Name: Sama’an Ashrawi
Major: Radio Television and Film
Year: Senior (4th Year)
Hometown: Houston, TX
Future aspiration: Make successful films or write for Rolling Stone Magazine
Who: Co-producer of Texas Student Television’s (TSTV) Longhorn Hip-Hop
What: Longhorn Hip-Hop, formerly known as ATX Most Wanted, is a student run TV program that interviews different bands and artists, primarily those in the rap and hip-hop culture, who come through Austin.
Sama’an, who did his first interview about a year ago, has come a long way. He got his first interview with The Cool Kids by Googling their manager’s email to get in contact with them. He then gained credibility among those involved at ATX Most Wanted and has since proceeded to take on the show himself. The show’s theme song is “Loftin’ N Austin” by Austin rap collective, The League of Extraordinary G’z (who were the first members of Austin’s hip-hop community to reach out to Sama’an).
Sama’an with (from left to right) Kirko Bangz, Cory Mo, Talib Kweli, and Paul Wall.
Photo cred: Anthony Guillen
Business is pleasure. He is also the Director of Entertainment Programming at TSTV, putting him in charge of 13 different shows. He goes to album release parties, gains access to exclusive events, and gets to socialize with celebrities on a regular basis.
On how Sama’an handles his work he says, “For me, the way I approach everything, I take it very seriously. A lot of people think my life is one big party but it’s not.”
Other than simply interviewing artists, he likes to get to know them as people and gain their trust and respect.
“I kind of view building relationships as part of my homework” Sama’an says. “It’s been really nice to have that kind of relationship with people where I can go to them for advice…on a personal level.”
One artist in particular that he has built a close relationship with is Bun B, a Grammy-nominated Houston rapper and a Rice University professor.
“He goes out of his way to do things for me that provide no real benefit to him. I think the biggest reward is having that type of relationship where I can look to Bun for advice and mentorship.”
On what Bun B says of Sama’an: “His approach is mature and humble, and his affection for hip-hop is deep and sincere. He reminds me of a young me.” He even made Sama’an a Trill Gladiator, or a member of his in-group. “Trill Gladiators represent loyalty, dedication, honor, respect and honesty. So does Sama’an. It was only right.”
One of the many great things about Sama’an is that his passion for music is what drives him to work as hard as he does. “I get out what I put in it,” he notes. He furthers this passion through DJ-ing, which he’s enjoyed as a hobby since the 8th grade. Aside from these activities (and classes of course), he likes to help people out in whatever way he can.
“If I can get my foot in the door, I like to hold the door open for people. Whenever I can help people out I try to do it.”
Sama’an with Bun B & Truck the night he became a Trill Gladiator.
Advice for others:
First, focus on your talent.
“Stop and take a look around and reflect on what you’re good at. Most of the time it doesn’t even occur to you.” Once you have that in mind, “Dream as big as you can. That’s the only reason why I’ve ever done anything cool just because I have these huge ideas, I shoot for the stars, and maybe they don’t work out exactly how I want but I usually land somewhere between the stars and the clouds, and that approach has really worked for me.”
Working hard, making connections, and having a positive attitude are keys to success. As far as specific career goals and passions go, “figure out who are the top people in that field…it’s the 21st century so Google them, find their email, tweet them; they may not answer you the 1st or the 2nd time but you must make those connections now so when you graduate they will be willing to extend their hand to you.”
And don’t forget to do something crazy once in a while. “School is important and I always put school first,” Sama’an says, “but don’t be afraid to do something crazy. You’re in college so you can do that. You never know how big it can pay off for you.”
Some of the people Sama’an has interviewed:
Top 5 most played songs on iTunes (you’d be surprised!):
- Corcovado – Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto
- Jammin’ – Bob Marley
- Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
- Respiration – Black Star ft. Common
- Pawn Shop – Sublime
Photo Credit: Kristine Canterbury