How Justin Campos Became The Go-To Music Video Director In Africa

It’s a typical Wednesday evening in Nairobi and my friends and I have met up in Westlands for a bi-weekly catch up. It’s a cool joint, devoid of noise and off the main road to town. As we chat away and sip on our cocktails, one of Chantelle’s favorite songs plays on MTV Base. It’s Vanessa Mdee‘s “Never Ever”, a jam that’s on high circulation across the continent. As she hums along to the hit song while watching the sexy music video, almost oblivious of our presence.

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Interview with Kelly W. Davis, Miss Kenya USA 2014

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Kelly W. Davis

When Taylor Swift advised her best friend Selena Gomez on making the right choices in life and surrounding yourself with people of color in your life, it reminded me  of how Kelly Davis made such a bold step in her life. She let go of her high school mates, chose to pursue her dreams and did not even attend the graduation after-party.

She has since worked won Miss Kenya 2014 in the Queen of the Universe pageant on March 16, 2014 and as if not enough, went on to act alongside Hollywood heavyweights. Kelly has acted as Kevin Hart‘s dietrician on BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood and appeared on the Queen Latifah Show. She got to nurture her acting skills since she was a kid and her life-changer came when she, having worked hard, got a scholarship to study at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.

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Witty, Passionate Actress Brandi Alyssa Is An Unstoppable Train to Hollywood

With the Oscars happening on March 2nd, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, there is a lot excitement in the air. Among the nominated films are Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle starring Jennifer Lawrence, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club starring Leonardo DeCaprio among others.

Back in time, at Ulm, Germany, September 24, 2007, Brian David Johnson, Futurist and Director, Future Casting, Interactions and Experience Research Intel Corporation presented a lecture titled “Do Digital Homes Dream of Electric Families” during the Intelligent Environments Conference. In the presentation he proposed that we, as the people of planet Earth can use science fiction as a design tool for the development of technology and new products.

Actress Brandi Alyssa Young has embraced technology and is using it to as an accompaniment to her acting talent. She has adopted digital storytelling and it is working great for her. Her role in the Web Series, ‘The Dark One’, is a perfect example of her passion for tech.

Anthony Zuiker, the creator of CSI and Cybergeddon web series said in a Los Angeles Times interview that he released the latter in digital format since he believed that it (the format) reflects the future of storytelling.

“The relationship between Silicon Valley and Hollywood needs to be figured out-and figured out fast,” Zuiker said, “And I want to be the one to do this.”

Brandi is an actress from Charlotte, North Carolina. She has done stage and film and would love to focus on a film/television career. She’s also a singer and a dancer and has passion in community work which includes supporting charities, animal protection, global warming and feeding the poor.

On 5th May 2013, at Sportsmen’s Lodge studio city in California, she attended the Young Artists Awards ceremony, having been nominated for her performance in The Dark One, in the “Best Web Performance” category. Brandi’s previous works include: Tiger Lili (a screenlyplay which was accepted into the prestigious Beverly Hills Film Festival), The Hollow Oak (Trailer), Broken Pieces (which won 4 awards, including Best Film), The Silver Key and Afraid.

She graced the red carpet with the other nominated actors for their roles in Paranormal Activity 4Moonrise KingdomLes MiserablesThe Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2The Dark Knight RisesCloud AtlasAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter among others!

Cloud Atlas poster. Brandi's role in
Cloud Atlas poster. Brandi’s role in “The Dark One” saw her share the red carpet with some of the biggest names in the film industry.

I have known Brandi for a while now and I can attest that she’s the focused girl, with a never dying passion for film-she even home-schooled because the teachers in her school wouldn’t let her act. She just loves her work! She will definitely make it great in her future film roles. She has this unique sense of humor and taste for movies. Friends tend to think she’s a weirdo but what could be more interesting than the mystique?

