Dancing to a Different Beat

These individuals have bucked convention and found fulfilling jobs off the beaten path

own in 1993. Today, her rates vary, depending on the type of work, the artist and the venue, and she employs an agent to handle her negotiating and field jobs. Advertising shoots pay the most, with the scale anywhere from $150 to $5,000 a day. Generally, the bigger the celebrity, the bigger the pay. Ross and Vandross have paid Davis upwards of $2,500 a day, the same fee she might get to work with an entire band of lesser known performers.

The money, while good, is not all gravy. Davis says she made about $100,000 last year. But her expenses, which include a few trips to Europe each year to “smell the trends and see the shows,” and the costs of looking stylish herself-clearly a job requirement-are significant. Also, because even the best freelance stylists can encounter monthlong dry spells, careful money management is key. And, as with the artists she serves, Davis is in an industry in which, at 34, she’s already considered “up there.” “It’s almost like an athlete’s life,” she says. “You’ve got your prime time and then it’s time to move on.”

Having recently moved to the suburbs of New York with her eight-year-old daughter, Davis is working on a book about the impact of a dozen black women on the fashion world, as well as another writing project focused on the black fashion aesthetic.

“We picked the cotton that made the clothes, but we’re still not major players in the fashion world,” she says. “It’s important for young black people to know that there is a place for them in this industry, and being a designer or a model aren’t the only ways to get in. There are other ways to impact the images of who we, as black people, are-images that will stand for all time.”

Rodney Saulsberry has heard it his whole life. In response to his singing, acting and even his answering machine message, he’s been told repeatedly: “You have a great voice.”

But it wasn’t until 1992, after his two-and-a-half minute audition tape was snatched up by one of Hollywood’s big-gest agencies, International Creative Management (ICM), that Saulsberry nailed his first job as a voiceover artist.

Five years later, his voice is, literally, everywhere. It’s the voice you hear narrating a movie trailer that ends with, “Starts Friday at a theater near you.” Which trailers? You name it: The Players Club, Crooklyn, BAPS, Blues Brothers 2000, Clockers, Out of Sight, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Soul Food and Friday are just a few. He’s also done television promos for most of the networks.

Saulsberry narrated the critically acclaimed True Hollywood Story on the Life of Marvin Gaye, and was the voice heard leading into commercials for last fall’s NBC’s The Temptations movie. He’s a credited announcer on Russell Simmons’ One World Music Beat and also does commercials for Honda Accord, Alpo, Nestle Crunch and more.

If it sounds like a lot of work, it should: Saulsberry made more than $200,000 last year. But if it

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