We had the good fortune of connecting with Farah Jeune and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Farah, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I’ve always wanted to be a creative professional because art was the only thing that truly made me feel whole and alive, but I wasn’t always encouraged to pursue it as a career. As a first born and first-generation daughter of immigrants, my family wanted me to be financially successful and anything in the arts wasn’t seen as a realistic career choice. I understand that logic now as an adult but I wish I didn’t allow the lack of encouragement I didn’t receive at home or in school, to affect my self-worth back then. Nonetheless, I still incorporated the arts in my everyday life and I am incredibly grateful for where the journey has taken me as the growing artist that I am today.
When I was young, I had severe asthma and would spend weeks at the hospital from time to time. One of my happy memories during that period was watching Nickelodeon and VH1. Back then 90s television was gold and kid shows like Nickelodeon’s All That and Hey Arnold really uplifted my spirit! I admired how these young people, who were relatable, talented and funny would shine effortlessly on television and their stories and adventures heightened my imagination. What I really LOVED though, was seeing the behind-the-scenes footage about how these shows were made. VH1 for me back then was like a music history course; I was always glued to the screen, watching every music video and learning about the artists stories behind them. When I first saw the “Making of Thriller” by my favorite artist of all time, Michael Jackson, I knew I wanted to become a producer! I was so astonished by how a team of diverse and brilliant artists came together to create an iconic masterpiece that I still proudly know all the dance moves to. Having a mix of visual and performance arts in my childhood really influenced my purpose and my art. I wanted to create content that would celebrate diverse cultures, bring people joy and make a positive impact. As I entered my adolescence, I would incorporate that inspiration into my school work.
In middle school & high school, we unfortunately didn’t have any art classes due to lack of funding so I incorporated art in everything I did. I was that kid that would go above and beyond on projects just to showcase my creativity. Science projects, PowerPoint presentations, book reports, anything that my teachers allowed me to add an extra element of art to it, I bedazzled it! This is also when my love for performance arts began to blossom. I produced and choregraphed two cultural talent shows and the first school dance at my high school. It was a lot of work and I probably had too much school spirit lol but the lessons, the growth and more importantly the joy I witness with my peers was worth it. When I started college in 2010, I remember convincing myself that since I was paying for school on my own, I now had the power to choose what I wanted to learn and make a career out of it. I attempted to get in the visual art program at my school but the intro to art history classes were so boring! All of the professors were so monotone. Every single one of them! How can one be so dull when you’re talking about one of the world’s biggest blessings; ART! I fell asleep in each intro class I tried to take. I started to believe that maybe people were right, I had to be realistic, so I gave up on trying to attain that degree. I still regret that decision but it did allow me to focus on my other passion which was media studies & film production. I really enjoyed that experience but from time to time, I wished I was good enough and confident enough to be the artist I wanted to become.
When I graduated college in 2013, I was ready to contribute my ideas, skills and passion to television production but after a handful of job rejections and feeling like I was drowning in debt, it felt like it was an impossible career to attain. I was really tired of feeling like disappointment so I decided to invest in myself. I began modeling in community fashion shows because it really boosted my confidence. When I’m on the runway, I channel my alter-ego (Farenheight) and I show up as my best self. Since I wasn’t getting the opportunities to be in the tv networks I applied to, I started producing my own tv show at a local community access tv station. ºFarenheight TV is a monthly variety show that celebrates people’s greatness in the greater Boston area. I have been proudly producing, hosting, marketing and editing this show for about 8 years now and I am currently working on my final season. When I turned 25, I promised myself that for my golden year (I was born on Oct. 25th) I would do everything in my power to go after my real dreams and become the multimedia artist I always wanted to be…and I did! That year, I quit my job (with no backup job) and I bought my first Wacom drawing tablet. Every year since my 25th bday, the universe has blessed me with amazing opportunities. I have spoken & presented my artwork at international conferences, I won my first art contest, my clientele for commissions grew significantly and I have had my art displayed on a billboard twice in my hometown of Boston. I am very proud of myself but for a long time, I struggled with self doubt and sometimes I allowed that doubt to hinder my growth. Now however, I create art for the sake of creating art. Not for anyone’s approval but mine AND it feels so good and refreshing to be in that space. I am currently working on launching my art website this summer and I’m nervous but soooooo excited It also feels like an extra blessing that I am continuing to pursue my dreams and build my creative career.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I use my love of illustration, videography and performance arts as a tool for storytelling. My artwork depicts the energy, experiences and dreams of my Black and Brown peers. Growing up in an urban environment, I experienced and was exposed to people living in poverty and impacted by various forms of violence. Despite the social and economic circumstances I saw, the resilience, originality, and immense talent of my peers motivated me to want to shine a light on their greatness. My work centers around illustrating their unique stories in colorful 2D mediums and live-action videography. I also create artwork to bring awareness to critical issues impacting communities of color such as HIV and Mental Health issues. I got to where I am professionally by betting on myself. If I had only relied on the things I lacked, I could have easily came up with every excuse why going after a creative career wouldn’t be “realistic” for me. If I continued to let the naysayers, the lack of support I received and most importantly, my own self doubt paralyze me from seeking opportunities, I would be in the same spot; feeling disappointed. By changing my mindset and trying “brave” things every year, I started to slowly build my worth and my growing career as an artist.
