Every day, more and more artists are being discovered. Due to the power of social media and streaming services, all it takes is one TikTok to use a song for a video to become viral. However, if that is the case, where are Asian American artists?
Why are so few Asian American artists reaching Billboard top 100 or winning the Grammys? Where are the South Asians?
Even within the Asian American community, there is a minority in mainstream media; there are almost no South Asian American singers. Why is this?
A possibility might be that South Asian parents emphasize stable professions (law, medicine, engineering) and therefore do not encourage risk-prone, “creative” careers. Another reason might be that mainstream media does not know how to perceive South Asians.
In an NPR interview, Asha Putli, a Mumbai hailing artist, described her struggles trying to become a mainstream artist in 1960s America.
“In 1969, CBS came to me and said ‘We want to sign you,’ but they wanted me to change my name,” Puthli remembered. “I remember one of the honchos at CBS telling me, ‘You’re not black, you’re not white, so we’re going to find it very hard to market you.'”
Since Puthli, there have been only a handful of South Asian artists who made it big.
Blendtw had the opportunity to interview Aakanksha Kuchan. Known by the mononym, “Akansha,” she is a rising contemporary R&B artist from Berklee College of Music. Here, Akansha tells her story and challenges of being a rising Indian American contemporary R&B artist.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into singing? How did you discover R&B?
“I started singing theme songs like Hannah Montana and Sonny with a Chance. Then, I moved to India in the second grade. There, I learned Karnatik Music (South Indian Classical music).
Then I moved on to pop music, the Top 40 pop. That was my beginning for getting introduced to Western music. I started to fall more into different cultural music like Spanish and Arabic music.
I’m very intrigued by the vocal aspect of music. I started listening to a lot of languages. Freshman year of high school, I moved [to New Jersey], where I joined choir. I did not know what choir was until I joined.
I thought to myself, “Wow, people are actually in groups together singing?” I did not know what harmony was, I didn’t know anything. It introduced me to choral music, opera.
Then I joined the vocal jazz choir, and that led to R&B music. A lot of friends from the choir listened to contemporary R&B music. I had one friend who was an amazing R&B singer; he would always sing these crazy runs, so I would always ask him to teach me.
The more he sang, the more I adapted to his kind of singing. I used that, along with listening to other R&B artists. Now, it’s just so easy for me.”
When did you decide you wanted to be a singer?
“I went to this NYU summer recording program at Clive Davis Recording Music Institute, where I was introduced to the music business aspect. There, I met a lot of people and made a lot of connections.
That was when I found out that this was what I wanted to do. We went to all the places. Apple Music, Spotify, record labels; I met all these successful people and saw what it was like for them to share their music through those platforms.
There is more to music than singing. You need to have a brand. During college apps season when I was a senior in high school, I applied to college, but with a different major than I had expected.
I could not imagine being stuck behind a desk, doing something I didn’t wanna do. I still applied to other schools for different majors because according to my family, I needed a backup plan.”
As you know, there are hardly any South Asian origin singers in mainstream media. This is possibly due to the fact that the Asian American community encourages stable professional careers such as medicine, law, and engineering. Did your family have any hesitations with the idea of you pursuing music as a career?
“My parents always knew I was going to do this, but they didn’t talk about it. They are actually surprisingly very supportive.
During my junior year of high school, I told my dad that I was thinking of studying medicine, but he was the one who gave me the idea that maybe I should do music. He introduced me to the NYU Summer program.
We wrote out a resume, applied, did everything we could, and I got in. After that summer program, I was able to finalize my decision and committed to doing music. I still have that mindset that through everything we do, we are pursuing our career, while still doing what we love.
I think that if you want to do something crazy, you need to find a way to also make good decisions and live a good life. Right now, I am majoring in music business with a minor in songwriting.
It’s entrepreneurship, also known as the management, marketing, and the legal side of [the music industry]. However, at the same time, I am immersed in the creative aspect of the music industry and pursuing my own music career.”
Who are some of your biggest R&B musical influences?
“I started by listening to a lot of 90s R&B, so I was influenced by TLC, Lauren Hill, Outkast, and Wu-Tang Clan. These people made a huge difference in my sound and moved me into contemporary R&B.
They had a great vocal influence on me because of their different and unique melodies. People don’t really use that now, but I’m trying to incorporate that sound within my music.
