We had the good fortune of connecting with Starlotta Milan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Starlotta, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
For a brief moment, you’re a child you know nothing of a safety net or inhibitions. In most cases, you’re free to be who you really are. I knew at the age of four that I wanted to be a singer and dancer. Sharing that with my mother and family was shocking. My mother, my father and stepfather all were entrepreneurs. But risk has made me who I am. At the age of 13 I went out to audition for a musical titled the “Great Nitty Gritty”, by Oscar Brown Jr. OBJ is a man who almost cannot be defined, but as we all know he was a legend. I made it to the stage. If I didn’t begin singing professionally at that time, who knows if I would be who I am today. But because he believed in me and I believed in myself, here I am. We all need mentors and to be affirmed. Fast forward many years later, I’m still on track to being who I came into this existence to be, a Star. Risk has brought me to LA from Chicago. Risk has opened more doors for me than I can count.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
At times, being an interdisciplinary artist has been exhausting. In the past, I’ve found myself wondering what lane I fit into. What I should pursue, when really I should be all that I am. In the last few years I’ve learned that there are many lanes, and that I can make my own. I am a professional singer/dancer, award winning hair and makeup artist, wellness artist, director, photographer, actor, vegan chef and entrepreneur. I know that’s a mindful, but I am all that. They say you can be a jack of all trades and a master of none, but I’d like to refine that idea. You can be a master of everything you set your mind to, but you have to be hyper-focused, plan and not be to proud to ask and accept support. You cannot do everything on your own. I’m most proud that I was hand selected by Spike Lee to be in a Spike Lee Joint. Just when I wasn’t sure that I still had the juice he came up to me after seeing me dance as an extra and asked if I was available and would like to be a principle dancer/actor in Chiraq the movie. Although that film didn’t do as well as projected, I still worked and learned from Spike. No one can take that away from me. I’m also proud of myself for making it through so much adversity in my personal life and still following my dreams. It took some time, but I’m here now. I moved to LA on November 11, 2020, amidst a pandemic, to pursue my R&B recording artist dreams. Heres that work ‘risk’ again. I took a risk and I’m betting it all on myself. I’ve frequented studios, I’m meeting other musicians, engineers and I’m even recording myself. My mantra is ‘music everyday’. I wish I could say ‘music for breakfast, lunch and dinner’, but I run a few brands. So I make sure when my feet hit the floor I work on my passion and if I can’t do that I’m either at a session later in the day or session-ing with myself before I go to sleep. As long as I make something I like everyday, I’m good. And I’ve been making a lot and I’m using all my talents to create a visual album like to other. Sometimes I feel pressured to put something out, but all the time I know slow and steady win the race. You’ll be seeing a lot of me and soon.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ooh lala. This is fun. Well, we’d start the week on Sunday.
Sunday morning we’d go on a hike in Studio City at Wilacre Park. We’d leave our car parked when we’re done and walk about a mile to the Studio City Farmers Market. There we’d find all the produce we’d need for the week and all the good vibes. After, we’d shuffle over to Bluestone Coffee on Ventura for a Oat Milk latte, and it would be served warm. I’m not tripping, I’m from Chicago. After we leave there, we’d go a few doors down to Wasteland and see what finds they have. My first business venture was ‘Out of the Loop’ vintage and my best friend was my business partner. So it’s right up our alley. We’ll prob end up brunching at Berkshire House on Labrea.
Monday, we get up early and go ‘Train by Quan’ @trainbyquan in WeHo. We gotta get those gains! Since we’re not far from ‘The Grove’, we will make a pitstop at Erhewon and get food and cold pressed juice for the day. I’ll prob sneak another coffee from Bluestone on LaBrea, I can’t lie. After we get food, we will go window shopping and inevitably find something good at the mall. We’ll go get dressed for the day and go to Soho Warehouse to work and catch the vibes.
Tuesday is Taco Tuesday and im vegan asl, so we will pop into Tierra Madre on San Pedro. They have the best vegan tacos I’ve found out here. They’re nestled in between Skid Row and Little Tokyo, DTLA. Hopefully there is an impromptu kickback or jam session and we can grab more tacos and pull up.
Wednesday, we back doing Monday over. This time we will end the day at Mojo Hookah. They bring the vibes and we can bring our own food in. A win win.
Thursday, Im taking her to dance in the evening at Studio 216 with ‘Bounce’. We will get our life. It’s near the weekend, so we will undoubtably end the night at Marathon on Fairfax. Yea, we’re doing hookah again and this time with Afrobeats. It’s going up!
Friday and Saturday, we’re outside!! LA has the most unplanned fun, so there’s no telling where we will end up and who invited us there. Prob will hit up Smart Dress for the move.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow. This is such a loaded question, so you have to get a loaded answer. I’d like to firstly give my mother Wendy Jackson her flowers. As I mentioned, my mother was an entrepreneur and I’m sure wanted a little girl after her own heart. And after I told my mother I wanted to be an entertainer, in so many words, she enrolled me into tap, ballet and modeling classes. She even helped me compete in pageants. I feel fortunate and supported to have been seen and exposed to movement at such a young age… and with my background. Many young girls that look like me didn’t have access or even know to ask for support in that way, but my mother was a model, so she knew. Ballet is a Eurocentric art form and unfortunately to this day is the standard of annotated technique in the dance world. And because we live in this ‘society’, there’s an underlying silent requirement to have ‘technique’ when you want to become a dancer. And modeling made me comfortable on and off camera. I can’t thank her enough for that. And then there was Dance at Illinois. Representation has always been something in my different disciplines of art that I had a hard time with. I don’t look like most of my teachers or relate to them. I went to dance school and left for a long period of time. Jan Erkert, the head of the department allowed me to come back and finish my dance degree, and for that I’m forever grateful because now I can harness the wind beneath my wings. When I returned there were faces that looked like me, bodies with curves like mine and their success was amplified. This was amazing, inspiring and comforting to say the least. It was those Black women that pushed me to work harder, because being Black and successful, you can’t be mediocre. Everyone knows that, and if not, you’re in denial. Being a returning student as an adult was terrifying. You’re not the same artist that you were when you were younger, limber and stronger. I just wanted to hide and get thru my time there. But knowing that the coldest Black women of our time were teaching me and believed in me spoke volumes. So I’d like to especially thank Endalyn Taylor, Cynthia Oliver, Nia Love and Kemal Nance (although he isn’t a women, he did not play with me). Lastly, I’d like to thank my aunts, Sandra Jackson- Opoku and Sheryl Jackson-Osinowo, who are incredible creatives that I’ve always looked up to. Sitting in my aunts hair salon or going to my aunts writers workshops definitely showed me that I can be a creative and pursue a successful career in art. And that I will be paid.
Personal Photo by Favor Films ‘Tethered’ by Cynthia Oliver -Photo: Natalie Fiol ( Its the colorful group performance shot) ‘Deep Rivers; Steal Away’ by Jon Veal (Photo of me dancing in tan) Photo: Jessica Ozette (Polaroid)