“I never fell in love with creating, I fell in a deep love with the game and the camaraderie around it, so I built a way I could make an impact and remain a part of it.”
A quote that perfectly describes the ambitious, family oriented content creator, Julia Bellini. An up & coming creative in the city of Toronto, that is truly coming into her own. With an extraordinary passion for connectivity, Julia has been blessed with many opportunities in the Canadian basketball scene. She is the creator and owner of JBelliniVisions, a content and brand development platform that specializes in sport media. Julia’s savviness and dedication to her craft has been nothing short of excellent, however, most don’t know that sport photography, videography and content creation were never in her cards.
“Growing up in Thornhill, I went to a very academic based high school. Sports was not a priority at all. As a drama geek, I grew up wanting to be the next Ellen or Oprah.”
Bellini’s love for basketball did not start the day she picked up a camera, she enjoyed playing the game from as early as the 3rd grade. She would continue to play up until high school, and then transition into playing soccer. Even after switching sports, Julia’s love continued and extended to her parents and younger sister.
Having a large family that predominantly enjoyed hockey, Julia’s household was one whose passions were geared toward basketball. In the 11th grade, Julia and her sister would receive the opportunity to experience this passion first hand by attending her first Toronto Raptors game at the Air Canada Centre (now Scotiabank Arena). This moment was memorable and pivotal in her life.
“I went to my first raptors game and that was just a spark that would change everything for me. I was a huge raptors fan from then on and just studied the world around professional basketball.”
After that game, Julia knew that sport media was for her and saw a future in broadcasting. With aspirations to become the next Doris Burke, Bellini was to have her own basketball show. Shortly after, she created her own blog dedicated to the Toronto Raptors. It also served as a portfolio tool to apply for Sport Media at Ryerson University.
Using an alternative approach to blogging, the content created a spotlight for more off-court elements of the game. Interview questions covered athlete’s mentalities, downtime, hobbies, etc. Bellini’s blog provided her a platform to connect with several Raptors including Patrick Paterson and Lucas Nogueira to name a couple. Through connecting with ex-Raptor James Johnson, Julia not only was able to receive quality information but also started a lasting friendship; one proven to be instrumental in her journey.
“James was an introduction to the professional sphere and community. Someone who introduced me to what professional basketball looks like on the inside. He brought me around the environment.”
Bellini would soon receive some great news, as she would be accepted into her dream program, Sport Media at Ryerson University. However, early in her postsecondary experience, Julia had the realization that being on camera wasn’t all she expected it to be.
Broadcasting had Bellini feeling limited in her creativity. Taking the behind-the-scenes route was the blessing in disguise that Julia would soon discover.
When Julia wasn’t studying, she was still investing in her love for the game of basketball. Through connections, Bellini was invited to attend several pro level pick run’s in the city. Toronto born professional basketball player, Alex Johnson, would be one of the first to extend this offer. There, she would get her first taste of her true calling, Content Creation.
“I got into content creation because I was constantly in a gym and I didn’t like the feeling of sitting watching workouts as just a fan. I started to notice through guys like James Johnson and the environments I was introduced to at a young age, that branding and social media were starting to become essential for athletes. So I picked up the little camera I had bought for my vlogging and ended up helping out some local guys with content.”
That following summer, Julia dedicated her time and effort teaching herself a variety of essential creation skills like editing and story building. Bellini’s work ethic and positiveness are recognized by everyone she comes in contact with.
“Julia, in her element, is laser focused. She’s a perfectionist and tireless worker, hence why her content is so elite and she’s getting the credit she deserves. Creating with Julia is intense… paying attention to the little details, but also a fun and relaxed vibe because she is an enjoyable person to be around. Great at what she does but also a great person.”
Julia’s natural ability to build healthy relationships has been a valuable asset in all her endeavours.
One day while recording some pick up in Mississauga, Bellini happened to catch the attention of Raptors 905 Vice President, John Wiggins. Wiggins expressed how much he enjoyed Julia’s work. After a brief conversation, she found herself filming the Raptors 905 uniform shoot, the very next day. This would be a true test to her character.
“I did not know what I was doing. I was still learning but I am not the type of person to ever say ‘I’m not ready for this’. I welcomed the challenge and worked really hard at it… I still have the camera I bought at Costco for the shoot… And I would never use that camera now LOL.”
Julia exceeded expectations, in turn, earning her a one year internship with the media department and front office. Bellini not only shot for games, but also learned about the administrative and operation sides.
Julia has always been a firm believer in community service. Fifty For Free Youth Community Initiative is a not-for-profit organization based in Toronto that provides youth of marginalized communities with proficient resources for basketball development and financial literacy. This is where Bellini would commit herself to becoming the role model she is today.
FFF’s founder is Jermaine Anderson, a Canadian basketball legend and General Manager of the Canadian Elite Basketball Leagues (CEBL) Hamilton Honey Badgers, took Julia under his wing and served as her mentor. Anderson shares how instrumental Belini has been for the organization.
“Julia was extremely engaged and passionate from day one. Our program participants took a liking to her, and she went above and beyond our expectations. Julia showed up every single day with a smile, and provided a sense of comfort and consistency for our participants. Julia hasn't changed since our initial conversation. Julia is more than a mentee, she's family!”
At FFF Bellini wore many hats. Whether keeping the social media up to date, documenting every step on the journey or assisting in partnership deals, Bellini was developing a vast range of skills.
