Stranger 67, Day 67 – Meet Amy, the “Aerial DJ”

Stranger 67, Day 67 - Meet Amy

I walk around the office today to find today’s Stranger. As I was walking I noticed an office with three women about to leave, so I did what I never do — walk up to a group of women to chat. In this case, I wanted to meet my Stranger for the day to which one of the women agreed, and stayed behind.

As we start out, she’s sitting on an exercise ball. She’s got so much energy to her that the bouncing on the ball really amplifies her energy. She’s even moving her arms while she bounces like she’s getting a full body workout — fitting, too, given she works at a company called Fit Radio. I note that there’s no radio on, but she’s certainly got the “fit” part down, and that she’s pretty much the radio on her own.

She surprised me, “Well, I’ve been on radio before. Well, I’m on radio right now. I do radio in San Diego.” How great, too, because I love San Diego. It’s all coming full-circle, and I mention how I love being fit (or trying to be).

She agrees, “We’re all trying to be fit. Have you ever met those people who never eat bad? Never… just… let loose? I can’t relate to these people!” Haha. As she was telling me this, I was literally thinking about how great it’d be to have a KitKat bar or Skittles right then.

So, we officially kick this off.

Meet Amy, “Grown and Sexy”

*I was told not to ask women their age, but I’ve committed that faux pas plenty of times already on my journey — whoops!*

As she tells me her email, I realize she’s DJ Mami Chula. I’ve heard her name come across the radio before, so it’s really coming full-circle for me now. In fact, I share with her how I just attended Atlanta’s MLS team’s kit unveiling — where they reveal the design and style of the uniforms and jerseys for Atlanta United. She was the DJ spinning the tracks at the big shindig. I remember thinking that the DJ was pretty good before the MC (master of ceremony) intro’ed the DJ — DJ Mami Chula. It resonated with me because I had heard her name on the radio before. Now, here I was meeting her for the first time. How crazy is that? Okay, back to Amy…

I share with her how I recognize her name from several radio shows I’ve heard in the morning.

She responded, “I don’t know if they’re here now. I’m not on radio here. I was on 95.5 the Beat, 107.9, and Power 96.1… AND Wild 105.7/ 86.7.” Very cool.

What drove you into radio?

“I was going to go to school to be an FBI agent.” She corrects herself, “I was in school to be an FBI agent.”

“My school had a radio station. I was like, ‘oh, I can go up there and have fun. Just a side thing to have fun.’ And then they had turntables and the radio show, and I fell in love. That’s all I wanted to do.”

“…Turned into my passion.”

What about radio really drew you in?

“The creativity. Being able to move people by just playing a record. Making them feel good. Making them say, ‘Oohhh!’ When you get that ‘oh’, that’s like the best feeling as a DJ.”

“Also, to be honest, not many women do it, did it, or was doing it where I was from. So I just thought it was really cool. Be like one of the boys!”

“Just one of those things I’ve always been — I want to beat the boys,” she laughs. “Very competitive.”

I told her I felt like she made a name for herself recalling how I recognized her name at the Atlanta United event last week, and that I enjoyed the music she was “scratching” (I put quotes because I’ve never said that or typed that before, but she’s using the term). I had a great experience from her music. I asked her how she felt about where she is now.

“I’m happy!” Then, she breathes in deeply. “Okay, so to be honest, Power 96.1 got rid of me — they let me go. I think because ever since I was in Atlanta, I’d done radio. This was the first time I’ve never been on radio in Atlanta. It definitely threw me for a loop. But I’m so happy at Fit Radio.”

“I’m doing another passion project. It’s called ‘aerial DJing’. Have you seen the girls on aerial stilts hanging from the ceiling? I’m combining that with DJ’ing. My first show is New Year’s Eve at Opera.” (Opera is a club in Midtown Atlanta.)

“It’s a full show. Every 15 minutes, I’ve got two girls up with me. We’re doing mini aerial acts, and then I’m in the sling upside down DJ’ing, scratching, yeah! That’s what my passion is right now. So I’m happy. I’m good!”

I’m thinking about how I should introduce her to Andrew, yesterday’s Stranger.

What brought up aerial DJ’ing?

“Yeah, getting letting go from your job!” She laughs.

“Honestly, I always wanted to do… add something to being a DJ. I’ve been on tour. I’ve DJ’ed for people on tour with Ciara, Snoop Dogg, The Game, but I wanted to do something for myself. I wanted to take my DJ’ing to the next level. I didn’t want to DJ in places where I didn’t want to DJ. Every DJ does gigs… and they’re like, ‘oh god, I don’t want to do this gig’. I just didn’t want to do that to a degree being that I’ve been doing DJ for so long.”

“I wanted to create something that would hopefully go viral. That would be something nobody’s ever done. To do it. To do it for me.”

“I started doing aerial, and I thought ‘oh my god this would be cool to add this with it.’ It could totally happen.”

“That’s just how I came up with the two. I don’t know. When I get something in my head, I just go do it. Might be a little bit of ‘I’m going to do, I’m not going to do it’, but then I just go. I attack it!”

When you were let go, how did you get into the zone to still be happy with what you’re doing?

