By Taroue Brooks
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Honestly, I didn’t have a choice. I’m from rural Arkansas, and so there was never a path created for me. However, in many ways, that’s been to my advantage. The foundation that I now stand on as a filmmaker was laid by me. I’m standing on solid ground.
When did you realize that your creativity would be the way you earn money?
When I got a check with a few extra zeros! Seriously, there’s a substantial amount of personal capital that has gone into my creative efforts. And I’m not solely talking about money. Creatives, especially in this environment, have to go through considerable lengths to prove we are worthy of getting our projects into the ethos. The sacrifice requires many of us to miss so much: weddings, births, celebrations, and so much more. When I finally started to get paid for my creative excellence, it reinforced that it was all worth it.
How are you processing your success?
Processing my success is an ongoing thing for me. In many ways, I don’t think I’ve adjusted quite frankly enough. I’m beginning to get inundated with requests for help and advice, as well as meetings from industry people I’ve only dreamed of working alongside. It’s surreal, but I remained humbled by it all.
What has been the most challenging thing you had to overcome?
My fear of success. Growing up, I got criticized for being unique and wanting to accomplish things outside of my reach. It forced me to be small, think small, and assimilate as I didn’t want to offend people with my thoughts and goals. Over the past years, I started to see what made me unique made me special. I slowly started to embrace myself, love myself, and trust myself.
That self-love began to grow me as an artist. It allowed me to flourish beyond anything that I could’ve imagined. All of a sudden, I secured a deal with BET and then Issa Rae, and then I’m turning down work from networks. It’s crazy how simply overcoming that fear transformed my world.
Tell us about your series.
Well, I’m currently in between two: ‘Issa Rae Presents King Ester’ and BRIC TV’s ‘Sauce.’ I found out yesterday that ‘Issa Rae Presents King Ester’ has been shortlisted for the Daytime Emmy in the Best Drama Digital Series. It’s surreal. The project has been such a beautiful lesson in trusting my gut. I pray the series get the nomination.
BRIC TV’s Sauce is a super dope project. It’s about a talented chef (Roland Lane) whose life is reeling as the result of an allegation. Funny enough, it wasn’t the initial idea that I pitched, and so in many ways, I created this entire project out of my comfort zone – which is precisely what Chef Moon is experiencing in the series There’s so much duality with me and the lead character.
The series is an intimate portrait of a man lost in the throes of a bad decision, and his willingness to accept the parts of himself that need to change. Equally, the women in the series get to have their say. They’re part of the narrative substantively, and not serving as props for men.
But ‘Sauce’ has, without a doubt, been my most significant learning experience. Oh, the things I’ve learned! Primarily owning your vision, both legally and creatively. I’m going to be much more vigilant about advocating for myself in the future.
People can go check it out today at https://www.bricartsmedia.org/tv-shows-videos/sauce
What do you feel is your unique touch/special niche in the industry?
I lead with kindness, and I work extremely hard to make sure everyone on my set is seen, heard, and understood. As simple as it sounds, its quite a challenge – especially considering the many personalities that go into crafting a production. But kindness is my superpower.
Who are your mentors, and how have they inspired you?
I don’t have any. As much as I hate to admit it, I haven’t been supported very much by many of the creators that I look up too. It’s nobody’s fault; it’s just the hand I’ve been dealt. Most of the people I admire stand next to me. People like Chuck Douglas, Chris Hicks, Kenneth Brown Jr, Tyler Dixon, Rhavynn Drummer, Lindsey G. Smith, Ryan Robertson, Howard Conday, Yolanda Hoseky, I could go on and on. That’s my tribe. Those are my rocks.
Where would you like to see your career in the next five years?
I embrace whatever Yahweh (God) has for me. I listen to the low vibrations of my internal guide. As long as I come out of every production a better person, a more humble person, a more kind person – I’m gucci.
Links for more information
Dui Jarrod Screenwriter. Filmmaker. Content Creator.www.duijarrod.com
King Ester”Before the reign, came the rain.”www.kingester.com
BET’s Brooklyn. Blue. Sky.”Today’s Forecast: Shade”www.bet.com/brooklynbluesky
Dui Jarrod is a storyteller. His life has been a reflection of that since he made his first film about Noah’s Ark at 11 years old in his hometown of White Hall, AR. While the project was no masterpiece, the effort did fortify his belief that cinema can be used delicately and progressively. His focus: Move the narrative forward for marginalized communities. After having lived most of his life in rural Arkansas, the creator found the self-will to find his way into the industry through hard work and humility. That effort has been rewarded with numerous accolades that have positioned Dui to follow his dreams from Arkansas to Los Angeles, where he has become one of the exciting new voices in film and television.
Jarrod’s most recent success comes from the dramatic digital series Issa Rae Presents “King Ester,” which took a closer look at the life of a transwoman in Pre-Katrina New Orleans. The series was screened at some of the top festivals including Frameline 43, American Black Film Festival, and Catalyst Film Festival. The haunting period piece picked up numerous awards along the way with wins in the Best Director and Best Cinematography categories. The series was named Best Web Series of 2019 by Black Talent TV, where they noted Jarrod by saying, ” Unsurprisingly, Jarrod created a masterpiece, with exquisite cinematography and a truly moving story.”
In 2018, Jarrod wrote and directed “BET’s Brooklyn. Blue. Sky.” which was the first acquired series for the emerging digital arm of the network. The digital series followed two Brooklyn-based writers on the search for the value of their work and their previous relationship. The series won Best Web Series at American Black Film Festival in 2017 and the Bronzelens Film Festival the same year. “BET’s Brooklyn. Blue. Sky.” was selected at one of the top web series by several publications, including Refinery 29. The emerging creative was named to “Cassius” Inugral Creative Class in 2018 because of his vision with the series.
The creator currently resides in Los Angeles and set to release his third digital series entitled BRIC TV’s “Sauce.” The series premiered at the highly-noted Seattle International Film Festival and was a finalist for Best Digital Series at the 2019 Urbanworld Film Festival.
Professionally, Jarrod continues to create powerful connections through his public speaking. He shared his insights on race, creativity, and digital content creation with various organizations, including IFP, Airbnb, JP Morgan Chase, and several colleges and universities.
Jarrod is currently working on an original pilot entitled “Last Name Unknown,” which follows several youths in a homeless shelter. He also seeks to carve out a lane for himself in TV directing. In 2019, he served as a visiting director on the set of HBO’s “Insecure” under the direction of Kerry Washington.