Arian Simone completed her first public relations assignment while living out of her car.
After accepting a job offer in Los Angeles upon graduating from Florida A&M University, she would never have imagined losing that same position shortly after and ending up homeless.
Down but not defeated Arian made the brave decision to stay in L.A. instead of returning home to Detroit, Michigan. While working and living in an office building, Arian was discovered by the real life Coach Carter who helped her reach her full potential. Her fabulous and fearless mindset led her to several other opportunities including working as a unit publicist for movies like “Stomp the Yard”, “Takers”, “Limitless”, “Hancock”, “Sparkle” and several others.
Her Agenda had the opportunity to hear all about her fearlessly phenomenal journey, here is what she shared:
Her Agenda: Your story is quite interesting! You didn’t have the typical start in the industry, tell us a little bit about your journey?
Arian Simone: In 2004, I moved to Los Angeles right after college. I actually ended up homeless! I moved to L.A. with a job and I ended up going from my apartment to my car because I got laid off and I ran out of money. I was devastated at first but I said, “You know what I’ll just figure it out.” I’m from Detroit, Michigan and we have a very strong work ethic and a lot of hustle in us due to our environment. I had no clue that it was going to get as rough as it did but I definitely made up in my mind that this is temporary.
Her Agenda: Understanding that your situation was temporary, what did you decide to do until the right opportunity presented itself?
Arian Simone: Well, I applied for over 153 jobs. I remember [that number] because that’s when I stopped counting. Nobody hired me so I’m applying for anything at this point. Of course at first I was trying to get something in the lines of my degree of but after a while I’m like, pride is out the window; if I’ve got to be a waitress or clean floors I’ll just do it. But nobody hired me and I think it was truly a testament of my faith. I don’t know if I was ever called to necessarily work for somebody. I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life, I’ve never been on anybody’s salary. My calling and my destiny is entrepreneurship.
Her Agenda: It can be a bit overwhelming being a recent grad and losing everything so fast! What was your mindset during this time?
Arian Simone: I learned how to dance in the rain despite my circumstances. I ended up on food stamps, welfare, the whole nine. One of my girlfriends flew into town and I told her that we were going to sneak into the BET awards. She said, “Arian, how are we going to get in?” and I said “We’re going to walk the red carpet!” So we put on our best dresses and we got all dolled up. We looked the part and when we got close by the red carpet and I saw somebody that went to my college. He saw me and said “Arian, you’re going to the award show?” and I said “yes!” He explained that he had just signed with Ushers label and invited us to walk in with Usher and his entourage. Everybody kept asking whose the girl in the white dress (that was me) and I just waved my hand, and played the part. We ended up getting in and they told us that they didn’t have any seats for us in the front row where they were sitting. I said “don’t worry, there go our seats right there!” and I pointed to the fifth row to two empty seats next to 50 cent and G-Unit. We went to those seats and it was a blast! We watched Monique do the “Uh Oh” opening with the Beyonce tribute and the Isley brothers tribute. It was a beautiful show. Despite my circumstances and what I was going through I knew that I had to live and I had to have fun.
Her Agenda: Most college students or young professionals make the decision to move back home once they hit hard times. However you decided to stay, what influenced your decision to remain in LA?
Arian Simone: Well home didn’t really present an alternative. If it presented an opportunity then great, but either way I was going to be broke in LA or broke in Detroit. I knew that LA was the land of opportunity and I needed to figure things out. I was thinking long term.
After the BET Awards, I was still homeless and I had a moment where I was just upset and exhausted. I told my mother if this was what life was like then I don’t see a reason to live and she screamed, thinking I was suicidal but I told my mom I wasn’t going to kill myself. I was just exhausted. However, anytime you reach a time of darkness you are at your breaking point for daylight. Somebody called me to do some PR/marketing work for them and I said yes!
I had never done PR a day in my life but if they had asked me to come over and paint their walls I would have said yes. I had been on bread and water for seven days, I was ready to eat, get my car out of the shop and enjoy life. I will say that God had me at a place in my life where he wanted me to ask him and God delivered. He definitely sends his blessings through people, and I was just grateful to have that opportunity. After that they referred me to somebody, who referred me to somebody, who referred me to somebody and when I looked up I had about five to seven projects in two weeks. That’s when I reached out to one of my sorority sisters to help me get an office space because I knew that I was better off in that environment instead of just trying to scrape up some change to get an apartment. It wouldn’t be presentable enough for clients and that’s what I mean about thinking long term.
Her Agenda: You actually ended up moving into your office space! What was that experience like?
