Tell us who you are and what you do!
My name is Will “Zee” Tidwell and I am originally from Little Rock, Arkansas. I am a public speaker, writer, and a youth builder. My business, SpeakUPZee, is a company that consists of public speaking, writing, poetry and mentoring mainly focusing on the youth. I believe the youth dream the most and dream the biggest. SpeakUPZee wants them to keep dreaming and help them achieve what it is they’ve been dreaming about.
I used to write down snippets of poems, record myself and share them on my social media. The feedback I received from my followers made me feel adequate and I wanted to keep progressing. I began to take my writings and poems seriously, but I needed to figure out a way to transform my hobby into profit. I was able to come up with my personalized framework gift called a “SpeakUP Card”. My frameworks consist of personalized poems created for the one receiving the gift and each work is original and never duplicated. So, not only am I able to do what I love, but I am able to make money and make people’s day along the way. I have always been a talkative and sociable person, so once I began to sculpt SpeakUPZee, I incorporated public speaking in order to be able to highlight my passion for writing and show it to the world.
Some people that are from the same place as me are not big on doing what they really love until it is too late. Then there are those people who actually do chase and achieve their dreams. When I see excellence, especially black excellence from someone who is from the same place as me, that inspires me to pursue my dreams. I want to be that passion in my city that I rarely got the chance to see growing up. I want to be the change everybody talks about.
What is the inspiration for your work?
The life I live and the things I have felt and seen are my biggest inspirations. The children I work with also play a major role in the work. I believe in a quote by Frederick Douglas, when it comes to children, “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Children will always have a special place in my heart. It keeps me going when I am able to inspire someone or help others to get through whatever it is they’re going through. I never want to come off as if I know it all or like I am the most intellectual man in the world, because to be honest everything I write, every quote I create is based off my own past encounters, mistakes and feelings.
What would you say to prevent an upcoming artist from making the same mistakes you have made?
Never think that you can achieve everything alone. You may get pretty far by yourself and make great progress, but when you surround yourself with other inspired, driven, and like minded individuals and combine all those different talents and abilities, you will go so much further and make even greater progress. Never be afraid to ask for help and admit that you just simply don’t know sometimes.
What obstacles have you faced as a Black Artist/Business Owner?
I find myself at times struggling to keep the faith in myself and I just want to give it all up sometimes. When I don’t get a particular response to my work or something along those lines I want to delete everything and quit. Also, the doubt of others. I had to learn that people are going to doubt you, but you have to have more faith than their doubt. You won’t please everyone you come across, but just be thankful for the ones you can please and the ones that appreciate you and what it is you do.