Monday, June 23, 2014

Exclusive Interview with Sara Stokes ( formerly of P Diddy Making The Band)


By Lenell King
Back in 2003 music producer, P Diddy put together a reality show where viewers were able to watch how he would put together a band from start to finish.  He named the group, Da Band. Diddy had the band members getting up early and going to bed late. However, the kicker was when he had the group walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn to get a slice of Juniors Cheesecake

spearheaded the reality movement in the early 2000’s as a member of MTV’s successful Making Da Band series.  She was known as the “sexy” singer of the group and has been quite busy...  
LENELL: So Sara, what have you been up to?
SARA: What have I not been up to?  It’s been crazy over the last few years.  Actually over the last 6 months I went back to school and got my aesthetics degree for skin care and makeup.  I’m working on my album right now.  I’m working with James Worthy, K’jon and Timbaland has thrown me a few tracks.  Not only am I working hard, but I’m running marathons as well.  The list keeps going on and on.

LENELL: Wow you have been busy.   Congratulations on getting your degree. That’s awesome.

SARA: You know I just feel I have a name, but you have to also know what you are talking about. You have to have a plan A, B, C and all the way to the end of the alphabet.  That’s my motto.
LENELL: So let’s take a trip back to 2003; how did you first get involved with the show? Did you have to audition or did someone approach you to say you need to try out for this MTV gig?
SARA: Wow.  I have been recording since I was 12 years old; music has always been a part of my life. I was actually in Atlanta at the time recording with Kenny Hickson when I got a call saying you need to try out for this show called, Making Da Band; it’s an audition process. You know, I wasn’t really familiar with the whole reality show audition process. So I was like, what the heck is Making Da Band with Diddy?  I wasn’t even going to do it,
but they convinced me to come back. I was one of the girls selected to perform and the rest is history.  I made it all the way through.
LENELL: Yes, you did. Excellent!  Have you ever wanted to be in a group prior to Making Da Band; maybe in high school or did you always want to be a solo artist?
SARA: Actually in high school I was in a group with some of my friends and we were kind of like on some SWV type stuff. We had our Jodeci boots; we had our leather vests, baggie poetic justice pants and rocking braids with the mushroom hats.  I wasn’t playing. (Laughing)  We had our little harmonies down.   I’m pretty versatile and Puff knew that as well.  He knew that I can do well by myself or with a group.

LENELL: The album was released in 2004, and it was hot.  One of the most memorable songs on the album was Go Steady; it really showed your vocal ability.  After Making Da Band fizzled out, were you approached with a solo project shortly after?
SARA:  Definitely.  I knew after that I had to put my solo stuff out. There was no doubt about that.  I was never going to stop just because the band was dismantled. I was definitely going to keep working. Working on my solo project or whatever came out. But that was just something that was in me.  I’m never going to give up on music because that’s my first love.
LENELL: Tell us about some of these film projects that you have been working on?
SARA: I’m currently filming a movie called Ceside in D.C. It kind of reminds you of the movie Set it Off.   I got guns and I’m shooting police.  Now this is just a movie.  I’m not
doing this for real. (Laughing). Everybody gets to see a different side of me; I’m doing my own stunts. 
LENELL: Wow, real hardcore?
SARA: Heck Yeah!  I’m being sexy with it though, but yo don’t mess with me. I got an AK. (laughing)
LENELL: Do you keep up with any of the Da Band members?  Dylan? Choppa?  How about Puff?  Is there a chance to return to Bad Boy if the opportunity made sense?
SARA: Oh yeah, the band was like my second family. We all went through the struggle together; we went through our fights.  We all had to gel and make an album within a month with cameras in our faces and we didn’t even know each other.  We were just going on in
our daily lives and the next thing you know we are thrown in this group.  You had to make it happen, make it work or have Diddy breathing down your neck like yawl better come on and get it together. There were so many different personalities and that’s where we started bumping heads. At the end of the day we realized this is all where we came from; we are a family. We definitely talk.  I just talked to Baps, Dylan – he's still his crazy self. You know I love all of them. They all have just a special place in my life. As a matter of fact, yawl might be seeing a reunion soon.
LENELL: Reunion?!  Now that would be amazing. I’m sure the ratings would go through the roof.  Just like with any family you’re gonna have your fights.  At the end of the day you love each other and you have each other’s back