Being regular bores anyway! She is kind with words and I love her work ethic-she’s professional and having gotten her work permits for various cities including New York and California, she is really poised to a shining stars. Her IMDb denotes more than 14 movies credited to her. She has been exploring her talent since the tender age of 6.

I interviewed Brandi and here is our interaction.

Me: Who is Brandi Alyssa Young?

Brandi: Brandi Alyssa Young is a 16 year old actress, writer, singer, and dancer….who is also a full-time fangirl, Fannibal, Whovian, Netflix addict, texter, and friend.  Oh, and I like to binge-read too.  Haha

And, in case you’re wondering or don’t know, a Fannibal is a huge fan of NBC’s TV Show “Hannibal”.  And a Whovian is a huge fan of the BBC’s TV Show “Doctor Who”.

Me: You recently got interviewed by the South African Movie Database which has also interviewed the director for District 9.  Putting in mind that you also engage in community works such as…What is your take on Africa, its potential in talent contribution to the world as well as where it is headed in terms of sustainable development in the future?

Brandi: Africa has so much hidden talent.  Diamonds in the rough.  I mean, some of the most successful people (whether they be in the acting/entertainment field or not) in history have been from there, so it’s more than safe to assume that more talented and successful people will be sprouting up from there soon.  I myself know a few people from Africa that are talented and have yet to really be noticed.

Me: Any African movie(s) that you’ve found breathtaking and memorable?

Brandi: I actually haven’t seen any African films.  I’ve only ever seen one foreign language film in my life.  It was “Jagten” (which translates to “The Hunt”) from Denmark, starring Mads Mikkelsen.  It took me a while to get into the groove of reading the subtitles, but I got it eventually.  I plan on finding other foreign language films on Netflix soon, hopefully Italian and African if Netflix has any.

Me: In the recent past, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Shay Mitchelle of the Pretty Little Liars series, singer Demi Lovato, and other public visitor have visited Kenya on the account that it is a beautiful country. Do you plan to visit us and share a good time?

Brandi: I plan to eventually.  It’s going to take a good while for me to be able to, but I hope I’ll get to go in, say…..the next five or six years. I would love to see Lions Head, Cape Point, I want to see The Argus Cycle Tour, Cape Peninsula, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and Tygerberg Hills!

Nairobi CBD, Kenya.
Nairobi CBD, Kenya. “Africa has so much hidden talent”, Actress Brandi Alyssa Young.

Me: What are you currently working on?

Brandi: I just finished working on “SCORPION: The Webseries” playing the evil ninja assassin, Katrina.  I also recently finished working on the webseries “The Dark One” playing the teenaged witch with a mysterious and dark past, Michelle.  Right now, at this very moment, I’ve got a ton of really important auditions to put on tape, and a ton of really important auditions that I’m waiting to hear back from.

I also just recently finished the final draft of my horror script, “Evil Rising”, which I plan to expand into a trilogy (as well as play the lead female).  It’s like a really terrifying mixture of The Evil Dead, Paranormal Activity 3, Insidious: Chapter 2, with a little bit of Hide and Seek and gritty psychological thriller mixed in.  I’m quite proud of it.  And I am also currently looking at sending the script to possible investors.

Me: Define an actor’s job in a short verse.

Brandi: Hmm…let me think….

What actors do is pretty much expose our emotions like a raw nerve to terrifying people while in a terrifyingly small room.  Then, if we’re lucky enough that those people like what they see, we get to expose our emotions again and again to even more people (who are also even more frightening).  If we’re lucky enough to have not been shut down by that point, we then get to do something which is extremely simpler.  We get a script, memorize it, go to set, read our lines, and go home.

Haha, the audition process is always worse than the actual filming.

Me: I understand that you are a big fan of Loki from the movie Thor: The Dark World, what makes him stand out?

