Free from 106 and Park has a three-decade-long career that allowed her to work as a media personality, TV producer, and choreographer. Besides her jobs in the entertainment industry, she is also a philanthropist and founded the non-profit Free4Life Foundation, which aims to improve literacy through better education and creative arts. Throughout her career, she is better known for the stage name she has adopted for herself: Free.
While her most notable work is her hosting gig in the American hip-hop music video show 106 & Park, Free has done several other jobs in the industry that deserve your attention too. So, let’s explore Free’s personal life, career, and other interesting things about her.
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From Marie To Free
Early Life – From Her Musical Passion To Television
Free from 106 and Park was born Marie Antoinette Wright on February 7, 1968. She is the daughter of Selina Tina Wright, who supported her artistic journey, which she began in Boston, Massachusetts. She spent 11 years at the Roxbury Center for the Performing Arts and eventually traveled and toured with a dance group, which honed her dancing skills.
Free idolized many acts during her younger years, including New Edition, which inspired her to sing and rap. In 1991, she starred in Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s rap music video Good Vibrations.
This stint gave her one of the biggest breaks in her dancing career and inspired her to become a choreographer as well. She moved away from Boston to pursue a career in music, which she considers her true calling. An internship at a radio station in Massachusetts was one of her stepping stones, and it was then that she began to build a reputation for herself.
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Early Career – Free From 106 And Park
Free’s decision to leave her hometown and the state where she grew up brought her to Los Angeles and New York City. Since her move, she has made several projects as a dancer, singer, and rapper with many notable collaborations. One of her first major stints that continued her climb in the industry is her appearance on the Caninus track Patriots from their critically acclaimed debut album.
According to Free, music is a powerful and creative medium that motivated her to pursue her dreams that also brought her to a BET casting call. During this casting, she shined from other hopefuls, and BET chose her to co-host 106 & Park’s Top 10 Live, the network’s signature show based in New York. Free has met and interviewed several big names during her five-year stay in the show, including Aaliyah, Maxwell, Michael Jackson, Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, and Alicia Keys.
Free recorded her full-length debut studio album, Pressure Free, in 2003. From early 2003 until 2007, she has used underground mixtapes to promote the record and released hit singles. Her collaborators include Busta Rhymes, Faith Evans, Bink, Rockwilder, Timbaland, Scott Storch, Kanye West, Rah Digga, Just Blaze, and Missy Elliott. Unfortunately, Free seems to have scrapped or shelved the album as there have been no updates regarding its release.
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Post-106 & Park Career – Why She Left The Show?
When Free left 106 & Park with A.J. Calloway in 2005, Julissa, Big Tigger, alongside Rocsi Diaz, continued hosting the show. Since leaving the show, Free’s net worth is unconfirmed, but it is estimated to be between $1 to $5 million, while Rocsi Diaz’s net worth is $3 million.
While Free never made any official statements why she left 106 & Park, fans speculated there was never any bad blood between her and the show. Her eventual return to BET in October 2010 proved that it was an amicable separation. During her return, she produced and starred in 106 & Park: 10 Years & Counting and 106 & Park: The Celebration, 10 Years Live!, a two-episode anniversary special, both the highest-rated episode of the show.
In November 2010, Free began working as a presenter at the inaugural Black Girls Rock! In 2011, she also started co-hosting The Big Tigger Morning Show with Darian “Big Tigger” Morgan on Washington, D.C. area radio station WPGC-FM (95.5 FM), from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. during the weekdays. When Big Tigger resigned in December 2011, Free continued the radio show. Big Tigger’s net worth is also at $3 million.
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Personal Life – Not Much To Know Except Her Philanthropic Stints
Free from 106 and Park live a very private life, which is not easy to maintain in the entertainment industry. Still, rumor has it that she was once in a relationship with Jay-Z and had a child. Both parties denied these stories and dismissed them as nothing but rumors.
Through Free’s Free4Life Foundation, Free was able to make fundraising events to help the organization’s cause of helping Boston’s underserved communities. Besides Free4Life, she is also a breast cancer awareness advocate. In honor of her late mother, she took part in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer charity walk in October 2010. She eventually organized the “Walk 4 Tina” team and walked 5.7 miles with her family to raise money and awareness for the cause.
Free’s Determined To Get Fit Or Die Trying – FreesWorld.com
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Free Is Free
So, there you have it. If you’ve been wondering what happened to Free from 106 and Park all this time, you should know that she’s still semi-active in the business. As mentioned, she has a very private life, so updates about what else she’s been up to recently besides her philanthropic stints are mostly unavailable. But maybe she will surprise you with her album or a new show.
Some may find living a private life hard to believe, especially being in the media’s spotlight. But I’d like to think of it as Free being free from the expectations that people have from her as a public figure. She is free now, doing whatever she likes. It’s possibly the reason why she chose that stage name.