Felisha Monet wasn't born in Miami, but she belongs to the Magic City. The New York native has lived in South Florida for more than ten years while working at WEDR's 99 Jamz, the former home of fellow Miami icons DJ Irie and DJ Khaled. From 2 to 7 p.m. every weekday during the Afternoon Hustle, Monet's upbeat repartee with her guests and callers has long kept Miamians sane through lunch errands and rush-hour commutes. In the way only radio really accomplishes, Monet's voice has had the same effect a friend's or close cousin's might — familiar, comforting, disarming, and uplifting. But after accomplishing her childhood dream, the award-winning DJ is leaving radio to pursue loftier goals.
"I have a lot of ears and eyes watching me," she says after admitting she's a bit nervous. "Hopefully, I can inspire people to get out of their comfort zone."
Monet's approach will be twofold: Her for-profit lifestyle brand is slated to launch in 2019, and her nonprofit I Am Greater Than Yesterday is getting off the ground with small workshops at the Healing Arts Institute of South Florida in Tamarac. A website is in the works, and later this year, Monet will be the keynote speaker at the nonprofit's wellness conference, which will include workshops, panel discussions, and breakout sessions on everything from yoga and meditation to positive relationship building and disconnecting from social media. The inspiration came from Monet's own practices.
"I’m big on positive thinking and wellness and daily affirmations in the morning," Monet says. "'I am greater than yesterday' actually started out as my daily affirmation. It empowered me to know that the next day, God willing, I can be greater than the day before."
It's difficult for Monet to pinpoint the impetus for starting I Am Greater Than Yesterday. "Everything is always connected" is her offering, and it's not a leap for most of us to comprehend the insanity of our current social and political climate compounding the already-stressful work of raising two black sons and constantly being plugged into media — both components of Monet's daily reality.
"I just feel like social media has replaced human connection. It’s good, but I need to feel, I need to touch, I need to be on the ground level with people and be of service," Monet says. "There’s so much going on, and sometimes in the entertainment world, we live in our little bubble. For me, it was just like... pop the bubble."
While working at community events and speaking at colleges, Monet formed networks. She began to notice people who were on the brink of reaching their greatest potential and, "with a change in perspective, [could] approach living out their purpose or tapping into what their passion would be." And because everything is connected, Monet kept hearing the voice of her program director, Jill Strada, asking her: "What's the next level?" Then it simply clicked.
"Early in my career, I think I had a very naive sense of, Oh, I can shadow somebody that inspired me to get into radio. I’ll just send an email, and it will all work out. That wasn’t my reality," Monet says. "I would reach out to other women in other markets, and it just fell on deaf ears. It forced me to figure it out on my own. I have been fortunate enough to have some amazing mentors that were not women. Pretty much all of my career guidance has been from men. There wasn’t anything wrong with that... It was like, That’s cool what you’re saying, but you’re giving it to me from the perspective of a man. It wasn’t until later in my career that I met the mentor that I always had in my head: Angie Martinez.
"She was always there when I reached out, and she shared some gems with me that I applied to my career. That connection to me — each one teaches one — it’s everything. Even though I didn’t have it the way I wanted it or envisioned it in my head, I feel like there’s a big responsibility for me to share that."
At the center of I Am Greater Than Yesterday is the desire to connect people — especially women — in a supportive, face-to-face environment. After the conference, Monet will continue to conduct small workshops with evolving topics in conjunction with a web platform. She emphasizes the nonprofit will "really be an organization that will create a support system for people who are passionate about doing things in an unconventional way when it comes to pursuing dreams and goals."
In a world where culture conventionally flourishes behind screens, I Am Greater Than Yesterday can seem pretty radical. But if you think Felisha Monet is forsaking screens forever, hold up — this media maverick's star is only rising.
"Get ready," Monet says. "I want television."
I Am Greater Than Yesterday. 2 p.m. Saturday, May 26, at the Healing Arts Institute of South Florida, 4699 State Rd. 7, Suite B1, Tamarac; 954-644-9567; healingartsinstitutesfl.org. Tickets cost $25 via eventbrite.com.