looked like I was in Pittsburgh at the Benadum Theater,
and it looked like I saw a father, mother, granddaughter, grandchild.
And I asked the play right, I said, man, this
is a gospel play. I know it's clean. I asked Mike,
and he said, it's because theater is the oldest form
of entertainment and went all the way back to be

or not to be. You could look on that stage,
on the Shakespearean plays and see yourself, and our community
is getting a chance to look at itself do these plays.
So that triggered the idea to create something that, because
we were very out entertainment was socially. It was comedy,
It was R and B, it was jazz, it was

you know, hip hop, right, it was dance. It was
kind of a mixed bag of everything. And I said,
how do we I got my team and I said,
how do we create something that touches everybody? So I
went to the library and every day eight I worked.

I worked, made part of my job reading about black
entertainment from the turn of the century. And what I
found was we trained animals in the varve billion days
black people trained horses and dogs and and so I
shared that with my team and and the idea was

from that the circus germinade. But it was all having
something for every generation of our family, something where father, mother, daughter,
granddaughter and grandson could all sit on the same beat
bent and enjoy each other, enjoying the shop. So that's
that's what started that, you know, you know when I

went because I know Michael, Michael Matthews is a great
guy and uh my many days of being under Steve
Harror morning. So we promoted a lot of his plays.
We probably bopped here's a couple of times in a
good way. And so when I talk about the circus,
you know, you did all this research, But it was
the naysayers out there, right, c oh man. My investors

all were in promably, both both black and white. I
had fun in Bundy guys, and they all just said me,
you are correct, Let well not go circus. Wow, you
know that was it just nobody believed. So I I,
you know, I did. I felt it. I don't know

where and what, but thede the course. But it was
challenging because we get stereotype, you know, we get stereotype
on technology, we get stereotype on the type of entertainment
of movies that we want to see. And also that
means the world can stereotype of. So I commend you
in pushing back and say, look, I feel that within

my gut and my research, this could work. And then
thirty years later, because you're celebrating your thirtieth year of
Universal Circus Zoul, I don't know if I'm gonna do
dog Conneia's version or we're going with the Rishaw version,
but either way it got a lot of soul than
the brother. And so the name, I'm sure you have
research when you did the name as well, correct Universal. Yeah, yeah,

the original name was Universal. I was back and forth
with my team Universal. I wanted you Soul from the beginning.
So when we got to l A, Universal Studio sent
us a cease and desist on Universal big top circuits.
So we were we asked them back, well, we want

to use Universe Soul, which was my original idea to use,
and they said absolutely, yeah, Well and sad. You look
around at the daff going told you now you gotta
be out here looking bad because you had to follow
my original idea, we wouldn't even be it. Now. This

is the good part of it, you know, because we
jumped a little bit. We had the idea, we got
the name. But you were traveling. How did you you
had the nay sayers about the whole concept centric and
how did you get to acts originally? How did you
start putting the circus together?

Speaker 2 (06:59):

Speaker 1 (06:59):
We we you know, when I wanted to do circus,
and part of my research was that's you know, circus
entrepreneurs traveled the world and I couldn't wait to travel
the work it would have. It was going to be
a great experience. But that's what it took to do Circus.
But I do want to say that we started in

nineteen ninety four in Atlanta, and initially it was an
effort to the initial concept and vision for it was
to uplift and celebrate the positive achievements and cultural contributions
of African Americans through a family attraction. And so that
was that was the you know, the impetus for what

people are seeing, and that still remains in the show.
What you saw, it's that feeling that they get once
they come under that big time. It's that soul that
we put in it that that didn'tentiate us. But yeah,
I went around the world, and it was challenging to
look for talent. But I saw it now. I said,

you know our audience, you know, we can't just give
them playing food. Now, gotta have that spice that I
can't I got it pretty real people, you know, black people.
I can't have a clothes line for a haigh wire
or magic you know. So uh So, No, I went

around the world and and just looked for and and
and it was amazing how many black performance circus performers
were doing phenomenal things that were out there. A lot
of manure uh in right here in America. The King
Charles True playing basketball on unicycles, just stuff that came

out of the hood came out and basketball on unicycles
was the only thing. We were the only ones that did.
So you had so many. Originally there was a girl
named Pamela Pamela Hernandez. Pamela was an African American from
la but she was one of the most respected air lists.

