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Gina Martial-Clarke of the Glo Up Foundation

Gina Martial-Clarke, the dynamic force behind Gina Ma Brands and the Glo Up Foundation, is reshaping the landscape of media and creative arts mentorship. Through the Glo Up Program, an innovative initiative launched in 2022, Gina is empowering aspiring media creators with unparalleled opportunities for mentorship, portfolio building, and real-world experiences.

Gina Martial-Clarke of the Glo Up Foundation

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.

Glo Up is a media, creative arts & entertainment year-round program. We focus on mentorship, portfolio building, job readiness, and job opportunities through the elite experiences the interns participate in. Experiences can range from film and music video sets, and editorial shoots, to celebrity events, concert coverage, brand launches, and fashion to visual design projects to name a few. This immersive program fosters creativity, networking, and skill-building in a multitude of roles across various disciplines. Their experiences are customized based on their specific areas of speciality under this umbrella, including animation, marketing, and PR.

What problem does it aim to solve?

The goal is to bridge their school-acquired knowledge to high-level hands-on experiences within the industry that are not necessarily as accessible otherwise on this level. Ultimately leading to potential employment. In addition, it has been more challenging for students to acquire internships with companies willing to put aside budgets to hire and train them. Glo Up provides solutions for both students and employers.

The program welcomes students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, prioritizing inclusivity. We help students begin their professional careers, working with top industry professionals including celebrity clientele on up-and-coming projects within small teams to deliver high-quality content and shine creatively. Our partnerships with industry icons have led to unique experiences for participants.

Gina Ma Brands numerous events, collaborations, and initiatives open doors to unique experiences. The Glo Up Program empowers future media creators, as well as provides mentorship. I not only recruit the students, but I also create the majority of the experiences for the students through my own projects and industry alliances. A hybrid of remote and in-person experiences is available through the nationwide program, though most experiences are from within Ontario, particularly the GTA. Once more supports are in place the plan is for further expansion in other cities and provinces where appropriate.

When did you start/join it?

I came up with the vision for Glo Up in August of 2022 and officially launched it in September of 2022. I am a producer, creator, and brand developer, so it did not take long for me to come up with a multi-phase/tier concept and roll it out within a couple of weeks.

What made you want to get involved?

When I came across a third party that offered stipends for interns to complete projects through another corporate collaborator, I recognized there was not a direct platform/avenue for students within the film/TV/media, creative arts and entertainment spaces. I created that division, kept it as a separate entity, and then collaborated with the other party.

Based on my own internship and job experiences, as well as my spiritual journey, I was compelled to help others, despite the challenges and unpleasant experiences/encounters I had along the way both personally and career-wise.

It was a calling to create this, and I know it was something I was meant to do. Thankfully I have established many positive relationships with several executives and industry leaders over the past couple of decades. Instead of hoarding my connections, I decided to pave the way for others in a way that many of us did not experience while breaking into our respective industries. In addition, they are learning while enhancing their abilities, and applying them in an impactful way.

What was the situation like when you started?

I put up recruitment postings, welcomed referrals, then vetted through hundreds of applicants, and hired all of the candidates that stood out. My first home base of sorts was TMU, and a large percentage of my first wave of students came from there. I hosted direct sessions on campus moulding a group of students so we could use those sessions to prepare, and present their skill sets to other industry leaders. This was to encourage them to give us test projects to prove just how amazing my students’ abilities were, so they could use those experiences to extend their portfolios.

While the currently enrolled post-secondary students are paid through the stipends, I do not yet receive direct funding to cover staffing or operational costs, not even for myself. Everything to date was out of my own pockets, and it was challenging, especially within these economic times. The work I put into this is like having 10 full-time jobs without the revenue. I easily put in 12-hour days, even though I do not have set hours. I review projects/assignments anytime they come in and provide feedback even if it’s at 3 am! I have always been someone who helped others even when I needed help myself.

I am essentially a one-woman show, usually overseeing approximately 35-40 students per term, including those fulfilling their mandatory internships through their post-secondary institutions. I can be overwhelming at times. Since I do not have a direct budget to run this program yet, I do not have official staff yet, so I created a structure and trained participants to operate like a mini corporation, and gave supervisor and creative director and administrative roles to help me execute this program while I was also trying to secure my own separate contracts through my other company to sustain it, and my financial needs.

Then I started bringing in other industry partners to help expand the opportunities and mentorship even further such as Saint Bailey, Troy Crossfield of Crossfield House Productions, and eventually Kieran Khan, of Kieran Khan Productions agreed to be one of our direct program leads. Through that stream, students worked with a multitude of his projects including concerts and festivals with known celebrities, and an Adidas TFC campaign he directed, which one of our successful grads edited.

