J’cans to the World

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 08, 2012

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JAMAICANS have earned the reputation of being athletes, musicians, happy people with a rich culture. But one television producer wants to add to that perception.

For Omari Pili Johnson, Jamaicans are brilliant minds who, through tenacity, have reached the highest levels internationally.

That led Johnson to create Jamaicans In The World — a half-hour television show about "typical Jamaicans in not so typical places".

The idea came to Johnson as he worked on a documentary focusing on the different cultures and nationalities which co-exist in South Texas.

"It hit me that Jamaicans are everywhere doing great things. Why not do a show focusing on this aspect of my people," he told the Jamaica Observer in an interview from his base in South Texas.

Johnson, 35, grew up in Mona Heights, St Andrew. He has lived in the United States for the past four years.

Johnson recalled meeting Jamaicans in his travels accross the globe — from Europe, to the Americas and Africa.

"I remember being in Ghana and was introduced to the assistant and linguist to a chief. When he realised we were Jamaicans, he said, "a Spanish Town mi come from". That is what we seek to promote with this show. We want to broaden the Jamaican brand and add to the perception of Jamaicans in the world," he noted.

Johnson's passion for the product is unbridled during the interview as he stressed who he wanted his stories to inspire.

"That little girl somewhere in rural Jamaica, who can look at these Jamaicans, who came from humble beginings and have acccomplished their dreams."

With a pilot episode already shot and a number ‘in the can’, Johnson’s subjects include Donna Cooper-Dockery, a doctor based in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas; businessman Owen Leach, who operates a Jamaican restaurant just miles from the Mexican border; and plastic surgeon Dr Paul Thesiger, who lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Johnson said he is currently in negotiations with a local station, but is not limiting this project to the local television market. He is reluctant to give timelines, but projects that Jamaicans in the World could hit local airwaves by early next year.





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