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March 28, 2024 27 mins

As we closeout women month and their noteworthy contributions to society.  We celebrate our closeout with guest, Marissa Jackson - chef, writer, and stage play producer, 

We will discuss Marrissa's transition from a chef to a playwright and of course there will be music! Tune in to this heartwarming tribute to women's strength, wisdom, and their critical role in building a progressive society. Marissa's story is a testament to resilience.


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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
The Smiley J Artist Zone is a cool space dedicated to independent music creators,
conversation, music, information, laughter, and much, much more.
Now, here's your host, Smiley J.

What's up, y'all? Welcome, welcome, welcome. So glad that you are here. Yes, indeed.
It's a good day today. Yes, it is. Now, if you woke up to sunshine,
clouds, rain, snow, you know, whatever the elements are in your parts of the
world, if you can see it, hear it, or smell it, it's a good day.
Trust and believe. Yes, indeed. Indeed.

Now, if this is your first time listening to the show, welcome, welcome.
I am so glad that you are here and I do hope that you will come back.
You know what? And bring some friends. Yes.
Tell a friend or two. Y'all come on back to the show and hang out with me in the artist zone.
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Out there want to give me a little quick tutorial,
I'm open for it. Yes, just hit me up.
Now, this month, you know, we're celebrating Women's Month.
Yes, we are celebrating and recognizing the contributions of women, past and present.

Because, you know, we know that women, you know, we play a vital role in shaping
our society. Yes, we do. Yes, yes.
Now, you know what, men? You do too. You do too. I'm not leaving you guys out.
But this month is dedicated to women, okay?
We got you. We get you next month or, you know, the month after.
No, I'm just kidding. Guys, we appreciate you, but this month is all about the women.

So speaking of women, I have a lovely guest, and you know what? She's a boss lady.
Let me introduce you before I bring her on. Her name is Marissa Jackson,
and she wears many hats like most women.
She's a chef, a writer, and a producer of stage plays.
Yes, indeed, she is a real boss lady, and she is making a difference in touching

lives of others, and that's what's all the way up.
I'm going to need you guys to help me welcome Marissa. Put your hands together. Yes, indeed.
Welcome to the Smiley J Artisan. How are you today?
I'm well. How are you? I'm good. I'm good. What's up, Mo?
Not much, Smiley. How's everything on your end? I'm good. I'm good.

Good, good. Can I just say, like, I am super proud of you and,
like, all of your accomplishments.
And it's done with such grace and humility. Wow. Thank you so much.
It means a lot. I truly appreciate it because it's not easy.
So when someone recognizes it, it really means a lot to me. Thank you so much. Yeah, absolutely.
And I know it's not easy. You know, in between all that I do,

I peep in and see what you're doing.
I do. I peep in. And I said, there she is. She's at it again.
Thank you. Thank you, Smiley. You've always been supportive, so I appreciate you.
Likewise. That's what real women do. We support each other from the sidelines.
You know, that's what we do.
Now, before I get into all of your wonderful works, like, I want my audience,

I want the folks out there to
know all about who Marissa is when she's not wearing the director's hat.
Marissa is a 43-year-old woman from Long Island, Hempstead, New York, born and raised,
I'm just, I don't know, most describe me as a kind, genuine person,

you know, I love to love, love to laugh, I love the Lord, a very big faith person,
grew up in a pretty good loving family but we struggled coming up.
So it taught me a lot in life.
I'm a divorced woman. I was married for about 12 years. Now I've been single since.
Okay. Okay. And so just, you know, just living life, living every day,

praying through life, learning more and more and just, you know,
trying to stay focused on, on every day, every day life, if you will. Yeah. Yeah.
That's just me. I'm very humble. I'm quiet. I can't get loud if I have to.
But, you know, I'm a listener.
And I'm just Marissa. I don't know.
No, that's good. That's good. So, listen, we got the gist, you know,

Long Island, loving family, divorce, love the Lord, all the good stuff.
But you know what? You left out some stuff.
She's a little shy, but I've seen her when she have her director's hat on.
We're going to talk about that.
Now, Marissa, you know, she can also cook, y'all. Yes, she can cook. cook.
So, you know, you being shocked. She is a chef.

