Arts Freshest Faces: John Dougherty


Written by Samantha Stemmer



Arts Freshest Faces latest feature is again, found in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the promising young man’s name is John Dougherty (IG: @johnnymcdougherty). John Dougherty is a 21-year-old film studies and accounting major at University of North Carolina Wilmington, pursuing a career in editing and production, but Dougherty is not just any student. As Dougherty said laughingly “I currently work two jobs right now, as busy as that sounds, dealing with mainly editing work.”  Dougherty’s first job is with the company Foreword Films (IG: @forewordfilms) where he does a lot of client work including editing commercials and podcasts for nonprofits. John Dougherty’s second job is an internship for well-known director, producer, and writer of documentaries, David Garrigus.  

Dougherty is originally from Frederick, Maryland and at the end of high school he moved about an hour outside of the Wilmington area of North Carolina. The young editor found his passion in middle school after watching heavily edited YouTube videos. However, there is no single inspiration that he necessarily aspires to, or someone who sparked his love for the craft. Dougherty explained “I don’t know where I get my inspiration from, I’ve just been [editing] for so long that it just kind of turned into what I do. I just kind of fell into it one day and stuck with it.” 

While in middle school, the first program Dougherty played around with was Adobe After Effects, and then in high school he was fortunate enough to have access to Adobe Premiere where he found editing easier. Eventually, it became fun and he “looked forward to editing.” He continues to hustle being a full-time student with two jobs and recently filmed and edited a concert video of a band called Tweakk (IG:thebandtweakk). Dougherty also mentioned that he is a big music fan and his favorite bands are Green Day, The Used, and Mt. Eddy, and would love to host a music show one day.


Moving forward, John Dougherty’s dream job and biggest goal is to have his own production company. Dougherty said, “I would ideally be making big budget Hollywood movies and my end goal is to let the directors make their vision without pushing [my own or any other] agenda [on them].” As for now, Dougherty plans to take a semester off to work this fall and hopes to find his “golden ticket.” Dougherty jokingly remarked that he would love to find himself in a position this fall to be a successful college dropout. 

If Dougherty does not find his “golden ticket” during his semester off he plans to finish his degrees and then continue to do sound, editing, and production work either in Wilmington, North Carolina or move to Atlanta, Georgia. For those looking for success behind the camera in editing and production, his best advice is “to always take pride in your work, and if you want to be an editor and you’re not constantly editing, you’re doing something wrong.” People generally do not always pay attention to the magic that takes place behind the camera, but you need to pay attention to the magic that is John Dougherty. 





YouTube’s Golden Boy

Written By: Samantha Stemmer



During March 2021, YouTube sensation, David Dobrik, faced a whirlwind of controversies and, as many would say, the young star was “cancelled.” Dobrik, 24-years-old, originally from Slovakia, moved to Illinois when he was 6 years old. Dobrik started his YouTube channel in 2015 and found success filming short four-minute-20-second vlog style videos that garnered 18.5 million subscribers on his main channel “The Vlog Squad,” Dobrik’s friend group. The star had gone on to partner with Chipotle, SeatGeek, Doordash, and many other brands, released his own perfume line, recorded podcast “VIEWS,” and was working towards creating a social media platform, “Dispo.”


Dobrik was at the peak of his career when he purchased a $9.5 million house but success was put on hold in March 2021.  Allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, bullying and rape surfaced against Dobrik and “The Vlog Squad.” The allegations began when David Dobrik was regarded as the enabler in sexual misconduct and bullying against former vlog squad member, Seth Francois. Francois thought he would be making out with a woman, but was tricked into kissing Jason Nash, the 47-year-old comedian attached to the group, without Francois’ consent. The allegations then hit a high point when journalist Kat Tenbarge wrote an Insider article that told the following story “A woman featured on YouTube star David Dobrik’s channel says she was raped by a Vlog Squad member in 2018 the night they filmed a video about group sex.”