Current contemporary R&B artists include Snoh Aalegra, Rihanna, and Jorja Smith, and their influences are also from 90s R&B. It’s an overall spectrum of artists that I take inspiration from.”
What are some challenges you’ve faced as a South Asian pursuing music? Or just as an artist in general?
“That happened not in college because I’ve been there for six months, but in high school. We had a lot of South Asians, but not many in choir or musical theatre. They thought it wasn’t my area.
They thought, “why would you, an Indian, be cast as a lead? You are brown.” This cast is white people. I’ve seen a lot of these musicals, they’re often white lead musicals. It doesn’t give a lot of opportunities to people of color.
It just makes no sense. People of color always end up in the background. Every person of color wants to be the lead. They have that fantasy, especially if they’re into musicals.
You would want that attention. I tried out once in junior year and the teacher responded with, “yeah no, you wouldn’t be fit for a role like this,” and they ended up using a blonde white girl.”
“Even in the college I go to, Berklee College of Music, very few Desis go there. People come to me asking me questions like, “What are you? Where are you from?”
I’ve also gotten a lot of questions like, “Are you going to be like Raveena?” but we’ve got different and diverse experiences unique to us. I totally respect Raveena, she’s a queen, but at the same time, we’re telling our own individual stories. I want [South Asians] to be labeled as different individuals.”
You’ve collaborated with a lot of other up and coming artists. You were just featured on the track Hunnit with Funder. What is that like? How do you think they influence your sound?
“The track that I just recently was on is very true R&B and has a lot of hip-hop, nuances to it, which I’m not very used to. It’s lyrical rap, so when I had to write my verse it was so new to me.
It was not something that I usually do, but Funder kind of gave me the idea of [the track] as a typical love song. Once we talked it out, I knew what I was going to write my verse on.
It took me a couple days to write my verse because there were so many words packed in a minute. It’s so different from contemporary R&B, which is just a couple words and you sing it over and over again.
It was different, but I really liked that it pushed me out of my comfort zone. Now that I’ve experienced that, I’d definitely try and collaborate with other artists in different genres.”
Releasing your music on Apple Music and Spotify is a huge deal! In 2019, alone, you had 11.7k streams and 7.6k listeners from 65 different countries just through Spotify! Congratulations on that! What was the process like?
“Honestly, I didn’t know that it would be so easy to get on all those platforms when I first started in 2019. I found out that there are distributor companies where you can literally post your track, and they send it to different platforms within two to three weeks.
You just have to pay five to nine dollars. It’s so accessible today; it’s crazy. I just recently read an article that at least 40,000 songs drop on all platforms every day.”
Let’s talk about your most recent single, “Under My Skin.” What is the story behind this song? How do you think your style has evolved since “Goodbye” and “Slow“?
“The song, “Goodbye” is a good starter song because it is really breaking through and really coming through with my artistry. It wasn’t really about anyone.
“Under My Skin” is a romantic song. I am not a romantic person. I’m not usually in relationships. I don’t do that kinda stuff, at least not yet.
I take experiences I see from others from my friends, people that I know, and incorporate their story within my writing. So whenever I hear a story, I go back home and write the whole thing down and turn it into a song.
That was kind of the basis of “Under My Skin.” Under my Skin was a person who has betrayed you, but you’re not trying to seek revenge. You know that you’ve moved on.
The idea is that they really did get under your skin and took you for granted. It’s your typical “get away from me, I’m a new person.” A lot of artists say that they need to experience this in order to write it. I’d rather just hear someone out and incorporate it into my writing.”
As you know, Indian music has a very distinct style. Do you think you’d consider weaving in elements of Indian culture into your own music?
“A lot of people ask if I’m going to wear Indian clothes or show off my culture’s music. I am proud of my background, and where my parents are from, but I’m not going to use my culture for profit.
It’s still a part of me, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to wear a lengha in every music video. That’s their perception of me, but I am still an American.
I am pursuing contemporary R&B music, but at the same time, I am Indian. I’m balancing both of these cultures and introducing this balance to America instead of them having this perception that I am just an Indian girl incorporating that weird mix into my music.
I don’t need to bank off of it. It is something that is sacred to me. We do pujas, we go to all these places. That’s when I will truly show that I am immersed in this culture. This is a part of me, but it wouldn’t be used for something commercial.”
