It is fascinating to have the awareness to discover and create our own opportunities and experience that which we dream about. Perhaps everything starts with a dream and the desire to live a fuller and more satisfying life, this one-of-a-kind vision that can only be expressed through one’s unique perspective.
Growing up in the South Bronx, just two blocks away from Yankee Stadium, Dominican-American Filmmaker Jessy Terrero has embraced not only his Latino roots, a culture where passion and emotions are fuel for life, but also everything he has learned on the streets of New York.
“I would say it was a rough way of living. But I think my parents…created a very beautiful home for us, internally,” remembers Terrero. “New York at that time was a tough place, especially for the Latinos. And I think that we all had the survival instinct, which I carried into my career. So, a lot of that really shaped me. Living in a household where Spanish was the dominant language, and listening to Spanish music, but then going outside in an American world, is what really created the Jessy-Terrero-style of filmmaking: rooted in Latin culture, but at the same time with an American sensibility.”
This blend of Latino culture with American sensibility can be clearly seen in the 2021 Cadillac Escalade TV commercial ‘Ultimate Vibe,’ available in Spanish and English, directed by and starring Jessy.
Just like Jessy, we all observe our contextual collection of experiences which makes us choose and clarify our preference, and from there, how we want to experience life. This clarity often makes us combine our desire with the journey of discovery about how that desire will unfold. But what is most empowering is seeing so many talents expressing themselves in diverse disciplines, exploring and creating opportunities for themselves when others seem not to see their potential or the value in their stories.
“Well, I think for us, as Latinos, we’re at a place where we’ve been waiting for a long time [for] those opportunities…,” says Jessy. “I’ve been in Hollywood for over twenty years…always trying to sell my own projects. When you’re trying to sell projects, where [the] majority of the cast is Latino and they happen to be brown Latinos, it’s not always an easy road…we got to make and finance the movies and the shows ourselves because we’ve been sitting back for so long wanting Hollywood to accept us, wanting Hollywood to make these projects in an authentic way, and it hasn’t been happening. And now we’re trying to unify forces and say: ‘Okay, you’ve been doing powerful things in acting, you’ve been doing powerful things in writing, you’ve been doing powerful things in music, how do we all get together?’ Because together, now we can make this project a reality.”
We always want to have fuller and fuller experiences. That is what maintains the continuous movements of expansion and infinite possibilities for every human being. As Jessy Terrero goes through life accomplishing his dreams, he always wants to create a fuller experience for himself, too, and therefore, for those around him and his fans. When it comes to embracing his love and passion for directing and producing music videos and films, Jessy says: “For me, it’s definitely tougher on the music video side, because I’ve done so many music videos [that] I got to a point where it’s like I want something more. But it’s your ambition that drives you. As a filmmaker, as an artist, you are constantly searching. So, you do one thing, you finish that, and you’re on to the next. I try to sit back more and analyze the work. I did something recently with Jennifer Lopez and Maluma…a short sort of two-part music video. And I sat back and really enjoyed that. I felt like: these are two artists that I had strong relations with finally coming together on a song…When I looked at the project, I felt like we made a match.”
We all get caught up in so many projects that we sometimes forget to enjoy the journey of what we are creating.
“You feel so much pressure as a filmmaker,” says Jessy. “We tend to beat ourselves up more. Even with the recently released Cadillac commercial, I was caught [up] in the stress of making it happen and hoping that the client was happy, and that the agency was proud of the work. And now, I’m already in Miami on to the next job… but you also have to sit back and just enjoy it. And I’m trying to do a little bit more of that.”
How satisfying are those moments of awareness about choosing and recognizing our preferences? Experiencing something that, through our observation and attention, creates discomfort is so beneficial when the clarity of what we want next and how we want to experience it comes through, too.
“These days, I really like to work with like-minded and good people,“ says Jessy. “You can see that I work with a lot of the same people all the time because I like to keep the right kind of energy, clear-minded and positive-minded people, around me.”
Jessy’s creative and artistic energy represents who he is becoming, which he eagerly shares with young talents, professionals, and everyone who engages with him on social media. His desire to give back through setting his own example with his personal and professional experiences is touching to many who look up to him as a role model. As such, he is leading by example by creating stories that showcase more representation of Latino culture, such as the limited Netflix Original series Nicky Jam: El Ganador, starring the reggaetón recording artist, Nicky Jam, and his most recent project Bravas for YouTube Originals. Both El Ganador and Bravas were produced by Cinema Giants, a company inspired by Latino pop culture which focuses on producing diverse projects, and which was founded by Terrero.
Co-produced with Natti Natasha, Bravas, which translates to brave or courageous, tells the story of three friends, Mila (Audri Nix), Roja (Nohemy), and Ashley (Amanda Antonella), who aspire to become accomplished artists.
“There’s not a big enough representation of the Latino culture in general…different countries think we’re so fragmented, but there are a lot of things within our culture that unify us. I felt like reggaetón became such a global phenomenon, but there wasn’t content that existed that looked like the music felt…. telling a journey in that world so that people can have a companion piece to the music. And then, as I was exploring, I really started to see that there was an absence of the female voice.”
As a result, Jessy’s curiosity to explore a new way of storytelling in Spanish with a leading female Puerto Rican cast, filmed in Puerto Rico, and created by Puerto Rican writers, represents an authentic and empowering narrative to inspire others.
We all, as human beings, tend to follow certain contextual trends when, like Jessy, we always have the power within ourselves to see and create something new, something that resonates with our continuous becoming.
“Sometimes, when you’re trying to do something that’s new and fresh, there is no data to help you. When I try to pitch a show, there’s no[thing] comparable…. there’s no[thing] comparable in the world that feels [like Nicky Jam]. It’s hard because you don’t have a success chart to say, ‘this works, or it doesn’t work.’ When you’re doing something new and fresh, you just got to go out there and make it. So, I’ve just been trying to find ways to partner with the right people like Netflix or YouTube, [with] people that understand the vision and understand that the audience exists, and then try to make the best show possible.”
Jessy Terrero is also developing a program to empower kids to pursue their own dreams.
“Everybody doesn’t have to be a director. There are so many other careers that are incredible. I want to make sure that I can give them a place where they can feel empowered.”
On the heels of any desire, there are infinite opportunities, and the perspective on seeing it will make it crystalize into reality.
Project Coordinator // RoseMarie Newlands | Photographer // Antwon Maxwell | Grooming // Toni Garcia Jackson | Wardrobe Stylist // Lunden Olin