When Areva Neely graduated from Cal Baptist University in 2015 at the age of 22, she had a vision: she was going to start her own nonprofit organization to help children and teens not only break into the entertainment industry, but also to teach them to hold on to their values and their self-esteem.
Neely, founder and CEO of Identity Productions in Moreno Valley, had previously worked in the industry as a model and tried to get into movies, but left after saying a director had sexually harassed her.
“I know what it is,” she said. “They will ask you to do things that will make you uncomfortable. I was going to make a movie and the director wanted me to train with him and I was alone.
After leaving the industry, she enrolled at Cal Baptist and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with the goal of opening her own business and mentoring young people. Her initial inspiration was seeing an ad for Runway Ladies for Christ, another organization started by a former model who mentors young people.
However, Neely wanted to focus on developing the identity of his students, regardless of their religion.
“I didn’t want people who weren’t Christians or had a different religious identity not to come,” she said. “I’m not judging you, I love young people and I want to pour love into their hearts.”
The objective of Identity Productions is to help students to value themselves.
Neely teaches her students acting, modeling, oral communication, creative writing, exercise and tutoring. So far, she has 12 students, four of whom are already in the entertainment industry.
Neely teaches all the workshops herself and maintains a busy schedule: Mondays the students learn acting, Tuesdays they practice, Wednesdays Neely mentors the students and answers any questions they may have. have on entertainment, school or life, on Thursday, the students practice oral communication and finally on Friday, the day is devoted to discussions on the school and for the older ones on the job search, the university and writing a CV.
Neely is particularly focused on making sure students maintain their grades; one of his students landed a role in an upcoming sitcom and her grades plummeted.
“I tell them, ‘You don’t want to be one of those uneducated actors,'” she said. “You must have a plan B.”
Neely’s plan B is to become an elementary school teacher and she is currently a mentor for the Boys and Girls Club of America.
Two years after its inception, Identity Productions will hold its first fundraising fashion show called “Elegance with Flair,” which will showcase Christian fashion and designers along with Christian entertainment on July 29 in Los Angeles.
“There’s a fashion week in New York and LA, so why not a Christian?” Neely asked.
The goal is to launch Christian clothing lines and provide funds for the organization. About 150 people are expected. Neely hopes to use the funds to provide more workshops, scholarships and grants for families who cannot afford to attend a workshop.
Neely also has a book coming out in January 2018 called “You’re Worth More”, a book that summarizes Neely’s self-love messages.
What Neely wants her students to take away most from her organization is that they love themselves.
“I want them to know who they are,” she said. “Don’t compromise, love yourself and love others. Once you understand how much God loves you and you love yourself, you extend that to others.
Elegance with style Fashion show
When: 5 to 7 p.m. July 29
Or: 622 S. Anderson St #107, Los Angeles