“It was hard. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot. Took like 6 months to almost a year of being let go. I was still DJ’ing at the clubs, and stuff. But to start working on this, this is a year in the making for me to get this show. You have to be strong enough to even do the moves in aerial. It was a come-on-let’s-go type thing. I can’t really pinpoint what motivated me. I just see something big in my head. I know that this could work. I know it could be big. Nobody’s ever done it. Why not?”

What kind of advice would you give to someone who comes to some sort of hardship (i.e. being let go, a break-up, some other loss)?

“The hardest thing for me was to realize — I’m a very big go-getter, and I was really mad at myself. There was a time period I just couldn’t get going. I just got so down on myself. I think just try and recognize why you’re sad. When you lose a job, or when you lose somebody, that’s a big thing out of your life. It hurts, and you don’t understand why. Just being able to recognize you need some time to grieve. You need some time to get yourself together, but don’t waste too much time. I wish I could’ve not wasted so much time being so mad. Then, pick yourself back up and freaking go. Go get it. Go with what makes you happy.”

Amy shared with me someone close to her that she loved and respected. However, “she does something that she hates everyday in life. She hates going to her job. I’ve been so lucky to all my adult career to pretty much do what I love. Just go make that happen. If someone doesn’t see your worth, your worth is somewhere else. Forget that. It’s hard to feel it at the time, but it’s true. I had to realize my worth is more than what they were showing me. That’s a hard thing.”

Have you had anyone who has been a big influence who has helped you get to where you are today? How did that person help you?

“Well, there’s been a few people. There’s been my aerial teachers. Amber who owns Sky Gym. She’s helped me. Kathleen who was a trainer at Sky Gym. Those two people have really helped me. They’ve been doing it for years. They’ve helped me feel comfortable to do aerial.”

“My DJ teacher who I call him my ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi of DJ’ing’. He and Machete X. He’s helped me throughout everything. It could be scratch. It could be a show. How to put my show together. I’ve had some great people help me, and just motivating me and keeping me going, and make me see a different route, or make me a see a different move that could work over what wouldn’t work. No matter what, they’ve helped me make it happen. That’s how they’ve helped me.”

“Having those people in your corner is so important.”

Are you helping anyone in that way? How are you paying it forward?

“I’m a big person. My Love Language is Acts of Service. So what these people are doing for me, I have to do for them. I’ve put on a lot of people through my career on radio. DJ’s — giving them DJ gigs when nobody else would. Or got people hired when nobody else would get them hired. So as far as the aerial DJ part, I haven’t been able to pay it forward just yet. But I’ve got my girls hired and put money in their pocket. Whenever I get a job through my connections through aerial, I do it that way. I make sure they get a job. So I put people on. I give them jobs. I hire DJ’s to do parties a lot.”

“I’m not a afraid to teach somebody. Some people teach you wrong because they’re scared — a lot of people do that. I want to teach you right. Or, they won’t teach you at all because you might be better than them. I’m not afraid of that. Like, be better than me. Go ahead.” Probably raises her game!

Have you ever been betrayed? And what did you do? (Thanks to Andrew, Stranger 66)

“Yeessss!” She thinks about the first betrayal that comes to mind.

“Yes, I have. My really good friend that came up in radio. She was kind of a mentor. I think she saw me as a threat, and that’s why she didn’t help me get on when she left. She was leaving, and I was trying to get her spot, because she already announced she was going to a new station. So she told everybody that I was trying to steal her spot — just made me look really bad before she left. It was really hard to get through it.”

“What did I do? I didn’t talk to her! To be honest… I didn’t talk to her because I didn’t want that energy around me. I don’t know… that’s kind of where we left it. She emailed me saying she was sorry, actually. She said, ‘I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I didn’t help you. I think about you all the time.’ As nice as that was for her to do that, I just didn’t hit her back. I was like, ‘you know what? I’m passed that.’ Cool, but I don’t know… It was just so deep, and so hard. I just couldn’t hit her back. I’m glad she hit me. I’m glad she’s doing good.”

Do you think you’ll ever close that?

“If I see her, I think we’ll be cool. But we’ll never be friends again. I’ll never just call her.”

Has that impacted some of your relationships today?

“Definitely because it was so hard. What she did before she left impacted my career for a long time. When those people have a certain view of you, it’s hard to shake that. And I don’t even think she understood what she did.”

“I didn’t… I just left it alone.”

She remarks, “That’s a deep question, Andrew! That’s a good one!”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“I want to know… are you 100% happy with what you’re doing in life right now? If you’re not 100% happy, what will make you happy? And are you going to do it? 3-part question.”

After the handshake.

I mean… like… yeah. I’ve heard her DJ name for a while on radio before. Then, I see her perform and do her thing at an event. Today, I just walk up to an office that she’s at, and she’s the volunteer to be my Stranger. The world is small. Serendipity happens all the time!

It was really great to meet her, and I loved her energy. She was happy and bouncing from the outset, and she stayed that way throughout while taking her picture on her exercise ball, too.

Also, as we were leaving the office, another woman walked up who worked on the same floor as Amy. I knew this woman, too, so introduced them. They both looked at each, smiled, shook hands, and mentioned to each other how they had seen each other several times before. Classic everyday Strangers! Glad the two were able to meet since they’re both good people. I’ll also make the intro to Andrew, yesterday’s Stranger, who spent some years DJ’ing as well.

Meet Amy. No longer a Stranger.

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