We had the good fortune of connecting with CAROLENA and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi CAROLENA, how do you think about risk?
To me, risk is

-The willingness to invest everything you have into something that doesn’t necessarily have a guaranteed outcome.
– The ability to live in faith and not make decisions based off of fear.
– Believing that the passion and gifts you’ve been given are worth every ounce of dedication put in.
-The courage to follow through and not give up – despite the difficult moments or people’s opinions.
– Letting go of inhibitions, removing the ego, and letting your art consume you.
-Knowing your worth!!!
-Wanting the best for yourself and those around you
-Doing whatever it takes to achieve your goals/vision with no questions asked

Taking risks is pretty much necessary and crucial when it comes to any form of pursuing a career in the arts. It means having COURAGE and it definitely keeps life exciting. Sometimes it may feel like a struggle, but it ends up paying off in the long run. Taking risks has played a major role in my life and career. With my profession in the music and acting industry, there is always something at risk. Whether it is spending less time with loved ones, losing sleep, losing friends, potential self-doubt, or not seeing a return of investment right away. An example of a major risk I took was when I moved to New Orleans to finish college. I had never even visited there before and didn’t know anyone — but I was looking to transfer schools and their program seemed to be the perfect fit for what I wanted to do. I knew my workload was going to be double in order for me to be able to graduate on time. I knew that it was the right move in order to move forward in my education and career as well as expanding my opportunities. Once I moved, I got an internship with Grammy U, I wrote tons of new music, got radio play, and even got to study abroad in Paris.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The ability to create any form of art is the most wonderful gift imaginable. I’ve been performing and studying music for 14 years – starting with vocal training, musical theater, then leading into musical instruments. I’ve always been extremely passionate about anything that involves music. Picking up on playing piano, guitar, ukulele and drums has allowed me to accompany myself when performing live as well as arrange, compose, and produce my own and other people’s music. I try to write songs that reflect the times, speak about love and everything it encompasses, as well as reflecting on the internal battles and strengths we face. I like to write songs that fuels the party and your soul. Meaningful lyrics and a smooth rhythm is the way to go for me. The importance of lyrics stem from the fact that I have always written poetry. I love to find different ways to phrase similar emotions or scenarios, hoping that it allows the listener to dig deeper, relate, or even laugh. Connection through music is my goal – and I hope to take that as far as I can.

Alongside my love for writing and music, I am also an actress signed with Talent Direct Agency. I started out in theater, and am now focusing on TV/Film scene studies and booking commercials in between. I am looking forward to entwining both music and acting to fully be able to express my identity through the arts.

So far, I am most proud of my persistence and work ethic. I’m never afraid to go after what I want, as long as I believe I can back it up with the quality of my work. I know that even on my worst days, I would be outworking most around me. I’m grateful to be able to have this vision for my career and I will do anything it takes until I can continue to see it come to life. Value alignment is also very important to me. I’ve learned that not everyone has your best interest in mind – so you have to stay guarded while also exposing yourself at the same time. It takes a while to master that skill and I am definitely still working on it. I do my best to dedicate myself to helping others on their journey along the way – whether it’s collaborating, sharing resources and connections, or even warning others to look out for obstacles that I’ve had to overcome. It is all equally gratifying to be able to be a light in this industry. I’ve learned that t is crucial to not lose motivation when it comes to enhancing every part of my craft. It’s OK to be a teacher and a student. You always will be. There are too many voices of self-doubt that can creep in or harsh opinions along the way, and it is important to remind yourself that it will only help you heal and grow and become closer to yourself and your artistry than ever before. You can’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Most people are scared of that, because it’s real and it’s the truth. But who doesn’t deserve to experience that?

Getting to where I am professionally now has been quite the journey. I’m fortunate enough to have some solid credentials now with my studies (Bachelor of Science in Popular & Commercial Music from Loyola University New Orleans), songwriting & production credits, sync placements for TV/Commercials, and even interviews which have all highlighted the ins and outs of what it took to get there. There have been many learning experiences- between adjusting to different energies and personalities in the work space, and maintaining respect, professionalism, and compassion – it truly takes a lot out of you to play almost every role for yourself as an Independent artist at one point or another. I’m blessed to have started building a solid team that understands the investment and vision and that everyone is positively impacted when the jobs get done. It’s been tough building myself back up from low points of self doubt or discouragement. Being a female in this industry has taught me how to carry myself in a professional setting – whether it’s in a studio with prominently male engineers and producers, or even something as simple as proper etiquette when networking. I’ve learned that developing authentic relationships will take you much further than trying too hard to be recognized by people who may not have your best interest in mind or are projecting their negative experiences onto you.

Once you know what you’re worth and what you can bring to the table, everything surrounding that feels a lot more secured.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had someone from out of town visiting, I would most likely take them to Wynwood to check out all of the street art, unique shops, and art galleries. I’m always a fan of places like KUSH, Mr. Cream, Coyo, Panther Coffee, and Toejam Backlot which is a whole vibe! I absolutely love all of the messages that the artists leave on the walls and sidewalk – I like to think of the phrases and paintings like mysterious messages reminding us to do some reflecting.

I would also venture into Fort Lauderdale’s up & coming art district as well. The MASS district has become one of my favorite areas to roll out to. There are record shops, art galleries, street art, train tracks, and low-key coffee shops and restaurants that always leave me with a pleasant experience. I’ve performed quite a bit in that area out of different venues and Art Walks. There are definitely some hidden gems out there and it happens to be a lot less crowded than Wynwood. C&I Studios, BREW Urban Cafe (which is also a venue), Glitch Video Game Bar, Sistrunk Marketplace, The Alchemist in Wilton Manors, etc.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to anyone and everyone that has ever supported me, believed in me, or taken the time to ingest my art in any form. I also want to give a shoutout all the creators that I have collaborated with. I appreciate your time, energy, and investment.

Another shoutout absolutely goes to my acting coach and mentor, Michael Jaques. Working through intense scene study for TV/Film has opened my world in more ways than one.

Website: carolenamusic.com

Instagram: instagram.com/carolenamusic

Twitter: twitter.com/carolenamusic

Facebook: facebook.com/carolenamusic

Youtube: youtube.com/carolenamusic

Image Credits
Viviana Garcia Bryan Broughton Dennis Enriquez

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