Today, Amber speaks to us about why she is passionate about representation and diversity, exploring balance and why she pursued media, professionally.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in Los Angeles County, in a city that is notorious for having the very first In-N-Out! So yes, INO is basically the landmark. Well, not officially… but basically! (It’s a great ice breaker statement that I occasionally use haha.)
And no, it wasn’t a fancy schmancy part of LA County. It was a humble little abode. Not necessarily the ghetto, but it was a place where food stamps were used by some families. Thankfully, because of my hard-working single momma, we didn’t have to use them! But it was definitely humble beginnings.
In a home, it’s “typically” a mom and a dad raising the kids. For me it was my wonderful, amazing single mom, grandmother, and older sister (we’re 10 years apart). Four ladies! It was definitely a little lady gang, and I was the youngest.
My parents divorced when I was a baby, around 3 years old. Thank God it was during a time when my long-term memory wasn’t developed, but I did have a father-less type of upbringing. Others have said, “I’m so sorry…” whenever they hear that, but to me, I am so so grateful! It made me who I am today. My mother became a devout believer and was the one who helped guide and cultivate my faith journey and relationship with God.
So even though I never had an “earthly” father, I always had God as my spiritual father figure. It’s truly a blessing in disguise, and I wouldn’t want to change it or have it any other way!
Another fun little fact, my parents were both dance choreographers. So music was a HUGE part of my upbringing — whether it was playing the piano or violin, dancing, performing in musical theater, etc. I loved it all!
Even though my parents were divorced, I’m very grateful to God for the love and care I grew up in all thanks to my sweet mom, grandma (lola), and big sister (ateh)!
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “Put your heart and soul into every activity you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord himself.” Colossians 3:23
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
This is my all time favorite verse and one of the verses shared at my husband and I’s wedding!
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: This year’s theme and word has been awareness. And constantly asking myself, “How can I better myself? How can I be better about serving others?”
In terms of awareness — being aware of how to bring value to others and being aware of what their needs are.
From high school, to college, to my professional career being busy was the usual theme. My plate was always full with tons of commitments, responsibilities, involvement, and tons of focus on my studies or giving all my energy to making sure I excel in my career and work.
What’s “work / life balance” ? The balance for me was really non-existent.
I’m at a point in my life where I would rather focus on a healthy balance, instead of slaving over work. And in turn with focusing on a healthy balance, awareness and intention naturally comes into play. This has been the major theme I feel like God has been trying to teach and grow me in. So working on bettering myself in these areas daily!
Profession: Digital Content Creator / Video Producer. Since a young age, I always had a camera in my hand. In middle school, I took one of those career tests and the number one occupation on the list was Director of Photography.
I made a ton of random, silly lip syncing videos when YouTube came into the internet existence (15 years ago). Those videos are now private, but was a fun way to practice and “prep” for getting my degree in Broadcast Journalism and my professional career.
My main “why” for pursuing media professionally has always been to be a positive impact and encourage others (especially women) in media. There aren’t enough believers in the industry, so I wanted to be able to represent in the best way I can! And bringing about diversity and representation for women of color has always been incredibly important to me.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Ooo, this is a really fun and interesting question! The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a title of my memoir is, “Do You, Unapologetically.”
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? Such a beautiful question! Here’s a little backstory: I grew up Catholic and was baptized/dedicated as a baby. Fun fact, I even had a specific “saint name”, and I forgot I actually had that, until this very moment, while typing this and recollecting my early memories.
My whole family on both my mom and dad’s sides are all Catholic, so that’s basically what influenced my upbringing. I went through Catechism in elementary school as well.
Then, when I was 10 years old, there was a sudden, yet smooth shift. One of my mom’s best friends started inviting her to Bible study and she always brought me along. The Bible study was held by a non-denominational Christian church. I had always had a faith in God, but once I began learning more about the Word and the importance of having a deep, genuine relationship/connection with Him, that’s when I began to encounter God.
My relationship and love for God was connected on a deeper level — I started reading and living out the Word in daily life, getting involved with the youth group, youth worship band, the church theater team, and any emptiness of space I felt was filled with God’s amazing grace and goodness.
