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Gina Sedman, Founder & CEO of GNA Universal Media, Tells Her Life's Story After 50 Years!

Gina Sedman is the C.E.O./President and Founder of GNA Universal Media, including all partnering companies, NDME TV, The Indie Post, Indie Soul Radio, Under The Radar Magazine, Gico Music, The CV Indie Film Awards, and All IndieFlix. With over 30 years of combined experience in various functions within the independent entertainment community, jack of all trades Gina Sedman is a modern-day multi-faceted superwoman.

Having experienced the shifting sands of the music industry firsthand, Gina decided to remove herself from the borrowing end of the equation to become a lender of time and support for independent artists. Supporting the unsupported requires ownership, as she quickly realized. Gina has not only self-funded all her artistic endeavors, including music, film, and award shows, but she has also helped launch the careers of several independent artists and actors. Many have referred to Gina as the "mother Terresa" of independent entertainment, and she has earned the title of Philanthropist due to her generosity of spirit. In this interview, she shares a condensed overview of her life, struggles, and victories in her personal and professional life.

Hi Gina, where were you born and raised? I was born on October 17th in Chicago, IL, and raised all over LA. I lived in almost every town in that region, from Inglewood to Central LA to Hawthorne.

Do you have any siblings? Yes. I am the middle child of four sisters. One older and two that are younger.

Tell me about your upbringing. Life was normal until about the age of eight when my parents divorced. After that, things spiraled out of control, and life became bizarre and unpredictable. A rollercoaster would be the best way to describe it. During the ride up the tracks, it moves slowly, but once it reaches the peak, buckle up because it's going to be a frightening ride.

Could you please elaborate on what you mean by spinning out of control? My parent's divorce changed the environment in which we lived. It was as if we were thrust into an adult world while still children, a place where we weren't supposed to be at that age.

What caused your parents' divorce? Since everyone has their reality in divorce, I do not know the truth. Only through my mother's influence did I feel pressured to choose her side. Although she told me that my dad was the story's villain, I had never witnessed him put his hands on my mother in violence, nor did I hear arguing between them. I'm sure there were disagreements, but it wasn't in our presence.

Even though my dad was a strict, old-school father, he provided some of my most memorable childhood moments. In addition to teaching us about Jesus, he also taught us about the great men and women in the Bible. We visited Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, ate at unique restaurants, made puppets, and went camping.

How did your life change after that event? Life changed drastically. One thing different from before was that we had to visit our father every other weekend. We had a house in Inglewood, CA, at the time of my parent's divorce. When he left, he took his clothes and vehicle. During that time, my dad had an old truck with a camper shell on top, so he would drive to a junkyard and park there when he picked us up. A friend of my dad's owned an auto mechanic shop and let my dad park in his yard. It was just the three of us at the time. My youngest sister had not been born at that time.

Tell me about your dad. My dad was very creative and talented. He had a voice like Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra wrapped in one package. Both my mom and dad played piano. My mom taught piano lessons when I was around five years old. My dad served in the army for years and left with many medals of honor. He was very protective of his children and loved God but was stern. Old school stern. My dad passed away about seven years ago from cancer, but we developed a strong bond over the years. My talent, ambition, and laughter came from my dad.

What things would you do with your father? I remember my dad teaching us arts and crafts and how to make puppets. Also, when my dad used to pick us up, he would take us to the grocery store, and we would buy what they used to call back then T.V. dinners. He also would buy us ice milk. Ice milk was like ice cream. It was up to us to choose our dinner, so I decided on turkey and dressing or fried chicken. Swanson TV dinners come with an aluminum foil cover you pull back to reveal the dessert. We didn't have microwaves back then, so you had to cook everything on the stove or heat it in the oven. The desserts were always my favorite part of the T.V. dinners. I'm not sure what they're called today; frozen entrees, I think.

After dinner, there used to be a table in the middle of the camper that my dad would lower down to turn into a bed. He will pull the mattress over that, and all three of us girls would sleep on that, and my dad was sleeping on the top bunk over that hungover the part of the truck where you drove.

It was where we lived when we visited our father for a while until my dad got his apartment in a rough part of Los Angeles. It was very different from where I lived in Inglewood. I hated that we had loud neighbors, and the place was infested with roaches. My preference has always been for quiet, peaceful environments, and this was the exact opposite of our next-door neighbors. Back then, you didn't express your feelings about what you thought, you just went along with whatever your parents told you, or you'd get your head knocked off. The smell of my father spraying in the kitchen at night to kill the roaches while we were supposed to be asleep still haunts me.