(Leon Bublitz/Unsplah)

Following the rape allegations against Dominykas Zeglaitis, also known as “Durte Dom,” by “The Vlog Squad,” Dobrik released a two-minute-and-31-second apology video on his podcast YouTube channel “VIEWS” titled “Let’s Talk.” The star disabled all comments on the video and many regarded the “apology” in the video to be insincere and did not fare well. According to Social Blade, a website used to track social media statistics, Dobrik lost 100,000 subscribers, and many brands including, SeatGeek, Chipotle, Doordash, HelloFresh, EA, Dollar Shave Club, General Mills, Bumble, HBO Max, and others announced that they no longer intend to work with the young YouTuber. On March 23, a second apology video titled “3/22/21” that was seven-minutes-and-17-seconds was posted on his primary YouTube channel with the comments enabled. The video features Dobrik emotionally saying “I am so sorry,” that he “fully believes the woman who came out against Dom,” and he will be stepping away from YouTube and social media until he can better regulate his brand and company.


Moving forward, Dobrik’s career has been put on pause as YouTube announced that they will temporarily be demonetizing Dobrik, and his biggest partners cut ties with him. Dobrik stepped down from the board of “Dispo,”  an app and social media platform that he co-founded, that was backed by venture capital firm Spark Capital, who also decided to not move forward with the project. My question now remains, what happens next? Dobrik has had six years of success on social media and was deemed “Gen Z’s Jimmy Fallon” by The Wall Street Journal, will the internet move on and forgive the young sensation, or will he actually be held accountable?

Arts Freshest Faces: Ritt Momney


Written by: Samantha Stemmer


(Daniel Prakopcyk)

The University of North Carolina Wilmington’s association for entertainment welcomed a special guest on March 17, Jack Rutter who is more commonly known by his stage name, Ritt Momney. The 21-year-old, Salt Lake City local recently signed with Columbia Records, and is the newest feature for “Arts Freshest Faces.” Originally, Ritt Momney started out as a band, but because his bandmates prioritized their Mormon lifestyle, the band became a solo act. Momney pointed out that the stage name started out as a spoof of well-known politician, Mitt Romney, and explained that “If I could go back and change it, I probably would.” Like many other artists on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic, Ritt Momney’s journey to success is a story of being a TikTok sensation.


Momney released a cover of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On” which quickly went viral. The song now has over two million videos on TikTok and was used as the theme song, somewhat, to a trending make-up challenge on the app. Within two-days of the song doing well Momney said, “I was on a bunch of label calls, and luckily since I had a career before this with a great manager, that I love, it is not a solo effort.” The young singer, songwriter, and producer is currently averaging about eight million monthly listeners on Spotify.

While in seventh/eighth grade Momney really delved into his passion for music. He jokingly remarked that it was his older brother that inspired him to get into music because “all the girls thought he [Momney’s older brother] was cute because he sang.” As Momney started learning to play the piano and guitar, he listened to James Blake’s first album and STRFKR over and over, which he said shaped who he is as an artist. He is “striving for that and I want to make music like them.” Excitingly, Momney hinted that he has been in communication with the lead member of STRFKR, Josh Hodges, and his dream collaboration just may be realized.

(James Kowalski)

While Ritt Momney is more than grateful for his career path, the young adult explained that it is not always all fun and games. Momney noted that distinguishing between “the balance of the fun side and the work side of [music] has been really hard.” When making his first album “Her and All of My Friends” he explained that the album took him two and a half years because he did not work when it was not fun for him. As a result, the album took longer than desired and he had to force himself to work towards the end, putting a strain on Momney’s relationship with music. Lesson learned and moving forward, the artist is now thinking of music as a commitment to his future and striving to set aside time every day to write, sing, and produce songs.

As more and more people receive the vaccine for COVID-19 and life slowly starts to return to normal, Momney hopes to be able to do a national tour in the beginning of 2022. Although the artist is appreciative of the time he has had at home to work on music, he is ready to get on stage. Keep your eyes and ears open so you don’t miss Ritt Momney’s next big hit.





