At YouthMundus & Inner Voice Artists, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them.
Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process.
In this week’s edition, we’re delighted to feature the multidisciplinary artist Jessica-Brittany Smith, better know by her stage name Jaibee. Growing up in the small but well known town of Teaneck, New Jersey she began dancing at age four in different genres of movement, ranging from ballet to West African Dance. In high school she began pursuing voice and in college she studied acting at New York University, graduating in 2013.
It was during this time that Jaibee co-founded NYU's Black Alumni Network. This came out of her realising that there was a community of alumni that felt they did not have a place at a university that they were leaving. Smith wanted these people to know that they mattered, that they had resources, and most importantly that they have a place to identify with and could do so proudly, long after they graduated. Jaibee now serves as the Co-President leading by keeping in mind the group’s mission to empower, connect, and celebrate the Black community within the greater NYU network.
Most recently she was honored in receiving the 2019 Michael Parkes Distinguished Alumni Award. This accomplishment lends itself to her philosophy of how sticking to your truth, and giving all you can with the intention of goodness and kindness to yourself and others leaves way for only good things to come.
As far as her artistic pursuits go, Jaibee is releasing an EP later this year that she is currently fundraising for. The project is called "FLSW" and it is a visual musical project akin to Beyonce's "Lemonade." She’s extremely excited to for the project and has a fantastic team on board!
What inspires you and your creative process? I find inspiration in everything. In moments big and small. Sometimes it can be macro such as something ridiculous the current leader of country says. At other times it can be micro like a conversation I overheard on the subway. It varies, but most times it’s there, it’s more of whether I’m able and willing to listen/see it.
What is the connection between your acting & music and social justice? Why?
They all inform one another. For so long I felt I had to identify with one, but the more I learn and see, I see they’re all a part of how I choose to express and share my experience I’ve been gifted with for my time on this planet. I understood from a very young age the power and influence music can have on one's emotions philosophies and ways of existing in the world.
I identify strongly as a Black Woman and I saw ways in which both of those communities I identify with were not being supported. I asked myself how I could contribute how I could be apart of the solution instead of being unsatisfied with the issue at hand. That began my writing and my journey back to music. I realized I had backed away from music because I felt I didn't fit the narrative that was being told to me. I realized the change I wanted began with me, with the limitations I had set upon myself. So I began to write and have the bravery to tell my story as a Black Woman knowing that it would and could look and sound different and be just as valid and beautiful.
What inspired you to pursue acting & music? What were the challenges you overcame in this? I believe there’s a certain level of undeniable truth in both art forms that we need so desperately in our world today. There are many challenges in finding proper representation, finding roles and spaces that speak to that truth, but they will be there. I find it now to be less of an active pursuit and more of a stepping in to what I have been gifted with and the importance of sharing that. I am grateful for the voice I’ve been given I’m grateful for the needs I’m fulfilling with the work I do. And when I am aware of the privilege involved in being able to do these things, the challenges don’t seem too hard.
What’s been the most rewarding part of being an artist for you? Do you have any advice for future artists? The most rewarding part is the universality. I cry almost every time when someone says I truth touched them. Whether it be a lyric or a line that I sang or acted, I was able to touch someone down to their core, and in a way, them, me. That exchange, that magic is more valuable to me than anything else in the world. I’m not sure I could give advice for everyone’s journey is different. But I do have a motto, “staylovestruck.” Be love in everything you do. Practice it towards yourself and others and follow your bliss. You will find your way.
Thank you for your continuous support and love,
Lots of love,