The fumes stung my nostrils, and I hated it! I remember my dad telling me they now have pine-scented "Raid" and later unscented "Raid." Despite his best efforts, my dad couldn't get rid of those dang roaches, no matter what he did. They were there before he moved there, and they weren't going to let a raid-spraying preacher from Chicago kick them out of their habitat. (laughter) I think that's why I'm terrified of bugs to this day. But I was happy that my dad finally got his place, and we didn't have to sleep in the camper anymore.

Is that how you lived until you graduated high school? No, unfortunately, I stopped wanting to go.

Why? Didn't you have fun with your dad? I loved my dad, but he was extremely stern, and sometimes, his anger frightened me.

Was he physically abusive to you? No, He was never physically or mentally abusive, but I was afraid of my father because he had a temper and was a black belt in Karate. You didn't mess with my dad. He wasn't afraid of anyone or anything. Even though he was a lot of fun and creative, you didn't want to get on his wrong side. He was old school and put a great deal of emphasis on obedience. I was afraid of my dad's temper. Sometimes I hid in the closet when he was scheduled to pick me up. I remember hearing him banging on the front door of my house, asking my mother to get me in the car, but I was determined to hide in the closet because I didn't want to go. My dad would eventually stop trying.

Sometimes when my dad would come over to pick me up, my mother would call the police on him. After a while, my dad stopped getting us all together because he was tired of the drama. As a result of the divorce, they split the furniture and sold the family house. Life became super chaotic at that point.

For your children's sake, did your parents make an effort to get along? No, my mother did not like my father, and my father did not like my mother, so we were caught in the middle of their arguments and fights. Having to choose between the two was heartbreaking for me.

At that point, what happened? As a result, my mother gradually lost interest in life and became childlike in her behavior. That type of behavior resulted in difficult, bizarre, and unstable circumstances.

Can you share a few memories? Yes, I remember my mother relying on me to do many things as the middle child. In my case, I was a child and young teen thrust into adulthood. When Michael Jackson wrote the song "Have you seen my childhood?" he wasn't the only one searching for it. (laughter)

Having so much responsibility at such a young age was unfair. My obligation for her happiness and stability always weighed heavily on my shoulders. I was my mother's go-to person for everything. It was almost like I became the parent, and she was the child.

When I was a young child, my mother often asked me to find a place to live in the newspaper, take the bus, and put money on the electric bill to restore our electricity when it turned off. I was responsible for lifting her spirits when she was down. And that was quite often. My mother spent a lot of time in her bedroom with the door closed and shut off from the world and us. I remember missing many days of school so that I could try to cheer her up, but it seemed as though nothing worked. She was always sad and crying and pretty much tapped out of life. I remember the feeling of wondering where we were going to live. I always felt unsure. My upbringing was highly precarious and toxic.

How did your upbringing affect your schooling? Because we moved around so much and because I would stay out of school for so many days to care for an unhappy mother, my grades were affected. I was out of school numerous days due to life drama.

Life drama? Yes. Many of my formative years in school attendance were affected because my mother sometimes wanted me to stay home and lift her spirit. At that time, my mother's days were filled with sadness, tears, and depression. I even remember my mother having a stroke, but it didn't disfigure her body or mentality. It was a minor one, but we were always told that her stroke was our fault and that we had better treat her right or she would have another stroke that would kill her, and it would be our fault. Growing up was like trying to avoid stepping on a ticking timebomb. So yes, I took off many days from school, doing everything I could to make her happy. It never really worked, but at least that was my aim. Happy mother, happy life.

Because we moved around a lot, I was always the new girl in school. I went to 14 different schools, and we moved nine other times. On one occasion, we lived in a camper with my mom parked on the street, not too far from the Fox Hills Mall in Los Angeles, because we had nowhere to go. I remember my mom parking the camper anywhere she could, and we would sleep in there. One night, the police knocked on the camper door with a flashlight. I was so scared.

She would drop us off at our school and pick us back up in the morning. On one occasion, the kids caught wind that we were living in a camper parked on the street, and they made fun of us. They would say, "are you going to watch the Cosby Show? No, because you live in a camper." Then they laughed at me.

