Ready for the video light
THEY are the focus of many a music video — skimpily clad and gyrating suggestively for the cameras. Meet the video girls.
Like their hip-hop counterparts, most dancehall videos are dominated by these young women who are known to steal the thunder of its stars with their raunchy antics.
For some directors like Jason 'Jay Will' Williams, the Jamaican music video is more than just gyrating girls with ample posteriors.
"The criteria all depends on the type of dancers we are looking for. I have a catalogue that I choose from and we will call them in and have a casting," Williams told Splash.
He added that many music videos require a lot of talent and creativity. As a director, Williams says he conforms with industry standards.
"There are two categories of dancers; these are expressive dancers who are good at free-styling and those that are good with choreography," he explained. "I really don't make the 'dash out' videos anymore as I try as much as possible to be in line with the standards of the television station and Broadcasting Commission's act."
Jay Will is the man behind music videos like Mr Vegas' Bruk it Dung, Major Lazer and Busy Signal's Watch Out Fi Dis and Beenie Man and Sean Paul's Greatest Galis.
Some of the dancers whom Splash spoke to say while their job is exciting, it is far from glamorous.
Kimberly 'Weezy' Hyman and Trishana 'Chin' Salmon depend on music video appearances for their livelihood.
"It's not just about the popularity, it's a career path for me. Therefore, I demand and 'cry' for my money," said Hyman.
The 23 year-old attended Merl Grove High School and holds a diploma in Dance, Theatre and Production from the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston.
A choreographer for dancehall deejay Konshens and his Subkonshous team, Weezy says she is well paid for that job.
Weezy has an impressive resumé. She appears in Konshens' Bubble, Aidonia's Tan Tuddy and Mavado and Drake's Find Your Love.
Even though she gets steady work, Weezy says things can get touchy when it comes to money.
"There are some (artistes, directors) who frown when we give a price and tell us that they can get other dancers cheaper. I can't really blame them as they sometimes can, but most times they return to us as they didn't get what they were looking for."
Depending on the client, Weezy says a dancer can earn between $8,000 to $25,000 per video.
While music videos helps pay the bills, Weezy says she earns substantially more by working the hotel circuit.
"I have gotten contracts with hotels like Sandals and RIU and the payment package is good. The same can also be said about overseas workshops," said Weezy, who has conducted workshops in Russia and Trinidad and Tobago.
For Salmon, being a 'video girl' not only pays the rent but her tuition as well. Her acrobatic moves can be seen in TOK's Bounce it Gyal, Demarco's Continue Wine and Konshens' Jiggle.
"Some may think that we are just a bunch of girls showing off some skin to get into the video light; it's way more than that. One has to be in good shape, therefore dieting and exercise is important," the 22 year-old said.
Although Salmon enjoys being a video girl, her real passion is medicine. She is a student nurse at Trinity Institute of Professional Studies in Kingston.
"Business is business, money have to run as it's not just getting up and dance. We have to look right for the video, so we have to do rehearsals, hair and makeup, buy clothes and all of that doesn't come freely so I demand my pay," she said.
The video girl came to prominence in 1992 when Carlene Smith won the 'Uptown versus Downton' dance/fashion contest.
Smith quickly became a dancehall and mainstream star. She appeared in several music videos including Chaka Demus and Pliers' Murder She Wrote and Beenie Man's Nuff Gyal.