I was being transformed and molded for the better. Then on my own, I decided to dedicate my life to Christ as a born-again Christian through baptism at age 13. And my life since then has been transformed and molded for the better.
Life hasn’t always been a picnic or walk in the park, it’s definitely been a rollercoaster. But throughout all the trials and tribulations (including experiencing emotional and physical abuse as a teenager [that’s a long story for another day]), I’ve learned that God doesn’t give us anything we cannot handle. Everything serves a greater purpose to prepare us to be the best for God, others, and ourselves.
Through all the beauty and trials I’ve learned to live by the four P’s: Perseverance, persistence, patience, and prayer. (LOTS of prayer! Because prayer is truly powerful. I don’t make that statement, because “that’s what Christians do”… I say that because I truly believe it and have experienced it myself. I have seen many prayers come to fruition. God is always listening and preparing us. The best is always yet to come!)
“God is always listening and preparing us. The best is always yet to come!”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Always reminding myself to keep God number one, making devotionals and reading the Word an integral part of my morning routine, and focusing on how I can better serve my husband and others!
Oh and of course, listening to Joyce Meyer sermons weekly in the morning, as well! My husband and I like to call her Auntie Joyce or Auntie JM… even though she has no idea who we are. She shares God’s Word with such heart and passion, plus she always keeps it real with practical tips and wisdom to apply in daily life. I feel like she speaks about topics that other pastors may not typically touch or talk about. And I really enjoy listening and learning from people that aren’t afraid to be real and vulnerable.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): This past year was the year of reviving my love for reading! I was a huuuuge bookworm growing up, and we moved near a library, so the odds have been in my favor to get back to one of my original passions, reading! Yay!
Three books that I recommend are Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer, Forgive & Forget: Healing The Hurts We Don’t Deserve, and Finish: Give Yourself The Gift of Done. Both are such great reads and I definitely recommend!
Top three essentials:
1. God’s Word / Bible app!
2. Podcasts + YouTube to listen to sermons, ladies speaking truth, and business women / lady entrepreneurs having meaningful and real conversations. I love being inspired and hearing inspiring stories, so this is definitely essential! For the mornings, cleaning times, and showers.
3. A combination of sipping green smoothies/juice and matcha oat lattes, while dancing to a high energy playlist (featuring Beyoncé and some classic ‘90s ‘00s r&b hip hop)!
How did God speak to you recently? I hear God through prayer and through Him working through kind people I come across. It’s truly amazing how God uses people as His vessels to encourage and uplift others. I’m very thankful for these unexpected, sweet, beautiful encounters. I hope to do the same for others as well.
Hobby: I love me a good yoga session with some great jams (hip hop and soul music to be exact), traveling and learning about different cultures with my husband, exploring and hiking in our new-ish city/state (we’ve lived in AZ for about 2 years now), listening and watching live music through concerts or musicals, discovering new coffee shops and restaurants on Yelp, going to games with the biggest sports enthusiast I know (aka my hubs), and trying new experiences or activities! Eventually, we’ll try skydiving! It’s on our list.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
1. Pray (talk to God), read the Word, and listen to a faith-based podcast or video (in the morning while you’re getting ready or during your drive to/from work) that will encourage, uplift, or teach you something new — DAILY! D-A-I-L-Y.
2. Athletes don’t go to the gym once a week for an hour. They work on their craft, practice discipline, and better themselves daily. In the same token, going to church on Sunday is simply not enough.
3. Every day we’re bombarded with all kinds of distractions, discouragement, temptations, and things that will influence our minds and hearts consciously or subconsciously. I’m a firm believer in taking control over what we fill our thoughts and hearts with. Forget the trash that’s easily thrown at us on media, forget the things we see when we open up our phones that lead to detrimental self-talk and comparison, and most of all, forget the gossip that people share in-person during lunch or at work, or even online. You know exactly what I’m talking about.
4. Every single day is a battle that we need to be equipped and ready for. In order to do that, we must fill and feed good things into our minds and hearts — the truth, encouragement, and love. That way when we’re filled with goodness, it will overflow and we can naturally spread God’s love wherever we go!
5. And a little added fourth bonus – mind your own business and stay in your lane! When you talk to God, read the Word, listen to the truth, and mind your own business, ooh that is where the magic happens! Girl, you will grow and glow like no other!