What’s a typical day of music production like for you?
“I usually don’t produce the entire track. I produce the demo track and send it to my producer. Basically, I come up with the melody, try and produce chords, and then just play acoustic for a while. For a couple days, play it.
It really just needs to sink in for a while. I threw out hundreds of songs like that. There are a couple songs that hit within the first few days, and once I get comfortable with the acoustic version of it, I start using my midi, Logic ProX, and add the harmonies.
That’s just the rough version. I make all the demos, and then [the producer] sends it back and makes it much better. Then, I add the vocals from the studio inside my house.”
What can we expect from you in the future? Any plans for new music? An album?
“I have a new song that’s coming out. It’s a ballad. It mainly talks about the issues that are going on right now in terms of Black Lives Matter and colorism within the South Asian community.
I’m talking about me and my sister’s experiences — essentially, societal problems. It also talks about how I’ve been stereotyped, and how I’ve been talked about solely using my culture as my identity.
It’s really a pivotal moment in terms of my artistry because it’s just a piano and my voice. It’s more about the lyrics, the voice, and how people feel.
The lyrics are mine, it’s from my experiences. It’s just something that people will relate to especially people from [the Desi] community. It’s different, and I’m really excited to show what I’ve come up with to the world.”
“I’m also planning two music videos for this summer; the song that I just talked about and another summer bop that I will be filming a music video for in August. It’s not as depressing as the one I was talking about before.
It’s very relatable. It’s talking about anxiety, dealing with people as a woman, and not being judged by people. It’s basically about women struggles, but it has a very upbeat, inspiring tune to it. Those are the two things I have for this summer. I’m working on more songs and maybe an EP in the future.”
Lastly, what’s your advice for aspiring South Asian artists?
“My parents have been supportive, but other members of my family have not. You only have one life, and if you know that aspect or that thing is what you want to do then there are ways. It’s not impossible.
There are outlets in which you can explain to your parents that this is what I wanna do, this is how I’m going to go about it. Just be strong in where you stand, and who knows? They might go along with it. At the end of the day, it’s your passion.
You don’t want to be living another person’s life. You want to be living your life. There are always things you can do to convince your parents. It did take me a while.
It took me all my life to convince [my parents], but eventually, they knew that this is what I want to do and I have the talent. Prove that to your parents, that you are fully invested, that you have the talent, and they might say yes.
We need more representation. We need to take this opportunity because there is no representation to fill in that spot, and that’s the part that I’m playing. There are not many South Asians in the R&B industry, so it would be cool to see faces like mine.
It’s high time that we follow our passion and do what we want to do.”
Waving Through A Big Screen: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Cast Talks Film Adaptation
With Ben Platt reprising his Tony-winning role as the show’s titular character, a whole new Hollywood cast takes on Broadway.
Content warning: mentions of anxiety, depression and suicide.
Article by Riley Farrell
All that it takes is a bit of reinvention for Dear Evan Hansen to move from the theatre to theaters, hitting eardrums on Sept. 24 this year.
With Ben Platt reprising his Tony-winning role as the show’s titular character, a whole new Hollywood cast takes on Broadway. Platt, Julianne Moore, Amandla Stenberg, Amy Adams, Danny Pino, Kaitlyn Dever, Stephen Chbosky and Steven Levenson explained the movie’s newfound reach and relevance in an interview with BLENDtw, among other publications.
The Plot Thickens
Begrudgingly in therapy for anxiety, high schooler Evan Hansen is tasked with writing daily letters to himself, hence the movie title. After Evan’s peer Connor Murphy kills himself with Evan’s letter in his backpack, Evan’s page is mistakenly thought to be a suicide note from Connor.
Evan tells a well-meaning white lie that soon darkens with self-interest to get closer to the Murphy family, which includes Connor’s sister Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever), and Connor’s mom and dad (Amy Adams and Danny Pino, respectively). Via fake emails and a fundraiser, what once began as a misunderstanding spirals into an operatic betrayal about teens and their screens.
Oh, How Times Have Changed (Or Not)
To address the obvious, it has been a long time since DEH initially premiered in 2015 – but the cast said the musical remains relevant. Things have changed: a pandemic rocked our worldviews and Ben Platt, shockingly, aged.