SARA: I’ve seen Puff a couple of times. I really appreciate him for even choosing me and you can’t pay for that type of exposure on MTV.  It’s always been love with Diddy. Honestly, you can’t be mad at the person that’s super genius, super smart and got his business sense. He’s charming; he’s got everything plus drive. I’ve learned a lot from him just by watching him. He works so diligently and it’s like he never tires. He feels and believes in all that he does so effortlessly. That’s pretty much my personality; that’s how I feel.  I see myself working with him again.
LENELL: It seems that you have learned a lot from him.  You are a jack of all trades. You just finished your degree; you’re running marathons, playing in movies, music-- congrats.
SARA: Thank you. I just think that it’s good to push yourself to see what you’re limits are. Like why just stick to one thing if you’re good at multiple things. Of course hone your
energy on one thing if you can make it happen, but once you’re in there, it’s nothing wrong with venturing out and having different things that you’re good at.  It keeps you busy, keeps you out of trouble and if anything, you would be proud of yourself when you look back at all the accomplishments you’ve made.
LENELL: Then that makes it all worth it.  Now, the last time you were on Making Da Band we had a chance to meet your little ones. They’re all grown up now, right?
SARA: Elijah, he’s my first born who just finished high school. I’m so proud of him. He graduated with honors. He looks like Prince. (Laughing.) He plays the guitar too.   I’m real proud of him; he’s going to Michigan State University. My other two daughters are very talented, Gabriel and Eva Diva, they sing, they dance. They’re acting, so once I go ahead and do my thing of course the kids are going to be right there. I can’t really call them kids
now; they’re all in high school. From the Making Da Band show when everyone first saw them they were like toddlers; now they are all taller than me.
LENELL: That’s crazy; I tell you time really does fly.  Now, you see the success of reality shows; for some it revives their careers and in some cases it turns the average Joe into a celebrity overnight. When you guys did Making Da Band it was the only reality show of that caliber with a hip hop format. If you were approached to do another reality series like Love and Hip Hop, would you do it and why?
SARA: Oh yeah, I don’t see why not. Whatever you put out there is what the audience is going to see. Don’t think you’re going to go out there acting a fool and then you don’t like how they are showing you because all you‘re doing is fighting.  They just want the drama and all the arguments and crazy stuff you’re doing.  They never show the positive stuff like
running a marathon or helping a charity because the drama is what sells.  So I just tell anyone who is considering doing a reality show that you have to be mindful of what you put out there if you want to look back and be proud of your accomplishments and how you were portrayed on the show. It’s hard to fight a certain stigma as a personality of somebody else when you can just be the real you. Make sure you show it right because that’s what the world will see.
LENELL:  So tell us a little about running this marathon?  For some people it’s a way of life and requires true discipline; is that a daily ritual for you?
SARA: Oh yeah, I love running.   I just feel if you look healthy, feel healthy, proud of your body and your mind is together it puts you at a different point in your life. You can just face the world a little better when you feel good about yourself. Health is so important, it just
empowers you. When I’m running those marathons, I kind of look at it like its life. When you’re going up those hills and you’re digging deep because you know you got those last 13 miles, then the last 2 miles to go and that finish line is right there. You want to stop so bad, you feel burn, you feel yourself getting faint and maybe a little dizzy, but you got your eye on the prize.  You know when you get to the end, you’re going to cross the finish line and get that medal as you say, “I DID IT”!
That’s how I look at life. No matter what life throws at you, you can overcome it.  There is a final destination and a goal that you have to get to.  When you do, it’s going to be party time. You are going to be proud of yourself.  So, that’s how I look at marathons. It’s about being fit and empowering women because we take so much.  Marathons train your mind and your spirit to make you endure to the point that you can create someone that overcomes. I love it. 

LENELL:  Well said, Sara.  What does the immediate and long-term future hold for you?
SARA: I definitely see myself writing a book about my life because it’s definitely interesting. If I’m not falling down the stairs or doing something crazy, it’s just something always going on in my life. There are things I can talk about to possibly help people who think that I have never been through anything. However, they don’t really know my story, but once they read it and see that I overcame it, conquered it and still held my head up high and moved on and didn’t have anyone set limitations on me, they will be inspired.  At the end it’s all you. You will be the one that’s accountable for every action that you do.  Hopefully, when I write my story, someone will read it and say,  “If she can do it, then I can too.”

I want some Grammies in my future. I got to have an Oscar. Ok, it’s like why not?  Why set yourself up for failure when you can say this is what I want. I ‘m going to work hard to get it. You have to see yourself already getting it. That’s the key to it.
My manager, Lee Martin, has really been working hard for me and making things happen. I will be doing the BET awards this year, red carpet events and reality shows. There are all types of stuff I’m doing.  I’m even representing Voss Water; I’m the new face of that. There are a couple of other things that I will definitely let everybody know about.
LENELL: How can your fans reach you?
SARA: My twitter is @sexysarastokes and my instagram is sara_stokes. Stay tuned about the Making Da Band reunion and many other things so definitely check me out.

It was a pleasure speaking with Sara and hearing about all the projects she has going on in her life.  As you can see there is life after Making Da Band.  We will definitely follow up to see how her journey continues and we wish her much success.  

Make sure to follow Sara Stokes on Twitter and check her out on Who's That Lady Entertainment!sara-stokes/zoom/c1wwp/image209i


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