She's a chef. Now, you're just going to conveniently leave that part out. That's not what we do.
We're celebrating Women's Month and we're talking about all the wonderful works
of women. So, Marissa, you are a chef.
Tell us about your catering business. Yeah.
So thank you for reminding me. I am a chef. Sometimes I forget because of the
new things I've taken on, you know, but I still do chef.

I've been chefing over 15 years now. It all began with a dinner sale to raise
some money for something I wanted some years ago.
And everyone loved the food. And it was like, Marissa, when is your next sale?
Marissa, when is your next sale? And then, oh, hey, can you do this party for
me? Oh, I got a wedding. Can you do it? I'm like, whoa, okay. Okay.
So I ended up getting licensed, my ILC, and I became Marissa's Love Catering.

So that is my catering name. I love it.
Anything with the title Love in it, you know that food is going to be good.
Oh man. Yeah. Now listen, Marissa, I have not yet tasted any of your cuisine, so I have to do that.
But I know, I've seen your presentation and it's beautiful.
Thank you. Thank you. So from catering, I mean, you know what?
You are an entrepreneur at heart, but it really, really wasn't on your radar,

at least so you thought. God said not so.
Absolutely. Absolutely.
So from catering to director, playwright, producer, I mean, that's what's up. Thank you.
Thank you so much. I don't know how I got here. That's why I give all glory
to God, because I tell you, Smiley, I never would have seen myself where I'm at today.

And I'm telling you, when we think we order in our steps, it's never us, believe me.
You know. Because, man, I'm still in awe on a daily basis, even when I'm writing
or, you know, I just had my last production about four weeks ago.
And just being in that mold with the headset on and the director's shirt and

this, I'm like, Marissa, how'd you get here?
You know, so it is definitely footsteps that was given to me.
You know what? And which is exactly why I wanted you to be my guest,
because a lot of people don't think that they can get to where you are.
Like a lot of people, they have these dreams and goals, and they don't think
that they can fulfill them.
So I just wanted to have some regular sister girls on the show that's doing

their thing, like yourself.
I want to talk about your first production. Okay. It was called The Prayers
of a Mother, and it was based on your life.
So tell us a little bit about that.
So Prayers of a Mother was based on my life growing up in Hempstead,
coming from, again, struggling but loving family. So I like to differentiate that.

You know, we had lots of love, but just not too much financial.
So it was hard to come by a lot, you know, being bullied growing up.
It was just me and my sister. You know, my dad, unfortunately,
was a dropout in middle school, so he didn't have much education.
And so my mom was the breadwinner, you know, and even that she didn't make a
lot, you know, but they made it work.

So that's why a lot of people say my cooking came from because my dad didn't
have much finance, although he did work.
He had an awesome city job, but he got sick and he ended up losing his leg so
he couldn't work anymore.
So that made matters worse. So now it was just like on my mom.
So it was just a bunch of struggle aftermath, if you will.

But the prayers of my mom and my family and my aunts and uncles and,
you know, that's what got us by.
You know, even when me and my sister didn't really know, we went to church,
we came from a Christian church home, but we didn't know prayer like we know it now. Right.
So growing up, that's how we got through. You know, it was, it was,
it was a struggle. And so that's what Prayers of a Mother was about,

to let people know that don't give up because prayer works.
You know, my mom had, she had like three jobs.
She was taking a cab here, dropping us off at the babysitter,
coming home, this, this, this. But my dad always had food ready for us when we got home.
So it was that love from him, you know. And then my mom was more of the hustler. She had to, you know.
So, and that's just, that's how it was. It was me and my sister, you know, we...