Another thing that contributed to my personal and professional success, is collaborating with other creatives. I’ve had over 100 guests on my ºF-TV and I learn so much from these incredible souls. They all differ in what they do professionally and how they see and move through the world but one thing they all have in common, is that they too invested in themselves, in their dreams, so they could inspire others to do the same. I love that! Seeing other people live in their greatness motivates me to do the same. Even in my work as a growing art activist, putting the spotlight on leaders who do the work everyday, without recognition, is truly honorable and I hope I can continue to produce work that celebrates the greatness within BIPOC communities.
Was it easy to attain this dream? Definitely not! I honestly never thought I would be where I am today and that makes me really happy to see how God exceeded my expectations and the marathon continues I would say the best advice I could give to someone who is in the midst of still figuring out what’s next in life, is to trust the process. Whenever something great happens to me, I often drift and think about the past. I think about all the lessons, heartbreaks and hustle I had to go through first before experiencing such joy or pride and I am truly grateful. I have to admit, the adversities make it a better story! Its necessary sometimes because I believe the universe needs you to learn a lesson or experience something, before you can get to that desired goal or dream of yours. I am grateful for all of the things I went through, especially the bad ones, because it speaks to my resilience and makes me feel like the heroic cartoon characters I grew up watching! Moreover, I would say always protect your dream! You will unfortunately have to deal with haters and sometimes that hater could be YOU! Don’t let that negative energy stare you away from your goal. Protect it at all costs and don’t give up. Take breaks (mental health is your wealth), write down your goals, follow through with them, get an accountability partner if you need one but no matter what keep going! That’s how you learn, grow and evolve. Live your life, live your dream, NO FEAR!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First, I would hope you’re visiting in the summer because the weather is less disrespectful than compared to other seasons in Boston lol. But even if you came in the winter, spring or fall, I would advise you to pack an assortment of jeans, a coat, a bathing suit, a rain jacket and some snow boots (because that’s how up & down the weather goes here in the bean).
Nonetheless, please arrive with a Colgate smile because we’re still going to have a good time anyway! For the purpose of having a better time in Boston, lets plan your itinerary for a summer weekend in Boston.
Friday: Might as well start the weekend off with some good food and an event to look forward to! We can grab some delicious Asian food in either Allston or the Quincy area and then take the MBTA train (because gas prices are ridiculous) to attend a summer concert at House of Blues Boston OR if you love baseball, see a game at Fenway Park.
Saturday: This is art day, so get ready to be inspired! We can visit the Museum of Fine Arts in the early afternoon and than go to historic neighborhood of Roxbury to see local BIPOC art, murals and more. We can also stop by Black Market to see and support local BIPOC vendors who sell all kinds of artwork, skincare, fashion apparel and more.
We can grab an early dinner at the west African restaurant, Suya Joint, before taking a pottery class later that evening at The Clayroom in Brookline. If you’re feeling forever young, we can attend a Silent dance party or salsa night in Cambridge and check out the AMAZING murals they have in the area.
Sunday: We can stop by my moms house for a delicious Haitian breakfast (which probably will look more like a dinner because we eat real good lol) and then travel to the Charles River to do yoga near the hatch shell. We can rent a Blue Bike (or a kayak) and ride along the Charles River. After that, we’ll head over to Chinatown to grab some bubble tea at TBaar and chill of the reminder of our Sunday.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a few people who have made a positive impact in my life but I would like to dedicate my shoutout to three women who made a great impact on my creative career. My first shoutout is to my mom. Even though she did not agree with my artistic career choices, she still would invest in art supplies for me when she could. Whenever I was singing and dancing to my fav artists in the living room or making a mess with glitter for school projects, she allowed me to fully express myself. Though all the occasional side eyes lol or disappointments I had when she didn’t show up to events for me, I do give her credit for allowing me to just be and build my confidence on my own. Now as an adult, she’s become more supportive. To be honest it feels a little weird because I didn’t have that in my childhood but I think its probably because unconsciously, I showed her I could make money with my creativity, so she’s convinced now I’ll be okay.
I would also like to give a shoutout to another favorite artist of mine, Susan Porter. As I previously mentioned, I didn’t have art classes in middle school or high school but I did have the blessing on attending an after school program called, ‘Peace Drum.’ It was a safe space that combined performing and visual arts in a fun, exciting process for teenagers and allowed us to explore our creativity. It was awesome because it allowed me to connect other creative teens from other schools and interact in intergenerational dialogues with the musicians we would collaborate with. The real bonus is still having a strong friendship with Susan who has continued to support me as a growing creative. I respect her mentorship, her work as an extraordinary artist and how kind and giving she is to every creative she meets.
I would also like to give a shoutout to my former boss & mentor Irvienne Goldson. I actually met her by volunteering at an art workshop Susan Porter was hosting and never thought meeting this amazing soul would change my life. She gave me my first job out of college, working for a health organization in Boston, called Safer is S.E.X.Y. It was a social media campaign that educated young Black & Latinx women & girls about sexual health and their overall wellness. I wasn’t comfortable talking about sex ed with folks in the community and I expressed that to Irvienne. She encouraged me to use my creativity to do so and I did. I started creating illustrations and videos about the HIV awareness and education and soon I was presenting my work at national health conferences. My HIV Beautiful project is artwork created to bring more awareness to HIV education, dismiss stigma, connect people to resources that can help them thrive and celebrate the community heroes in the world who continually make big strides to help fight against HIV/AIDS. I never would have thought my artwork could be used as a form of activism but it was Irvienne who saw that in me. I hope she’s smiling down from heaven because I will always work to keep her proud.
The first photo with me sitting on the couch with the two paintings (in front of me and the back) photo credit should be given to Nikolai Alexander, IG: @Bostonwk2_14. All other images are mine and I have permission to use them.