We had the good fortune of connecting with Aalia Lanius and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Aalia, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
No great act has been accomplished that didn’t involve risk! Too often we are scared to take them when we need to most. I encourage risks, so that we can constantly learn and grow.  I’ve learned that I am worth betting on, and I don’t judge myself if things don’t work out the way I intended them to.  Some things fall together, and some fall apart.  But I can tell you that I’ve always gained something of value—sometimes it’s monetary, but mostly it’s also been relationships and connection that have brought such joy to living. In my professional life, taking risks is the entire reason I am who I am today as the founder of a media organization, podcast host, executive producer and award-winning writer. In my personal life, my thirst for adventure and risk gives mystery to my future, which in turn, fuels my curiosity and inspiration to give it all I’ve got with pages still unwritten. Risk is about what you’ve got to lose, but it’s also about what you could gain.  You have to weigh the outcome and how that will affect your life.  I was homeless at 14-years-old and taking risks became part of how I survived.  I lied about my age at 17, saying I was older to get a higher paying job.  Having nothing will make you resourceful and I was hungry for a way to create opportunity for myself where there was none otherwise. I started my first business at 23, and my first staffed company at 25. But I wasn’t a girl who was born with privilege or a supportive family environment that fostered my drive, rather it was out of a need to survive and provide a quality life to my child, as a single mother all those years ago. Twenty years later, I’m still willing and eager to take the risks that lead to the greatest adventure.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As the founder and driving force behind Unsugarcoated Media, a nonprofit media organization, we’re about projects that speak to society, providing education and media that creates empathy and a better understanding of us all.  The first two fiction works are books that I wrote.  As a novelist, the books I write always have and always will contain at least one message within them. Some are in your face, like the ugliness of racism or racial stereotyping, but some are softer, though no less strong, like the power of a mother’s love. My first novel, TOUGH LOVE, is all about female empowerment.  One of the most touching messages I received, came from a woman saying she was filing for divorce from an abusive husband, citing my story as her inspiration. My last novel, JUGEND, has won three international awards for its multicultural and hard-hitting message against racism. I have it set up so that all of my book sales go directly to charity because I believe in my ability, to empower others by reminding them how resilient they truly are. We are producing the award-nominated empowerment podcast, “Unsugarcoated with Aalia”.  It is where I give people an opportunity to hear more about my story and amplify the voices of incredible people that join me for conversations that need to be had.  Our goal is to bring value to the audiences, and it makes me proud to lift up others and use my platform to help survivors of trauma in the process.  The podcast is an extension of the one-day empowerment event, EmpowerCon, that we launched in August 2019, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  We are still looking at how we would proceed this fall, but regardless, we continue to directly collaborate with the communities that need support.  I’m doing what I love most when I’m advocating for unity, healing and empathy in society and I think it’s a good thing that I’m not afraid of anyone’s judgement.  I’m here to be a positive influence in the media and I will stand on a street corner and hand out fliers, just as much as I’ll stand on a stage, and tell my story to an audience of thousands to do it. I would like the world to know that my brand, as a creative and an artist, is incredibly honest and raw, hence UNSUGARCOATED. Some people have a hard time with as much honesty as I dish out or my lack of tolerance for toxic behavior, but I’m positive that it’s what the world needs a good dose of right now.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

With COVID 19 we are all adjusting to responsible fun. So, it’s a good thing I’m a fan of being outside! A good hike at Runyon Canyon is always on the itinerary, not just for the activity, but that moment at the top, when I look back and realize how far I’ve come! Outdoor brunches at places like Blu Jam Cafe on Melrose on a weekday and a rooftop restaurant for dinner at Catch LA and drinks is always fun. Being a huge fan of photography and street art, I think Los Angeles holds countless beautiful murals that make the most interesting places to stop and check out. I highly suggest finding an LA Graffiti Art Tour and I personally love the Kobe Bryant Mural Tour.  You can literally park the car and take a zillion incredible photos before heading over to Rose Venice in Venice for lunch and a ton more photo ops off of Abbott Kinney boulevard. Definitely last but not least, Lake Hollywood Park is not only great for a picnic but gives an amazing opportunity to get the best shots with the Hollywood sign as an iconic backdrop.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is a book that changed my life at a critical time as a young adult woman in crisis. I arrived at a moment where I felt I had no hope.  I didn’t have a pretty story and her honesty showed me that it was okay.  It was the first time I felt represented by someone who had as traumatic an upbringing as I had.  So here I was, a good kid who had made a stupid mistake, and landed in jail. That is where I read her story. That was over 25 years ago and today I share my not so pretty story to do the very thing Ms. Angelou did for me—provide hope.  To let someone out there know that you are allowed to reinvent yourself.  I want others to not carry the weight of other people’s judgement and shatter limiting beliefs. I didn’t know that I was being empowered at that time, but I was. Today, I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to one of my best friends, fellow cancer survivor, and publicist, Ang Amaya. This is the person who gave me hope when I had none to give myself for the second time in my life. It was several years ago and I was lying in a hospital bed in an oncology ward with nothing but a WIFI signal that gave me access to a group of fellow cancer fighters I had recently connected with on Facebook. A truly selfless person, I couldn’t imagine doing half of the things I get done without her support. It doesn’t matter how long she spends on the phone with me, she is my person. I am thankful for her feedback because though she loves me, she doesn’t feel obliged to patronize me or tell me what fluffs my ego. Instead, she gives it to me straight and I consider myself one of the luckiest people to have someone like her in my corner, always on the lookout for anything that can help or strengthen the brand we are building with Unsugarcoated Media.

Website: www.unsugarcoatedmedia.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aalia_unsugarcoated/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aalialanius/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/UnsugarcoatedwithAalia/

Image Credits
Ang Amaya

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