This weeks FLY Person isn’t fly on account of what they’ve done for themselves, but what they have, and continue to do for their community.
Jonnel “Young Harlem” Green was born and raised in the notorious St. Nicholas Houses in Harlem, NY. He was raised by his grandparents, the late Harriet Duke & Fred McKenzie, who always sought to instill in Jonnel the principals of “being better and doing better.” Having grown up as a Harlem child whose mother & father were incarcerated his grandmother ensured that he would be grounded in the Church, but Jonnel sought guidance from those who ruled the rough streets of Harlem. Having a hard time adapting to middle school and always finding trouble in high school, he eventually dropped out in the 10th grade and began to crave the street life.
The 1998 passing of Jonnel’s grandmother, Harriet Duke, changed his perspective on life. He vowed to pursue unlimited possibilities. Jonnel began to write music as source of healing. Realizing that he had a gift for writing he became interested in higher education. Jonnel obtained his GED and with the help of a close friend, was accepted to Lincoln University where majored in mass media for 4 years. Jonnel’s trendsetting events, radio shows and swag landed him the name “YOUNG HARLEM.” After college Jonnel interned and worked for many record labels and even though he began to touch the rim of the entertainment industry, he remained committed to helping children who had similar childhood struggles as him.
In 2008, he started Young Harlem, Inc., a 501C educational nonprofit organization certified by the New York State Department of Education, for kids living in urban communities. Always seeking to help others, Jonnel began to send texts to his Senior Pastor as a source of daily encouragement. This commitment blossomed to a daily text ministry, which currently reaches over 1000 people nationwide through various media sources. Through Jonnel’s most recent “leap of faith,” he founded Extreme Dreamers, Inc., a Multimedia brand that empowers you through Music, Literature, Film and Fashion. Additionally, Jonnel is in the process of writing his first novel called “Young Harlem: A Diary of a Dreamer.” Jonnel believes “In life you will have ups and downs, but never give up. You must Dream to the Extreme!”
Check out our dope interview and learn even more about “Young Harlem!”
1) What does the term “FLY” mean to you and how do YOU embody it?
Fly is one word, “Harlem.” It’s an art. Fly also means to be over, to be on top. I
embody ‘Fly” because I was born in it. I am from Harlem and who am I to mess up tradition?
2) Growing up in an era in which our grandparents raised most of us, how do you
feel that attributed to your success today?
My grandparents played a major role in my success because they instilled lifetime
values and street smarts. My grandfather taught me how to be a man and to always
work hard because if you don’t grind you don’t shine. My Grand mother taught me to put
God first no matter the obstacle or problem!
3) Was there any 1 specific situation that influenced you to create
Working in the music business, I noticed there wasn’t an outlet for writers or individuals to be empowered or to be better and dream so I hollered at my friend Dwayne (editor) then God just did the rest!
4) What are some of the life lessons you learned on the streets that continue to
help you in your now corporate living?
My mother was a hustler and father was one, as well. Some lessons I’ve learned was to be a man of your word and never judge a book by its cover. Don’t open the right door with the left hand!
5) Who, in media, are some of your inspirations?
Of Course Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. People have always compared me to him, but its definitely James EIchelberger, former VP and A&R of TVT Records, and my Pastor Micheal A. Walrond of First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem.
6) Where do you see yourself, and your company, in 5 years?
In 5 years, I see us having over 100 writers on extremedreamers.com. Every writer or blogger will want to be on this site. Also we’re taking the brand to Television as I have many people contacting me about reality television. Also to be known on a global platform. We have many views from Russia and Germany already. Sky Is The Limit straight to the top. Extreme dreamers will be a household
name in all media.
7) What levels of fashion do you deal with on ExtremeDreamers.com?
We Have the “I Am An Extreme Dreamer” T shirts for the summer, which are sold out right now. (Shouts to Deon from Fresh Custom.) In the Winter, we have The Extreme Dreamers Varsity Leathers. (Shouts To KG at Professional Clothing.) We Plan on opening up the online store in the fall and I am looking for a Fashion writer who can also handle the clothing aspect!
8 ) On ExtremeDreamers.com, you have the “Extreme Dreamers Class of 2011.” What
can one do to apply to be apart of the 2012 class?
You cant really apply. It’s more of who we see is doing it to the Extreme in living their dream out. First event was a success so imagine how our 1 year anniversary will be? We are excited already and many names have been coming in for 2011.
9) Even though a huge majority of us have grown up in church, there is still a
huge distinction between Religion and Entertainment. Do you fear that
intertwining the two may not garner as much mainstream success as you’d like?
Nope, not at all. Many of us believe in a higher power. We aren’t shoving religion in your face. We are shoving encouragement, determination, and those keys we want to empower you with. I feel we are in our own lane right now and that’s what makes it special and unique. Every writer has a story and overcame it. Just like in the entertainment world, especially in music, artists sing or rap about their obstacles or opinions. We discuss ours, but we offer solutions. I never wanted to be in the HipHop realm. I am shifting more in to the NAACP image awards/Oprah Winfrey lane. Our focus is global, not local.
10) Any words of encouragement or last words to our readers?
Shouts to SFPL for the interview and to your readers in the midst of situations, obstacles, problems and pain, don’t give up! You are an Extreme Dreamer so always “Dream To The Extreme.” Log on Be empowered www.extremedreamers.com
(Shouts to Zoe,Shyah,Dway,Kris,Renta,Voni, Ashcash, and Punch)
Much love and success to ExtremeDreamers.com!!