Arian Simone: It worked out to be a blessing! I was on the 26th floor and at that time the Steve Harvey morning show broadcasted out of that same building on 19th floor. Every morning I would network with celebrities that were coming in the building. Security knew that I was living there so they would pass out my business cards and call me to tip me off on who was in the building that morning. It became a part of a routine; shower at LA fitness, get the call from security, run down to the Steve Harvey morning show and sneak into the radio station. After a while they just started opening the door for me, I didn’t have to sneak in.
It’s amazing how a lot of times when you need something your resources are right there. I didn’t have to leave the building to make any cash, business was right there. I ended up meeting Coach Carter in the building and that’s how I ended up being exposed to working on films.
Her Agenda: What role did Coach Carter play in helping you find your career in film?
Arian Simone: He told me that he wanted to help me out because he saw me living in there. I asked him how and he said “I’m going to get Paramount Studios to cut you a check because you’re going to help me promote my movie!” I was like “Whoa!” and at that time I was just 23 coming from Detroit and I had never heard that a movie studio would outsource you for what you do. With that being said, I was able to take that exposure and call people who were in the film industry that I knew graduated from FAMU, like Will Paker and Rob Arnie. I let them know what had happened and let them know what I’d been up to with PR and marketing. I told them that I knew that studios can outsource me for my skill set and they got me an interview over at SONY for “Stomp the Yard”.
So that’s pretty much how my whole movie career started. From the exposure that Coach Carter gave me to reaching out to people and landing at SONY. I’m very big on just connecting the dots. God will always give you the puzzle pieces. You just need to look at them and see what piece matches what. Even today, I’m still putting the puzzle pieces together. It’s always great to take inventory of what you have and use them to continue to connect and get to the next level.
I stayed there for about a month and half and then I moved into an apartment. I have no complaints from sleeping in the office, I thought I was a billionaire up there! I was actually overjoyed. I felt that I had came through the storm and the sky wasn’t even the limit, I was going to reach for the stars. Because of the journey and my level of fearlessness, it [inspired] me to publish a magazine entitled Fearless, to expose the world to other fearless journeys. I do believe that, that is a very big ingredient in success. When overcoming obstacles and pursuing your dreams you have to be fearless. Fear exists but you have to say that I want it more than what it is that you’re trying to discourage me of.
Her Agenda: Tell us about your Fearless Movement!
Arian Simone: The fearless movement for me has become a huge community of people inspiring each other to live fearlessly. We have lots of programs to keep people encouraged. We have our membership program where people get a daily fearless quote, you get a weekly fearless journey, you get monthly fearless phone calls. We also have a Fearless Female Entrepreneurship Network, its another membership program within the fearless movement where we are inspiring and encouraging women who are entrepreneurs whether they would like to start a business or whether you already have a business we teach you how to enhance your business and take it to the next level.
There are also our fearless discussions by Arian Simone where we talk about real life topics that are effecting our lives in everyday pop culture. We actually had our first one in February where we talked about sex and love and celibacy and threesomes and you name it; we talked about everything under the sun! It’s really a judgement free zone where people express themselves and we give them advice on how to live freely and fulfill their God given purpose and destiny.
Her Agenda: What’s your motto?
Arian Simone: Live fearlessly! I also believe in living a life of purpose and living a life of fun. I have fun daily, I’m so grateful for this life.
Her Agenda: Being an African-American woman in the position that you held in the industry did you ever face any discrimination or obstacles?
Arian Simone:When I first entered the movie world I wasn’t aware of any glass ceilings. I wasn’t necessarily thinking about it because of my getting to L.A. so soon and achieving everything so quickly. I think there was a season where I became everybody’s golden girl. Where I was the young African-American face. There’s about five of us that were African-American and working independently.
It wasn’t until more so recently where I was wondering what’s going on because I used to be called more frequently. I was wondering if there was a shift happening and I started noticing that a lot of the studios began hiring different white agency’s that had employed African-Americans. I didn’t see it at first but I do see it now because it is a very competitive field. It’s still not discouraging to me because I live fearless anyway, I evolve with the times. You just have to learn how to turn obstacles into opportunities!
Her Agenda: What advice would you give to our readers?
Arian Simone: Follow your heart, don’t get caught up in what people tell you that you should be doing. I’m a very big believer that the feminist movement has not necessarily always served us well. What I mean by that is, I’m all for equality but there’s no reason to go rush and climb this corporate ladder if that’s not where your heart is. There’s nothing wrong with a woman that’s a housewife. You should spend your time climbing over obstacles for the things you love rather than saying you spent 30 years giving your time to a company that you didn’t even like. Whatever it is that is burning in your heart, you do that.