By Miko Evans for Meak Productions

Photos by Meak Productions, Mark Morin, Elijah Nicholas

Septimius (The Great) 

Septimius, born Marlowe Simms on June 8th in Baltimore, Maryland, is an International award-winning music artist, fashion model, and actor. During his years of performances, appearances, and leadership, Septimius has received numerous nominations and awards, including the Executive Award at Akademia Awards and Grammy FYC nominations. His inspiration comes from the unparalleled musical styles of icons such as Prince and of the Black Eyed Peas.

Now residing in Los Angeles, Septimius the Great is a thriving and formidable force in the world of dance and electronic music, establishing himself as an international multi-award-winning entertainer. He is also known for his creative spirit, and musical prowess expressed beautifully in each electric composition and has contributed massively to the music scene.  

Septimius started in the Pageantry circuit during his early years of performing and became a well-known figure in the LGBTQ+ community. In 2008, he founded the Mr. & Ms. International Pageantry System, which became the first global system of its kind to be partnered and funded by a major non-profit. 

In the summer of that year, while preparing to further his career, Septimius joined Meak Productions. In 2009, he became the first African-American talent to hold the title of Mr. Meak Productions 09. He also became the third recipient of the agency’s CD Single Remix Project for his single “Tell Me Now” via their record label, Meak Pro Music. He was a significant force in the agency until his hiatus in the fall of 2013.

Among his many accolades, Septimius has received nine Grammy FYC Nominations, 18 Indie Music Channel Awards, and seven Esteemed Radio Music Awards. His music was featured on Fox’s “Empire” and E Channel’s “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills.”

A complete package of genius and fashion flair, Septimius’ music is complemented seamlessly by his magnetic personality and acting. He played a Lead role on the TV Series, “Severus: The Black Caesar” and was also part of the distinguished contestants on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. 

Working with many talented industry producers, Septimius exudes a unique and infectious soundtrack, with memorable beats influenced by a distinct Ancient European style, blended with dance music, hip-hop, pop, and rock.

Currently being featured on several TV shows, radio stations, and magazines worldwide, Septimius hopes his music can target youth – a section of society that needs inspiration and motivation. With singles such as “I Am Fashion 2.0”, he focuses on the message of self-confidence, self-love, and being unfiltered in your stylistic expression.  

In 2018, Septimius was inducted into the Meak Productions’ Hall of Fame, which will forever solidify his contribution and dedication to the LGBTQ+ community.

Dr. Jesse Sanders

Dr. Jesse Sanders, Ph.D. from Columbus, Ohio, is a mental health counselor, public figure, inspirational and motivational speaker, and a best-selling author. He is also a single, gay, and co-parenting father. 

Dr. Sanders is the founder of Redefined LLC and Redefining Empowerment Center, providing therapeutic and social support to individuals and families living at the intersections of multiple oppressions. He aims to uncover the root of oppression & redefine their identities through positive, inclusive & expressive means. 

Being born and raised in the church, Dr. Sanders had great impartation and sound wisdom from his grandparents, Quentin and Zoma Sanders. Dr. Sanders prides his ability to counsel, coach, and mentor others, not only from his extensive education and background but from his previous personal struggles, lack of self and sexual identity, and lack of trust. Dr. Sanders has three amazing children from an earlier marriage; Vincent Wells Jr., Brianna Sanders, and Brielle Sanders. He came out as a Black gay man and father in 2017. 

Dr. Sanders has been educated and trained by the nation’s top institutions to achieve his goals of being a certified therapist and counselor, such as Liberty University and Metropolitan Christian University, where he received his Ph.D. Mental Health Christian Counselor, Master Coach University: Life Coaching Certification and The Academy of Modern Applied Psychology: CBT Practitioner.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Sanders has led people to find tenacity and strength to change their circumstances through positive self-inquiry and actions. As a result, Dr. Sanders has become an extraordinary visionary and is admired by many for his outstanding integrity, drive, transparency, and teaching.

After joining Meak Productions in 2017, Dr. Sanders introduced counseling options to the registered agency talents. He was also a workshop presenter at the Georgia Department of Public Health’s “Journey To Change” Conference and a guest speaker at Atlanta Black Gay Pride.