She would she was on Ranglin Brothers. But she'd be
in those arenas, but thirty forty feet in the air
doing trick. No, not under her, her and her partner.
And when when when I started listing the name the
acts that I wanted to bring the rest, and they

were black, and the rest of the industry, the whites,
the Europeans, everybody in the industry knew and respected these
black artists to the hides and oh, Pamela's gonna be there.
I'm gonna be there. King Charles is gonna be there.
I'm gonna beat it. Wow. So it was amazing the

quality of black entertainment even back then in circus art.
We know it's really important as we tell this story,
and thank you for allowing me to ask these questions,
because I think the origin story or universe soul is
as important as what's happening now. Because in my life,
I first was introduced to your circus in two thousand
and five. I was managing Steve Harvey and we was

on WBLS in New York City and that circus when
I went into the first time, I didn't know what
to think, you know, I went in there with curiosity,
but I walked away inspired because it was a circus
by us for us, that was the first thing that
really pushed me to positivity. And so I'm sure over

the years they have been different versions of the circus
as you go, because the circus I saw in two
thousand and five had an elephant, and the circus I
saw this past weekid recently didn't have an elephant or
any animals at the time. I think it was a
lion too that I saw at the time of two.
So talk about the trans position and the vision of

the circus over the years. So you know, just like
Michael Jordan's said, you have to keep your eye on
where the ball is going, not where the ball is.
We try to and entertainment is a form, is an
art form that we'll society forward. So we try to

inspire that new direction and wherever it takes us. And
it's kind of more organic. It's just a platform for
young people to express new ideas through their their their artistry.
So I mean, we've kind of it was challenging with
you know, to even think about or they to venture

into the show without the animals, but we realized how
the laws were changing, you know, the people were changing,
and we no longer could carry the animals from state
to state. Some state could, some states wouldn't. But but
but what we what we found out is that our

cultural artistry, our who we are and how much fun
we can have, and that that the family unit where
you're all we're all grandmother again, grandmother, father doing that, son,
all enjoying each other, h enjoying the show. We laid
into that, how do we be authentically us in a

performance that is for everybody at the same time and
and shares our culture. So a lot of the Afro
Beach music, a lot of the music you've heard in
the show is kind of new ending music. A lot
of the new dance styles that American hip hop has
inspired around the world, whether they inspired it in China

or Africa, it came from our streets, came from America,
and it inspired the world. And so we we've incorporated
a lot of that inspiration. But just that NonStop energy
that is germane to our culture and our celebration sort

of like a family reunion under the big time. So
we just linked into our story and we continue to
do that as it involves. Let's speak of Cedric Walker,
the founder of a Universal Circus an inspirational voice in
our community because he had a vision, a vision he
with a lot of other people did deny. He did
his research, he walked past the there and thirty years

later he celebrating the vision that we all can be
entertained by because the audience I saw was very diverse,
and not by accident, because I saw it in the
area of Atlanta, Georgia, which is the Atlanticxation, which is
a mixed race, very upproparately mobile area of Atlanta, Georgia,

and the audience not over that. I knew it was
mixed race because the friends of mine as they went
to the show before me with wow, I didn't expect
it to be that diverse. Is that the goal now
or it just happens?

Speaker 3 (14:11):
Please don't go anywhere, We'll be right back with more
money Making Conversations Masterclass. Welcome back to the Money Making
Conversations Masterclass hosted by Rashaan MacDonald. Money Making Conversations Masterclass
continues online at Moneymakingconversations dot com and follow money Making