Brandi: It’s not so much Loki….it’s Tom Hiddleston, the actor that plays Loki.  The reason that Loki is such a fan favorite and stands out so much is because of the choices that Tom Hiddleston made while filming Thor, The Avengers, and Thor: The Dark World.  He gave Loki the perfect devilish charm, charisma, mischievousness, and downright evil snake-like exterior……while also giving him this sad, broken, lonely, tormented, and miserable kicked puppy interior.  It was genius.

If Hiddleston had just played Loki’s exterior, like most other actors would have, then Loki would not have the same magnetic pull and generate the sympathy and tears and broken hearts from audiences like he does now.  I mean, he would still have fans because he’s inhumanly attractive…..but those numbers would be quite substantially lower.
That’s the reason that I (and a crapton of other people) am such a huge fan of Loki and why he stands out so much.

Tom Hiddlestone (dark haired) plays Loki in
Tom Hiddlestone (dark haired) plays Loki in “Thor” alongside Chris Hemsworth

Me: (If you have it) How do you deal with stage fright?

Brandi: I usually have stage fright when it comes to public speaking and in person interviews.  I don’t do good with big crowds of people…..or people in general, hahaha.  I don’t really have one way to get rid of stage fright.  It’s always there no matter what I do, haha.

But listening to “In My Veins” by Andrew Belle helps to calm my nerves.

As well as “Scarlet”, “Blood Legion”, “Blood”, “Whore”, and “Adrenalize” by In This Moment.
And I also like to listen to “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel, as well as film and trailer scores by Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Steve Jablonsky, Two Steps from Hell, Audiomachine, and Sonic Symphony.

Me: What is the ideal working scene or movie role for you?

Brandi: I’m actually doing some of my ideal roles in my acting class right now!

Roles in class are as follows:
Abigail Hobbs (played by Kacey Rohl) from NBC’s “Hannibal”.
Ree Dolly (played by Jennifer Lawrence) from “Winter’s Bone”.

Some of my other ideal roles are (in no particular order):
1. Carrie White (played by both Sissy Spacek and Chloe-Grace Mortez) from Stephen King’s “Carrie”.
2. Reba (played by Emily Watson) from Thomas Harris’ “Red Dragon”.
3. Janie Hannagan (not yet played by anyone) from Lisa McMann’s “Wake”, “Fade”, and “Gone”.
4. Lady Loki (not yet played by anyone) from Marvel’s comics.
5. Hela (not yet played by anyone) from Marvel’s comics and Norse Mythology.
6. Selina Kyle/Catwoman (played by Anne Hathaway) from “The Dark Knight Rises”.
7. Alice (not yet played by anyone) from the videogame “American McGee’s Alice”.
8. Lisa Rowe (played by Angelina Jolie) from “Girl, Interrupted”

Me: What are your favorite music, movie and book?

Brandi: I’ve got a whole lot of songs I’m so loving this is just the ice tip haha; Adrenalize” by In This Moment, “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” by Electric Light Orchestra, “Bad Machine” by Nostalgia & Aami ft. Insomnia and “In My Veins” by Andrew Belle. For books, “Wake” by Lisa McMann, “The Sweet Far Thing” by Libba Bray and all of the “Harry Potter” books Brandi: I’ve got a whole lot of songs I’m so loving this is just the ice tip haha; Adrenalize”by J.K. Rowling. For movies, “The Silence of the Lambs” starring Jodie Foster and by In This Moment, “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” by Electric Light Orchestra, “Bad Machine” by Nostalgia & Aami ft. Insomnia and “In My Veins” by Andrew Belle. For books, “Wake” by Lisa McMann, “The Sweet Far Thing” by Libba Bray and all of the “Harry Potter” books Brandi: I’ve got a whole lot of songs I’m so loving this is just the ice tip haha; Adrenalize”by J.K. Rowling. For movies, “The Silence of the Lambs” starring Jodie Foster Anthony Hopkins as well as “Hannibal” starring Julianne Moore and Anthony Hopkins.

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray, one of Brandi's favorite reads.
The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray, one of Brandi’s favorite reads.

