The Walls Group and Pastor Mike Jr. Encourage Disney Dreamers Academy Students to Keep Their Faith as They Pursue Their Passions
The 2023 Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA) gave 100 high scholars students from across the country chance of a lifetime with a life-changing four-day immersive career and leadership experience. Throughout their time at the Most Magical Place on Earth, students participated in career sessions that taught valuable life tools, leadership skills, effective communication techniques, and networking strategies. They also participated in-depth workshops within their specific dreams and disciplines offered in the fields of business, entertainment, and sciences, and even career opportunities within The Walt Disney Company. While there, celebrity mentors, such as the 2023 ambassador Halle Bailey, gave them words of wisdom on how to keep their inner magic shining as they remain steadfast in their pursuits.
The Walt Disney Company has been committed to diversifying its resorts, attractions, theme parks, and programs. It's one of the reasons the DDA was birthed. And with the company's Celebrate Soulfully initiative designed to bring about culturally specific events and programs targeted primarily to Black and brown communities, they are sure to include programs of faith.
Aside from the closing ceremony featuring performances and encouragement from The Walls Group and Pastor Mike Jr., both spoke on the balance of following one's dream while keeping one's faith beside you. Members of The Walls Group resonate with the challenges that can come with being gospel artists who also attract attention from the mainstream media who may not share the same faith-based foundation. PopCulture.com was among a handful of media outlets that attended DDA and spoke with both Pastor Mike Jr. and The Walls Group.
PC: What attracted you guys to the Disney Dreamers Academy, and how are you managing the idea of staying close to your beliefs as gospel artists while navigating potentially going commercial?
Paco Walls: I think that what attracted us to Dreamers Academy is that there are a bunch of dreamers here, and we like to dream about the things that we want to do before we go and accomplish them, but also establishing and maintain our ethics and morals and what we believe in going commercial. I think that we know how to separate the two. And there's your ethics, and then there is what you do, and sometimes they intertwine, but it can kind of blur the lines and kind of make everything messy. So what you do is, you don't place yourself in places that compromise your morals and your ethics.
But even in those places, you exist still within yourself in those places so that you don't have to compromise. You are there to accomplish what you got to accomplish, and then you go back and get back into your room.
Ahjah Walls: Peer pressure is nothing new. We've all dealt with peer pressure since we were teenagers. I think that's really all that means. So when people want you to compromise, just like when you were a kid, and you had to learn to say, "No.". It's like certain things you're going to have to say "No." to, and that be OK. I think that who you are ethically, it's just who you are, and if it can be so easily changed, then maybe you are not so solid in who you are. So I feel like maintaining our identity, which is what got us commercial in the first place…
Is so important. Honoring ourselves, honoring where we came from, and also honoring God. That's just who we are. So I don't think that it's going to be a hard transition if we do transition like that.
Rhea Walls: While we are here, we really want to show the Dreamers that the sky is the limit. I love to see that they're doing positive things and really great things and not other things because they can be doing some other things. I love that they feel like they can sit down and touch us because they can completely sing a song together, and snap our fingers.
Media question: I love y'all's energy as a group. Tell me what y'all do personally, internally, to keep y'all's energy where it is at all times.
Paco Walls: You got to block it out. You block out what don't vibe with you, and you kind of just keep your main... Maintaining your own vibe is personal. But we get with each other, we already halfway like each other because we're related, we're siblings. But it's about just halfway through maintaining your vibe.
Darrell Walls: Yes. Everybody else has it too. We learned that. It comes from you first, before it comes from anybody else. So whatever you need to do for you to make sure that you are always OK, then everybody is okay.
Ahjah Walls: Because you'll see how quickly it spread. If you are in a good mood, you'll see how quickly it spreads. I'm telling you, when you get your mind right, when you got your heart right, you got your career right, can't go wrong.
PC: Pastor Mike Jr., as a man of faith, there are a hundred kids here. How are you encouraging kids to obviously chase their goals, but stay connected to their faith as well as stay grounded as they climb?
PMJ: I believe one of the biggest things we got to change, especially young pastors, is this notion that to be poor is to be saved. In church growing up, you couldn't wear makeup, you couldn't wear nothing. If you had something, it was the devil. And to me, I believe you could be saved and paid, or God doesn't mind you having stuff, but he does mind stuff having you. So what I'm trying my best to do is there are two types of people in this world. You got travel agents, and you got tour guides. A travel agent will book you a flight somewhere, you don't have no idea. Hey, go to Africa, God bless you, give me your money. But a tour guide going to be in the jungle with you saying, that's a tiger, don't go this way. So for me, Dreamers Academy, they're tour guides.
They're saying, no, no, no, no, we want to help navigate this path with you and help you go to another level. So that's what I'm trying to do. Just show them that you can be saved and saucy and still love God and still kick it and still have a good time and still live a blessed life. If not, man, this generation, they not believing like we did. Church was forced on us, but sadly, their parents went through so much in church that now if mom and daddy ain't believing how that's going to impact you. So I think we just got to come out the church and just be really personal.
Media question: How do you keep your inner magic alive?
PMJ: My inner magic? Oh, that's easy. I know my why, man. I never did this for money or fame and none of that. I was 25 years old, and I got tired of seeing my friends die. I felt the Lord called me to start a church. So at 25, there's 10 of us, 26 maybe 1,200 by 27, it's seven, eight, 9,000 people. And so, for me, that's my why.
In the city of Birmingham, where I'm from, we just paid off a million dollars worth of medical debt for everybody in the city. So imagine going to the mailbox and anybody who had passed due medical bills paid in full by Pastor Mike and Rock Church. Just bought brand new uniforms for everybody. So for me, I want to change their narrative that the higher you go, the more arrogant you get. From me, the higher I go, the more I'm going to start pulling people up, man. So I'll be that spiritual Peter Robinhood, go get it and take it back to the city.0comments