Connect
To Top

Meet Danyel Thompson of Gombey Production in San Bernardino

Today we’d like to introduce you to Danyel Thompson.

Danyel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It was a bright sunny day in the middle of summer…Just messing with you ha!

My start can be best described as a spider to a web: the tangled three-dimensional artistry of its eight legged arthropod host. My elements and layers that construct my web can be contributed to the landing point of where I stand in this moment of time.

What I can say is the heaviest silk spun can be captured as: “Never going back to being poor!”, let me explain. Growing up as a child in the beautiful Island Of Bermuda I would watch as everyone around me was living a great life, getting new clothes all the time plus taking school or family trips abroad at their leisure. Understand that Bermuda is NOT a struggling island. We have an extremely low poverty rate and most families were blissful in their financial gains and constancies of life. That wasn’t my story as I faced a total different experience and was burden with keeping it a secret from my friends.

Another aspect of the silk to the web: I had limited guidance on how to achieve more in life. My mom knew it was best to go to college but she didn’t know how to get me there or what it took. She would drill in me to make sure I go on to do more than she did in by getting a better education.

What was created from this silk web; BADDASS survival skills for both the corporate jungle, the streets and everything in between. I remember telling my mom after getting my first paycheck, “don’t you EVER ask anyone for anything, you come directly to me!!” I said that with such authority and strength and I meant every word. I told her we are done with feeling like we are not human or that we need to beg anyone for anything…”COME TO ME!”

I used my ‘quick study’ drive to navigate through almost everything. I started traveling alone at the age of 19 and I would take in different cultures with excitement. I made it to school in North Carolina and that was with no knowledge of how I was going to pay for it or even what was required for the paperwork. But with every venture I took on, I said, “I WON’T GO BACK TO BEING POOR!” then I would just push through and make it work learning and documenting mentally what I’ve learned along the way.

I feel as though I have been blessed with a sense to map out or strategize a plan to avoid an attack or a plan to create an attack to protect myself and the current environment for which I lived. I applied this to living in Bermuda, Jamaica, North Carolina and now California.

My husband and I along with our children have been living in California since July 2018. I came here with a plan: to insert myself and move forward! I quickly assessed the pros and cons of being in this state and more importantly, my city. What some would say could be a con, I would use that to my gain. This form was more or less catering to the corporate life I was in. What changed and allowed for the creative flower in me to come out to bloom was not being able to map a clear path for another job (if needed because my current employer was going through a merger) and applying to be on house hunters.

House Hunters was the quick look into what I had been holding back for so long – creativity! While filming, I made sure to be that “secret/silent crew member” posing as the star of the show. I watched everything and asked every question to the point where I was “playing AD” politely of course and without getting in the way. (they had no idea I was just putting a test out there into the universal to see what my grade would be from the producer/director – I was passing for a first-timer ha)

The momentum was there and we were looking to keep it alive (pretty common though right – like a drug you got it and you like it and you want more). We were in talks to venture into being featured again on a new flipping house show (considering me and my husband was into that already) but I didn’t gel with the timing and constraints so we tabled that notion. The luxury of already having careers outside of “the Industry” keeps you from taking on projects simply to survive which can lead to questionable/costly outcomes.

But what did the networks love? They loved the banter between me and my husband. That was our golden goose, they told us, they showed us and we implemented it – but for ourselves.

We tested our formula in malls, coffee shops almost everywhere. But then we tested it in the barbershop and KABOOM (who says kaboom right ha) the birth of our show was born. But what is more encouraging to me is that not only did we develop that concept, the ideas for show after show was just pouring out of me/us.

What started out as a panic (and I was in a sheer worry cause I couldn’t map the next course of action to put financial safety controls in place to “Never go back to being poor!”) for survival in California if we were to lose a job/income to taking the creative leap that all dream about some actually put to action (if we consider the world – now if we consider LA then haha my point is mute haha – but you feel me).

So we are still full-time employed while working on tv projects, docu-series (that’s a beast of a project considering I am covering Carnival starting in 5 different Caribbean islands), artist managers and we scout for models…just busy.

So yeah that’s a window into how we started ha! (just a few sentences nothing major ha)

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Hmmm, first what roads are smooth in Cali? haha

Ok, if you couldn’t tell from the use of the word ‘husband’ (ha) I am married. We are business partners with different approaches, strengths and weakness AND we both work from home for our day jobs PLUS our ten years old is homeschooled. So yeah, there are struggles.

We are learning to address the struggles for the great good of sanity haha! Communication was/is a major struggle that took all strengths of the sevens seas for us to manage. (I am being generous with my word game ha)

I feel “financial” would be considered a struggle but coming from our backgrounds we just know how to “make a dollar out of 15cents!”

Considering it’s just him and I running the day to day – what comes with the territory of being a one man show. My husband plays a more Executive role with me going to him with reports and him weighing in on my considered approach (that was so diplomatically stated I am impressed just reading that ha! Cause the real side of me can give a less diplomatic answer too haha!). The roles are slightly reversed with management of the artist. I am more the numbers cruncher, meetings manager, contract creator, email sender, research developer and all-round day to day (or should I say night to night lol) busy bee.