Didn't have the best of clothes and, you know, didn't have the best sneakers.
And like I said, we got bullied. So that's what Prayers of a Mother was about
because my mom was tired, you know, but she prayed and she kept pushing.
And look where we are today, you know. So that's where Prayers of a Mother came from.
And, you know, that's a beautiful thing, you know, because struggles are real.
We all deal with struggles. This thing is called life.

We all deal with them. and we, you know, some of us push them better than others.
And some of us have struggles where we may resort to, you know,
substance or, you know, other things that make us cope.
But you know what, you're coping with prayers, cooking, and the love that your
parents, that foundation that they laid. Yeah, absolutely.

And that's a beautiful thing. And voila, look at here, look at here, look at here.
So, so you know what, I want to
also talk about the play that that you
actually connected me with the author Yolanda
Braithwaite shout out Yolanda Yolanda yes
who also is the author of a book about her life Tales of a Grown Girl yes which

is also based in her life yeah that I had the pleasure of of hosting the play
when she brought it down from New York to to the Maryland area yes um and I
got a chance to really watch you in real time and real,
you know, wearing many, many hats and you did it well. I mean,
I watched you with admiration.

Like, you know, it's, it's hard. It's a lot, it's a lot of moving parts,
the day of, you know, technical difficulty.
You just have a lot of things that you, that you don't expect,
but you, you handled it like with such, and let me just say this,
not only did you handle it, you handled it with.
No attitude. Because sometimes when we get stressful, you can see another side

that we really don't want people to see.
But you did it with grace and love. I mean, you were stern. You were stern.
Like, listen, y'all going to have to speak up. I saw you, but it was nice.
It was gentle, but it was stern.
Yeah. So one thing to piggy on that really quick. One thing for me is,
unfortunately, in this field, you got a lot of yelling and rudeness as a producer.

And that's one thing I always say to God, Lord, keep me in position.
I never want to be rude to anybody or disrespectful, no matter what it is,
because I don't want them to be rude or disrespectful to me because I've been through that.
You know, I've been in a stage play and, you know, I was spoken to rude,
you know, and it's just something you don't do.

You have to understand these people are helping put your thing out,
you know, whether you're paying them or not, they're doing something to help you with your story.
So you have to respect these people and they're human, they're people.
So again, you've seen the sternness in me, but you've never seen disrespect.
You never seen me yelling or, you know, if it was yelling, it was like,

hey guys, okay, quiet on the set, which is normal stuff. Right.
But yeah, I've always prayed to God, Lord, please don't ever take me out of
character because that's not my style.
Yeah. Yeah. And you know, I did notice that, you know, I made.
I made a mental note of that, not knowing that we were going to be interviewing
you, but I noticed that because, you know, I'm always watching. I'm watching.
I'm a student of life. So I'm watching and learning.

And I know that directing involves like oversight of the entire production,
actors, technical crew, music.
I mean, it's a lot of stuff going on.
So what are some of your challenges and how do you deal with those challenges?
And as far as the productions? Yeah, everything. Um, if we want to be transparent

financially, you know, one thing I tell people, this is not something to come in and get rich off.
If you don't have a vision of this, it's not for you.
A lot of people pick this field. Oh, you know, we could sell tickets.
We could this, we could that.
Let me tell you something. If you're not rich, you're going to go in the hole before you get there.

And for me, it's a sacrifice because it's something that God has put on my heart to do.
As my people say, it's ministry, right? And so that's a big challenge for me
on a financial end, but I make it work and God always makes a way,
even though it looks like it ain't gonna happen.
You know, that's one challenge, but I keep going.

Also, character, you know, character development with some people.
You want them in the production, but they may not be, but you want to push them,
you know, because you know they have the potential.
So that can be challenging as well.
And then more so when you're dealing with the actual venue, you want to make
sure it's everything that you need, everything that you want for that production,

especially first time working with them. You're taking a risk.
You're taking a chance with anything. thing, you know, just like they're taking
a chance with you coming there, you know? So all of those things play a part.
When it gets closer to play day, I get in my, my weak mode, you know,
like, okay, we here, you know, get into, I go into heavy prayer and just kind
of zone out mode because it's time, you know?