Did you stay with your grandmother for a minute? My grandmother on my mother's side moved to California from Chicago. She was the only one that could help us at the time. As a result of my mom and grandmother's volatile relationship, my grandmother put a lot of pressure on us whenever we came to the house for showers or cleaning. During their phone conversations, they would cuss each other out and scream at each other very loudly. Despite saying horrible things to each other, they couldn't stay apart. The relationship was very bizarre. Although she fed us, she didn't want us to stay.

Moreover, my grandmother favored my oldest sister because she was of mixed race and fair-skinned. Although she used the expression "no good "n***ga" to refer to me, referencing my dark skin color, I felt she loved me in her own way because she would do things like give us money and bake us a cake on our birthday. I remember finding her statements amusing at the time, maybe because I could not believe my grandmother would look at me with such disdain simply because of my skin color. I Laughed it off to protect my heart. Now that I look back at some of the cruel things she said and her coldness towards me, I can see how inhumane and afflicted her soul was. I feel sad that she went through life that way. I took what I could get from the love she was willing to give, but she was super firey and had a funny sense of humor. I can honestly say that I've never met anyone like her before. She was indeed a unique soul.

There was just no stability at all in my upbringing. I never felt as though I could settle and make a home anywhere. Everything was always temporary. Our lives were constantly being tossed around from here to there. We lived all over L.A. On two occasions, I ran away from home because my home was so unstable. Even so, I returned home because I had nowhere else to go, and something horrible happened to me while away from home that I'm not going to mention.

Did you eventually settle down somewhere? Not really. I just felt like we were just existing. In other words, we were living to survive wherever that was, and however that came about, that's what life was for us.

The constant moving and instability affect a girl's growth in what ways? The effect it had on me was both positive and negative. I had my sisters to play with, but as far as having my own friends and going to school, I was always the new girl. I became reclusive, but the good thing was that it allowed me to tap into my creative abilities without distractions. The bad part about all of it is that I grew up never feeling like I belonged. As a result, I could never make long-term friendships because every time I made a friend, that friend was ripped away. Growing up in such a situation is extremely difficult for a young girl.

Did you graduate high school? Barely, but yes. In one of my classes, I had a D in the class and an F on my finals, so my teacher told me that I could flip a coin, and that's the grade I would get. So, I called the right side of the coin and passed with a D. (laughs)

How do you feel about your parents today? I love and forgive my mother and father, but sadly I don't have a relationship with my mother. I spent my entire life trying to get my mother to love me, but for some reason, it never happened. I never felt loved by my mother; I didn't back then and still don't. I look so much like my father, so my theory is maybe that's the reason why my mother treated me the way she did, but the truth is, I'll never really know. It's something I will always have to live with.

Regarding my dad, we connected when I was in my last year of high school, and I got a chance to know my dad and found out how much fun he was. In my adult years, I was very close to my dad until he died of cancer about seven years ago. I will say I was a daddy's girl. Although he was strict, he meant well. He just grew up in a different era, but I will say that I'm grateful for him because if it had not been for him, I would have never accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. That's the greatest gift that my dad could have left with me.

What happened after you graduated high school? I got married at eighteen, and four months after I got married, I got pregnant with my son. Sadly, the marriage ended about three years into marriage, and I became a single-parent mom. I love my son with all my heart! He's the biggest blessing that came out of that union, and I felt God gave me someone who would truly love me unconditionally. I love him so much, and I'm so proud of him! We've been through so much together. Good and bad days but today, I'm so blessed that we have a beautiful relationship. We have breakfast dates whenever he's in town. I enjoy spending time with my son. He is funny, intelligent, and a blessing to me.

In retrospect, in what ways do you feel as though the divorce affected you? I didn't think it did, or at least didn't realize how much it affected me until later in life.

What were the signs that you noticed of how it affected you? For one, the constant moving around and the lack of foundational home security always made me afraid of losing everything and becoming homeless. That fear caused me to work extra hard to ensure my living stability. I was apprehensive about trusting anyone for my financial or living stability. I felt like the only one I could trust in God and myself. After all, everyone I trusted for that stability let me down and made me feel unsafe and unsure. Therefore I was determined not ever to allow my life and the well-being of it to be placed solely into anyone's hands ever again. The other thing is that I was raised by a strict Father and a mother who could never be pleased or satisfied, not even by an apology. I became a people pleaser. I remember always saying I was constantly apologizing to everyone, even when I had nothing to be sorry about. I even remember my friends telling me to stop apologizing! If you apologize one time! It's funny now when I remember how sorry I always was all the time. (laugher)

I always thought people were mad at me because my mom raised us with silent treatment. So I always had to guess why she was not talking to me. That wasn't easy. That emotional abuse journeyed through my life and how I reacted to people and their interactions with me. It was always from an analytical approach. Never really trusting people and constantly feeling like they had another motive. It's like living in prison. Also, making everyone else happy and meeting their needs became my primary goal in life, even to the point of disregarding my feelings. The constant effort I put into pleasing everyone else wore down my body emotionally and physically.

