Genise Shelton is a woman who wears many hats. She is an actress, entrepreneur, social activist and mother of six.
Shelton is equally passionate about all of her ventures, from her work combatting child abuse and sex trafficking, to her promotion of health and wellness in the African American community.
As an owner of several Atlanta-based businesses, she is an expert on how people can make the city work for them. Shelton spoke with rolling out about how Atlanta has nurtured her career as a businesswoman.
What makes you the best in your field in Atlanta?
I think one of the biggest things that sets me apart as far as the opportunities I’ve been afforded is passion. A lot of people get into business because of money or career advancement. Those are all wonderful things, but I have to believe in my product. I have to be passionate, and I have to truly believe and understand how this is going to change and cultivate a community before I can actually dive into it.
When it comes down to my real estate business, I was one of the first people in my family to become a homeowner. When it comes to my [sex trafficking] foundation, Our Children’s Keeper, I shared a lot of those same risk factors as a kid. I’m passionate about rescuing our kids, especially our children of color who are suffering from this tragic epidemic in Atlanta.
[As for] fitness, my mother suffered a massive stroke at the age of 48 that left her partially paralyzed on one side. My brother was diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension [and] obesity at the age of 12 years old. Every business venture that I’m connected to touches me personally.
Describe the moment you fell in love with the city of Atlanta.
The moment I fell in love with the city of Atlanta would have to be Freaknik. I was just blown away with the fact that the city was jumping. Black people were everywhere laughing, partying, having a good time. That was my first true impression of the city. That was the first time I had seen so many Black people in one city having a great time. I came back and visited a couple of years later, and that’s when I truly fell in love with the fact that there are so many entrepreneurs here.
Atlanta is often referred to as a Black Mecca. What about Atlanta makes it a Black mecca?
You have so many successful entrepreneurs here. Sometimes you think it’s hard to start a business — and it is. It takes a lot of dedication, sacrifice, hard work and networking. Sometimes that can intimidate someone, but here in Atlanta for some reason there are a lot of great successful Black business people.