Ms. Berry: Promo/Everything
Cydnee Berry (AKA Jalesa Berry) is a California-born promo model that left her West Coast life to live and work in Atlanta, GA. I recently met Cydnee online and talked with her about her experiences working at events in a somewhat foreign city and how she plans to use the experience to build a successful entertainment career. Follow her success story on her website.
The Atlanta Promo Scene
When and why did you start doing promotions?
I started doing them when I moved to Atlanta in 2008. At the time, I wanted to network and meet people. I was only 18 and I had just moved here. I saw promotional events around my college campus – girls doing Red Bull and Coca-Cola – and they were having so much fun. I wanted in.
Why did you come to Atlanta?
I moved to Atlanta to go to Clark Atlanta University and major in theater arts and communication. Although it was far, it was a good choice because it is a well-known historically black University. I was somewhat familiar with the area because some of my family members also went to college in Atlanta. I wanted to experience life outside of California.
Now that you’re in Atlanta, what is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about the city because of your promo work?
I have learned that although there is such a thing as southern hospitality, it’s more of a myth. Yes, you can meet a lot of nice people, but many of the big cities are made of people not from the South. It is actually a huge melting pot of people from all over the country. Promotions in Atlanta are just like promotions in every other city, because of that mixture. If you want true Southern hospitality you have to go to a smaller city.
In your professional opinion, what’s the biggest difference between California and Atlanta?
In California, it’s a good mixture of who you know and what you know. In Atlanta, it’s a lot more who you know. It is unfortunately not fair, but it’s how it is. Someone can apply and they can be a friend of a friend and they get the gig, even if they aren’t qualified. Because of that, many of the professional relationships aren’t sincere because people are just trying to network for jobs.
What advice would you give to those looking for promo work in “hot” Atlanta, USA
One thing I would definitely suggest is using social networking, because you will need to network. Talk to the promo people that you see at college campuses or at clubs. Work as hard as you can, and don’t be afraid to be spontaneous.
Building Something Bigger
Outside of promotions, what do you do?
I am an actress, model, and writer and soon to be business owner. I am also taking courses online with Walden University for an MBA in International Management and studying for my TOEFEL certificate.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself as successful actress – and by that I mean an actress, producer and writer- and a very successful business owner. I see myself living in Southern California with 2 ½ kids, the half is because I will be pregnant. I’m going to own my own home and plan to have a restaurant business with my brother.
You mentioned earlier that you are in grad school studying international business, how has promo work affected your studies and career goals?
I have learned that every business needs self-promotion, and everything I’ve done as a promo girl has taught me how to better do that. I have also gained self- confidence. I now know that if you can promote another brand with your face, you can promote your own brand with your face. That’s why I have established my online brand and am actively promoting myself, including building my own website.
You’re an actress, model and business student- that makes you the ultimate promo professional… is there any promo job you wouldn’t do?
I’d never want to do a promotion where I’d have to spend too much time in nature, and I’m not a fan of activations (setup and break down). I’m not lazy or anything, but the humidity out here can be killer and I don’t like being out in the woods. I just like to be comfortable, you know? Keep me in a city!
Let’s Talk Promos
What is the weirdest event you’ve ever worked at?
I had to do face-painting one time, and it was only weird because of the designs the kids were requesting. It was hard to tell the kids no, and it was also weird explaining it to their parents that it was not appropriate.
There was also a beer promotion where people were taking too many free samples. Having to cut them off was really difficult and awkward.
As a promo model, you sometimes get some really cute gear- what’s your favorite freebie so far?
I did a gig as a go-go dancer and they gave us spanx to where under our skirts. They are so cute and I still wear them.
Have you had any event stalkers?
If I do, I’ve never paid attention to it. Although there was this one guy that said he’s seen me a lot of time around town at events. It made me feel a little weird because it was like he knew me and I didn’t know him.
What type of event gig is on your to do list?
I want to work with Coca-Cola. They seem like a lot of fun. I’m all about the fun… but I’m open to any gigs.