We had the good fortune of connecting with Melanie Lightbourn-Rowe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melanie, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I would venture to state that the artistic path chose me rather than my having chosen it. As a child, I enjoyed the thrill of overextending the norm. I actively participated in programs where I designed, choreographed, and directed my own roles, and then proceeded to rally others to embrace my vision. Often, it worked. Sometimes, creativity is born from an individual’s desire to escape reality. Creating imaginary worlds, characters and designs was simply a way to cope with dark spaces of my life I did not wish to entertain. I chose the path of education because I was fortunate to sit under the tutelage of teachers who empowered me to be unapologetically different. My appearance was already uniquely crafted with moles splattered across my face and body, so creativity was given to me by default by a masterful Creator. My students were a proverbial canvas for me; I painted the beauty I wanted them to see, and I could only do this by opening doors to a more innovative way of teaching. Learning with Ms. Lightbourn would never be boring because attaining knowledge should be an adventure. Pushing my students kept me invigorated to attain my own creative goals. With that, I am now the author of three children’s books and the new owner of Uncut Legacy™, an empowerment clothing brand, where mediocrity is not an option. My goal is to challenge others to strive to become the best version of themselves, recognizing that through pain comes promise, and through birthright, we are all royalty. My tag line for Uncut Legacy is “Release the Royalty!” It is my conviction that our lives have a purpose, and all of it leads us to a most magnificent destiny. Not only is creativity my career, it is my calling.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
While I still operate as an employee, my passion beyond the workday lies in my creative space. My drive and ambition are a perfect blend of a blessing and a curse; the blessing is that I am able to do several things well. It is humbling. I am able to lead effectively, work creatively with others, teach with passion while shaping the lives of young adults, design programs and events for schools that produce profit margins, sing, act, produce and bring ideas to life for others when they are stuck moving forward. The curse? Sometimes, I create so much that I don’t have time to compartmentalize my crazy! People often ask me, “When do you have the time to do all that you do?” I don’t receive it as a compliment, because they have not an inkling how my brain refuses to shut itself off during the midnight hour and it is exhausting. It is not easy to be a creative person; many creative individuals seldom complete the projects they start. However, I have trained myself to set achievable goals and my success comes from seeking accountability from others to ensure I achieve that which I say I wish to accomplish. Today, I never start a new project until I have completed one. This includes setting goals to finish a book, a stage play, design a website, launch a clothing line, etc. Uncut Legacy™ is everything I have always wanted to project but never had the courage. I never believed I was good enough, stylish enough, popular enough or possessed the business mindset or even the vision to produce my own clothing line. My logo design is a fragmented diamond. The shape of the diamond is clear to the onlooker, but it also tells a story. We are not perfect beings, but the beauty that is us shines brightly and distinctly; that is unmistakable. It is my pledge to leave a legacy for the next generation, and my goal is to do that one royal patron at a time.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My best friend just landed, and she is exhausted from an 11-hour trip. Since her flight arrives at 9:00 a.m., we would head to breakfast at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. From there, I would need her to get some rest before we painted the town for the week. Here is our itinerary (You are welcome to join us) Day 1 – A relaxing morning at Color Me Mine to paint some pottery sounds like a good idea. For lunch, we will hit Tokai Sushi (Valencia). In the afternoon would take a trip to the Santa Monica Pier because strange people are always fascinating to watch. That evening, dinner at Delmonico’s would hit the spot just right. Day 2 – A Day at Universal Studios would be quite the adventure. Since I have students that work there, front of the line passes would make the day go a lot faster. That evening, we would hit the Universal City walk for movie and dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp. Day 3- We are on our way to Catalina Island for the day. We will explore, do a little bit of ziplining, shopping and swimming. We will eat dinner there and return the next morning. Day 4 – As we head back to the mainland, we have plans to head to a television taping of The Price is Right. She is eccentric in her own right and is called on stage. She wins, but I have to keep the car. That evening, we spend it at a friend’s house. She is a celebrity my best friend has admired for decades, and to be in her presence would be the highlight of her trip. We kick back, watch movies, and order Chinese food. She has a new friend for life! Day 5 – It is a day spent in Hollywood, honey! We take a tour of the Stars’ homes, visit the Hollywood sign, and head to the Wax Museum to take photos with the celebrities. Lunch at Planet Hollywood is befitting, don’t you think? We walk the boulevard taking photos next to her favorite stars on the sidewalk. Day 6- What?! My friend says she has special invitations for us to go to the Magic Castle?! Get out of here! Before our big night, we head to the Camarillo outlets to do a little bit of shopping. Who am I kidding? We tore up the joint! A special outfit from the St. John’s store was the perfect one for our night of magic. Day 7 – My friend wants to take it easy. It is her final evening and we have not had time to talk. We schedule a massage date at Burke Williams Spa and simply enjoy a day treating ourselves like the queens we are. Tonight is reserved for Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament. I hate to see her leave, but she knows exactly how to make reservations for next summer!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have an incredible village! In the Bahamas, there is a group of ladies with whom I have been linked for over 30 years called Divine Arrangement. We support each other through everything and understand that there is no room for failure when we all walk through life together. Everything I have done, they have supported wholeheartedly and I would not exchange their love and friendship for anything in the world. In California, there are several individuals who are responsible for where I am today. To begin a roll call would bring offense to many since my village is vast. A stabilizing force for me includes my best friends (they know who they are) and a small place in Granda Hills called Hope’s House. I have also worked with some pretty incredible educators over the years who have seen my creative gifts beyond the boundaries of a school’s campus. I soar because they allow me to do so.
Facebook: Uncut Legacy