I know you mentioned three and I couldn’t narrow it down – I had to share five. 🙂
“I’m a firm believer in taking control over what we fill our thoughts and hearts with.”
Favorite person in scripture? My favorite person in scripture would have to be Ruth! She exemplifies what it truly means to be a woman of grace and a follower of God. She always goes the extra mile with a full heart, is extremely loyal to family and relationships, is persistent through hardships, and humble throughout all circumstances.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? My hope and prayer is to shine God’s light wherever I go! And by shining God’s light I mean — encouraging others, making others smile, showing love and respect to all, and helping / serving people the best I can. I hope to be an example of a woman who has gone through the fire, but has overcome hardships, trauma, and negativity, by not letting it define her, but letting it strengthen her by the grace of God!
How do you leave your mark on your community? I’m passionate about encouraging others and sharing God’s loving kindness in any and every opportunity I get. So, I’m always aware and looking for opportunities to encourage or help others, In real life and in digital media. Everything I do is always for a greater purpose, for God.
Favorite holiday? Christmas, hands down!! It’s the most woOoOonderfulllll time of the year! (Did you sing the song as you read it? I definitely sang it as I typed.) Nothing like celebrating the birth of Jesus, singing Christmas songs (Pentatonix and Ariana Grande’s Christmas & Chill album on repeat, of course) and having quality time with the family!
A goal you have? I have TONS of goals! To narrow it down to one, one of my tops goals is to become a better person, a better wife, a better daughter, a better sister, a better cousin, a better niece, a better friend, each and every day.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Christmas Eve is always spent at my cousin Melissa, Kuya Mike, and auntie and uncle’s house. Ever since we were kids, to now that we’re in our twenties. It’s always nice to reunite and spend quality time with family. Then on Christmas day, I usually go to the beach with my mom and now husband, Charlie. It’s so fun, because when people think of Christmas they usually think of snow, but because I grew up in SoCal, it’s fun for us to spend part of it strolling by the beach and reflecting on God’s blessings while watching the ocean waves during sunset.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Wow, I will be in awe. Literally starstruck by God. I’d probably have a moment of being speechless, while happy tears are streaming down my face, and blurt out with excitement, “I LOVE YOU!! Thank you for everything!” Then I would ask, “How’s my lola (grandma) doing? How are YOU doing, God? Can I have a tour?” I’d definitely follow up with a million other questions (ones that are more profound and deep) while on the tour.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: We need to be more loving and respectful to every single person on this planet! Judgement in the Christian community and of other communities are NOT okay. Jesus would never condemn or make others feel bad because they’re different.
Just because you’re a Christian, doesn’t mean it’s okay to judge and criticise others, just because you don’t understand their lifestyle or choices. Stop nitpicking others for the way the look, dress, have tattoos, their taste in music, the way they go about things, etc. Please check yourself before you wreck yourself (yes, that’s a song lyric).
This isn’t faith related, but it is something I’m incredibly passionate about — diversity and representation for women of color and overall, people of color is SO important and needed! The media needs to stop making minorities a minority on screens, because minorities are actually a majority.
What does your morning routine consist of? My ideal morning routine starts off with drinking lots of cold water and a matcha oat latte, while I read my devotional Bible or a devotional off my Bible app, a prayer, early AM yoga, posting a couple of encouraging words on my Instagram story in hopes of it uplifting at least one lady, making a green smoothie or preparing breakfast (lately, it has been avo toast or peanut butter oatmeal with loads of fresh fruit), quick prayer with the hubs, do my makeup, read a chapter of a book I’m reading, review my goals, go over my Google calendar, and then hit the ground running for projects I’m working on!
What is on your nightstand? Always gotta have a cup or my reusable bottle with ice cold water, my trusty fig tree plant, a journal, Bible, and a card that I bought at a marriage conference called “Prayers For My Husband.” Although I rarely use the card, I usually just pray my own prayers, but it is a great reminder to always pray for the hubs!
Define Christianity in a sentence: A beautiful, fulfilling adventure filled with tons of grace, growth, and the best kind of unconditional love, with the best coach in the universe!
For more Amber:
● IG — www.instagram.com/byamberj
Until next time, keep witnessing!