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Meet Jeff Mercado of Vice in Venice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeff Mercado.

Jeff, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I like to consider myself somewhat of a late bloomer. After graduating highschool I worked at video game stores and as a bank teller in order to help out my single-mother who was working graveyard shifts just to keep us from losing our home during the great recession in 2008. Six years after graduating high school, I was at a crossroads; I still wanted to help but I also wanted something better for myself. I always wanted to graduate college, so after years of bouncing from community colleges in southern California, I transferred to the University of Oregon where I majored in journalism. Needing to work in order to survive, I took a job at my school’s camera checkout room. I’d never shot on one of these fancy cameras before but after months of working in that checkout room I was determined to learn.

Photography and filmmaking became a passion that has opened doors I never thought existed. Visual storytelling has taken me to countries like Ghana, Guatemala, and Peru, to tell unique stories. More importantly, it has opened the doors to showcase my native Los Angeles through my lens. Stories like the one about a father and lowrider aficionado from West LA which I worked on as part of a series reshaping the narrative around immigration. I hope my path can inspire other kids like me from the hood to be in a position to give back to the communities they call home. I want to get cameras in their hands as soon as possible because I believe they have the talent to create, they just need the tools.

Has it been a smooth road?
My road has been a series of wrong turns righted. I’ve had to navigate my own path as well as help those close to me. My sister once told me during a passionate argument, “I’ve learned what not to do by seeing your actions.” That cut me to the bone but after much thought, I realized it was more of a compliment because there was no one for me to look to help me navigate the world. I had to navigate, pay for my own education. In doing so I became the go-to resource for my siblings and close friends. There’s a minefield of struggles when you’re the trailblazer in your family but it’s a task I’m up for.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m currently a producer for Vice News Tonight, a short-form documentary style news show. I wear many hats here from researching stories, talking to dozens of people, managing my crew and of course, shooting and photographing in the field.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is in my opinion the perfect place to start a career in journalism. There are so many layers here and there are so many stories that are yet to be told and more importantly, told by the people that represent those communities.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jessica Pons

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