I was introduced to Ree-Ree while I was introducing the world to my Late Shift stories in the summer of 2018. I was told that she was the Olivia Pope of Toronto. There was not a thing that she could not fix or accomplish.
When I came back from Atlanta, she brought me in to be a photographer for Jet Setting Jasmine. TWICE! She brought in the woman who made Grapefruits popular, Auntie Angel.
She's also been instrumental behind the scene of many events in the city of Toronto and that will all be revealed in this article.
The way that I was introduced to you was somewhat similar to an Olivia Pope [Scandal TV Show].
(laughter) I love it!
Not so much a fixer, but you had your hands in everything. How do you feel about that particular description?
I would say that I have elements of fixer. Especially in my full time job. But more of a connector. So a connector and a fixer. For me it’s putting together like minded people together or fixing a situation conventionally or unconventionally. So I’d say connector and then fixer.
With regards to your business outside of your office here… I don’t want to call you an event coordinator.
Cause I’m not.
Exactly. And I don’t want to gas you either. But I think of you when I hear Jay Z say I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man! That’s you!
I would say I’m more of an event producer and I’ll tell you why I say it that way. I’m an entrepreneur first. I hire event planners to do the leg work of my… Cause I think big. One of the titles of my side businesses is Visionary. So I’m a CEO and I’m a Visionary. I don’t believe it can’t be done. It can be done. I’ll just get it done. I’m a Visionary more than anything.
All right so… Describe your upbringing.
Oh wow. In terms of background or parents… What are you talking about?
What were your aspirations growing up?
Oh that’s easy! I was going to be a teacher. I was a smart kid. From Kindergarten, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I mean, I loved reading and when you know how to read, everything is possible. When you read, you brain, it becomes a whole different can of worms. I wanted to teach because I liked to teach. Teacher would always ask for me to read to the class and I would read to the kids and my mom has pictures of me reading to the kids. So funny enough, I always had in my brain that I wanted a teacher. And I did other stuff. I’ve done journalism. I’ve done radio. I’ve done television. I’ve done stuff. And this was from Kindergarten all the way to high school. In high school, I actually used to teach in the Scarborough board of education; the adult learning classes. I used to help supply teach classes in high school as well. So I taught adults and high school. I took a year off and went to college… Went to Glendon. Then I went to teacher’s college in year 2. And I started teaching grades 3-4-5. Of course I realized I ain’t trying to teach no one’s children. I felt that my strength was more high school students or college. And because I did all this teaching, I realized that I liked it a lot, but it was not my passion anymore. And because I’ve done so many other things. Like I said, I did radio. I used to manage King Turbo. I got stories. I managed Spex from King Turbo. I’ve done a lot. So my upbringing was very normal. My parents are first generation Guyanese. They had me and my siblings. Very middle class. I never claim to have a tough life. I didn’t. I don’t claim my parents were hard, they were amaze-balls! Very conservative in the way I was raised, but because my parents were very progressive at the same time, I never wanted for anything. So not being a teacher was not a problem.
So you would say basically that from your exposure to other fields that it propelled you into being the Visionary that you are?
So my dad had his own business. He’s not an entrepreneur. My mom worked a regular job. The women in my Mom’s family… I call them little hustlers. You know moms, women got a likkle side something. And I saw that. This is going to be funny as I say this. But growing up, in my head, I knew that I was supposed to be rich. Never aimed to be rich. You just aimed that you could provide for your family. Which is perfectly fine. But now, looking back at all the things that I did, I should have been rich. But then you know, life, right? But I also knew that I liked a lot of stuff. So I’m going to try everything. Who’s going to tell me that I can’t be on the radio or write a book? I used to write for newspapers. My girlfriend and I started a whole organization called Women in Networking. We produced and presented the first women in sports award show. I worked in the reggae world. All that to say that I tried so many things, but all these experiences lead me to where I am today. I couldn’t have such big ideas if I didn’t try stuff. Even if I don’t stick with something for long, I like that I tried it.
So you still went to school, got your degrees…
Nah! Still got one year of university to finish. Here’s the funny thing. I loved it. But there’s a part of me that said that I hardly done it. I’m a full fledged proponent that kids should not go to university or college right after high school. If my son wants to, he can. We’re saving money for it, but he also plays soccer and I want him to play soccer, but that’s a different conversation. I only have one more year to complete my degree. But why? I’ve been at this job for 17 years and I’ve still been able to do all my other side stuff. For them to tell me what? Not to say that a degree isn’t good, but if I wanted to teach today, I could go to the board of education and they’ll say tu parles français. Do you want a job? Why not? Because they need French teachers. It’s a different time now.
Ok! Well that throws me for a loop. So... You starting off as a Visionary, can you describe the spark that led you there? What were the circumstances also?