Platt, 27, played Evan in the original musical version. After the movie trailer dropped in 2021, Platt faced online backlash over playing a character a decade younger, even though he lost 15 pounds and changed his styling routine to appear youthful.
“As a parent, I saw a teenager in Ben’s demeanor,” Julianne Moore, who plays Evan’s mom, said in Platt’s defense.
Speaking of something that’s aged us all, COVID-19, the ideas explored about mental health in DEH six years ago seem timely today, said Dever.
“This film is about feeling isolated, after the pandemic, we’re looking to feel heard,” said the Booksmart actress.
A 2021 study from the National Institute of Health found that anxiety symptoms increased during the COVID shutdowns, making ordering delivery and asking peers to sign your cast daunting. This film was a refreshing counter-narrative on what anxiety looks like, demographically and behaviorally, said Stenberg, who shared an on-set story about the stakes of DEH.
Chbosky, the author of Perks of Being Wallflower, showed a letter to Stenberg that a teenager had written to him after reading the novel. The reader expressed how his suicidal ideation disappeared after reading Chbosky’s book. That book saved him, said Stenberg. After that experience, Stenberg said she felt the movie served as an opportunity for mental health representation, not tokenism.
“I was excited to be playing a Black girl who is on medication,” Stenberg said of her high-achieving teen character, Alana Beck.
There’s no one face or behavior associated with anxiety, Stenberg said. Stenberg said she’s been prescribed medication as a teenager but has only recently come to terms with the shame she felt about mental health.
The year isn’t the only context that’s changed. The medium by which this sensitive story is delivered has transformed from the live stage to the screen. Freedoms of editing and re-filming takes helped storytelling, said Chbosky, who felt ‘obsessed’ with the spotlighting of each character.
Via camerawork, Chbosky and Levenson said they more innovatively explored symbolism and imagery. The film’s juxtaposition between social media and nature – contrasting screens with sunlight as motifs – is about duplicity in the dark and authenticity in the light, said Chbosky.
“You can’t have truth without the lie,” said Chbosky.
The filmmaking medium aided in communicating the perils of presenting a fake self online, said Levenson.
“We wanted to play with the idea of how fast lies can spread online,” said Levenson. “How untrue things make you feel great and the complicated nature of that.”
Expanded audiences can enjoy the story now that it has transcended the Broadway medium. Though fans of the original musical will encounter changes to the original stage material, Platt said he thinks Evan’s move from the stage to the screen is a step towards accessibility. The message of DEH is magnified when more audience members are added to the conversation, said the Pitch Perfect actor.
“No matter what, it’s important for me to communicate that there’s nothing that makes you unlovable,” said Platt.
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Meet Thais Drassinower: A Latinx Woman Film Creator in Hollywood Pushing for Diversity
This past year, the prestigious British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) selected Thais Drassinower into the Newcomers program. Thais is based in L.A. as a female filmmaker. The year 2020 had the biggest turnout of women in the program and Thais was one of those representing female filmmakers!
This program offers career support and helps to new filmmakers in the industry. Apart from being welcomed into the program, Thais has a lot of history with filmmaking and in the film industry. We interviewed her to learn more about her history with film and any new projects she might be working on.
1. Your hometown is Lima, Peru, what was it like coming to America and starting up in the film industry? What inspired you to pursue filmmaking as a career, and please tell me a bit about that journey.
I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put two words together.
My grandma still keeps those early ones in her bedroom chest. I’ve also always loved film and would spend my free time as a teenager watching foreign film cycles at the local cultural center.
But as a young woman from a traditional family growing up in Lima – Peru, I never thought being a filmmaker was an option for me.
My diverse interests in story, psychology, and anthropology led me to advertising as a first step and it was then, working as a copywriter in Chicago, that I realized the power that audiovisual communication has on society and understood that there are archetypes in the collective consciousness that stories can portray in infinite ways.
That’s when I decided to become a filmmaker and assume the responsibility of sharing narratives that can shift our world into a more comprehensive, empathetic, and healthy place.
I started taking night classes at a local school after work and then decided to make the jump and apply for an MFA in Film which got me to NYC where I got my degree at Columbia University. That’s how it all started.
2. Before transitioning to the film industry, you were a copywriter. Can you tell me what it was like making that transition to filmmaking? Did you encounter any major differences or have any difficulty with the transition to films?
