Nothing can stop AniYa A., founder of Freedom Entertainment Group, from making her dreams come true, not even death. Originally from New York, AniYa spent some time in Atlanta, working as a model and an actress, before relocating to Port Saint Lucie to pursue a calling. "I was contacted by an orphanage in Haiti," she said. "That really opened my eyes to poverty and pushed me to want to do more than taking pictures and looking cute." This, combined with a dream she had on July 7, 2007 about empowering people through positive entertainment, was enough to push her in a new direction.
AniYa's decision to relocate to The Treasure Coast had to do with location to family and location to the large population of Haitian immigrants living in South Florida. Her initial goal was to build a non-profit charity to give back to those in need. Things didn't pan out the way she expected and, in order to make ends meet, she got a job working as a TV Producer at TBN. It was around this time when AniYa developed a rare medical condition from a blood clot in her lungs. She was rushed to the hospital where she died and later came back to life. "I saw the white light and everything," she said. "But something was pulling me back from it. It wasn't my time to go."
AniYa spent three months recovering in the hospital. This gave her plenty of time to contemplate her future and what her next moves would be. Recalling her dream about empowering people through positive entertainment and giving back to the community, AniYA decided to form an entertainment company. "I was tired of seeing what was being promoted in the entertainment industry," she said. "I wanted to establish a company that would give me a platform to encourage people in less fortunate areas to get involved. I formally launched the business in 2012 and, with some help from a SCORE mentor, set out to build something I could be proud of."
What AniYa built was a full-service entertainment company that works with artists to promote their brands and events and also allows her to pursue her passions around motivational speaking, writing and serving as a contributor on the Dr. Oz Show. The work that AniYa is doing empowers, entertains, motivates and brings together communities in ways that allow her to share her message in under-served and underprivileged areas. "When I speak in some of these areas, I point to the Dr. Oz Show and my work as CEO of Freedom Entertainment Group as evidence that, if I can make it through death and other obstacles, then anyone else can."
AniYa recalled a certain encounter that was especially impactful. "I held an event where I met a girl whose single mom couldn't afford to send her to college," she said. "The event had a big impact on the daughter and encouraged her to find a way to go to college. She did just that and more. I was there along the way and ended up being a big part of her life. That's why I do what I do."
Even though Freedom Entertainment Group remains headquartered in Saint Lucie County, AniYa moved to New York City, after her doctor recommended that she relocate to a non-tropical climate to alleviate severe allergy symptoms she was experiencing in South Florida's sub-tropical climate. AniYa remotely runs her operations from New York but also puts on local events, works with local artists and even co-hosts on a local radio show called, "Your Favorite Radio Show" on DTF Radio in Brooklyn, NY with over 500K listeners. She admitted that it was scary to expand into new markets, but because of her strong spirit, she pushed on and kept fighting to make it work.
Looking ahead, AniYa would like to own her own facility one day. She would like to put on events there. She wants to continue working with people in underprivileged situations and empowering them to do their best. She has her sights set on more books, more guest appearances and is even toying with the idea of starting Freedom University, as a way to engage with more specialists and have an even greater impact on communities.
What's AniYa's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Never give up," she said. "To give up before the end of the race is to take your last breath and die. You need to continue the process because you never know what tomorrow holds. I never thought I'd be in this position as a business owner, but here I am. Trust the process. It's also important to connect with different organizations that are doing amazing things." AniYa draws inspiration from people like Carla Ann Harris, Tony Robbins and Oprah and recommends reading anything they put out.