“Just Like Me” introduces viewers to Black creatives who changed the game from behind the curtain. It stands as a guide for the creatives of tomorrow,” says the film’s director, TTK Harris.
The short documentary shares stories of triumph and inspiration from eight visionary black creatives who, against all odds, made it to the top of their game and are now throwing a line back to the next generation. And I’m happy to have played a part in the making of it. I’m even happier to announce join TTK in announcing its release!
“Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one discovering and carving out your path, without men and women who look like you, act like you, and are experiencing life like you,” noted Harris, who is also a well-respected painter and graphic designer.
“Hearing the success stories of Black creatives in the industry is rare. So, now’s the time.”
– TTK Harris, film director and graphic designer
A senior art director at Havas agency, TTK devised, directed, and designed all the visuals in the film during the first two years of the Covid 19 pandemic, leading a distributed team–with Havas supporting, and funding his efforts.
Supporting TTK’s “Just Like Me” film is just one of the steps that Havas is taking to build a more diverse, inclusive, and just workforce. According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), only 7.4% of entry-level marketers are Black, and Havas agency says they want to change that.
“Building DE&I into your company isn’t about reaching a specified destination—it’s an ever-evolving journey—and though we have a way to go, I’m proud of the progress we’re making,” said Myra Nussbaum, president, and CCO of Havas Chicago.
“While striving towards equity, it’s important that we acknowledge and respect the contributions Black creators make to culture. I’m proud we can shine a light on a few of those contributions and open the door for other Black creators to consider channeling their creativity and influence into advertising.”
TTK is especially thankful to:
• Justice Hall creative director and founder of The Fruit Mkt • Aleesha Worthington, VP of Brand at Scotch Porter • Dana Givens, painter, cordwainer and senior visual designer • Julian Alexander, founder and creative director of Slang Inc. • Professor Douglas Davis, author, and Principal of The Davis Group • John “JP” Petty III, Wieden + Kennedy executive creative director • Cey Adams, visual artist and founding creative director, Def Jam Recordings
The above creatives were featured alongside TTK, and they have his eternal gratitude for lending their time, likenesses, and personal stories to the film.
I recommitted my time to helping young girls, and I’m so glad I did. In the past, I’ve guided young women and girls in my family. But I felt like the universe was giving me signs and telling me to add more mentoring to my plate.
There was the day two suburban mothers engaged me at length on an Amtrak train. They asked for my views and tips on connecting with teen girls without judging or alienating them. “You really should be a mentor,” one said emphatically at the conclusion of our conversation. “I wish you lived near me and my daughter,” the other said laughing. There was the day I was on the phone with a friend, who said any girl–including his own daughter–would be lucky to have me as a confidant. I even received an out of the blue text from a friend who looked at my IG and felt compelled to tell me that she thinks I’d make a great mentor. The universe kept showing me signs, then sent me an opportunity to volunteer at Career Day events in both Westchester and Brownsville. I was invited by my friend’s Sam and Richardine.
After participating in Career Days, I knew I wanted to do some more mentoring. So I applied with an organization. Now, I’m pleased to share that I have been quietly mentoring for the past six months via an organization that pairs us with immigrant and first generation girls. The goal is to help them navigate the challenges of life in the U.S. – and the added challenges of their home country’s culture (which can sometimes include out-of-date family mindsets about what girls can achieve). The experience has been fulfilling.
Recently during an online session, I realized my mentee was struggling to understand the suite of Google software. I suggested she ask her parent for permission to have me stop by on the weekend to train her.
“I don’t have a computer at home,” she said. “And the computers in the lab here at school aren’t great, and are almost always occupied.”
I was silent for a moment. I’d naively assumed she’d have regular computer access in school for a screenshare. My mind raced like those calculating memes, trying to think of what to do next.
