Wednesday, July 20, 2022

This Intern Changed My Life: How I Became A Writer Part 3

There is no part of my story of becoming a writer that doesn’t involve the pivotal role a high school intern had in it. I believe all sorts of people cross our paths to show us things and help us find our way. These people can be young, old, uneducated, poor, or rich. The point is they come in a variety of packages. The key is to heed the reason they walked into your life. For me, the intern that changed my life was a dynamo and helped me see the possibilities in my life that I didn’t even know existed. His name was Philip Thornton. ( I didn’t change his name to protect the innocent. He is a real person who I continue to be in awe of today. Look him up.)

Helped me see possibilities I didn’t even know existed.

After leaving Kentucky and graduate school, I settled in the Tidewater Virginia Area. Six months after graduating, I got married and on the flight back from our honeymoon, I began to doodle on paper – creating the basic ideas of a music magazine. I knew I loved music and I knew I loved writing so it seemed like an appropriate pairing. But, what would I do first? And even, what would I do next? I remember looking for community newspapers in the local area and finding small papers. In doing that research I found Philip. 


I loved music and I loved writing so it seemed like an appropriate pairing.

Some people just come to this world ready to set it on fire… Be prepared to be warmed by their blaze. (Model in photo)

He was a high school senior who had been writing for one of the local newspapers. We met and instantly clicked. I started writing for one of the same papers that he wrote for. We would spend hours on the phone discussing how these papers / community magazines ran their business. I’d been teaching community college at the time and Philip began to tell me, “You should start your own magazine.” Sure, I had doodled and toyed with the idea of creating a magazine but here was a high school student who nudged me in almost every conversation.  Those nudges made me step out on faith. 

You should start your own magazine.

From the first time Philip suggested that I start my own magazine, I told my husband and shared with him the ideas I’d had and the ideas that I’d written down on the way back from Hawaii. He knew I loved music and writing and he wanted to know how I’d run a magazine. I started doing research on The Source magazine, Billboard, any kind of magazine of any size and texture. Then I started calling printers. During this time, print magazines were still the law of the land. I know everything is a website or a blog today, but in the 90’s, print reigned supreme. 


I started doing research on any kind of magazine of any size and texture.

Somewhere after those initial phone calls, I decided I would own my own magazine and would become a full fledged Editor-in-Chief and magazine publisher. I decided I would take the money from teaching Intro to Sociology classes at the local community college and invest in myself aka invest in my magazine, Mad Rhythms. When I told my husband how I would fund it, he didn’t have a problem, and when I told Philip that my magazine would become a real thing, he was ecstatic. Philip’s nudges had altered my whole life and career. 

I would take money from teaching… and invest in my magazine.

I give such weight to Philip’s nudges and conversation because he not only encouraged me to start a magazine, he offered his help willingly. There was no artist or record label that he wouldn’t reach out to on my behalf. There were no listening parties, promotion executives, or A&R executives that he wouldn’t contact. He was bold and inspiring and still in high school. His determination and can-do attitude impacted me and changed my thinking. 

He was bold and inspiring and still in high school.

Most Mad Rhythms fans have never seen the prototype issue. Unfortunately, I can’t show it to you today, as it’s in a storage unit in Northern Virginia and I’m in Los Angeles. However, the prototype for Mad Rhythms magazine featured an interview with the hip hop duo Ill and Al Skratch. The prototype was printed at Kinkos and sent to a handful of record labels to show them what I could do. That first prototype, Philip’s nudging, and my love of music and writing got me backstage with Sean “Diddy” Combs and Notorious B.I.G. before I had ever released an official issue. 

The prototype was printed at Kinkos.

Phil Thornton
This is Phil today…. or at least his publicity photo… He absolutely changed my life.

This article is dedicated to the intern that changed my life, Philip Thornton. Phil, you continue to be an inspiration to many. 

To learn about the launch of Mad Rhythms magazine and how my writing led me to be a hip hop journalist for many years, check out next week’s segment of In My Lane

Yasmin Shiraz
Yasmin Shiraz
Yasmin Shiraz is a Screenwriter and TV producer who has worked for Lifetime, A&E, Bravo and PBS. She's a best selling author of more than 11 titles and the founder of Black TV Film Crew. She is the CEO of Still Eye Rise Media.

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