In this edition of of the Spotlight Series, we focus on Michael “Mikey T” Campbell, the passionate visionary behind the project, “Jamaica Story”. Born to Jamaican parents, Campbell has a profound love for the land of his ancestry and is determined to create a significant impact on its future. The “Jamaica Story” is his brainchild, aimed at capturing the essence of Jamaican culture and driving investment into the country. This fascinating interview dives deep into Mikey T’s inspiration, his journey, the challenges he’s faced, and his aspirations for his documentary.
Read on to get a glimpse into the mind of a man who is investing his time, energy, and resources to tell fellow Jamaicans across the world to invest in Jamaica for a brighter future.
CARRY ON FRIENDS: Can you share a bit about yourself, your background and the path that led you to where you are today?
Mike T: My name is Michael “Mikey T” Campbell. I am a Jamaican. Well, I was born to Jamaican parents. My mom is from Mount Airy in Westmoreland and my father is from Spanish Town, [St. Catherine]. While my mom was getting her footing in the US, she sent me to live with her brother in Little London and those moments in Little London with my uncle, my aunt, and my cousins are my earliest memories of life. So, since I can remember I have always loved Jamaica and tried to find a viable way to go back home to live and raise my family.
Tell us a bit about Jamaica Story and the work you do.
Well, Jamaica Story was a thought that popped into my head. I was sitting on some money and thought about how I could create the greatest impact. I thought, “why not document a conversation about what it means to be Jamaican and how we as Jamaicans can invest our time and our money to preserve our culture and create more opportunities?”
In 2018 it just came to me and since then I have been on this journey, reaching out to people, listening to their stories and traveling the world to [record and] listen to whoever is willing to speak to me.
The importance of this film is the fact that Jamaica is more than just a vacation destination. It is a country with people and children being born there every day and these children deserve a path to a successful future that doesn’t require them to leave their home and never look back to returning. I know we are all frustrated with what is going on back home, but we can’t just hope it gets better. We must be willing to invest time and money in a comprehensive plan for the advancement of our country.
What inspires, motivates and drives you in your work?
Honestly, I look at my family and the things they were able to achieve in the US and always think back to the little girl or boy growing up in Jamaica who has all the potential and brains, but none of the support. Why should some get and others do not when there is more than enough to go around? These children deserve [support] from their fellow Jamaicans for a better tomorrow no matter where they live.
Can you share some highlights of your journey so far? What’s the best part? What’s been challenging?
Honestly, the best part of starting has been the amazing people I have gotten to speak to. I have done over 100 interviews and have driven to parts of Jamaica I never believed I could go. I’ve been to May Pen, Rae Town, Rockfort, Portmore, and so many other places. Being able to converse with community leaders and thought leaders from different parishes and showing the different nuances of each parish.
The most challenging part of Jamaica Story has honestly been the traveling. I have financed 100% of the project and never asked for any favors to get services done. So, at times things had to pause simply because I ran out of money.
I think the most significant part of this documentary is just being able to get the thoughts and feelings the everyday Jamaican has on the direction of the country on camera.
How much has it cost you to self-fund this project?
Honestly, between camera equipment, travel and other services, I can estimate that I’ve spent approximately $25,000 of my own money.
What impact do you want Jamaica Story to have?
The biggest impact I wish to have is the idea of “Jamaicans Investing In Jamaica” which simply means I want the days to be gone when we as Jamaicans are looking outside our communities and our country for a handout. I want little Jamaican boys and girls to look up to members of the community as their heroes and people who helped them become successful. So when they grow up they will remember the support they got from their community and they will turn around and do the same for those following them. “If we all take care of our little piece of Jamaica, then the whole country will grow.”
When will the Jamaica Story documentary be released and what’s your hope for its release?
The release date for the documentary is March 2024. My hope for the future is that Jamaica Story can shift the mindset of the culture of Jamaica and help spread the idea of “Jamaicans Investing in Jamaica”. A more tangible goal of mine is to go on an island-wide tour showing it for free to members of different communities.
How can people support Jamaica Story?
Follow the page, engage with the content, and be open to us having a conversation on camera.
What part of your Jamaican or Caribbean Culture that you cannot live without?
I cannot live without the music and the “vybz”. Say what you want, but nothing like a Jamaican or Caribbean party that just takes all your worries away no matter which part of the world it is in.
Where can our audience find you & more about Jamaica Story?