Me: Which movie do you think was not well crafted, especially a sequel? I know of Species: starring Natasha Henstridge and The Hangover Part 2

Brandi: Ummmm…..I don’t know.  I like pretty much every movie that I have ever seen.  I tend to like sequels, unlike the rest of the universe, haha.

Me: You got an amazing nomination to a Young Artists Award for the second time in 2013, went to Hollywood, met other actors. With all the glamour that came with the event, what did you learn?

Brandi: I learned how to better handle myself when it comes to interviews.  I still ramble and am a total awkward turtle, but I’m not as twitchy and sweaty as before.  And I learned that little smiles don’t work when you’re presenting awards on-stage.  I’ve got to smile big or it’ll just look (and feel) like my face is twitching.


Actor Austin James Wolff at the YAA
Actor Austin James Wolff at the YAA

Me: Having done it, would you recommend homeschooling?

Brandi: Oh yeah, I totally would recommend it!  I graduated 3 years early, thanks to homeschooling.  It’s great.  And there’s no way to get bullied by classmates because you wouldn’t have any.

Me: Do you ever feel that sometimes people around you do not understand you?

Brandi: Oh yeah, all the time.  There’s only one person that does, and that’s my mom.  And that sort of sucks.  But I’m sure that I’m not the only person that wants more people than just their mom to understand them.  Haha

I feel like I can relate to movie and television show characters better than real people.  Like Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) from NBC’s “Hannibal”, Loki Laufeyson (Tom Hiddleston) from “Thor”, “The Avengers”, and “Thor: The Dark World”, and The Joker (Heath Ledger) from “The Dark Knight”.

Weird, I know, but I understand them and I think we would get along and really click if they were real people.  They all represent the different facets of my personality.

Me: Dream film director you would love to work with?

Brandi: Aggghhhh, there’s so many!  Tim Burton, David Slade, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo Del Toro, Alan Taylor, Kenneth Branagh, David O. Russell, Lee Daniels, Martin Scorsese, Sam Raimi, and so many others that I can’t think of right now.

Film Director, Producer, Writer and Poet Tim Burton is known for “Batman Returns”, “Planet of the Apes”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland” among other Blockbusters

Me: Which is your favorite childhood memory?

Brandi: I don’t know.  Hahaha, most of my childhood memories involve me tripping over my own two feet and hurting myself, hahaha.

I think my favorite childhood memory is when I first saw “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” when I was about 4.  I loved that movie, it’s the thing that made it really concrete that I wanted to act.

Me: What makes you unique and you would want a potential director to acknowledge if they would want to work with you?

Brandi: I would have to say that one thing that makes me unique, especially being a young actress, is the fact that I haven’t found any character that I haven’t been able to empathize with.  I can empathize with just about anyone, character or not.  And the fact that I can do that relatively effortlessly makes it that much easier for me to really get into character and go.  That’s pretty rare, especially for a teenager, ya know what I’m saying?

I do have to say, though, that it was a little bit more difficult for me to empathize with my character Martina in the short film, “Matt’s Decision”.  And that was because she was just a normal teenage girl.  I don’t do normal very well because normal is something that I am NOT.  Hahaha

So that’s the one bad edge that my unique…perspective (so to speak) comes with.  The good edge, however, is that I can play psychos and serial killers and people with deep, dark, horrible pasts quite well.

And that leads me to another point.  Any potential director would HAVE to acknowledge that, yes….I am 16…..but I DO look older and I can PLAY older.  So, for the love of everything, CAST me as older.  I may be 16, but I am graduated from High School, so therefore, I can work as Legal 18 according to the child labor laws of California.  That’s one thing that people (and not just directors.  EVERYONE) really need to get through their heads.

Me: You are passionate about feeding the poor, environmental matters, supporting scoliosis and autism. Ian Somerhalder of Vampire Diaries is passionate about taking care of animals-and the environment at large-and has his foundation by his name. How has been the undertaking so far and how does it feel giving back to the society and do you plan to start your own cause in the future?