Ok, let me… See it depends on what we’re talking about. I used to work at a record label. At BMG Music on John Street right across from MuchMusic. I used to meet all the DJs in the city because I was the receptionist there. So I met a lot of people there from the entertainment industry. I also was doing a little journalism here and interviews there. So I would say that’s where my spark originated from. When I was there, King Turbo, as a crew, asked me to manage them. Now, I won’t go into other stuff because it could be political and I could bun fire and I won’t bun fire. I did what I could to make it more professional. Then a year later, I started managing Spex. Still to this day - he says that I’m his manager, but I’m not. Then I ended up managing other artists and then I started booking for artists like Baby Cham and Wayne Wonder. I could speak about a whole bunch of stuff that I’ve done. I knew that I was good at all of this. And so I kept on doing it and people would notice. And then I managed Jeni when she used to work at Flow 93.5. We did her website release party where we got Drake when he first started getting big. I produced that evening where we had a lot of people performing that night from the Hip Hop and Reggae world. And I knew it was good. But to get back to the spark, life changed for me when I had my son. For me, I always knew who I am. But having my son, I knew what I liked and what I didn’t like, but I always thought about how I could monetize it.
So what drives you?
What drives me to do what?
Every day is a different day.
When I say succeed, I don’t just mean to achieve a goal. Because when you achieve a goal, it always has to be at a higher level.
Yeah, it’s always go big or go home. I think it’s because I love me and I want me to be successful. I am choosing to love me and not regret. So self-love first and the fact that… It’s a tricky thing to say that I do everything for my kid. I do, but it’s for me first. I told my son that I loved him, but I love myself more. Me first and then I do it for my son so he does not have to struggle. We’re not supposed to come out of the womb struggling. We’re supposed to come out in a healthy environment whether it’s a 2 parent household or one. It has to be a healthy environment where you feel loved and secure. My hubby drives me as well and that man… He supports me. My hubby and I are very different. But we’re very similar. He’s a Creative. He’s an absolute creative. My brain is wired more on a business level, but with a quarter of my brain being creative.
So you’re creative adjacent.
Right! And I should give myself more credit because I was a writer. I could do it, but I don’t do it because I’m good at moving pieces and making it work. We’re 2 people that are separate and different, but similar.
You complement each other.
Yeah! Because I try to live by the white board mentality, there’s no can’t. How can we make something bigger better? Clean slate! Put away all of our preconceived notions. So when I bring up an idea, his creative brain brings complementary pieces to it. And when he brings up an idea, I’ll ask him how we can make money from it. So to answer your question; me first (self-love), my son because I want to leave him a healthy legacy of how Black women are, and then my hubby.
So this is the question I have about the sex aspect. What would you say was your…
Funny part about that… My hubby is an exhibitionist. I’m a voyeur. When we met, I was managing him, but we were friends. I used to joke with him and call him a whore, but I was always fascinated with sex. Like my mom, always talked to us about it. She’d tell us not to do it before marriage, but never told us in a scary aspect. But I’ve always been interested with sex as a concept. Sex is amazing. Sex with the right person is amazing, but I also ask myself, how can I monetize this? Cause people are giving this out for free, so I always asked, how can I monetize this? Then I realize education. People who you think are the most freaky sometimes are the most stupid. So that’s when I decided to bring Jet Setting Jasmine and Aunty Angel. So that’s how I started on that path. But my big goal from a sex perspective is to open up a brothel for black women. Legality wise, I can’t do it, but it’s not part of my 5 year goal. It’s part of my 10 year goal.
I know you want to do the Sexpo.
I want to. Funny thing that you bring that up. Just recently, I changed my gmail to Toronto Sexpo 2022 and it was supposed to be 2020. And I do want to do it, even if it is virtual, it can work. I just have to put my brain into it. But who has time? Who has time? But with regards to the Sexpo, the programs I want to have are not just about BDSM. I want to do sex after 40, 50 or 60. I want programs about sex for people that differently able, because I know people who are in wheelchairs getting it in.
So along your path, what were some of the hardest obstacles that…
Men! Cause y’all stupid! Y’all are stupid!
Ok sorry. No seriously, men. And not from the perspective of disrespect. Men respect me. I get the respect. But decision makers who were men didn’t get the vision. As much as we want to blame people in Toronto, don't do this… No, no, no. There’s always money to make and relationships to build. So men first and then self-doubt. Because sometimes I question myself and then overthink it. I’m trying to get that Chi out and now be like, I can do it! So men and then self-doubt. But self-awareness is helping me turn that around.
I like that because to be honest, from the outside looking in, I would not believe that you had self-doubt. I would think that the voice in your head would not even dare…
Dude! 98% of the time. The other 2% are family and friends. It’s always there. And don’t forget, I work a full time job and juggle that.
What is next for you?
I’m working on my baby station business. My goal is to sell that in 3-5 years. If it does not happen, I’m ok with that. Next after, the 2 big projects that I have are: a private members club for black women and a healthcare center for Black seniors. Private members club because there are a lot of black executive creative entrepreneurial businesswomen in Toronto who don’t have a safe space to call their own. I’m talking about a space where you can do your meetings and things of the sort. Also, I forgot, there's a tiny house community for Black women. Because I realized for myself that being a visionary meant that I have all these ideas but there’s only one me. There’s nothing wrong with finding the right partner to execute your dreams. And then the healthcare center for black seniors is because guess what? I’m getting more mature in age. We all have parents and grandparents getting up there and they need to see dieticians, nutritionists, massage therapists and other professionals. But there’s no place for Black people to do it. Why not have a place where the doctors and professionals are black and they also like seniors, and then that way, when you need to bring your parent(s), there’s a place that can take care of them.
All right… Now my last question… What would be your advice for the next generation?
Yo! Stop wanting validation from people who don’t have it to give! People want validation from people whom it does not matter if you have it or not.