Will Smith and Brian Lara at Decibel Entertainment Festival
Port of Spain, Trinidad, May 6, 2017
“One bad day with one dumb friend can mess up a big chunk of your life.”, was the frank advice given by American actor, comedian, producer, rapper, and songwriter Will Smith as he addressed the students who attended the 2017 Republic Bank Decibel Entertainment Festival on Friday May 5th at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s. Smith, who is called “the most powerful actor in Hollywood” by some, made a surprise appearance to the delight of the youngsters and indicated that he was very excited to be at the festival over the 3 days of its duration.
Smith continued to give advice to the aspiring actors, musicians, designers and entertainers who attended the annual student conference held on Day 1 of the Festival. He noted that the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, once said that if you look at the 5 people that you spend the most time with, that’s who you are, and stressed, “At this age it is really critical who you choose to spend your time with. Surround yourself with the people who will water the seeds of your dreams.” The charismatic actor also told the young attendees that everything they did affects someone. “You have to realize that as much as it’s your life, you are connected to every person in your family, in your neighbourhood, in your country and the world. I want to help improve other people’s lives, so everything I choose to do in my life, I stop and I ask myself how this action will improve lives. If it doesn’t, I don’t do it.”
Camille Campbell, TSTT’s VP Marketing welcomed the aspiring entertainers to the conference and stated that bmobile, as a loyal partner and sponsor, was honoured to support the Decibel Entertainment Festival for the 4th consecutive year. “As a local enabler we continue to invest in Decibel and similar initiatives because these programmes help to challenge you, enable you to grow and encourage you to dream big. Through the bmobile Foundation, our philanthropic arm, bmobile remains committed to investing in our youth, our communities and the nation as a whole. We recognize that there is more to arts and entertainment than mere entertainment value. Culture and the arts are tools for social change, vehicles for a more inclusive society and with technology the possibilities are endless.”
International batting superstar and bmobile ambassador, Brian Charles Lara also addressed the students and echoed the sentiment, that surrounding yourself with the right set of friends and mentors from early in your life was important. Remarking that he had built and maintained a good network since his youth days, he stated that even now, many years later, these were the friends and mentors that he still often turned to for advice, support and good camaraderie. The bmobile Brand Ambassador and legend who holds several cricket records, also discussed the importance of getting a good education since this helps with establishing a career after the professional sports days are over.
Earlier, the students had the opportunity to listen and pose questions to 3 different panels. The 1st panel of local magician, Kess the Illusionist; Valmiki Maharaj, Tribe mas’ band costume designer; local author, Verena Boodoosingh; and Canadian comedian Jean Paul was hosted by Slam 100.5FM radio personality Major Penny, and discussed how to overcome the objections of parents to an entertainment career. The 2nd panel of American DJ/producer/songwriter, Clinton Sparks; Jarrod Faria, Kes the Band Road Manager; and Step Up movie dancers/choreographers Chris Scott and Brandon Shaw was hosted by Hot 93.5FM radio personality Patrick “Hypeman” Anthony and discussed how to get recognized in the entertainment industry. The last panel of actor Jeremy Jordan of the TV show Supergirl; and actress Willow Shields from The Hunger Games movies was hosted by Jason “JW” Williams and dealt with pursuing an acting career.
The feedback from several attending students indicated that they appreciated the whole conference. Hillview College students Riaz Jokan, 16 years and Amrit Jalbaran, 15 years, are two young magicians. They enjoyed listening to Kess the Illusionist the most because he demonstrates that a professional career as a magician can be real. 15-year-old Arianna Carrington, a St Francois Girls’ College student and aspiring broadcaster, was excited because she got more information about the field and how to pursue it. 16-year-old Kern Solozano from Sangre Grande Secondary plays the steel pan. He felt more encouraged to pursue a career as a musician after listening to the various panelists.
The Decibel Entertainment Festival, which is an annual film, music, fashion and dance festival that aims to foster growth in the entertainment industry, continued later that evening and Saturday May 6th from 4pm to 10pm, and Sunday May 7th from 12noon to 7pm, with an Expo featuring bmobile’s Zombie Island and Escape Room, as well as theme park attractions, concert performances, celebrity meet and greet sessions and an expo village that showcases top local talent.