How has it changed since?

Honestly, the program rapidly expanded and reached a level of success this past year and a half that exceeded my expectations, both popularity and partnership-wise leading to additional solid experiences for participants.

Since I have formed strong relationships with several top colleges and universities. About a dozen have allowed their students to successfully fulfil their mandatory internship requirements through Glo Up including, TMU, Guelph Humber, Fanshawe, Centennial, Sheridan, Seneca @ York and more. I am so thankful that they have seen the value of what this program has to offer. Last year we had about a dozen grads, and this year about a dozen more. While several students continued to work in the program for year two. We have several students also freelancing in the program independently of their schools. Those students come from most of the postsecondary institutions in Ontario including the ones already mentioned along with U of T, York, Western, Toronto Film School, Humber. Hopefully, there will be funding support to expand these efforts in the near future.

Opportunities in the program has enabled some students to be hired onto contracts as a result by various industry collaborators.

Since we have strong visuals and results from past projects, potential collaborators who held back to see what we could do when I approached them initially, are now open to finally work with us. Award-winning Nomad Films is among our newer industry partners. This new openness also led to our exciting official partnership kick-off campaign with Raptors 905 to name a few. We hope to expand not only our industry collaborators but also hope to receive direct funding for the program including sponsorship from other sources.

Those we have partnered with include Raptors 905, Chris Smith Management/21 Ent, Kieran Khan Productions, Nomad Films, The Consulate General’s Office based in Los Angeles, The Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, and we have also worked in collaboration with CIBC, BMO, Fela TV, Crossfield House Productions, OBJX Studios, Sasha Stoltz Publicity, Warner Records, Def Jam, and more!

In addition, last school year students worked more in supportive roles on projects, this year we have produced in-house Glo Up projects including a series of mini-documentaries on talent, and others making an impact within media, creative, and business worlds. Among those featured was the 905 and Glo Up experience, a Juno-winning artist, a Grammy nominee and others.

What more needs to be done?

Our goal is to partner with a network or streaming service to be an avenue to showcase our work. We are also hoping known media funds will provide or set aside additional resources that could be tapped into for our projects including scripted content.

We are seeking long term funding support, sponsorship, and paid brand collaboration opportunities for the program itself, and on a project basis. We would also like to extend funding opportunities for this program not only to pay stipends to currently enrolled postsecondary students, but also graduates, and maybe freelancers who need to build up their skill sets and just need a bit more support. There was a smaller temporary pool of stipends available to international students this school year, and we had some amazing talent we could bring on because of this. Otherwise, the opportunity is still available for school credits to participate now that funding is no longer available for the time being.

Collaborations could range from high fashion and sporting apparel, hair & makeup brands, products, financial institutions, technology companies, rideshares, car brands or dealerships, equipment and vehicle rental companies, airlines, studios, and other services. We would love to get more access and involvement at large concert and sporting events, film festivals, and special event coverage.

How can our readers help?

Viewers can help by spreading the word, like and following our pages, and fostering additional partnerships that can contribute to our efforts.

Financial support to sustain operations is much needed at this time. Corporate, and private donations, and leads are much needed at this time.

Investing in the program allowing for expansion of opportunities for participants and the foundation itself will greatly impact our communities, and additional initiatives could be explored to additionally impact them.

We are even speaking with organizations to see how we can support their efforts, particularly with supporting job creation, entrepreneurial efforts, and other initiatives.

Do you have any events coming up?

On the Gina Ma Brands side, I am hoping to plan other events similar to high-level events held at CIBC Square, which included a pro athlete, and another with a star-studded panellist discussion during TIFF week.

The goal is to host additional speaking engagements, and fundraisers ranging from performance events, galas, community engagements/outreach to also support and encourage youth to enter this line of work. There are some amazing organizations we have in mind doing great work that we could potentially collaborate with in this regard.

Where can we follow you? 

We have put in so much of our efforts into producing content we have yet to fully grow our socials. The next few campaigns lined up are aiming to build a following gaining more eyes on our work.

Website | Instagram | TikTok | YouTube

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

Shining Lighte Youth Charity. The founder is Kandice Henry. She is incredible and a dear friend. Some of my students have covered a couple of their projects in the past, and she is doing amazing work, especially for youth, particularly in at-risk communities. They focus on empowerment, financial literacy, life skills, community outreach and more. It would be great to see more support for her organization also. You can contact them here.