We had the good fortune of connecting with Jahmal Holland and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jahmal, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in San Francisco, California. The city is very diverse, positioned as it is along the Pacific Rim with its Golden Gate symbolically providing an inviting welcome. My mother was a member of the Black Panthers, having joined as a teenager, and she instilled in all of her children a sense of love and pride in our cultural heritage. She considers Civil Rights to be Human Rights and she raised us with that point of view. She also taught us to value and appreciate different cultures, and that each culture is uniquely beautiful. San Francisco being so densely populated, provided the opportunity for a multicultural experience. The close proximity to so much diversity taught us respect and appreciation for diversity. All of this marked me deeply, so all of my work in film seeks to highlight and celebrate different cultural experiences. Being raised by an activist in such a culturally and ethnically diverse city provided the foundation.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It’s been a long journey. The biggest struggle was learning to build and develop my own opportunities. I’d say that’s what I’m most proud and excited about. Learning to be an entrepreneur, learning that passively waiting to be discovered is a waste of time, moreover, it’s a waste of life, We’re artists and art is our trade, plying our trade is professional practice. I’m still learning and relearning these things. Developing my skills, building a network of collaborators, creating my life’s work, and not waiting for someone else’s permission. That’s everything. I didn’t grow up around filmmakers or professional artists of any medium or genre. I didn’t have a vocabulary for this, so I spent a long time trying to fit a hexagonal peg into a round hole. It took time to learn to create and develop my own position.
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.
I’m from San Francisco so I love hilltops and panoramic views. I’m also multicultural and love experiencing people, places, and food from other cultures. Obviously, I love movies/film current and classic, I also love the theater experience and watching films with a crowd. With that said, my favorite places in Los Angeles are ones that allow me to embrace the things I’m passionate about. We should spend start a day at Lookout Point Park in San Pedro, watching the sunrise over the Vincent Thomas Bridge across the LA Harbor. Afterward, we can descend the hill to Friendship Park and eat breakfast burritos in the shadow of the Korean Bell. The view of the ocean in one direction, the harbor in the other, and the Point Fermin Lighthouse in between will inspire your best creative work.
Then we’ll spend another day in Hollywood at the new Amoeba Records, where we’ll search their exhaustive collection of music and movies for classic material. We’ll have dinner at Palms Thai (Seafood Panang for me), where we’ll be serenaded by Thai Elvis as watch through the windows as tourists and dreamers crisis cross Hollywood Blvd.
We’ll finish the week theater hopping from the historic Chinese Theater, to the Egyptian, to the Cinerama Dome, to some of the lesser known classic theaters in LA and Santa Monica watching old and new films in the same seats where celebrities and everyday people from all over the world have enjoyed films since Hollywood’s inception.
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