Zeena laughs and tells me that LA is weird. We're sitting in her apartment in Silverlake, and we're talking about her upbringing. "In New Jersey, everyone fights, it's just how it is," and she notices that I have a strange look on my face and laughs. On the other hand, we talk about how insane the LA homeless situation has been over the last couple of years, or how the party climate is completely different than anything she's experienced. I quickly realize how drastically different both the East and West Coast are.
Talking to Zeena is always a breath of fresh air. She's frank and brutally honest, but startling sweet at the same time, the eclectic mix of New Jersey/New Yorker toughness brought together by a tranquil femininity that makes her the perfect mentor for any girls who are trying to tough it out in the music industry.
Zeena seems to remember how we met better than I do, I admit my early days of writing were during a time I was doing an almost stereotypical college film level of drugs so some stuff is a bit hazy on the details, but in a gist, she used to pitch me stuff occasionally during my time at EARMILK, and when she moved to LA, I slowly began to see her out and about. Since then, she's been working at Motown as the Director of Digital Marketing, which she tells me is a little bit of an oxymoron, because 90% of all marketing these days involve something in a digital capacity.
While most people I meet are involved in dance or hip hop, Zeena's roots start somewhere a little different. She's a metalhead who's done work with Sirius XM, Vevo, Revolver TV, and a whole list of different places and on top of that, she's done a smorgasbord of various work in the entertainment field. Record label, magazine, major label, agency... the list goes on and on. If there's ever a question about how I'm feeling or what I'm going through within the industry, I quickly learn that Zeena has gone through it a hundred times more.
"All these feelings you have now, they don't go away," she tells me when we spent a moment talking about me, but she simultaneously manages to soothe my worries by telling me to go for it and to pursue writing work with 110%. She tells me she's not tied down fully to the world of music, just that her world is currently intertwined with it. Her website/podcast series, Boxxtalk, focuses on womanhood, and while there's a lot of music talk on it, it's definitely not the only topic. She celebrates herself and other women around her, and in the wake of the election, that seems like something we all need to actively celebrate.
Just as a note, it seems important to mention that we met up the night before the election and we were damn near sure a woman was about to become our leader for the next four years. The world feels slightly crazier, scarier, more worrisome these last couple of weeks, and it's hard to find sense in everything that has been happening, but on this particular night, I felt empowered being surrounded by Zeena (and her boyfriend), two people who were doing great things. I wanted to find myself where she was at 8 years down the line, sticking to my convictions, doing what felt right, and being creative in a world that strangely doesn't always allow for that.
Looking forward, I can tell it's always going to stay a scary world, and my being both a woman and a racial minority doesn't make anything easier, but if anyone has proven to me that with drive and passion they can make it wherever they want to, it's Zeena.