Chanelle Blackwell2

Chanelle Blackwell founded public relations firm CPBlack Media. (Courtesy photo)

When Chanelle Blackwell of Stafford County, Va. finished Virginia Tech in May 2007, she said she wanted to practice law. So she moved to D.C. after college and went to American University Washington College of Law.

“It was kind of an interesting journey,” she told the AFRO. “I knew I wanted to go to law school but in the back of my mind I wondered if I would go into the entertainment and sports space.”

Fast forward to her first internship with the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office, where Blackwell , 31, realized she did not want to litigate or even be an attorney. “Intuitively, I knew that if I didn’t like doing this as an internship, then maybe I need to go a different direction,” she said.

Blackwell continued with law school but began weighing her options. Her career interest peaked when her brother Demetrius Taylor, a football player at Virginia Tech, graduated in 2010, and was picked as a free agent for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Blackwell said the NFL reignited her interest in being involved in sports and entertainment.

Through her brother and the university’s alumni, she was able to secure highly-sought after internships with Octagon, a sports agency in Tysons Corner, and the Washington football team. “A lot of it was glamorous, like exactly what you thought it was and a lot of other parts were very educational in terms of me really understanding the culture,” Blackwell said. “It gave me knowledge that was going to be useful later.”

In 2012, she graduated from law school and had difficulty finding suitable positions in sports and entertainment. “I didn’t feel valued,” she said. “I was overlooked and I absolutely was passed up for promotions and positions that I felt I had earned and deserved.”

After working for a couple of nonprofits in D.C, Blackwell knew it was time to live out her dream. She founded CPBlack Media, an independent public relations firm that prides itself on giving a “boutique feel with big-firm results.”

Although she is not licensed nor practices law, she said still has her Juris Doctorate to fall back on. “I feel like I am a little more versatile because I can also tell my clients about the legal implications of what they are doing,” she said.

Blackwell’s clientele have included Washington’s wide receiver Pierre Garcon and Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor. She has also provided services for NFL agents, local musicians, and politicians.

D.C. Council At-Large candidate Robert White hired Blackwell as his communications director for his first run in 2014. “Chanelle worked with our strong volunteer organization to help build our communications program, he told the AFRO July 20. “Her energy and entrepreneurial spirit filled a large hole in our campaign. We didn’t win that race, but Chanelle became a good friend and joined us again in 2016 when we won the democratic primary against a long-time, well-heeled incumbent.”

Sherell Rowe, a local independent R&B artist, said she met Chanelle through mutual friends. Blackwell has helped Rowe to book a number of events throughout the city. “She’s definitely another mouthpiece for me,” she said. “She’s like a pit bull in a skirt. She believes in me, which I absolutely appreciated. She does an excellent job.”