I was a copywriter for an advertising agency in Chicago which meant that, together with my partner, I came up with an idea for a commercial, wrote the script for it and then supervised the whole production and post-production process to make sure the idea was coming to life in the way we envisioned it.
The whole supervision part of the process was similar to being a film producer on a project. Being on set and watching the director work with the actors made me fall in love with the directing process. I think it has been a very organic transition and my years as a copywriter helped me build very important skills that I now use as a writer/director.
3. The entertainment industry can be cutthroat at times. Have you endured any hardships along the way? What did you do to overcome them?
I’m still at the beginning of my career and it is definitely a challenging field. As a Latinx woman trying to break in, you have to work extremely hard and convince people that you deserve a seat at the table.
It’s an exciting time for minorities in Hollywood, the conversation is open and more studios are looking to champion diverse and underrepresented voices, but there is still a long way to go to achieve proper representation and I’m proud to be a part of this new generation pushing for change.
4. You’ve directed three projects, “The Catch,” “Baby,” and “Memories of the Sea.” All of which are special in their own ways. Please tell me a bit about how you drew inspiration for these projects and how they are connected to you?
Memories of The Sea was my first film which explores the sense of loss for a child. My dear friend and fellow filmmaker Sudarshan Suresh had written a beautiful script which we then worked on together to adapt for me to direct it.
I decided to set it in Brazil because that’s where I spent my first years of childhood and where I experienced a sense of loss myself.
I wanted to revisit the space and dive deep into the experience of seeing the world through a child’s eyes. This is a film about finding your own answers when adults don’t explain things to you. I think we often forget how intuitive and perceptive children are and this film attempts to remind us.
Baby, my second film, explores what it means to grow up by messing up. It’s a film about a young woman who goes home for a weekend and has an unnerving encounter with her estranged father at a nightclub which reminds her that there are unhealed wounds.
Through a series of disturbing events that night, she will be forced to understand that the only person who can take care of her now is herself. I drew inspiration for this film from the memories of being that age and feeling lost at many points. Feeling like a grown up, but also like a child.
Feeling like I had all the answers, but then suddenly like I knew nothing. It’s a fascinating period in a person’s life and with this story and through this character I explore subjects such as sexuality and consent.
Finally, The Catch, my latest film, tells the story of two trapeze artists whose trust is threatened right before the biggest performance of their careers. The script was written by another Peruvian making waves in the US, my dear friend Camila Zavala who also produced the film.
What attracted me to direct this movie was the opportunity to explore the concept of trust between a couple with such high stakes and the idea of dancing between public and private spaces in the magical world of a circus.
The film invites us to reflect on the power of a bond and what it takes to break it.
5. Many young people are looking into the arts as careers, but of course, they may face obstacles along the way. What would you say to someone who would want to pursue a career such as filmmaking? What advice would you offer?
I say GO FOR IT. This is a challenging career, but all good things in life require you to work hard for them. The enjoyment comes from the hours you put in day to day. I find that the most important things are consistency and your community.
Do the work, go out and shoot, sit down and write, even if you don’t end up showing that “thing” to anyone, practice makes a master. And surround yourself with a group of peers who will champion you and who you will champion. Help each other out.
Film is a collective art and you can’t do it alone, having a group of colleagues that you trust is crucial for your career. Find them. Either at school, at writing groups, at online forums. Find them and nurture those relationships. They are the most wonderful gift that a film career can give you.
I started writing a blog for young female filmmakers who are working or hope to work on their first feature film. There you can find advice on how to embark in the journey both from my personal experience, and also from interviews that I make to first time female directors.
Check it out and hope you find it helpful, I’m always available through there for any questions you might have.
Best of luck to you all!
6. What are your plans for the future in filmmaking? Do you have genres or films you are particularly interested in?
I’m currently working on my first feature film which I hope we can start pre-production for once we achieve a new normal after COVID-19. I am interested in telling stories through a female perspective in the genres of psychological thriller, psychological horror, and drama.
As I mentioned before, it is also very important for me to portray diversity on the screen through my narratives and I look forward to keep sharing stories that build empathy and hopefully invite the audience to reflect and discuss.