I realized that completing and achieving so many things became my validation of my worth and value because I didn't get that love and confirmation from my mother.

Last, As a result of my journey to find love and validation led me on a journey of being involved in multiple marriages and relationships, only to learn that broken people like myself could never fulfill the need for love, stability, and validation, but through God's unshakable love for me regardless of my past is where I learned to find my validation. As a side note, you cannot expect others to give you what only God can. That's the mistake I made. I expected more from others than what they were able to give in their brokenness. They were just as broken as I was. How can a broken vessel fix another broken vessel? They can't, and neither could I.

That healing has to come from God alone. People can't fix you, and it is unwise to have unrealistic expectations from people. They will fail you every time. So, this is a lesson I had to learn. Yes, I've been a Christian all my life practically, but, in retrospect, it was only religion. Sundays were spent going to church and practicing religious works. Somewhere in me, I thought that doing that would make God love me and accept me more. That's something I had to come to grips with. I didn't want to see it that way, but it was true. I spent many years being religious, but a genuine relationship with Christ Jesus resulted from making mistakes and seeing God's love and forgiveness towards me.

I also appreciate how God provided for me and always provided a way for me despite the many ways I messed up my life. He was always there to put the pieces together. Therefore, His love, patience, grace, and mercy towards me led me to ditch religion, find my genuine relationship with Christ Jesus, and make Him my Lord and Savior. It is no longer about religion or going through the motions but about walking with Christ Jesus daily. My life forever changed in 2020 when the light bulb came on—no more looking back.

I only learned my value and how much God loved me through a genuine relationship with Christ Jesus. It is not my mother's lack of love, notice, or support that validated me; Christ Jesus alone validates me. Not a man's love, but only Christ Jesus' love can validate me.

Today, I am happy to say that after 48 years of chaos, I finally got it, and I am a changed woman. I am satisfied with who I am, what I look like, and where I am going. My geekiness and flaws are even OK with me. Will I continue to grow? Absolutely. My current position may not be where others think it should be, but I have learned from my mistakes and failures, so I am not the person I used to be.

Someone special came into your life. Yes, my son's grandmother is on my ex-husband's side of the family. Not only was she there for me, being a young single parent mom, but her family as well. She taught me how to cook meals and decorate my home; she ensured my son had school clothes when I was short of cash. She ensured that I had a car to drive my son around, and she always brought us food and filled our pantry. She even came to my house one day and laid carpet on the floor so we wouldn't be on a cold floor. She was always willing to be a listening ear and supported me in all my dreams. She was there for me 100 percent, and I will always love her as if she was my biological mom. She did everything a mother would do for her daughter. I met her when I was 15 years old. I was poor in those days, but I did my best to provide for my son. I'll always remember the kindness she showed me in some of the most challenging moments of my life as a single-parent mom.

So, let's talk about your musical talents. God gave you a gift. How did you develop that over the years? Well, I first began singing in grammar school at church with my dad. I was first discovered by a few children at school while singing a song called, Silly by Denise Williams. When they heard me sing, they gathered around and then ran and told the school's principal that I could sing. The principal asked me to sing for her, and I did. from there, I sang at school talent shows and events outside the school setting, like school board events and Christmas parties. I even got paid for it.

How old were you? I was in the second grade. This went on throughout my teenage years.

Did you sing during worship as well? Yes, when my dad used to pick us up, he would take us to our church, and he made me sing. I didn't want to sing, but he made me.

Why didn't you want to sing? Because I felt uncomfortable. My sisters weren't singing; therefore, I felt singled out. I didn't want to feel like I was someone special. I wanted us all to be treated equally. In a way, I feared the consequences of being singled out and that my sisters and friends would not like me because they would think that I was trying to be better than they were, which is not the case. I didn't want them to feel like I was trying to shine above them.

Did you sing in a choir? Not at that time; I just sang using a background cassette tape.

I sang in charitable events where underprivileged children received free Christmas toys as a child. After I sang, we waited in the same line to get our Christmas toys. Likewise, we were unprivileged.