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Meet Derrick Botts Jr.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Derrick Botts Jr.

Hi Derrick, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Life is the sum of all your choices. “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not something to be waited for, but rather something to be achieved.” — William Jennings Bryan This quote describes the summation of my life. While we don’t always choose what happens to us, we do have a choice in the way we respond. That has been my life. My earliest memory that I equate as the foundation of who I am today is being in church under the leadership of my grandparents, Elder Wayne Botts and First Lady Joyce Botts right here in the heart of Los Angeles at Gethsemane God’s Garden of Prayer church. My parents Derrick and Lashay Botts, my younger brothers Dayvon, and Dillion and my little sister Dakota support me and have always been by my side. My family has taught me by example how to stick together to build not only our church but our community. It was in church at a young age that I was made aware of my passion for the arts. Like most children who grow up in church, I was in the choir, in every church production, and serving in other various departments. Whenever help was needed, I was always willing to serve.

Through my service, I learned the skills that would help me with what I do now. My love for the arts just wasn’t confined to the church. In school, I was in choir, theatre, and many other student leadership organizations. One of the leadership organizations that had a huge impact was ASB (associated student body). It was then that I was able to venture outside of the performing arts and begin to utilize other talents. I began hosting school assemblies and rallies building my public speaking skills. I was decorating venues and creating flyers for the many student activities we would host. It was the rush and the pump of adrenaline during stressful moments and the subsequent deep sigh of relief at the end of an event that made me realize I was doing something that I would want to do for the rest of my life. Now, I am currently coming up on my 5th year of hosting IOP (Instruments of Praise) which will be airing live on Facebook June 2021. IOP is an experience like no other and is a free range platform for creatives to be an instrument of praise to the King of Glory. Annually with this platform, we have been fortunate to give scholarships to youth and encourage young people to continue believing in God. I am elated that each year the event has grown exponentially.

Last year a 250 seat sanctuary was filled to capacity having standing room only. While I thought my passion was simply for the arts, as I have gotten older, I’ve realized my passion is for people. Albert Einstein a theoretical physicist said this regarding the arts “Personally, I experience the greatest degree of pleasure in having contact with works of art. They furnish me with happy feelings of an intensity that I cannot derive from other sources. I have realized, like Albert Einstein and others like him, it is through platforms like mine and others alike that we are able to bring relief to those around us. In a world that is heavily politicized and many on the edge, it is through the arts that people can break away and even if it’s only for a minute, can experience this same relief. It’s through the arts that Amanda Gorman was able to move America with her poem at President Bidens inauguration. It was through the arts that Mahalia Jackson was able to evoke change as she sung at the March on Washington and it will be through the arts that I will hope to leave a platform that other artist and creatives can share their gifts with the world.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Life has not always been easy. One of my biggest struggles was with my vision. In 2019, I was diagnosed with a cornea deteriorating disease, Keratoconus. Keratoconus is when the clear, dome-shaped tissue that covers the eye (cornea) thins and bulges outward into a cone shape. Its cause is unknown and progresses with age. In my case, it was progressing rapidly and the doctors recommended emergency surgery. After getting good news that there was a surgery that could help, I then was told my insurance may not cover it and the out of pocket cost was outstanding. After the long process of going back and forth with the insurance company, I was finally able to get it approved. We were able to schedule the surgery for my left eye in March of 2019. With all of the risks involved, I was nervous but prayerful for a successful surgery. I was told that if this surgery did not work, I would have to undergo a cornea transplant which is a more extensive surgery with many risks and the potential for severe life-altering complications.

Immediately after the first surgery, the vision improved in my left eye. This was a good sign as my left eye was the stronger of the two eyes and my vision depended on this eye not getting worse. Soon after in August of 2019, I had surgery on my right eye. The goal was to prevent this eye from being completely blind. After both surgeries, I was told that my eyes should be stable and should not get any worse. But it did. The emotional rollercoaster I experienced left me feeling at times defeated but always hopeful. One of the things that remained constant on this ride was my passion for people. Through my obstacles and challenges, I found my strength in not harboring on my problems but serving others. God is faithful! Today my vision is stable and not worsening. I was able to get special contacts to help me see and have not needed any other surgeries. This has been a true test of my faith. I believe that through the repairing of my vision, God was making me into a visionary. I call this testimony “The perfecting vision of the Visionary”.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I have created a platform for creatives from all ends of the spectrum, mimers to rappers, singers to poets and even a venue provided to business owners to market and sell their products. Not only am I hosting a highly anticipated event, IOP, but I am also managing major projects/events and a graphic designer for many local churches, businesses and groups. Along with the business side of the arts, I have been a part of and led two dance ministries, MIM (Ministry in Motion) and the Boys Mime as well as starred in many stage plays. I’ve been fortunate to really emerge as a freelancer. From stage manager for venues such as City of Refuge, a photographer for events featuring recording artist Maranda Curtis, to a marketing consultant and graphic designer for many concerts and businesses all across the country. I love serving God’s people and connecting with others to build a network that anyone can benefit from.

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
It’s as easy as a conversation. Let’s connect! I can be reached by way of Instagram @Derrickbottsjr, email or even a quick text. I’m open to serving the people in any capacity whether it’s through graphic design, stage management or connecting with you to be a part of IOP. Your support is greatly appreciated with sharing a post, following IOP on Instagram @weareiop, or becoming a sponsor and giving a donation via cash app $weareiop. It is my goal to create genuine connections and relationships, so let’s get to work!

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Blessed Images Photography Darnell & Shannon Botts

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