Today we’d like to introduce you to Chanel Hudson.
Chanel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I honestly never thought that I would end up with a career in public relations within the entertainment industry! Back in 2009 when I attended Morehouse College, a massive article hit entitled “The Meangirls of Morehouse” which was a rebuttal to the administration’s implementation of the “Proper Attire Policy” which stated its target to a specific group of individuals currently on campus. When the article hit the media waves, I was immediately inundated by negative banter and comments from the general public and Morehouse’s alum as the article positioned my story as the most impactful which led to an immediate burst of outrage towards my character and people started to question who I was as a person for speaking my truth… although there was much support from the current editors and media outlets, my name at the time (Phillip Hudson) would live forever on the internet causing future employers do not want to hire someone that is attached to what many would deem “controversial.”
When I finished my six-year college matriculation, I decided that I wanted to give the corporate world of public relations and marketing a shot… I applied to several companies and organizations who just “didn’t see a place for me in their organization”… at the time, I was living openly as a transgender non-binary person, but still allowing people to call me by my government name as I didn’t want that to mess up my chances of being employable… at the time, there were no other transgender professionals working in the field of Public Relations so I had nothing to reference other than other gay men I would see in that world… however, I have never been the cookie cutter look good in a business suit type of person. I am 6’5, my body had formed like a woman’s due to my extensive hormone therapy, and honestly, I looked like a lesbian stud trying to be a man… I would often get mistaken for a lesbian which in my opinion was passable, but I still had a desire to find somewhere I could fit in and not have to conform to uncomfortable conditions.
In 2012, I was offered a position at the award-winning 135th Street Agency (Now One35 Agency) as a Public Relations Coordinator and I received the greatest opportunity to work on mainstream tv/film projects and with A-List clients. I was terrified walking into 135th… the agency is run by two of the most powerful black women in entertainment, the agency is award-winning in multiple markets, not to mention the workload was plentiful.. although I appeared as a flamboyant gay male, deep inside I knew that if I truly was myself, I would either be terminated for creating an uncomfortable work environment or I wouldn’t be as accepted by two black women who really didn’t seem keen on even having a gay male working in their environment… I later found out that I was, in fact, the first African American male that they had hired for a full-time staff position… all that preceded me was all female. I recall being told a few times that I had to appear a certain way because they did not want to be “embarrassed” by who I was… it further confirmed to me that being who I wanted to be would get in the way of building a professional respectable career and I could not let that happen… so every day for the next several months, I swallowed my pride and put on male clothes and commenced to building my career in entertainment without bias judgments.
In the midst of the beginning of my career, I wanted to create a network hub for independent industry professionals to be able to use for their clients and other projects surrounding pop culture. The greatest gift that I received while at 135th was curating and creating relationships with key industry people including editors, artist managers, and other corporate publicists. I was taught so much that it was only in my spirit to give back to those who were not privy to sit in my position.
After departing from the agency, I decided to go full steam ahead with my own agency, but would soon find out the consequences of being your authentic self while working professionally as a Publicist and a CEO of a public relations agency. The hate was real… the denial and rejection for projects were real. Even though I had every resource and contact possible to deliver top tier results to any client or project, people just were not comfortable with the idea of having a 6’5 transgender non-binary woman spearheading anything publicly… talk about a downer for sure. I eventually made the decision to once again put who I was to the side and create yet another perception of who I was. I had an amazing resume, amazing references, an impeccable portfolio but as Phillip Hudson… such a sad thing to acquire success as someone who you don’t even identify with… it was like living and existing in two separate places… not deciding to let that stop me I grew my agency over the next two years continuing to independently work with major tv personalities, tv shows, and securing corporate clients… I developed a system of hiding who I was to the client so that they would feel comfortable enough to cut the check… I guess you could call it a Trojan horse.
I later appeared on Vh1’s Love and Hip Hop Atlanta (a show in which I worked closely on the opening seasons publicity campaign to grow its success while at the 135th street agency) and I spoke at an anti/bullying and suicide panel… of course, at the time, I appeared as a gay male, but when I spoke I identified as a transgender woman… the LGBT community went up in flames and the attack’s once again started which prompted me at that moment to truly live my life and to stop hiding behind a mask. My agency had acquired a respectable reputation, the business was booming, and people started to actually hear and respect my story as at the time I had never spoken on it.
Now, I can say that today in 2019, my agency has streamlined our client roster only working with clients that have the understanding of what public relations is and how important it is to the growth and development of an artist or brands. Our current roster includes Billboard and Soul Train Award Winning Artist Silento, International Award Winning Film Director Aaron Johnson, Rapper Tiffany Foxx, RuPaul’s Dragrace Star Trinity K Bonet, Pastor & Social Media Influencer Jameliah Young-Mitchell, Yoga Master & Manual Therapy Expert ByELR, Dreamhouse MBG, and the hit reality TV Series G Status ATL Hustle. Some of our corporate client accounts include: The Daytime Emmy Awards, The Grammys MusicCares Organization, Dillard’s Atlantic Station, Christian Dior International. I am also serving as the Senior VP of Strategy and Development for AAJ Productions out of Miami, Florida.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My life in itself has been a rough journey. I am the first American born into a family of immigrant Jamaicans, my father is a pastor who is extremely homo and transphobic so growing up was a struggle. I didn’t have any room to be myself.. it was what my parents wanted for me.
Luckily I have been able to channel the depression and consistent suicidal thoughts into my career to where I am not focused on the negative. It’s soo easy to get wrapped up in the negative energy that surrounds your existence, and my career has truly been a blessing to me in more ways than one!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about The PR Mentality Network Agency – what should we know?
My agency is super dope!! We specialize in brand management and targeted publicity. We also offer a specific variety of services that you will not find at other agencies. We are also a non-competing agency which means that we will refer clients to other surrounding agency’s that may specialize in their request of services.
I am proud that I am the first African American transgender business owner targeted in the professional world of entertainment. I don’t see any people that identify with me doing what I am capable of doing and that has been both a blessing and a curse all in one. I hope that one day, the entirety of the entertainment industry can give people and agencies like mine a chance to flourish and be an asset to their projects or organization!
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I always give my respect to the 135th street agency… Saptosa Foster and Shante Bacon really instilled some things in me that I will carry on for a lifetime and hopefully be able to pass down the pipeline as I grow in this industry!!
There have been a lot of other publicist and agencies out of Atlanta, New York, California, Chicago, Florida, Europe, India, Germany, Dubai, Tokyo, that have all played a huge role in keeping me motivated and working!!! These publicists have always believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself and I don’t have to name drop who they are because they all know I hold them near and dear to my heart!
- Website: www.theprmentalitynetwork.com
- Phone: 678-643-1901
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: Instagram.com/publicistmentality
Daytime Emmy Awards 2018