From growing up in Peru and moving to L.A, to transitioning from copywriting to filmmaking. Thais has achieved many great things that other young filmmakers aspire to achieve.
We hope that by reading this article, many young filmmakers or others wanting to join the industry can get some inspiration from Thais and perhaps one day join the Newcomers program like her.
Thank you Thais for your time and we wish you luck with your first feature film and your BAFTA Newcomers program!
Alicia White Leading Project Petals to Repair Communities
Nonprofit organizations are driven by a social cause. They help families in need, repair communities, teach children new things, and give hope to those who need it most.
Alicia White, the founder and president of Project Petals, had all of this in mind when starting her nonprofit. She is an advocate for all those living in low-income and under-resourced communities. Not only is she an entrepreneur, but she has also worked with the United Nations and done grant work with domestic justice civil rights issues within her community.
BLENDtw had the opportunity to interview White regarding her history with Project Petals and moving forward with her program.
1.) You started Project Petals with the vision to help low-income and under-resourced communities. Can you tell us a bit about what the process of starting up a new business was like? What were your struggles along the way?
The process of starting my organization has been rewarding, and I learned so much through the process. My organization started out as a volunteer-led project in Queens, New York. It was important for me to form an organization to improve the environment, support communities and future leaders.
It was challenging starting my first environmental project, and I wanted to make it less difficult for anyone coming after me. Also, to help youth learn the leadership skills needed to make an impact in their communities.
Starting a new organization for me had its challenge, but I learned so much along the way. I had to essentially learn what it was to set up an organization in what felt like overnight. Through extensive research, I had to file paperwork, create a website, the logo, the structure of the organization, and just typical start-up activities fell on my shoulders.
Like most black women founders, my biggest struggle was finding and securing funding. For example, in 2019, Black-led organizations received less than 4% of grants and funding. That percentage dwindles when you are a woman.
2.) COVID-19 has been challenging for many small businesses and has caused people within many communities to struggle to make ends meet. How have you seen this affect them and what has Project Petals been doing in response to this?
COVID-19 has hit the communications that my organization works, extremely hard. My organization had to change from working on the ground with large amounts of volunteers to working remotely, with fewer volunteers on the ground.
Through all of this, we were still able to support our community leaders and neighborhoods with the tools and resources that they need to improve their environments. Like every other organization, we have to abide by COVID-19 safety restrictions and guidelines to keep everyone safe while still actively providing the services that are needed to make an impact.
3.) Going forward with Project Petals, what do you envision with your company? Where do you see it going in terms of growth?
I see Project Petals eventually moving to a national scale. The need for environmental support and community development is needed now more than ever. With the climate crises on the brink of causing further catastrophe, it is vital that Project Petals is able to serve as many communities and leaders as we can.
4.) You have a program called, “Youth Builders Program.” Can you elaborate more on what it is and what sort of programs it offers? And how this program can be of help to those participating in it?
Our Project Petals Youth Builders Program helps young people gain the leadership skills they need to improve their communities and futures. Our program connects youth in grades 4-12 to engineering, architecture, urban planning, environmental science, tech, and design professionals who can offer mentorship, experience, internships, and inspiration through monthly workshops.
We work to catalyze the next generation of environmentalists, community leaders, and professionals in these fields. Our program inspires them to develop a passion for these fields, thus working to create a more sustainable, diverse, and equitable world. One hundred percent of all of the youth show great leadership potential. We believe by fostering this leadership and giving them access to a network of professionals; we will start to build more resilient communities.
5.) Before Project Petals, what sort of jobs were you doing? What led you to want to become an entrepreneur and what advice do you have for anyone also planning to pursue entrepreneurship?
Growing up, I always had ideas that I wanted to bring to reality, but as a young person, I didn’t know how to, and I didn’t think it was possible for me to do so. As an adult, social entrepreneurship gave me the opportunity to take my ideas and actually use them to make a positive impact in other people’s lives and the environment.
If I had to give any advice, it would be to have confidence in your ideas and in your skillset as you may face many obstacles, nay-sayers, and challenges along the way. Failure is par for the course and is a good lesson plan to succeed.
We hope that by understanding Project Petals, White, and how entrepreneurs can shape the future of the community around them, we can then better understand how to make our community and the world around us a better place. Thank you to Project Petals and White for this opportunity and we hope this program thrives in the coming years!