How Trell Thomas Leveraged His Experience to Create His Own Table of Black Excellence
Trell Thomas has a family background that is deeply rooted in tradition as he comes from a grandmother that was a sharecropper and a mother who picked cotton. Growing up in this environment allowed him to become very aware of the Black excellence that was inside of him.
Always one to seek knowledge, Trell would be the one in the family to break the mold by reaching for a profession that wasn't typical in small-town South Carolina. When attending college, he majored in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in History. He was set on becoming a producer, report, anchor, and continuing to grow but he realized that path wasn't going to allow him to change the world. After interning at NBC he was offered an opportunity to work for the network which wasn't what he thought it would be. After speaking to his Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers, he got the opportunity to step for then-senator Barack Obama who he also got the chance to meet. The meeting was so impactful that Trell knew he had to do his part to help Mr. Obama get elected president. He got a call from the communications director where he was offered the opportunity to be her assistant on the campaign in Atlanta. He soon found his tasks increased when he began to interact with celebrities during the campaign. He had the opportunity to work with the likes of Usher, Sanaa Lathan, Chris Rock, Dr. Maya Angelou, and many more before transitioning to North Carolina. After this project was done he went back to his job at NBC. Not satisfied, he researched things that could get him to work in Washington, D.C. He attended a political boot camp where he learned about non-profit work and the different sectors of public work.
Once the boot camp was completed, he moved to D.C. and taught campaigns on how to use social media to move their campaign forward, which lead to public relations work. After working on the 2012 inauguration, eventually, he packed up and relocated to New York City where he did corporate, entertainment, and music public relations. He worked with Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, and VH1's Save the Music where he was offered a position at Viacom. Through these connections, he would create partnerships with larger brands thus increasing the value in his personal brand. After realizing he had outgrown the corporate structure, he knew it was time for a shift. Solange had just released her album A Seat at the Table and it was a skit with Tina Knowles Lawson and Matthew Knowles that spoke on being pro-Black unapologetically that awakened and freed Trell into a feeling that would lead him his purpose. It was time to bring the creativity and money home to his own community and create a table of his own to eat from while feeding others. He aimed to move the culture forward so he packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles where he connected with Tina and Richard Lawson who became mentors and family. This relationship led him to become the executive producer of her Instagram TV show.
Read more of Trell's story below.
How has crossing paths with influential people shaped your life?
Sometimes the tiny things you do grow into something much great. You plant seeds that grow into redwood trees. It gives me an opportunity to pour into them. It gives me the opportunity to plant seeds for my future, for their future, and the future of those who the work is going to impact. That has always been what I wanted to do, just doing it in a Trell way.
Tell us about how the idea for the Black Excellence Brunch happened.
The Black Excellence Brunch was inspired by the concept of Sunday dinner. What would happen at Sunday dinner is there was so much love, so much building up, affirming, and laughter that warmed my soul. I wanted to recreate that for my friends. I started doing it in my home after I got homesick. In New York, I had about 6 Black friends and I told everyone let's go to the grocery store, and let's have brunch. All of them looked so good and I said this is Black Excellence. Little did I know I was planting a seed.
Later after I had planned my move