Finally, we have day jobs that take first priority over everything. We don’t play when it comes to our day jobs cause all that we do is considered a reinvestment of funds…we have no investors or rich family we can go to…its all US. Keeping the day jobs first priority isn’t a struggle is a NECESSITY that will not be messed with until…you know we get a deal haha! Even then I told my husband we are not leaving our day jobs unless it’s a certain very very very high amount. We still debating that price haha.

I will say that I’ve had to apply my street maneuverers from hanging out in parts of NY and Jamaica here in Cali regarding the business and that was a quick surprise to me. We are over the newbie stage of people dropping names of people they are connected to…its like a man bragging on his parts then when you get to the room – sigh well I’ll leave that right there. hahaha. Let me explain further, I have been running into what I call “the Yeah-yeah-ers”. These are the people that will try to solicit business and give you their verbal resume. My quick-silver self goes in and says, “Ok let’s put a meeting on the books to discuss further”. Then comes the excuses sighhhh!!! Now they start stuttering which leaves me looking at them like I’m the slow train at the station. The conversation never starts with me asking people for their involvement, people seem to insert their 15min window into the conversation. But they don’t care to really have the opportunity to discuss business, they just wanted to hear themselves speak. These are time waster in my book! My formula used in other locations I’ve had to carry over into this industry. I have to react to the “I can do this and that” like a barking dog behind a fence – the gate is open are you still gonna bark and approach or just stand there? My personality is pretty much, WE either gonna talk or we just gonna hear YOU talk…Not sure how the word “ok” is received but when I start “ok-ing” I have already assessed the level of energy to give to this conversation. I will say this, business is handled differently in different parts of the world but at the end of the day…finding out who is truly here to get things done…that is a common issue no matter your geographic location.

But hey overall, these are pretty cool problems to have and for that, I have to reflect and appreciate.

Gombey Production – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
What is a Gombey?

https://www.gotobermuda.com/article/gombey-style-the-parts-bermuda-gombey-dancers-costume

Gombey Production – The reason for the name is simple: I am Bermudian. What I did notice was our tourism ministry In Bermuda wasn’t/isn’t marketing in southern California (or down south where I was living for ten years). I did recently have a conversation with a Bermuda Development Agency manager and he said that they are marketing in Northern California. That’s great as they are looking to do business in the tech world. However, that only drives a bigger class gap due to not everyone being built for tech. So I am doing my part and introducing whomever I rub elbows with to Bermuda. I have even introduced the barbers (to our show) to Goslings Dark and Stormy 151 proof. I don’t drink like that but the fact that its 151 proof people welcome the challenge. Overall, everything I do on this end is to promote Bermuda in my lil small/medium/large way! Hence Gombey Production

What do we do? I look at my company has a hub for all things that can be produced for film or can be depicted on a canvas to be admired and pondered over. But of course, I’ve learned that no one likes a “jack of all trades” and it frightens people when they cannot put you in a category so their conscience feels comfortable with having to explain or process.

Soooo with that we are a producers creating tv shows and documentaries.

What sets us apart – Now that I am working on with all my might!!! If the trend says go left, I sit if the trend says orange I am a square if the trend calls for confusion I find beauty in that to simply and bring forth order. I will say this because I am from an island I hope to sprinkle that essence throughout all I do. I am starting with an explosive in your face all things Caribbean hit to the soul with the Docu-series of Carnival. That will cover the history, culture and people of Carnival. It will take the audience beyond the pretty costumes and give a close understanding to the pride and people, the cost of carnival to each island, the music and celebrities that love not only carnival but their respective islands. That will bring the platform of the Caribbean to a level to be desired. And with every venture we will “HUSTLE UNTIL WE NO LONGER HAVE TO INTRODUCE OURSELVES!”

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I think we don’t focus on being “successful” cause its always something to go and get. I do know that we get so engulfed with having a task, we never stop to pat ourselves on the back for completing a task. That’s what I have been teaching myself and with my husband’s help…congratulate myself. I was raised in an era that being humble was the leader of a good personality so I struggle with the new way of self-promotion. I can contribute my adaption of “new moves” in life to my survival skills. I would battle internally with allowing myself to take a compliment or to be the person that talks about what ‘she’ has going on…then I’d say, ‘closed mouths don’t get fed”. Ha

As we all do, I guess I measure my capable social “success” with what I can tangibly attain. Those may be the markers I look for…like having the conversation on how are we going to avoid taxes like a rich people do…haha. Now that is a serious marker right? The norm is a big house or car, but I can look at where I was and see us now, we have already attained that.

I know my biggest concern with being a boss is not to be a boss that doesn’t respect people and the crew. I have said on my set that I don’t want that “Hollywood” attitude of disrespecting people here. I am not saying, I am running a tissue sensitive organization but we can still treat people with grace even if we have to let them go.

Over the course of my life I have been steadily moving forward. I want to remain has humble as ever during my journey and never forget my past. To me, forgetting my past will mean that I feel like I have “arrived”. I want to continue “Arriving” – I am not done yet!

Contact Info:

  • Phone: 336-575-6559
  • Email: mgmt@gombey-prod.works


Image Credit:

For the group pic: Sigmund Valentine

Suggest a story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in