Becoming a Jack of All Trades

Mastering my art

As a child, one of the first things most of us are told is, “you can be anything you wanna be when you grow up.” Some know what that is from day one. Others go through phases in which their dream career continuously changes. As for myself, (not counting childhood dreams of being a superhero, wizard, or power ranger) my dream career goals went from becoming a police officer (blame my mom’s obsession with police television dramas), an Agent of the CIA (blame my playtime fantasies of being a James Bond or “Agent Cody Banks” superspy). However, throughout all of this, the creator/artist inside of me was always present. While playing “cop” or “superspy” with my siblings or (I swear I’m not trying to depress you) myself, I went through various stages of the artist line of craft. From my fine visual artistry (sketching portraits, drawing comics) to exploring my creative thinking artistry (writing songs, lyrics, music, novels, poetry, you name it), to of course my performing arts (singing, dancing, acting, rapping) there was always an artist in me.

I was always a difficult child. I talk a lot about “moving to the beat of my own drum,” but before I chose that philosophy for myself, I acted in a way that I felt would get the attention of everyone. I wanted acceptance and I cared less how I received that it. Whether it was me attempting to dress/act like “the crowd” or try and stand out in a “unique” way to bring myself more attention. This often would lead to me formulating my beliefs and morals based on how I saw others. Now before I get too off track, rambling about how messed up I was, let me bring you to the point.

EHTHS’s 2019 Production of “12 Angry Jurors”

My sixth-grade year was the year before my road to change for the better. That year alone, however, was extremely tough, and with tween hormones, my mental health growing increasingly dangerous. The day that changed everything was my middle school drama clubs’ production of Aladdin. I remember thinking this was the perfect opportunity for me to think about the road I was on and (again, I promise I’m not trying to tear-jerk you) if it was worth going forward. I figured “hey, it’s middle schoolers, and no offense to them, but how good can y’all be right?” I went down to the auditorium, ready to let my mind venture into the depths of my mental issues. The show started, and after only a couple of notes from the actors I was not only shocked at how surprisingly good a couple of kids, no older than fourteen could sing, but I was BLOWN away. Suddenly I found myself forgetting everything I was thinking about. It was then I realized something; I didn’t know about anyone else, but these kids temporarily took me out of my pain. They were the center of attention (the good kind). And from what I could see from them (especially from some of the cast members I knew from my classes) they were completely different people on that stage. At that moment I knew why I always had dreams of being a performer. On that stage? Or in that booth? On that screen? Behind that camera? Behind those lyrics or stories? You aren’t just yourself. People gather around and don’t see you. They see whatever you want them to see. You yourself, escape your reality to immerse yourself in the lyrics and words and stories and the music! It was what I always wanted, but didn’t know until then; to escape my reality and be praised. So my hobby became more than a hobby. The next year an audition for Beauty and the Beast took me into the world of the performing arts farther than I ever had been yet. And it was then on that I crafted myself from the lackey I tried so hard to be, into someone that my peers actually learned to like.

2019 New Jersey Shout Down Drugs Concert Competition

And so it began. My journey to becoming an artist. I wasn’t just satisfied with one aspect of the arts. I idolize names such as Tyler Perry, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Donald Glover, why? Because these artists are Jacks of All Trades, and master of all of them. The best of actors, the best of performers, the best of writers, the best of producers, the best of directors, and that is who I want to be. In my High School years, I was apart of the inaugural class of the Egg Harbor Twp. HS Communications Academy, which opened so many doors for me. I became extremely committed to my school’s Thespian Honor Society and spent my free time working on projects for my music and film portfolios. One of my favorite achievements is taking second place in the New Jersey Shout Down Drugs competition; the task was to compose, record, and if chosen, perform an original piece of music that speaks against the abuse of drugs. I put my production, acting, writing, and performing skills to the test and it resulted in a $3,000 music contract. I now have a reputation as a creator and artist and I only wish for it to grow.

Currently, I’m a freshman at Montclair State University majoring in Communications and Media Arts, with tentative plans to get a concentration in Filmmaking and Acting. With the current pandemic, it’s hard to tell exactly where I’ll be in the next couple of years, but I’m confident it going to be where I’m comfortable and I’ll keep planning as I go.

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Jermaine "JT" Bethea

Jermaine "JT" Bethea

MSU’24/Jack of All Trades (Rapper/Producer/Actor/Filmmaker just to name a few)/ He/Him