It’s my absolute joy to see people you once shared similar spaces with really just stand out and completely own their space. Though he was several grades above me, Yannick and I often crossed paths in high school because we shared mutual friends. I have followed along with his amazing journey for quite some time and was elated when he accepted my proposal for an interview.
**This is a part of an ongoing series called “#GasThemUp” where I interview my friends who are entrepreneurs. The answers to the questions are 100% theirs but the setting of the interview is completely from my imagination. Enjoy!**
I glanced down at my backstage media pass, feeling beyond grateful to even be in the crowd. As I watched Protoje finish his final number “Blood Money”, my eyes shifted to the far left of the stage where Yannick Reid discreetly stepped out for the perfect closing shot. He glanced down at his camera’s viewfinder and approving of the photo, walked over to where I stood. He was my target for tonight’s interview.
“What was your first introduction to photography?” I asked as soon as he reached me.
“My dad. My dad is a professional PR photographer and he’s been one for as long as I can remember, he first put a camera in my hands.” He smiled at the memory.
“Did you always want to follow in his footsteps?”
He thought for a moment, “No actually. I was really interested in cameras but I was more curious about video initially than photography. Regardless, he taught me photography and after doing a couple stage shows like Reggae Sumfest, I developed an interest in it.”
“Oh nice, so you were always into the arts?”
He motioned for me to follow him as he went towards the artist lounge behind the stage.
“I’d say yes. I was really into cartoons and animations as a kid so I would entertain myself with drawing and colouring. There was also healthy competition from peers as a kid too so there was a motivation to be better for fun. Those times till maybe the end of high school art was more about leisure for me, it wasn’t something I thought of as work or had to even think about. I’d either be watching tv, playing a video game or drawing. All those things just influenced me and drove me deeper into the craft.”
“That’s really cool seeing that transition throughout the years,” I said as we sat in one of the lounge couches.
Protoje, along with his band and backup singers all filed in, still hyped from the performance.
Yannick stood to greet Protoje and the band, commending the performance. When he took his seat again I took a moment to admire the fact that I was surrounded by amazing authentic Jamaican talent, before jumping into the next question.
“Did you ever feel pressure from your parents or peers to go the more traditional career route?” I asked, thinking of the creative tragedy it would have been.
“Never. Both my parents are self-employed artists. I was fortunate to grow up not even knowing that some children were discouraged from pursuing a non-traditional career. It wasn’t until college that I realized that was a thing. My parents supported me in all my endeavours, traditional or non-traditional.”
“Wow, extremely fortunate, especially considering how Jamaican parents are.”
“Yeah, I’m really lucky and I really am grateful for it. Realizing how many talented young Jamaicans are discouraged by their families.”
Yannick checked his camera again, going back through the shots of the night. I watched as he scanned through the reel, appreciating his amazing eye and ability to capture the moment at just the right time.
“The world is grateful to your parents allowing your gifts to shine. What’s been the proudest/coolest moment in your career thus far?”
“Hmmmm That’s a hard one. Really tough. I think maybe the first time I did a music video for Protoje and it premiered on Complex, I was really proud of that. Also, I was featured in The Gleaner, not so much a big deal to me personally but it made my parents feel really proud and seeing them proud makes me really happy. And I think the coolest moment is probably just getting to see the world from photography. Always amazes me when I take a moment somewhere new and realize how I managed to get there and I feel pretty blessed.”
“Aye! I love it!”
Maybe this was a form of inception… artist-ception maybe? Being an artist that was able to appreciate another artist’s appreciation of their work and achievements. It’s what I believe helps the creative community to grow. I felt a tinge of sadness knowing the interview was winding down, but happy I was even afforded the amazing opportunity.
I knew it was a typical interview question, but curiosity won and I had to ask, “where do u see yourself in 5 years?”
He sat back in the couch and tilted his head to the ceiling before replying, “Five years? Hopefully successfully travelled to every continent – I have Australia and Antarctica left, hopefully still working with Protoje, but also other artists that I’m fans of, enjoying my life with my craft and my loved ones.”
Satisfied with the answer, I continued, “What’s your advice to young artists just starting out, especially if they don’t have the support of family?”
“In life, a lot of people will not understand what you are trying to do until you do it. Some will come around and some will never come around. But everyone gets to live their own life, and your family has lived theirs, don’t throw away your passion for someone else living their life. Have a talk with them tell them you love them but you respectfully don’t need their opinion, you’re determined and it would mean the world to me to have your support, but with or without it I’m gonna do what I feel is right.”
And that was the damn truth. I echo Yannick’s advice 100% and encourage everyone to take that stand. At the end of the day, you have to live with you, even if no one else does. Will you be able to look back at your life knowing you lived and made your contribution to earth based on your passion or someone else’s?
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