Brandi: It has been really great.  I love it.  Even if I’m just doing something little like picking up garbage on the sidewalk, I still feel like I’m making a difference.  And, like Ian Somerhalder, I am very passionate about taking care of animals as well.  So I try my best to not only take care of my pets, but also any animals in need that I see around.  And even if I can’t help them, I try to find anyone that can, whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, a phone call, or text message.  And I also regularly share things that support the various matters that I’m passionate about on Facebook.

I do plan on starting my own cause in the future, once I have a LOT of money saved up somewhere.  I hope it’ll be a success because it won’t just be one or two different causes in one foundation.  Nope, it’ll be a boatload of them.  Feeding the poor, protecting the environment, finding a cure for Scoliosis, supporting people with Autism (as well as Aspergers and Down Syndrome), finding a cure for Celiac Disease, protecting animals from abuse and removing them from Kill Shelters and abusive homes, fighting against Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, etc.

Me: Which is the most awkward experience in your film life both on stage and watching one on TV?

Brandi: Oh, I know exactly what the most awkward thing has been for me thus far.  Hahaha

Back in March of 2012, I was doing a dress rehearsal for a community theatre play called “The Pirate Show”.  I was the lead female pirate captain, Captain PowerPunch Primavera.  PowerPunch was hardly ever sober and was always stumbling around her ship/the stage, yelling at all of the members of her crew (because she had anger issues too, you know).

There was one point (and since it was a dress rehearsal, some other members of the cast were in the audience) when PowerPunch flops herself down on the edge of the stage, dangling her feet off it.  Well, little old me had forgotten to put her leggings on underneath her skirt that day and sat down way too fast.

My skirt ended up blowing up as I was sitting down and I flashed all of my fellow cast mates.  Hahaha, that was the most embarrassing but hilarious moment of my whole career.  Oh my god, I thought I was going to DIE.

Nothing else (yet) can top that experience when it comes to awkwardness.

Me: Do you intend to have acting as your main career?

Brandi: Oh hell yes, I do!  I would t have it any other way!  I mean, yeah, I write and sing and dance too, but acting will always be my number one.

I love to write just as much as I love to act, but I takes a lot of time to write out a good script.  So, if I were to choose writing as my main career, I would be making a lot less money and wasting a lot more time.  Haha, so I’m going to focus more on acting than anything else, at least for the time being.

Me: Who or what inspires you?

Brandi: Oh, this is a difficult one….

Johnny Depp inspired me to start acting.  Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Hiddleston, Robert Downey Jr., Hugh Dancy, and Mads Mikkelsen inspire me to keep at it when I get myself into an emotional rut and am all, “Boo hoo, woe is me…”.

Robert Downey Jr, one of Brandi's inspirations.
Robert Downey Jr, best known as Iron Man, one of Brandi’s inspirations.

But I guess what REALLY inspires me is my pure stubbornness and determination (courtesy of my mommy).  Once I’ve said that I’m GOING to go somewhere or do something, then I’m pretty hellbent on getting my lily white ass to that place or to do that thing, no matter how long it takes.  I’m stubborn as a damn packing mule, I can assure you of that.  And I’m determined as an old dog digging for that bone that it buried in the ground 10 years ago.

I’m not going to stop for anything or anyone and you best not get in my way.  ‘Cuz I might just headbutt you out of retaliation.

Me: The best moment in your film career so far?

Brandi: I would have to say that winning the Best Acting award at the 2011 Greensboro, NC 48 Hour Film Festival awards show (for playing the autistic Jenny Hastert in “Broken Pieces”) was a spectacular moment.  Just because I totally wasn’t expecting it and because of how many opportunities it presented to me.  If I hadn’t won, then I wouldn’t have had the confidence to submit my work to the Young Artist Awards, which ended up getting me my first nomination for Best Performance in a Short Film – Young Actress.