During the pandemic, he partnered with key leaders in Columbus, Ohio, to create “Cocktails & Conversations,” which is centered around professional networking and personal, financial empowerment, and mental health topics.

Dr. Sanders’s daily pursuit is to walk in authenticity. He offers a stimulating word with practicality and genuineness. He’s a dynamic dream maker who is affecting lives in many ways. Dr. Sanders has concluded that he will partner with individuals, communities, and family units to shift beyond their mental construction zone and advance in their destiny. 

Miss Cleo

Known by her nickname Miss Cleo (August 12, 1962 – July 26, 2016), Youree Dell Harris was a TV personality, actress, and queer activist. From 1997 to 2003, she portrayed a psychic reader for a pay-per-call service called Psychic Readers Network. 

Youree Cleomili, Youree Perris, Rae Dell Harris, Cleomili Perris Youree, and Cleomili Harris were some of the aliases she used. She was born in Los Angeles County Hospital to Alisa Teresa Hopis and David Harris. As a boarding student, she attended Ramona Convent Secondary School (a Catholic girls’ school in Alhambra, California) as a Catholic Afro-Caribbean family.

In 1996, Harris, as “Ree Perris,” wrote a play entitled For Women Only, playing a Jamaican woman named “Cleo” in Seattle. Under the stage name “Ree Perris,” she produced and performed two plays with the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center in Seattle.

After moving to Florida, Harris met Steven Feder and Peter Stotz (the founders of the Psychic Readers Network), and started taking calls as reader No. 16153. Before that, she used her Caribbean accent and worked as a psychic for a telemarketing company. During this time, she was approached by Suzanne Bech-Hansen and Donna Lee Williams, the main managers of Psychic Readers Network, and became the star of Psychic Readers Network on LRP Network.

There were accusations of deceptive advertising and fraud on the part of the Psychic Readers Network around this time after Harris’ stage name, “Miss Cleo,” was used to send unsolicited emails to her. There were complaints that Miss Cleo’s “associates” answered calls from scripts and charged for calls advertised as “free.” 

A tie-in book, Keepin’ It Real: A Practical Guide for Spiritual Living, appeared in 2001. Its authorship was attributed to Miss Cleo; however, Harris never received a dime. On July 11, 2001, Harris started a company, Waghwaan Entertainment, and had the honor of voicing the character of Auntie Poulet in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

In 2002, the Federal Trade Commission charged the company’s owners and Harris’ promoters with deceptive advertising, billing, and collection practices. Harris was not indicted. His successor dropped the charges. The state of Florida also sued Harris under a provision of the law that allowed spokespeople to be held liable. Dave Aronberg, a Florida Attorney General’s Office, led the state’s case against her. However, the damage had already been done, and Harris’ career as a public personality was over. “I signed a really bad contract and brought in business; I’m getting a salary and no benefits. I’m an independent contractor,” she said. The attorneys interviewed during the lawsuit vouched for her because they saw how little she was paid after seeing her tax return.

She signed up as a spokeswoman for TV music network Fuse in 2003 after a long hiatus from the public. According to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, she played Miss Cleo in TV ads for a used car dealership in Florida in early 2005. Also, during this time to make income, she started offering REAL tarot readings and performed at weddings. In September 2007, Harris released a spoken-word CD, Convicted for My Beliefs, and created a successful podcast.

As far as her personal life, Harris married at age 19, gave birth to a daughter, and divorced at age 21. She had a second daughter while in her late 20s. In 2006, she came out as a lesbian inspired by her Godson, Matt Rucker, and became a dedicated advocate for the LGBTQ+ Community by participating in Pride Marches and other community initiatives.

Harris developed colorectal cancer and died under hospice care in Palm Beach, Florida, on July 26, 2016, at the age of 53. In December 2022, HBO Max released a feature documentary about Harris’ life titled Call Me Miss Cleo, which features various testimonies from her former partners, family, godsons, close friends, and noted celebrities such as Raven-Symone (That’s So Raven) and Debra Wilson (MadTV). The documentary tries to decipher whether the woman was a gifted “voodoo priestess” who could converse with the other side and what life was like for her after the scandal.