Over Ethiopian food and Honey Wine, I got to know Filmmaker and Writer, Arielle Loren this past summer. Durring what was suppose to be our casual lunch to simply meet each other in person- I found myself pulling out my notepad and pen. I took notes on everything from how she uses social media to brand her image, to how she established a strong freelance writing career. And I was most inspired by her ability to self-fund her documentary, “Bideology”, which explores the diverse experiences of women who date bisexual men.
Veralyn Media: How did you come up with the idea for your film “Bideology”, and why was it important for you to make this project a reality?
Arielle Loren: Entering my senior year of college, I fell in love with my best friend, who happened to be bisexual. Like most Americans, I grew up in a community that didn’t really discuss LGBT issues or work to promote an understanding of various sexualities. Once my best friend revealed his bisexuality, I found myself relying on stereotypes to define his experience, and thus, I knew that I had to re-educate myself. As I reached out to various bisexual men and women who had dated bisexual men, I realized that the public still had a long way to go in terms of understanding and accepting male bisexuality. I decided to direct and produce “Bideology” to add to the conversation and dispel some of the popular stereotypes of bisexual men. This is a true passion project spun out of a personal experience, so I’ve funded the entire production myself.
VM: When you started working on “Bideology”- how did people initially react to it? And where is the documentary headed?
Arielle: I’ve honestly received 99.9% positive feedback on the documentary. For the most part, people are curious to learn more about bisexual men and question their own beliefs surrounding the issue. The documentary will be screening at various film festivals in 2012, and hopefully, it will get picked up by a television network, so it can be available to a larger mainstream audience.
VM: As a filmmaker and writer I’ve noticed that you often look inwards for topics…
Excerpt from Clutch Magazine article, We Are The Future of Black Wealth
Since age sixteen, Suze Orman has guided my financial literacy. However, I still struggle with managing my personal finances to this day. I have credit card debt from 2009 on the backlog. I owe Citibank $25,000 in student loans for my New York University education, and that’s after my large scholarship. My stock portfolio is empty, as I sold everything to stay afloat when I lost my first job out of college. My savings account, yes, I have enough for a rainy month or two. However, it sure wouldn’t last three to six months of living expenses, as recommended by most financial advisors. Point blank, I know that I need to do better in the area of personal finances, particularly since the immediate future of black wealth is dependent on my generation.
VM: Are you ever worried about putting too much out there into the world?
Arielle: I’ve made a decision to be very transparent about my personal life, interests, and beliefs in my creative work.This approach is not for everyone, but it’s helped me build a very loyal following, as most of my supporters feel like they can connect with me on a personal level. I do try to keep my family and close loved ones separate from my work. I never want to violate anyone else’s privacy just because I’ve made a decision to be open.
VM: Based on conversations we’ve had and some of your writing- it is clear to me you are not bound by any traditional concepts on relationships. Would you agree with this assessment?
Arielle: I believe that love can arrive in many forms. I’m certainly not against monogamy, as I’m also not against polyamory. I’m just open to positive, loving, fruitful relationships in whatever form they arrive. I tend to surround myself with open people, so I never get any negative feedback even if someone has chosen a different lifestyle.
VM: As a black woman blogger in a community that makes up 13 percent of the U.S. population, but 22 percent of Twitter users– have you ever felt any responsibility to portray a positive image of your gender?
Arielle: I’m just me. At times, I’m perceived as a black female blogger, but other times people just recognize me as Arielle. I only hold myself accountable to represent Arielle online, as she is in real life. So long as I’m meeting that standard, I’m not necessarily worried about representing my race and gender.
VM: What role has networking played in your career?
Arielle: My entire freelancing career has been built upon networking. I honestly can count on one hand how many times I’ve cold pitched a publication. I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible people who want to support my growth as an artist. It’s so important to maintain relationships working in creative industries, as everyone knows everyone and burning bridges is never smart.
Arielle: I tell everyone that social media is the cheapest, most influential way to market yourself to an audience and engage with your followers. My entire fan base has been built on the Internet, and I’ve used Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to connect with the people supporting my work. I’ve also helped small and large companies navigate the social media arena to propel their brands to the next level. It’s so important to connect with people in general that are supporting your work. And social media is a great way to facilitate that connection and build upon it.
VM: What has been the most challenging part of what you’re doing?
Arielle: When I was working a 9-5 job, it was challenging to balance my creative life with my professional responsibilities. It really came down to time management, which I’m still learning to master. Eventually, I decided to strike out on my own and give my creative work full attention. At times, I miss the paycheck, but it’s honestly replaced itself since I’ve managed to step my freelance game and take on more consulting projects with L Media House. Everything is a hustle, and hustles naturally birth challenges. I just take them as they come, and refuse to look back.
VM: What advice would you give to others trying to figure out how to do what they love and get paid for it?
Arielle: It’s really cliché, but the truth is that money follows passion, not the other way around. You shouldn’t be focused on making money. If you work on becoming the best at what you do, monetization is easy. The problem is that everyone is focused on making money instead of being the best. When you’re the best, your competition is minimal and thus, money flocks to you. I haven’t had an issue, but I’m also willing to work harder and hustle harder than most. Network, grind, and be the best. The money will follow.