Every month I will highlight a Black artist, form of entertainment, business, or social media personality to help to spread awareness of Black Excellence. Be sure to check here on the 2nd of every month!
One thing I loved about being a student at Alcorn State University was all the amazing people I got to meet and become friends with while I was there. Like I tell my students every semester during our “real talk” discussion college is a place where you take advantage of the lowered stakes to learn how to function in the real world. One of the main ways to do that is to learn how to network with people; I met a number of soon to be doctors, lawyers, business owners, teachers, and entertainers in college that I keep up with today. I was surrounded by Black excellence at my HBCU including the one I have highlighted this month; a fellow English graduate and a social media personality by the name of Jerrilyn Lake. I know her as Tiny but many of you probably recognize the name @Indeskribeabull.
M Haynes: Hey Tiny! I'm really glad you decided to do this interview. It's good to just chat about where we are now, I don't think either of us could've ever imagined being here when we were pulling our hair out in those English classes.
Jerrilyn Lake: Man look....all those days sitting in class talking about stories...I miss that. I really cherished that time we spent because you know when you get up in your major you always see the same people. It was always like "Did you do Bunch* homework?" or "Have you studied?". I still try to talk to people every now and then. It's good to have those connections with people.
MH: It really is. I think that's something great that Alcorn does; teaching us to make connections with people. How did you end up at Alcorn in the first place?
JL: Well I am originally from Memphis, but I spent a lot of time in Mississippi. I remember that an Alcorn recruiter, I think it was the baseball coach, came to my school and told me that if I got a 25 on the ACT then I could get a full scholarship. I had never heard of Alcorn before that but I took the test anyway, got the 25, and next thing I knew I was heading to go visit Alcorn, Mississippi Valley State University, Milsaps College and Jackson State. I went to Alcorn, stepped foot on campus and fell in love with it. Alcorn is that kind of place that after you've gone there you just love your alma mater; it just becomes home. We grew up at at Alcorn.
What do you mean?
We had to go from being children to adults at Alcorn. There was no one there to baby you; you had to learn how to depend on yourself, not mama and daddy. For me Alcorn was far enough from home where I didn't have to worry about my parents popping up but close enough that I could get back if I really needed something.
It was the same way for me. So you got drawn to Alcorn by the money; what drew you to English?
Honestly, I didn't wanna do anything else (laughs). The other subjects just were boring; history, math, science, I couldn't do them. Well let me not say that, I could DO them, but it just wasn't interesting to me. I loved writing. I loved reading. Reading had always been an escape for me; I love being able to see other "realities", to read how other people's minds work and what they see. Plus books and reading give answers that are always helpful.
Well I think about them like I think about my Bible; if I ever need guidance I turn to it. Same thing with reading anything else. Google has all the answers, so because I loved reading I could find them. We live in a world today where there is no excuse for you not to know something because information is right there in your pocket. Reading helps you to be able to get that.
Do you think your interests in writing and reading play any part in what you're doing now?
Hmm. I don't know. Reading is everywhere, but writing was more sort of a hobby. I guess I can still connect it because I do enjoy songwriting, and I do have to write scripts for my comedy. So it kind of creeps in there. Its mostly a coping mechanism though.
Fair enough. So how did you get into this lane? Did you always know you were going to be a social media personality?
No! (laughs). I'll never forget Dr. Jones* told me on the second floor of the administration building that I should be a stand-up comedian, and I told her she was crazy.
Little did you know how right she was.
I've had to learn that you are never in control. God's plans are not our plans. We have to just accept where He takes us.
That's true. Those of us that knew you got some kind of hint back in the day though. You remember #SitYoDogAssDown**?
Oh my God yes (laughs) those were the good days. It's crazy how that can be applied to so many situations and people.
Exactly! We used to use that for everything. Even then you were really funny, but I know it takes more than that to blow up like you have. What do you think about you specifically made you such a fast success?
My mama said to me that "People come if you tell the truth", and that's what I do. I just tell the truth. That's what #StorytimeWithTiny** is; the truth. Those were hard lessons that I had to learn about domestic violence, sexual abuse, drugs, all types of stuff. I think me being relatable made it all popular. I learned from my hard situations and am able to talk and even laugh about them now, and people connect to that. But that's also the thing too. I want people to understand that this isn't all funny stuff. I wanna ask "Are you learning or laughing?" because these are serious issues.
What do you want them to learn from you?
I want them to learn that God is always in control. You cannot lie, steal or cheat people, or bad stuff is going to happen. I want to use my platform to teach people just as much as I make them laugh; that is my duty as a Christian, and my responsibility in a position of authority, because I do have authority over some of these people. These people look at me and they listen and connect to what I'm saying. The people who come in my comment section and tag their friends saying "Ooo don't she act just like Keisha" are connecting to this just as much as the people who say "Thank you for this, I needed this today".