WIth all the experiences Julia has managed to stack up over her 4 years of University, there was only one thing left to do; shoot for the Ryerson Rams.
Julia’s introduction to Ryerson’s head coach could not have happened in better timing.
“I believe God puts you in certain places at a certain time for a reason. While waiting to meet with Jermaine at Ryerson, I saw Roy Rana (Ryerson University Men's Varsity Basketball Head Coach) in front of the main doors of the Mattamy Athletic Centre, just hanging out on his phone. Jermaine never introduced us prior, but I knew that this was my chance.”
Roy Rana, is known for being a fast paced, on-the-go type individual. So this was not a common occurrence.
“His strong demeanour intimidated me when approaching him but I did! I introduced myself saying, ‘Hi, I’m Julia Bellini, I interned with the Raptors 905, I work with Jermaine Anderson…’ and before I could finish he cut me off and said 'so when are you gonna work for us?’. I just stopped and said thank you God!”
This was the opportunity Bellini had been waiting for, later on the two would have a near 2 hours meeting. Julia learned about the program’s standards, principals and cultures. Bellini adopted these cultures and embraced being a Ram.
“My year with Ryerson Men's basketball was way bigger than basketball and life changing so for me this will always remain the most important regardless of how I progress in the future“
Instantly, the Men’s basketball team became her second family. Bellini also made the conscious effort of welcoming her ‘Ramily’ into her own home. Current and past Ryerson Rams still commend Julia on her family values.
“Julia does not and never will put anyone or anything before her family... and because of that, everywhere she goes in life, she has the rare ability to connect her family and her close friends almost instantly. More importantly it is done very organically.”
Julia was raised by a welcoming family that has strives in creating a zero judgement atmosphere. Her family was strong in their traditions and enjoyed sharing them with others.
“It started with James (Johnson), he would come over once a month for a lasagna night. My mom would make homemade Italian food and we’d just have good conversations. He always mentioned that it was a very good family atmosphere. One night he told my sister and I, ‘no matter what you always have a big bro for life.’ That was very special for me because I never had anyone outside of my family say that to me before.”
From then on the Bellini house would be known for board games, homemade Italian food and good vibes.
In the Industry of male Sports, the majority of women are plagued by stigmas and unnecessary amounts of ignorance. Julia, however, uses these obstacles as fuel.
“I can vividly remember a trip I took to Vegas to shoot the Sierra Canyon tournament. I walked in and there were over 30 photographers and I happen to be the only woman... I truly love those moments because I can embrace them and can be really different. I don’t let it get to me! I have never said once in my career, ‘I wish I wasn’t a woman, I wish I was a man.’ I’m really happy to be a woman because you can stand out in a room where there are not a lot of us and I like to stand out.”
Julia’s relentlessness has been influential to her peers.
“Julia walks into a room and exudes confidence. She is a woman on a mission! She goes from point A to point B and no one is getting in the way of her creating and craft perfecting. She is extremely professional, but creates a safe comfortable space for the athletes, coaching staff, game ops staff, etc. This is why she is so loved and respected and why her work is so great. She is genuine, hard working and happy. She truly loves what she does and it speaks through her work.
Bellini shares a sentiment for any other female entrepreneurs in the sports space.
“To all the women in sports I say please be you and don’t apologize for it. Nothing is worth selling your soul for. It’s 2021 don’t be afraid to shoot your shot for an opportunity or take the steps to put yourself in that room. I know it’s scary, but future you will be so proud you went for it and stayed true to you, while you did it.”
All throughout Julia’s journey she has never stopped sharing her light. ‘Win The Day’ is a term she coined as one of her many tools used to spread love.
“To me, Winning The Day is just spreading genuine energy, and giving 100% of what you can give. Having the perspective of regardless of the trials you’re faced with. Whether the devil is trying to steal my joy or the state of my mental, I’m going to show up for myself in whatever way I can. I started saying it because during that period of time I was going through it. It was an outlet to release good energy to people and spread some kindness. I saw people were laughing at me just being me and screaming into my phone, so I continued!”
Bellini proudly continues to be an energy giver.
As Bellini’s university journey drew to its close, she found herself in a situation that seemed to come full circle.
“Summer 2019 was big with travel and opportunity. The CEBL summer series was a highlight because it’s just such a privilege to shoot guys that have supported me from the start and also just being in an environment that I feel welcomed as an individual! Super rare! I'm so passionate about the game in Canada, so having this professional space is big time for me!”
These are the moments she is truly grateful for.
“I never told myself fully that I was going to make this a job, it kind of just happened and it makes me so happy. My mentors who gave me opportunities pushed me to the entrepreneurial route. I am so thankful!”
Julia is a strong believer in paving your own path and provides some final words for any fellow creators.
“To all content creators… you have to be patient. Just like anything in life, it really is a process. Don’t be so hard on yourself because everything and everyone is not as successful as they look on social media. Stay true to your passion, work really hard (get in those non air conditioned dark gyms!) and just get your reps in. It’s a blessing to pursue something you’re passionate about. Keep that mindset and continue learning!”
Julia Bellini’s gracious spirit and kind soul are what draws people to her. She is a selfless leader that puts others first and pours her heart into all of her work.
We are proud to see all that Julia has accomplished and excited to see what the future has in store.
Follow Julia at @JBelliniVisions to keep up with her journey