Ahead of Michelle Obama’s SXSW visit, we ask what it means to find your passion

By Cody McCrary – Special to American-Statesman

The hustle and bustle of downtown Austin has been amplified the past few days with the arrival of the annual South by Southwest Festival.

It will only get busier Wednesday when first lady Michelle Obama will lead a keynote Music panel that focuses on education for girls, music and finding passion in life.

We went downtown on Tuesday and asked SXSW attendees what it means to them to find their passion and act on it.



High school seniors from the Houston area, Shalroz Charania and Rabia are volunteering at SXSW this week. They have had fun learning how things work behind the scenes and are hoping to get a chance to see Michelle Obama speak.


Robert Dawson is a Web developer who was in town from the San Francisco area. Dawson said he is enjoying the festival and Austin nightlife and is planning on seeing Michelle Obama’s talk.


Niyanta Spelman feels passionately about climate change and environmental awareness. Spelman is the executive director of Rainforest Sponsorship, a nonprofit located in Austin that helps protect tropical rainforests.


On her first visit to Austin, Melanie Morgan got to experience some hot spring weather – a little different from Centennial, Colorado, where she works for the city. Morgan was at SXSW getting some ideas for the innovation team to which she was just appointed.




Meredith Frost (top) and Michelle Romano said that the MashBash party put on by Mashable that showcased the future of the Internet was their favorite SXSW event. The two work for ManpowerGroup, a human resource consulting firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Gustav Borgefalk, who came all the way to SXSW from Sweden, is the co-founder and head of business development for Sqore, a competition-based recruitment platform.

SXSW celebrity sighting: Amber Rose on Rainey Street

Model Amber Rose on Rainey Street on Sunday, March 13, 2016. Photo by Eric Webb
Model Amber Rose on Rainey Street on Sunday, March 13, 2016. Photo by Eric Webb

Muva has arrived, Austin.

On Sunday, South by Southwest fest-goers soaking up some sun on Rainey Street might have stumbled upon model Amber Rose at Lucille Patio Lounge.

The outspoken social media star emerged from a black vehicle around 5:35 p.m to screaming fans (and perhaps a few people who were just excited to see someone that might be famous). Upon entering the bar’s white picket fence, Rose began answering press questions, easily visible to passersby on the sidewalk.

Rose, a former flame of both Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa and sometimes-adversary of the sisters Kardashian, was promoting her partnership with the messaging app Zoobe, which is debuting a digital character based on Rose.

rose2And if you happen to see cardboard masks modeled after the model as you wander through SXSW, wonder no longer. The disguises (with eyeholes spaced far enough apart to fit anyone who happens to be a tree frog) came from Rose’s event.