Conversations Masterclass on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Speaker 1 (14:36):
Found all is to stay authentically black, period and how
will we do that? That is what transcends culture globally
being able to technically who you are. So you know,
we don't have a direction again except for the origin

of our show to uplift and celebrate the positive achievements
and cultural contributions of African American and student family entertainment.
So out you know, we're not going after any specific
arnory right run after the world. Awesome and thank you
for saying that. Now let's talk about these acts. The

bottom line is the acts. Now, this Chinese trap piece
act that you got the dazz with. My daughter, you know,
she's a I'm gonna be honest with you, she's one
of those people who came in there with doubts Cedric
because she's a Circus are late. You know, she peaks
circuts are late. She said, Dad, are you sure? I said, hey, hey,

these are my people. Now my boy Sedric, they go
take care of it. When she left my brother. She
is a one hundred percent universal fan. Okay, so know that.
But that trapeze act that put on it, she says,
that's better than anything she's ever saw anywhere, and she's
seen by fifteen of those shows. So talk about that

trap that the Chinese trapeze act, right, So we had
the we have to guess the grace and blessings of
driving scouts around the world, young scouts that are always
looking for what's new in different countries. And our scout
found this troop in a in their school, performing and

hadn't been out of the country yet, but had one
gold in every competition in China. And there's no fifteen
sixteen people flying through the air and no trapeze act
in the world. So I said, I have to have
that act. And so when the price tag uh with
the price yeah, the guy said it, we buys that.

He's crazy, and we bought as we wanted because that's
what circus is all about. It's just bringing unbelievable stuff
to the audience. Well, you know, the difference that really
amazed me was a distance between them swinging it. I
was stunned by that distance. I was like, wow, I've

never seen this athleticism area or in leather sism like this.
So so again this is one thing. Another thing that
dazzled me, and a lot of things dazzled me. By
the way, Cedric the the was the I think they
the couple that was on the roller skates. Oh yeah,
from Cuba as the Alcabana Knights roller stating thing Cedria.

That right there, the g fource of them spinning. I
was I was taken aback, I was taking it back there.
What is the training like when you get a couple
like that, because it's danger involved, right, So everything you
see under the big tip, we carriated it. It's it's

been four or five years before it even hits out
stage and it could have been in school, in their schools.
We work with schools all over the world. We work
with schools in Ethiopia and Cuba and South America. We
work with schools in China, and we identify what we
want and depends on what level of of of training

they have achieved and what countries they come from, we
bring we send. We send trainers to Ethiopia, we send
trainers to West Africa, we send trainers UH to South America,
or we bring the performers here, send them to training centers.
Here's sort of UH. They get out of what you

would consider maybe high school or entry level, and then
we take them to that doctorate level in terms of
really putting the icing on the cake in terms of performance,
so that skating act came from two schools. There was

a dance school and Cuba where a sort of young
lady and acrobatic school, and they were combined and they
spent a few years training in Cuba. Then we brought
them here in Sally to Las Vegas to elevate their training.
Then we got them under the Big Top and created

a theme, the whole Cuban theme around them. So whatever
you see, I mean, we spent a good five years
of investment at about forty to fifty grand a year
just training these extents. You see our idea for our
artists work, and some of them we don't have to

train like the Caribbean. Right. The whole culture is you
know all about To me, that's one of the greatest
acts on our show, that their culture is designed to uh.
They you look at their faces in this smiling and
that the happiest they performed, and they're going under fire

four or five rows. And you know, I mean, you know,
the culture in terms of the costuming the characters, Uh,
there's still well, everything means something, nothing is by chance,
nothing is just for flamboyancy on your eyes. It all
traces back to that culture in some meaningful way. So

everything is deep rooted that that you saw, well, you
know the amazing thing. Like I said, I just want
to share everybody my thoughts, my adventure. Go there and
see if the show is over two hours long. It's
not a thirty minute show. An hour show hour that
it starts on time. Let me tell you all this,
universul Circus starts on time. Okay, because of the fact

that a lot of people don't believe that because they
come in late. Okay, its circus is professionally run. Not
saying it wasn't, but people need understand you can miss
out on some great entertainment if you don't arrival time
because Universal Soul Circus starts all time. Now, let's talk
about the acts from Ethiopia, because I noticed, you know,
I'm looking at I'm exam I'm a little producer to

Centric and there was a lot of acts from Ethiopia.
Tell us about that. So etheo Opia is the leading world.
They're leading the world and producing and providing black circus
or swampers. Wow, all over Europe, all over we had
the we have We're very proud that we got into

Ethiopia and the maybe nineties ninety six, ninety seven ninety
eight and started working with those circus schools and we
were the first to bring an Ethiopian act out of
Ethiopia to US circus touring in America. They had I
think that they had schools that were set up in

