The Visionary’s Manifesto in association with heART of Cool Presents LaNeah “Starshell” Menzie a.k.a “Birthday Girl”!!
Starshell was born to African-American and Brazilian parents and was raised in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Starshell began her career as a childhood actor and model. As a teenager, she pursued her music career and, soon after college, signed to Universal Music Group’s Interscope records. She co-penned “Love Lockdown” for pop superstar Kanye West, which debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and went on to sell over five million copies becoming 5 times platinum. She also co-penned “I Can See in Color” and “Closer” for Mary J. Blige. The former was featured in the Oscar-nominated film, Precious. In the summer of 2015, Starshell toured with Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias on their Dance Again World Tour where she performed her popular single, “Birthday Girl”.
After discovering a demand for the “Birthday Girl” lifestyle on tour, Starshell obtained the USPTO and International trademarks for BIRTHDAY GIRL in 18 classes including clothing, jewelry, party goods and beverages.
After completing tour, Starshell followed a deeper calling to help people CELEBRATE LIFE. She started a social enterprise, Birthday Girl®, which is a lifestyle brand that promotes Celebrating Life to help Save a Lives in honor of her sister who she lost to suicide. A portion of all proceeds fund suicide prevention programs. Birthday Girl® is an IP business that sells Birthday related products as well as curate and distribute Birthday Lifestyle content through their online store and blog. The company has generated millions in sales and has acquired a customer-base of hundred of thousands of women who Starshell calls her “celebrate life community”. www.birthdaygirlworld.com
Starshell is also an actress and film write. She appeared in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Season 14, Episode 16: ‘Funny Valentine’ and became a regular on VH1’s ‘Single Ladies’ as attorney Gina Gamble. She is currently developing a film she wrote which highlights the mental and emotional health effects of social media on this generation.
Starshell has recently been voted onto the board of the JED foundation. The Jed foundation has become the thought leader in suicide prevention and awareness for young adults. The Jed foundation have partnered with colleges and universities across the country to implement suicide prevention programs on campus. www.jedfoundation.org
As you can see from the amazing in-depth bio of LaNeah “Starshell” Menzie we had little choice but to push the limits and reach out to Starshell to be featured as our next candidate for The Visionary’s Manifesto in association with heART of Cool. Without further adieu let us begin our journey with this woman of true purpose and design.
HoC: In your bio you talk about your desire to aluminate and spread light in times of darkness, what do you see in our present time that needs illumination?
LSM: Every person’s journey is different but as a whole what needs to be illuminated is love, it needs to be intensified and shared. Starshell is a form of artillery used to light battlefields in a time of darkness and really when I first came across that concept it was by stumbling through the challenges of listening to that inside voice which I know is the Holy Spirit within me which is God so what illuminate used to mean to me was spreading the word about mental and emotional health, suicide prevention but then as I was going through my own journey God spoke to me and said it’s about those important things and moreso it is about love, self-love is the answer and when you practice such an intrinsic force of beauty there is no desire to end what is now a worthy, meaningful, necessary and giving life.
HoC: What was it like growing up as a child actor?
LSM: It was fun because it was everything that I held dear at that time in my life, I remember taking the train back and forth with my mom and walking to auditions and the studio. The only downside was the fact that I was still in school and due to my “fame” the attention was coming from all directions as my classmates would approach me and say they had seen me on the Disney channel or a Honey Nut Cheerios commercial among other high-profile brands. I didn’t feed off of the attention because I didn’t identify with the fame, I was more appreciative of being able to express myself at my highest level through entertainment.
HoC: You have worked in a collaborative fashion with several well-known artists such as Kanye West, Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Lopez to name a few, what life lessons did you learn from that exposure?
LSM: I learned that working with people who have become successful does not validate me. I am very honored and humbled by each unique experience that has brought me to the level where I am today and those people are included in that journey to the fullest and I am grateful to have worked with whomever gave me the opportunity to share their platform.
HoC: You created an empire around the “Birthday Girl” brand but what is very telling is the reason behind a specific component of your vision as it relates to the lifestyle brand. Can you speak on the loss of your dear sister and how her departure from this plane of existence created a light within your divine spirit to help others?
LSM: Absolutely but first I want to start off and tell you that the way you structured this question was very touching to me because when you said, “her departure from this plane of existence” I think that level of enlightenment is something we need to highlight just because you are no longer existing in the physical form doesn’t mean that your spirit is not still among us but within another plane or dimension that interacts very closely with our own physical existence. For me when I lost my sister it was the most devastating thing that ever happened, we shared a room and were as close as any two sisters could be. Losing my sister was my first experience that life is very fragile that it is not something one should take for granted, upon losing her I realized that I needed to share the idea that life is precious and to be celebrated and you must love yourself, look into your mental and emotional health do everything that is possible to enjoy every day that you are here. If each individual person does that simple act of celebrating themselves i.e. “Birthday Girl” because it’s the one time of year where everyone greets you and if we adopt that mentality every single day it is my belief that we will in some powerful way be preventing suicide. If you woke up daily and loved yourself, celebrating every moment on this planet then you aren’t thinking about self-hate or someone else’s desires or validation all of that becomes irrelevant, it’s all about true happiness which comes from within. My sister helped me to understand through losing something dear to my heart I was still able to find something precious which sounds like a juxtaposition. From this place I’ve had a deeper understanding of self with clearer intentions.