And then it's like every production, believe it or not, Smiley,
there's always been something that went wrong.
I'm sure. I mean, that's the only thing I'm sure. He can go one.
And every time I'll be like, I don't want to do this anymore.
There's always something.
Can we get through this? And then I'm like, they're like, Marissa,
calm down. Marissa, calm down.
But you know what? They always prevail. Yeah. You know what?

And that's the beautiful thing. And it's always lessons learned.
Like we're always learning from the last mistake and move forward.
And that's it. Yeah, absolutely.
And that's just, you was talking about Yolanda's play. That was a very challenging
play for me as far as directing it because it has so many moving parts.
And when she asked me to write the book for her, write her story...

You know, when I read the book, I was like, wow, it's a lot of different scenarios. How do I capture this?
You know, and I mean, people raved over it and said it was a great production,
you know, play, play written production on her life story, you know,
trying to capture every part that she wanted in there.
So that was my biggest, my challenging production thus far, I must say. But we got through it.

And you know what? Let me just say this, since we are, you know,
celebrating women, like both you and Yolanda, like I just so much appreciate
you both, like sharing your story, being candid.
A lot of people take a lot of this stuff straight to prayer and that's it,
right? Yeah, absolutely.
And you know, you're vulnerable when you open up your life, you know,

people are, you know, judgmental, but it's also a ministry because you're helping,
you're helping someone.
This is somebody else's story. It's not just your It's not just mine. Yeah.
We're just the bold ones to come out. But believe it or not,
people come to you afterwards and say, thank you so much.
You make me feel like it's OK to talk about it.

You know, and that's all we want. You've made me feel like it's OK.
If I pray, it may change things.
If I just believe it will change. You know what I'm saying? And that's all I want.
That's all I want in anything I do. You know, any production,
if it doesn't have that outcome of a change for someone for the better,
I probably won't do it because that's just I want to bring change.

I want people to be happy. Mental abuse, mental health, all of that stuff is
real, you know, and that's because a lot of people keep things bottled up.
But when they see it actually on stage, like, oh, my gosh. Like,
even my last production, I just did Bullied. Man, that was crazy.
Well, you know what? People that came. Well, speaking of Bullied,

I want you to tell us about Bullied, because I know that hopefully you're going
to bring it on the road and come back to Maryland. Come in here, hopefully, October.
In October. Okay, just briefly, without giving away the storyline.
Well, I guess we can pretty much tell in the title. But this,
too, is part of your life story, correct?
Um, it's part of a family member, but of course I'm, you know,

being bullied growing up as well.
But what happened was one of my cousins came to prayers of a mother and he loved it.
And he pulled me to the side later and he was like, cause I need you to do a play on bullying.
And one thing you don't tell Marissa is to do a play. If it makes sense and
it can change lives, I'm going to do the play.
And so I said to him, I was like, oh, have you really, you serious?

He was like, yeah. So I I said, say less.
And three months after my play, I went to visit them in PA.
We sat, wrote some notes down. It was based on his life being bullied.
And the cast that I have, you know, believe it or not, a lot of them been through it.
You know, a million just doesn't come from being beat up.

Bullying is so many different avenues that people don't even realize it. Oh, yes.
So that's what that's what this production was about. And it's going to be even
enhance when I bring it to Maryland.
But we're looking at October this year in Maryland. So you would definitely know.
Okay. And I will definitely be there. God's willing. I will definitely be there. Yes.
Now we're going to wrap this up, but I have to, we're celebrating Women's Month.

I have to ask you, who are some of the women that you admire,
past, present, known, unknown?
I'm going to say one is my Aunt Louise. She lived to be 98.
And she was the matriarch of the family.
And last thing she said to me was she called me Sergeant Marissa because she

said, you always at the reunions and you giving the orders and everybody just respects you.
You Sergeant Marissa of all the cousins, you know. So she just gave me this
title and it just stuck up with me.
You know, she always just had a good word for me, always kept me encouraged.
And, you know, unfortunately she wasn't around for my plays,
but I know she's still with me.