Ethiopia mainly to train kids. It was a program that
were and developed that was developed by some European circuit
well European circus entrepreneurs, and the idea was to help
the government keep the kids off the street. So they

were training them circus arts and it was cool. It
was a good idea, but the performers showed such great
enthusiasm and capacity until when I went there, I was
totally blown away at the quality of of of some
and the shows were all about messages and they had

full circus shows that were you know, teaching kids about
age or teaching kids about you know, working. They taught
They had a lot of the But we we were
one of one of the first, and we've set invested
a lot of money in training in Ethiopia because the

kids show so much promise. Uh so we're very proud
of the work that they've done. We sponsor a big
festival there or one of the sponsors of the festival
they have, but there's some great We have a duo
aerial act that I've never seen and then thirty years

I've seen just about everything, but that duo, those two
girls up in the air. You saw them, they were
They moved at a speed that no other dual aerial
act will move at. I think even dare to move
that fast, changing all those positions, thirty feet off the
ground with no no net net no, And you know,

I want describe in detail, but please go. What he's
saying is are just selling the significance of what they're
doing because it's impressive. And they were doing some things
our tear you said, I was going, is she about
to do that? Really? Okay? Now these sisters or they
were their twins, No, no, they work together. They come
out of the school. We have in the performance. We

have the hoop diving act, we have the girls in
aerial act, and we have the three acts the Tea
Board and those are the three best strongest schools in Ethiopia.
We have their top acts. So those are the three
of the top acts from the strongest trainers and producers

and Atholpia and we were graced with that and blessed
because we were one of the early pondeers and helping
them with training and programming. Wow, beautiful as we go.
Like I said, it's nineteen eighty four. Ye division, we're
sitting here now thirty years later. What's on the horizon?

I mean, our culture is so rich and it deserves
so much and we've got it. There's a lot we
have to do. I think, you know, family and it
just didn't formally attraction industry. Ice shows that we have
yet to challenge. I mean there's a Bourbon street while

we have the street. I mean, there's just so much
that's that's what. It has to be authentic and it
has to be created authentically. But I have a lot
of ideas. I have ideas that should live way past me,
and I have a lot of challenges. This at the
tip of the iceberg with my friend that the fact

you allowed me to take time and your business schedule
because you run in a circus. Okay, I'm just running
a little small business with animals and chappeeside and all
kinds of human beings run around here trying to understand
what life is. You're the entertaining business. That's where you started.
You had the old run of animals, the whole Big
Top theme. You you did the gospel plays which are

very familiar with. But the bottom line said you just
wanted to do family entertainment. Correct. Yeah, no, I thought
it was the need for it, you know, and I
saw it and we needed this. We need something that
uplifts our families and joins us together. It joins the generations.

It ties the young when of four year oldest watching
their parents sing soul karaoke to al Green and the
grandparents watching and doing the latest stint and the with
the fresh clouds in the ring, it just ties generations
to that. They really did because it was some little girl.

There was a song that they those rappers they started playing.
It was about thirty girl and little girls, and probably
a body in the fifth grade was singing. I went,
I don't know.

Speaker 2 (26:59):
What they do it, but boy, it is really in
joyble to watch the connection because they just took off
and did the little dance and hit every word and
it was just fantastic.

Speaker 1 (27:10):
But thank you for fighting me down there to see history,
my brother, because you're making history. Man. It was diversity,
the safety, the professionalism, walking in that door man it
was just a clean environment, safe environment. And again, ladies
and gentlemen, universe soul circus starts on time. Remember that.

Don't let nobody push no stereotype. I'm not saying this
out there, but people generally think that when you do
black things, you know cpee time, you know it gonna
start with It's gonna start not their circus, My brother,
thank you for the time, Thank you, thank you so much,
appreciate it. This has been another edition of Money Making

Conversation Masterclass hosted by me Rushaun McDonald. Thank you to
our guess on the show today and thank you I
was listening to the audience now. If you were to
listen to any episode I want to be a guest
on the show. Visit Moneymakingconversations dot com. Our social media
handle is money Making Conversation. Join us next week and
remember to always leave with your gifts. Keep winning.

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