So a major part of your social media personality is your singing. Have you always wanted to be a singer?
I've been singing since I could talk (laughs). I mean of course I jumped around and said different things; you know how little kids will say "Oh I wanna be a firefighter!" or "I wanna be a doctor!" well I wanted to be an environmental lawyer. Then when I realized the law didn't interest me I changed. I was always singing because of church, and I realized young that I wanted to be a soloist because I wanted to be in control. I didn't want my mistakes or my image to be based on anyone else so I sang by myself.
Why is important for you to use social media to show your singing?
I sing for the people. Just like with my comedy I want to make people feel good with my singing. Music is so powerful it almost has a hypnotic sort of thing to it. If you hear happy music it makes you happy and if you hear sad music it's the same, so I try to put music out here for the people to hear and enjoy and relate to. You know sometimes you're having a bad day and you put on a song to help you through it? Some people listen to me. Its cliche but like the song says "I sing because I'm happy; I sing because I'm free", so why not share that?
I can definitely relate to that. So we've talked about you as a motivator and you as a singer, now we have to talk about you as a comedian. I know even back in school you were always cracking jokes, especially about a certain book we had to read.
(laughs) Man look..."The Sound and the Fury" was HORRIBLE. There was no continuity but they taught the hell out of it. I hated it but I dealt with it to pass. It was about discipline, you know? If I can sit down and read that book I can do anything else.
I have to agree. It's just like what we say; if you can survive at Alcorn you can survive anywhere. And you survived by poking fun at stuff.
You know I'm a fool (laughs). You have to mention the crazy stuff, the bad weave, the bad makeup and all of it. You gotta tell the truth. Looking back at stuff I did my freshman year and stuff from back further I know that I can laugh at it now. I learned from it and I bring it out to other people so they can see it for themselves. That way they learn from it too.
Do comedy and singing overlap for you?
Kinda sorta. They are two different things really though; I look at them like passion and gifts. My passion is singing, but my gift is comedy and making people laugh. I kind of use them in the same way (to touch people) but they are different.
You have over 78,000 followers on Instagram and other social media. You have to have people like fawning over you in real life. What do you do when you meet one of your followers in real life and they recognize you?
I laugh in disbelief at first. I mean I never would've thought that I'd be here. God be moving man. I remember when I was raising money to move to Atlanta and my followers donated $2,000 in two weeks. That's how you know that you're reaching people, 'cause folks not quick to come up off that money.
You right about that. I had to ask myself "How much do I really love Tiny?" when I was trying to figure out what I was going to donate (laughs).
And you know me! (laughs). There was a girl who I had never met before who gave me $500 and just said chase your dreams. This stuff is amazing really.
Wow! That is amazing. So you get to meet your followers and they love you and you get to meet famous people and other social media comedians and they love you too. What is that like?
It's so much fun to meet people in your lane. It's like walking into a coffee shop and seeing somebody reading your favorite book; you automatically have a connection. It is rewarding to meet people with similar interests and concerns. You know when you're going through stuff people are quick to say "I know that must suck" or "I feel bad for you" but then you have people who can say "I know that sucks because I've been there". Its comforting and encouraging.
Okay we're coming up on the end now. What advice can you give people who want to use social media to follow their dreams to entertain? Whether it be singing, dancing, comedy or whatever, what would you tell them to do?
Be encouraged and confident. Know your worth and don't sell your soul to the Illuminati (laughs). But no, realize that God is about your availability not your ability. You can think you're super talented and God don't care. You have to be patient and accept His blessings as they come. Don't look to other people and wonder why they have more followers than you. If they're butt naked or cursing people out and stuff and you don't wanna do that don't do it to be popular. Know what you stand for and how far you are willing to go. You are accountable for what you say and do, and always be knowledgeable of your power in this platform.
Where do you see yourself going? What is the endgame for @Indeskribeabull?
I want to star in my own TV show. I'm multi-talented so I don't know what I would do yet, but I want my own TV show. I could do comedy, I could sing, I could step or whatever; I just want to be on television.
Anything you want to leave the readers with?
Make sure God is helping you make decisions. And shout out to my praying parents. Who knows where I would be without them.
Well thank you so much Tiny. I really appreciate this and I definitely think I've learned something. I hope those that read this will get something from this too.
That's what I'm here for. If you to come to my page or talk to me I want you to leave changed. Whether that's feeling better about yourself, learning something or whatever; I don't want you to leave the way you came. So if it does help somebody I'm doing right.
* = Teachers from the English department at Alcorn State University.
** = Two hashtags. #SitYoDogAssDown is an old hashtag a few of us at Alcorn at the time used almost nightly to talk about wrong or negative things people did and how they needed to, well, sit they dog asses down. The second is #StoryTimeWithTiny, a very popular hashtag that Tiny uses when she makes a series of videos dedicated to explaining a situation she went through. Oftentimes, as she said, there is a message behind it.