It also wouldn’t have brought me onto so many people’s radars.  If I hadn’t won, then I probably wouldn’t have gotten the role of Michelle Smith in the webseries “The Dark One”, which aired for 2 seasons on YouTube, got me my SAG Eligibility, and also snagged me my second Young Artist Award nomination for Best Web Performance – Young Actress.

Sandra Bullock at The Screen Actors Guild Awards 2013. Brandi is now eligible for the awards after her role in
Sandra Bullock at The Screen Actors Guild Awards 2013. Brandi is now eligible for Screen Actors Guild (not awards) after her role in “The Dark One”
Actress Jennifer Lawrence holds her SAG statuette after winning in best performance by a female actor in Silver Linings Playbook
Actress Jennifer Lawrence holds her SAG statuette after winning in best performance by a female actor in Silver Linings Playbook

And I also wouldn’t have gone out to the International 48 Hour Film Festival: Best Of (“Broken Pieces” also won Best Use of Prop (crayons), Best Directing, and Best Film of Greensboro, 2011) ceremony in Taos, New Mexico, and made so many new industry connections, as well as friends.

Me: What is your take on the nudity factor in film is it really artistic or much more of a selling point?  Do you think that CGI is doing this aspect of films justice?

Brandi: I think it really depends on what the context of the nudity is.

If it’s like Sharon Stone’s infamous scene from “Basic Instinct” or like all the nudity in the upcoming film “Nymphomaniac”, then no.  It is not artistic at all, not in the slightest.  And, even if I were over 18, I wouldn’t do anything like that.  I’ll have a body double for that, thank you.

A Computer Generated Scene from
A Computer Generated Scene from “The Matrix” (1999) shows actor Keanu Reeves overpowering bullets fired at him.

But if it were like Emma Roberts’ nude scene in American Horror Story: Coven, it’s a different story altogether.  THAT was artistic.  With the shot from above of her curled up, crying, in the shower.  That was a beautiful scene.  Same with the nude shots of Ivana Baquero in “The New Daughter”.  Those scenes are similar to the Emma Roberts scene.  And Baquero was only fourteen when she filmed them.

She was curled up in the shower, crying.  And then later on, she was seen topless.  But it was from the back and with a little bit of side boob, so it was still artistic and tasteful.  Those things are the types of nude shots I would film.  Not a muff shot just for the sake of it.

I do believe that CGI is doing it justice, yes.  Jessica Alba’s “nude” scene in “Machete” was computer generated and I had absolutely no idea until I read about it somewhere.

Me: Describe Africa through your imagination

Brandi: To my imagination, it looks exactly like a live action version of The Lion King.  Hahaha

Me:  Do you have any advice for someone out there planning to have a career in the arts industry?

Brandi: Uhm, yes.  Yes I do.

My advice is to never give up, never quit.  Because if you think, “Oh I’m not gonna be able to do this” or “Oh I’m never gonna make it” or “Oh I’m never gonna be any good”, then that’s exactly what will happen to you.  It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.  If you say that you can’t do something, then you eventually really won’t be able to.  But if you say that you CAN do something and that you WILL get where you want to be, then eventually YOU WILL GET THERE.  It might, probably will, take a long ass time (unless you’re unnaturally lucky), but you’ll get to where you want to be eventually.  And you’ll be appreciative for it.

Now, I’m not going to tell you to “Stay away from this and stay away from that” and “Do this, don’t do this.  And don’t do that, but do that” because, trust me, it feels a lot better, and is better karma for you, if you actually have to fight and struggle for what you’re working towards.

I can totally imagine whoever is reading this to be whining and bitching at me and whatnot, but I never said I was a nice teacher.  In my mind, if everything gets handed to you without you having to struggle for it for years and fight off people for roles like lions fighting over a dead warthog, then you don’t deserve shit of what you’ve gotten.

Just keep all of what I said in mind, lovelies.

To keep up with Brandi, you can like her Facebook page: