Since her musical debut of “Lipgloss” on the charts in the late 2000s, Niatia Jessica Kirkland, better known as Lil’ Mama, has evolved into a multi-talented artist that can act, rap and dance. Lil’ Mama has been grinding, rebuilding her image and finding her way — but that has not kept her from leveraging her moments of success to drop some advice. Lil’ Mama recently made a surprise appearance at Progress High School for Professional Careers in Brooklyn, NY to share a significant message about the importance of education with New York’s youth. Here are the five gems I learned from this conversation.
1. If she can make it, any of us can.
Before Lil’ Mama became a household name, Niatia Kirkland was just a girl from Brooklyn, NY who was just trying to make it. To her fellow Brooklynites, she says, “We are from Brooklyn, we come from the same place. If I realized my dreams, you can do it too.”
2. Once you make it, give back to our youth.
Lil’ Mama devoted an hour of her time to share her success story and journey to inspire and motivate the young women and men of Progress High School. It had such an impact, leaving the students feeling excited, enlightened and encouraged about their future. The children are the future, so giving back, no matter how big or small is such a priceless gift.
3. The path to success is an obstacle course.
She also said, “Often times, the closest people to us discouraged us from pursuing what might seem abstract or unrealistic career interests. Please be aware of the naysayers and non-believers. They will hold you back.” There will be countless people who will try to prevent you from living your life purpose, either because they don’t believe they can do it or because they don’t want to see you do it. Be prepared to navigate the obstacle course to success.
4. Have more than one stream of income.
Although Lil’ Mama broke into our homes with her hit single “Lip Gloss”, she also broke into acting in a major way, landing the role of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes on the VH1 biopic “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story”. Her latest feature film is “When Love Kills”, where she stars along Lance Gross and Tami Roman. Not only is she a rapper and an actress, she’s also a singer, songwriter, and an exceptional dancer. So much so that she brought her dance expertise and charismatic persona to the judge’s table on MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” for seven seasons alongside fellow judge JC Chasez and host Mario Lopez. Did I forget to mention that she’s also an inspirational speaker and entrepreneur? She’s a real Jill of all trades.
5. Knowledge is power.
She spoke to the youth about the importance of an education and having a plan for success. “Take a look at the big picture”, she says. “Be sure to obtain the skills required to set you up for success in the working world. By that, I mean, get an education!” Know what skills you need to succeed, make a plan to acquire the needed skills and plan for success!
*Photography Credit: Antwon Maxwell