“Live for what sets your soul on fire”: Julian Crosby on personal growth and the entertainment industry

Photo credit: Julian Crosby

Senior Julian “Jules” Crosby has had quite the college career. After living in places like Virginia, Connecticut and Jacksonville due to his dad’s military job, he is now breaking ground in the entertainment and journalism industry.

From founding Gravity Magazine to studying abroad in Prague and attending the 2022 Emmy Awards, Crosby discussed his experiences and shared advice for navigating the entertainment industry and the grand scheme of life.

You founded Gravity Magazine in 2020 — the first Black publication on campus — in collaboration with the National Association of Black Journalists and the Black Creatives Collective. What gave you the idea for Gravity?

“I wanted a space for Black students to feel like they were the subject of the material versus a special edition issue or a Black history issue. Black culture, artists, etc. are at the forefront of every month, week and issue.”

Did you run into any issues with its creation?

“I’m unemployed baby,” Crosby said, laughing. “Photoshoots and websites are expensive, so we were very inventive, very crafty and did what we could with what we had. We have taken some of the best quality photos on campus with very little resources. Envisioning what we could do if we actually got more resources to take off is honestly scary since we have so much potential in this magazine. It took a community. It took a village and I am so grateful.”

You also participated in a study abroad program. Why did you choose to study in Prague?

“I love the idea of going somewhere by myself and having that space to exist and not having the context of everyone else’s opinions of me or what I thought I should act like. It was very important for me to grow in a space I felt uncomfortable in because this precipitates tremendous personal growth. I dived into my faith and grew in ways I never would have if I stayed where I already was.”

Photo credit: Julian Crosby

What was your experience like?

“[I got to experience] a culture very foreign to American culture, which led to fondness for America, but also a new understanding that the country has its faults. Something in the way America operates is not inherently healthy. Life is so much slower everywhere else besides America. In Spain they eat for hours and they sit at the table for hours. They don’t have plastic cups so you have to sit down and drink your coffee, not like drinking your Starbucks while you are driving. I came back [realizing] I have to take life slower. It will be okay. Let’s find a cute cafe to sit at.”

“It was so beautiful. I really grew by thirty years. I came back different. My values were different, my priorities were different. I really explored the grammar and the fabric of the city of Prague and I want to do that here [in Miami].”

Photo credit: Julian Crosby

How did you land your position interning at the Television Academy Foundation?

“I have always been obsessed with the Emmy Awards, I love watching Black people get awards. One day, I literally googled if they had any internships and they did. They have a very selective program, and I have gotten my fair share of rejections but I was like why not — so, I sent in an application, got two wonderful recommendations and had to write an original comedy TV episode and sent all of that in a package and made it to the final round which was a final interview.”

Crosby ended up having to do a pre-recorded interview, which made it a lot harder and he remembers thinking, “This is not good, I was so awkward.”

“I realized I had gotten all these phone calls, one from Nancy Robinson from the TV Academy. She asked me to work on my favorite show [“The Boys”] as a writer. I Immediately called her back and said ‘Oh my God, YES!’”

Photo credit: Julian Crosby

What did you like best?

“Sitting in the writers’ room, really connecting with the producers on staff. It was a great time for me to visualize myself in a career after college in a writers’ room and feeling confident that I could see myself there. It also ended up with a trip to the Emmys and it was really cool to be in that space. It was really fun. I got to work and met so many people I admire like Jojo T. Gibbs and Colman Domingo who told me, ‘The best piece of advice I can give you is to stay present.’”

Photo credit: Julian Crosby

What would you like to accomplish before leaving UM?

“I would really love to see a print copy of Gravity Magazine in peoples’ hands — that is definitely number one in the agenda. I hope Gravity expands beyond Miami. Since we are not an official UM publication, [it] gives us the freedom to expand beyond UM. Four of us studied abroad in the magazine, so Gravity Brazil and Gravity Prague are out there; they are stepping stones that can be something one day, which is obviously something very ambitious. In the future, I hope Gravity mirrors Vogue Italy and Vogue Japan in that regard and Black people are able to connect through art, joy, happiness and all dimensions of emotions for us, by us.”

“I also hope to produce and finish writing my scripts which are very dear to me and would love to also act on them myself, and I also want to film a short film before I graduate so the sky is the limit. I want to have so much fun this year, trying out new places, exploring Miami. I hope to eat at tons of restaurants because I think food is the most consistent love of my life, it’s my serotonin. There is nothing better than a meal from Popeyes.”

What would be your biggest advice to anyone wanting to break into the media entertainment field?

“Swallow your pride. You need to be grateful for those smaller scale experiences to give you the skill sets you will need to excel at the bigger companies. Understand that experience is experience. My first job was at a film company called FilmGate Miami and I remember coming down from an A24 rejection and I was not thrilled, but FilmGate Miami gave me the best, most formative work experience. The community you create is so fateful and that position was so destined for me. Stay humble and take any position that offers experience. Rejection is part of the process: it makes the wins that much more satisfying, [so] don’t let it deter you from anything. What is for you will not pass you.”

What are you currently working on?

“Recently, I was involved with the UTrailblazer Legacy Memorial Project, which is a permanent tribute site on the Coral Gables campus to honor and recognize UM Alumni of the Black diaspora. Getting ‘passed the torch’ really made me see the significance Gravity is starting to have.”

Photo credit: Julian Crosby

What are your plans for the future?

“I have to go abroad again. I have so much of the world left to see. I would love to work abroad and have a temporary residence in Europe. I feel like there is still such growth to be had, so much life to see and so much to explore and dive outside of the bubble that is America.”

“I am also applying to a lot of writing programs with a bunch of networks like NBC and Universal and if those happen to land, I will be off to Los Angeles. If not, I will travel a little bit — all vibes and very little money — but life is so much more than the material. You gotta live for what sets your soul on fire.”