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Daily Inspiration: Meet Kim Watson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim Watson.

Hi Kim, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Queens, New York, and music and the arts were a big part of my life and family history. We had tons of big-time musicians in the neighborhood, so there were bands and singing groups everywhere you turned. It was a really fun and inspiring place to grow up. Following college, I spent several years writing and performing around New York’s music scene before returning to film school and working my way up through production. I was an AD and worked with some great people like Fab (5 Freddy), and Ted Demme. Eventually, Ted Demi gave me an opportunity to direct and I directed over 30 music videos. It was a fantastic time in my life, rap and hip hop were blowing up, and New York’s creative community was on fire. Musicians, actors, painters, and artists were everywhere, and I got to work with some very talented Grammy-winning artists and pioneers in the music business like Andre Harrell.

It was also challenging for African American filmmakers, and we were severely underrepresented. Still, we fought hard to bring about some change in the industry. Then, Spike broke through, and we could finally see a pathway into the business. He provided loads of opportunities. It wasn’t easy, but we were young and hungry.

I loved New York, but I moved to LA. It was time for a change. Eventually, a short film of mine led to work beyond music videos. After-school specials, some children’s books and writing for children’s television, and co-writing the movie HONEY, starring Jessica Alba and Mekhi Phifer. Writing assignments and other creative ventures took me from the mountains of Jamaica to Nigeria. I feel very fortunate to have had those experiences. Later, I became a founding partner in a media start-up that allowed me to apply my creative skill set to new areas in business. It was the first time I had official office hours, but I welcomed the opportunity to try something new. I was still creating shows and content, and I built a production team of very talented individuals, some who were right out of college. It was a great experience. Creative folks can be productive in many ways, so I stay open to opportunities and try not to limit myself. If there’s a chance to grow I’m all in.

Being an artist of any kind is always full of challenges, but the truth is, no road is without obstacles. Making a living through your art requires tremendous focus and faith in yourself. Sexism, racism, the glass ceiling, gender bias remain serious issues, but new and uncompromising energy is afoot, especially among young creatives. Turning the clock back is not an option. Today’s young artists, writers, and filmmakers are my heroes. These innovative young creatives are putting out fantastic, thoughtful work… it’s just mind-blowing.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I consider myself an “artist,” I don’t confine myself to one medium because creativity is fluid. I’ve worn several creative hats over the years to express myself as a writer, director, photographer, and innovator. It’s weird, but I have no talent as a painter or fine artist, which is an area my father was gifted in.

It doesn’t matter what I am creating as long as I am tapping into an emotion that the audience can relate to. So whether through a music video, back in the day, or the photographs and writing I am doing with TRESPASS, my current project, I want to make you feel something inside.

For over two years, I’ve been photographing and writing about the homeless situation in Los Angles. I’ve known many of my unhoused subjects for years before the project began. I’ve seen how they’ve been impacted by mental health issues, housing inequality, mass incarceration, and our social justice system. Now, I am sharing their stories and hoping to build understanding and empathy for that community. This is a very serious situation and there are times when I leave someone on the street, and I sit in my car and cry. When someone encounters this work, I want them to feel what I’m feeling, be touched deeply by it, and know that what I am creating is from my heart.

I started this project with no goals or expectations except to provide a profile of a neglected community. But, there is power in their stories. I’m now developing TRESPASS as an immersive photographic installation with a team of world-class collaborators, a documentary, and hopefully, a book. I am very excited about creating art that changes lives. That’s important to me.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
I’m not big on giving advice, everyone’s journey is different and there are many ways to find success. But my experience has taught me the importance of mentors. They provide real wisdom and insights that young artists can benefit from. Finding someone you respect and who understands what you’re trying to accomplish can be life-changing. You must believe in yourself and your talent during hard times, the ups and the downs, and mentors can provide tremendous support when things get challenging. And mentoring is a wonderful way to help the next generation of creatives who continue to inspire me as well.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
All images by Kim Watson Releases are secured for all subjects

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