Arts Freshest Faces: Stow Kelly

Written by: Samantha Stemmer

Location: Wilmington, NC

Via Instagram @stowkelly

In March of 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic and life as we knew it would never be the same. The world received orders to stay at home, isolate ourselves, wear masks, and anything an individual could do to slow the spread was prioritized. Most Americans moved work to inside their homes (virtually), frontline and essential workers risked their lives daily, and thousands struggled with job loss. Yet from this tragedy, something beautiful emerged like a phoenix from the ashes: connection. 

Being unable to experience touch and physical connection, people began to connect with one another in other ways. Social media provided the most common way to relate and communicate with others. The widespread dependency on social media offered a huge opportunity for growth. Throughout quarantine many artists have not only been discovered but gone viral, such as singer and songwriter Mxmtoon with the hit song “Prom Dress.” Tatiana Bruening, who by organizing photo-ops with well-known TikTok stars, earned over 1.5 million followers and the story doesn’t stop there. 

Via Instagram @stowkelly

 In Wilmington, North Carolina, local photographer Stow Kelly, the first featured guest of “Arts Freshest Faces,” decided that the pandemic was going to work for him, not against. Stow Kelly has around five thousand followers on Instagram (@stowkelly) and describes himself as a “career centered person.” The young artist decided that, as a result of being in a pandemic, he was going to push past his normal comfort zone to discover what he was truly capable of. 

Born in Nassau, Bahamas the 21-year-old photographer moved to Charlotte, North Carolina when he was around 8 years old. Six years later, Stow Kelly found himself behind his grandmother’s old camera taking photos of all his friends. After high school, Kelly chose to attend University of North Carolina Wilmington because of their Film Studies program.  He is currently taking a gap year and looking to potentially transfer to The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising or The Fashion Institute of Technology. Kelly wants to expand his artistic abilities and his current method for connecting with possible clients is direct messaging through Instagram setting up photo shoots with them. “I’m not really a people person, which comes as a shock for most people, but through photography I’ve really come out of my shell. I just started [direct messaging] people saying, ‘Yo I’m a photographer, and I would love to take pictures of you, would you allow me to do that?’” said Kelly, and direct messaging potential clients has proven to be successful for him. 

Via Instagram @stowkelly

Kelly landed a shoot with TikTok and Instagram influencer, Riley Hubatka, who has over 8 million followers between the two platforms. A shoot with Polina Sladkova, a Russian YouTuber with half a million subscribers, produced some of Kelly’s most liked content. While these photo-ops generated lots of traffic to the photographer’s page, he explained that his favorite shoots “are the ones where the models are also invested and our creative energies meld together, creating a weird harmony that makes the pictures turn out ten times better.”

Via Instagram @stowkelly

During the pandemic Kelly started doing studio work and he finds that complying to COVID-19 guidelines is easy because of the intimate setting. He is working on building his portfolio and forming his team which currently consists of his stylist, Julia Wettreich, who has gained a following of her own with half a million followers on TikTok, and his lighting specialist, Ahmad Jackson, who is also an aspiring rapper and Kelly’s best friend. 

Moving forward Kelly aims to transition into the film industry. Although Kelly has a love for photography, he does not see it as his lifelong passion. He plans to move to West Hollywood within the next five years and work toward being a director of photography for films. Ultimately Kelly said he would love to be a producer, mentioning that he aspires to a career similar to Bob Iger. 

Via Instagram @stowkelly

As for now, Kelly is staying busy taking photographs, building connections, and developing his brand. For those just starting out Kelly explained that “my best advice is consistency and communication. Connections are everything however, the more people you get to know the harder it is to stay connected, but as long as you keep track of them, your network will grow.” Stow Kelly is truly a force to be reckoned with and we look forward to seeing everything this promising individual will accomplish.