HoC: Tell us about your core supporters who you have named the “celebrate life community.”
LSM: (Heartfelt joy and laughter) They are one of the most treasured parts of this platform that I created, they are what some people would call supporters, fans, subscribers and customers. To me I deem them a community because we work together to inspire so I hope that I’m developing a platform that can in-turn inspire the celebrate life community in an unlimited fashion where they can continue to pay that forward as they go out into the community and the world. The community was built from my music and acting career they were my fans and then it evolved into people that subscribed to the Birthday Girl world which is an e-commerce website. Now the platform that I am building on Birthday Girl is an environment where you can consume different content such as blogs that I write, videos that we put out, inspirational experiences and all-around subject matter about celebrating life so it’s an ever-greater community that I’m looking forward to building and learning from. There are about 500,000 women within the celebrate life community so the message and intent is resonating on a huge scale.
HoC: How has acting in the adult phase of your life impacted your present and future endeavors?
LSM: Acting is my favorite thing to do and most people don’t know that about me because I haven’t had a lot of time to develop that as an adult but I’ve acted in many shows such as Law and Order and in films. Doing this as an adult is very similar as to when I was a child actor which aligns with the feeling of knowing that this is exactly what I want to be doing but now I’ve taken a slightly different approach where I’m developing scripts as a writer with storylines that I’m inspired by and only participating in projects that serve a higher purpose by putting a positive message out into the universe. I think by doing that as an actress in whatever character/role I get to play will influence and inspire people.
HoC: Can you explain the JED Foundation to our audience?
LSM: One of my most valued positions is as a JED Foundation board member and advocate. The JED Foundation is a suicide awareness and prevention foundation that mainly works with adolescents and young adults through education. I have always held the belief that mental and emotional health should be placed on par with physical health and by this I mean when you brake an arm you go to the hospital and its put in a sling or cast depending on the degree of the break and in six to eight weeks the cast comes off and you go through physical therapy to get your mobility and strength back. For mental and emotional challenges dealing with severe anxiety people tend to tell you to get over it in a vague non-relatable exchange but the JED Foundation provides the tools needed to deal with those mental health issues especially during those key transitional times such as from high school to college from college into the workforce. Through Birthday Girl we give a percentage of the proceeds to the foundation, it is very dear to me and to explain further the JED Foundation has programs that are in colleges across the country called the JED Safety Net which is an education assistive tools program that incorporates the added materials when you are looking at IVY league institutions where you also have the ability to see if those campuses offer a strong mental health and emotional certificate from the JED Foundation/Safety Net program.
HoC: You are in the development stages of producing a film you wrote on the effects of social media. Society at large seems to have evolved towards a new virtual dimension do you view these changes as positive or negative and why?
LSM: I think that the changes are positive and negative and that they are both very necessary. We live in a day and age where we are looking for validation in other people that don’t have any real bearing on your life and what defines your ideal of true happiness. There is a direct correlation from time spend on social media and depression and currently suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 18 to 34 years of age so I say all of that to further explore the social media factor in relation to the dire need in our society for the introduction of a spiritual breakthrough and I think that you never have a breakthrough without hitting rock bottom and I believe that social media and the way in which it is being consumed by the masses is strategic in the research and development of the software platforms that act as an addictive function to make you become more self-conscious as we use filters and snapshots of our lives that are not the true reality. The emergence of more light beings and people spreading love organically vs the virtual consciousness will evolve us as a people, I was caught up in that web where my validation came through how many likes I received on social media.
HoC: Does spirituality play a role in how you navigate life?
LSM: Not at all! (inside joke and lots of beautiful light filled laughter!!) Yes!! Of course, I have a strong core belief in spirituality and how it resonates within every aspect of my life.
HoC: I’m going to challenge you with some thought provoking questions. I call this exercise “what is” please indulge my request and finish the next series of statements:
What is happiness?
LSM: Happiness is being in-love, sharing love, giving love and being an example of love.
What is intimacy?
LSM: Intimacy is any opportunity you get to penetrate another spirit.
What is life?
LSM: Life is meant to be celebrated.
What is death?
LSM: Death is an illusion.
What is love?
LSM: Love is everything.
What is freedom?
LSM: Freedom is when you accept yourself fully, globally, holistically and you are then able to express that same acceptance for the world because freedom starts from within.
What is Starshell?
LSM: Starshell is a light that will illuminate the world through my story and heartfelt journey by way of a collective consciousness in unison with the celebrate life community.
To learn more about Starshell, please visit her social media platforms at www.birthdaygirlworld.com on (Facebook at BirthDayGirlWorld) on (Twitter at BdayGirlWorld) on (Instagram at birthdaygirlworld) on (Pinterest.com at Birthdaygirlwld) and on (YouTube at birthdaygirlworld).