I thought back to the time I was collecting supplies for a college-bound girl and how Dutchie Flair, Allison Veronica and others encouraged me to start a gofundme for her. I was able to collect donations, supplies—one of my followers donated a Mac laptop. I refocused, remembering she was waiting on me to respond. This girl, fresh from Guyana, living in New York, without proper access to a computer in 2018. “Ok. We’ll figure something out,” I said hurriedly. In the end, my mentee and I met up in Brooklyn. Using local business WiFi and my computer, I taught her how to use multiple Google tools. Her eyes lit up with each new discovery. By the end of the afternoon, she was able to explain the value of everything she’d learned that day. I was happy we made the special session work. The most surprising thing I learned this particular day was how much my mentee likes green smoothies—which she’d never tasted before—as well as how excited she was to know that the businesses we’d visited (and borrowed WIFi from) were African American or West Indian owned. So thank you Juices 4 Life, Jordan heads and everyone else who runs storefront, community-minded business like these. You constantly inspire me, and you’re helping me inspire young people.
Mentoring takes dedication. Sometimes I can’t step out because I have to prepare for a session. Sometimes I have to move meetings and personal appointments around. But I know it is all worth it. Because without the various people who took (and still take) time to provide a kind ear and guidance, I myself don’t know where I’d be. What a blessing to be able to give back.
Are you interested in learning about opportunities to mentor young people? Hit me up via my contact page and let’s see if I can help connect you to an opportunity to get started. Mentoring orgs always need people like you.
My freelance communications work for the filmmaker Victorious de Costa involved bringing attention to the the Indiegogo fundraising campaign he launched for his film ‘Digging For Weldon Irvine‘. I booked him on interviews and today I’m sharing a bit about my favorite interview, which was on The Laura Coates Show.
‘Digging for Weldon Irvine’ is a feature length documentary, currently in production, about the life and influence of the enigmatic, highly sampled American composer, Weldon Irvine.
A Hampton alum, Weldon Irvine wrote the lyrics to ‘Young, Gifted and Black’, and was the bandleader for jazz singer Nina Simone. He was also a mentor to many hip-hop artists, including Q-Tip and Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Bars about Weldon can be heard in What’s Beef, if you listen.
A reminder of how little some things have changed, Weldon’s last major project before his passing was ‘The Price of Freedom’, a compilation featuring hip-hop, jazz, and R&B artists in response to the police shooting of Amadou Diallo.
Weldon’s own brilliant life ended abruptly when he shot himself in front of Nassau Coliseum in New York on April 9, 2002.
Director Victorious de Costa was in the midst of fundraising to finish off the balance of the film when he hired me to boost visibility of the campaign. One of the interviews I booked him for was in Washington, DC, on The Laura Coates show. Laura is a big Jazz fan who was eager to hear more about ‘Digging for Weldon Irvine.’
Listeners learned about the film that day, had an opportunity to donate, and speak with the director. Some callers even reached out behind the scenes with personal stories of their relationship to the composer, some of which may be included in the final cut.The fundraising video for the film features interview clips with Weldon’s family, DJ Spinna, and more. Victorious, an award-winning filmmaker and Sundance Institute member, has funded much of the film out of pocket. Still want to donate? Have questions about the film? Contact the director here. Have a great day and contact me if you want to discuss your need for communications consulting.
I recorded a voiceover for a Race Forward project this week. I always enjoy doing audio work! Need my voice for a commercial, intro or other audio production? Check out some of my work as talent for audio, video, podcast, and visit the contact page on my website. #chevonmedia
I spoke to a group of filmmakers about the importance of social media and digital communications! 🎥 I had a blast watching people’s eyes light up when I answered questions about how customized communications strategies can help them. I felt honored to be invited to speak. 🔻🔻🔻 Need a consultation ?
Reach out to me at chevonmedia.com/contact !
In the Spring of 2013, I produced an art event featuring paintings by TTK, Sam Woolley and Klashwon. The opening began with conversations about the paintings and turned into a musical celebration of the artists and their work. Watch the video below to find out more!