And the last thing I, when I was moving just a month ago on her birthday,
I didn't even realize it was her birthday.
I came across a letter she wrote me. Wow. I promise you. And I'm reading the letter.
I'm just looking, cause you know, when you move and you see all this stuff and
I was like, like, oh, what's this? And I said, oh, this letter from Louise.
And then all of a sudden I look on Facebook, my sister had her picture up with

her. I said, wow, today is her birthday.
I said, so you can't tell me this woman ain't with me.
So yeah, so she's definitely one. And as far as, do you want like a celeb or
like- No, it doesn't matter.
You gave me yours. That's, you know, Your auntie. And that's pretty much the

biggest people. And my mom.
I definitely salute my mom on being who she was and what she's done.
And even now, to this day, it's still not the best, but she's where she should
be. You know what I mean? That's all that matters.
Exactly. As a woman. So I admire her as well. So, yeah, they will probably be

the most women in my life and my godparents.
You know, I have a, oh, I have to mention my godmother.
One of them, I have three godparents and one of them really brought me closer
to the Lord when I moved to Maryland.
So I definitely pick her up all the time, you know, taking me up for prayer,
going to the altar, changed my whole life moving out here. Okay.

What's her name? Marisha. Marisha. Oh, is that where your name came from?
It's a little different. Yes. Okay.
Yes, it is where my name came from, but it's spelled different.
Mine is M-A-R-I-S-S-A. Hers is M-A-U-R-I-C-A.
Okay, cool. Yes. Shout out to all the matriarchs. We so appreciate your wisdom

and your love. Yes, absolutely.
So you know around these parts, you know, it's about the music too.
It's chit-chat and music. So you know I have to ask you.
Do you have, do you have, I know there may be many. I don't want to put you on the spot.
Like, do you have a favorite independent artist that you want to hear?
Did you want me to get on today?

I've got two girlfriends, sister girlfriends. One is Satoria Key.
I'm not sure if you're familiar with her.
She's an independent artist doing her thing right now. And Harmony.
Harmony's from Maryland as well. Oh, I know Harmony. Yes, yes.
Those are two very good independent artists that I know of.
And, you know, I don't know too many, but those are ones that I'm close to.

Okay, so let me see if I can find something, some music about Satoria.
Satoria Key. Key. I think I've met her before. You've met her before.
Yeah. She actually just went to the Grammys. Matter of fact, she has posts all over.
So I'm super excited for her. I also want to mention my partner, Barry.
You met Barry. Oh, yes. I met Barry. Yes. Yes. Yes. So he sings too.

Hey, Barry. What's up? You didn't tell me. Listen, I was talking to you all
that day. You didn't even mention that you sing. That's cool.
But yeah, so. Okay. Well, I want to thank you so much for, you know,
taking the time out to hang out with me in the artist zone.
And keep using your platform for ministry and changing lives.

That's what's all the way up. And you know I'm watching. I'm watching.
Thank you so much, Smiley. I appreciate you. Thank you for having me on.
Absolutely. Have a good one.
All right, as promised, let me go heading.

All right, all right, it's that
time. And I want to thank you guys for hanging out with me today. Yes.
Special thanks to today's guest, Marissa. You guys be sure to check out her
work. And remember, she caters too. Yes.
She serves up a good meal. That's what's up.
Now, as we close our Women's Month, the support does not stop because the month ends. No, sir.

Continue to support women in the arts, their voices, gifts, and talents.
Yes. Is that a deal? All right, that's what's up. Because my ladies are doing
a damn thing out here in these streets.
Watch out, world, because guess what? There's no stopping us. No.
Here's to strong women everywhere. May you know them, be them, and may you raise them.

Until next time, I'm gonna need you guys to be well, stay safe,
and remember to listen to good music.
Your ears will thank you for it. I'm Smiley J, and I'm out.
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