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Taking her best shot

Natanga Smith-Hurdle

Taking her best shot

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With a bubbly personality, an infectious smile, a cute short hairdo and striking features, Rachelle Mayers is very comfortable in front of a camera, and downright at home behind one. The talented producer and founder of Scorpio 21, she probably has the best entertainment contacts in her phone in the Caribbean.
The young woman is not only behind local homeboy Biggie Irie’s Cyann Be Ova video, but also Jamaicans Tarrus Riley and Konshens’ Good Girl Gone Bad; Go Home for Richie Stephens; the Start Anew video for Tarrus Riley, which has topped Jamaican video charts; Ghetto Prayer for Shane O; Belly Wine for singer Raine Seville, as well as Pop Champagne for Anthony B, among others.
Rachelle grew up in Rowans Park, St George, attending Charles F. Broome Memorial Primary School and The Lodge School for one year, before transferring to Combermere School (“I am a proud Combermerian for life!”).
With an Associate Degree in mass communications at the Barbados Community College (BCC) and a Bachelor’s in linguistics at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica, Rachelle proudly admits that “most of the things I have learnt in production are through practical experience, hard work, listening and trying, wanting to learn”.
Dabbling a bit while at BCC with the short-lived show Da Beat only whetted her appetite for more. In Jamaica a chance encounter with the owner of the entertainment station Hype TV got her an audition and a position as one of the VJs on the station.
“It was amazing. I got to see Jamaica, the culture, the upscale to the downtown vibe, and I learnt a lot about production. I also travelled quite a bit with the station, as well as throughout the Caribbean and the United States. Plus, I repped my country strong. I was the Bajan Ras,” she said laughing heartily.
From being a presenter she moved on to producing the programmes she hosted, with a little input from the cameramen who allowed her to operate the camera on shoots. And from then she was hooked.
Scorpio 21 is a production business that started in 2007 in Jamaica with another producer of Hype TV at the time – Renais Marshall. They have conceptualized and produced music videos, and directed and produced commercials and several TV programmes, including Boom Tribe’s Roaming when it used to show on CBS affiliate WSEE. The name came about because both were born on November 21 and seemed a good fit. Scorpio 21 set about changing the game of the music video industry in Jamaica.
“Thinking outside the box”, the all-female team of director, producer, art director and stylist did everything. Rachelle remembers the first music video they shot for Jamaican artiste Ice Man’s Make Sweet Love To Me with a small budget. They painted walls, sewed the leading girl’s dress, and even did the cooking for the shoot. 
Renais is still in Jamaica continuing to do her thing, and Rachelle moved back to Barbados last December to do hers: “We keep abreast of each other’s work. And collaborate when the project allows.”
Since she has been back, Rachelle has been busy. Well, busy cannot describe the numerous TV commercials, music videos, documentaries, features, event coverages, corporate videos, Press conferences, among others that she has had a hand in.
“I get around,” she said cheekishly. 
Reeling off equipment names like DSLRs Cannon 5D and 7D, the Rebel T3i, the Sony Ex3, the P2 and also The RED camera, Rachelle explains that what equipment is used on shoots “depends on the project”.
“I love to do things that are memorable, relatable, and eye-catching. And all of this can be captured in the simplest form, or on a grand scale. When doing the Good Girl Gone Bad video it was important to me to capture the essence of the music itself, and also send a message.
“So the style of costume, dancing, props, were a merge of the 1950s with a modern twist, just like the song. I let the music drive me.” 
She has a tried and true method of not sleeping before a shoot . . . “going through every scene, every angle, every expression I want the artist or talent to have in my head. Plus, I worry too much, so I can’t get to sleep anyway,” she laughed.
“Some people say I am a perfectionist, I don’t know. I just like things to go smoothly.”
Turning to the Biggie Irie’s monster hit for Crop Over 2011, she related how she kept up a constant online connection with Biggie while in Jamaica, and the promise was made about collaborating and making a commitment to one day work with each other. Cyaan Be Over became the project.
“When I first heard it, I was like, ‘Biggie, dis one gonna be huge!’ He chuckled and said, ‘I know’. The one thing that stood out to me was the vocals.
“He sounded like he was singing from the mountain top, and immediately I knew I wanted something that had him in the beautiful hills of the East Coast. Also because it was a song reminiscing about the Crop Over experience, I wanted to show many aspects of it – the revelling . . . the culture [it had tuk band, dancers and so on]. So all and all it came out well and we achieved what we wanted.”
Rachelle is currently working on two documentaries: editor and videographer of one and director of the other, and is also a member of the board of The Barbados Film & Video Association and has plans to improve the industry.
“I will do my part to be a strong link in that chain. I am also working on a concept for a film and am in the writing stages. It’s been a dream of mine to do a film. Maybe it will help make my lasting contribution to the industry then.”
Family is important to her and Rachelle is close to mum Julia and dad Walter. She likes hanging out with brother Stuart, who teaches at Combermere, and cousin Therese, whom she considers “my sister”.
“I love when my niece and nephew are around. My grandmother Winifred Jemmott is my world.”
Rachelle is the younger sister of the late broadcaster Terry Mayers, and she got emotional speaking about the brother who was one of the main reasons behind her delving into the media field.
“I speak to Terry all the time. He always said I was made for media.
“If he was here he would say, ‘Poly [short for Pollyanna, his nickname for her], you ain’ had to tell me you would do well (with a smirk). You’re my sister. You are a Mayers, and yah went Lodge for a year’ [Terry was a devoted Lodge man].
“God only knows how much I miss him! I try to live my life what I call Terry Mayers-minded. He spoke ill of no one, he worked hard, he loved life and his family, and he loved what he did. No one could tell Terry he couldn’t do something.”
On the question of one music video you wish you had shot?
“One of my favourite videos is Kanye West’s Can’t Tell Me Nothing. The cinematography in it is wonderful. It was simple and impactful visually.”
Rachelle is keeping her fingers crossed that she will get to work with more talented artistes who are serious about what they do.
“Wishing and hoping to do a video with Alison Hinds one day. Respect that lady to the max. Rapper Tef, I think he is quite talented. One day I would like to do a video for the likes of Rihanna, Shontelle, Adele, Corneille – an artiste based out of Montreal; Jill Scott and John Legend.
“I have a long list.”