The third time’s a charm for actor and educator, Akeem Mignott, who took home the Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Excellence in arts and culture this year after two previous nominations.
He was first nominated in 2013 and again in 2017.
The 27-year-old, who spoke to JIS News shortly after the made-for-television awards ceremony on December 13, says he feels honoured to be recognised for his work.
“It is a prestigious award for young Jamaicans who have achieved excellence in whatever field it is that they are in. I am absolutely honoured. This is my third time being nominated and first time being awarded,” he says.
“It comes at a time in my life where I think that I have contributed to nation building and youth development, especially in the field of arts and culture,” he adds.
Mr. Mignott says he hopes that receiving the award, after three tries, will serve as an inspiration to others not to give up and to use disappointment as motivation to work even harder.
“Don’t let anything deter you; even if you were nominated for an award and you weren’t a recipient, keep going. If you went to an audition and you never got the part, keep going. Keep doing what you need to do in order to make sure that your dreams are being attained and your dreams are impacting others positively,” he encouraged.
Mr. Mignott tells JIS News that since his first nomination, he has built his portfolio to include becoming a co-founder of a production company called Lighthouse Production; serving as former President and now Associate Director of the Jamaica Youth Theatre and Director, Jamaica Musical Theatre Company.
A 2019 Chevening Scholar, he also pursued a master’s degree in Applied Theatre Drama in Educational, Social and Community Context at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Mr. Mignott, who made his acting debut in ‘Get a Life’ in 2011, while a student in high school, has appeared in plays such as Dahlia Harris’ Back-a-Yard; Aston Cooke’s ‘Single Entry’ and ‘Jamaica Fifty 2 Rahtid’; Patrick Brown’s ‘Right Girl, Wrong Address’ and a teen drama series broadcast on Television Jamaica called ‘Real Friends’.
He has also done commercials.
The youth awardee tells JIS News that he is passionate about unearthing and developing the talent of young people, which was why he co-founded Lighthouse Production.
“We mounted our first production ‘Behind the Pulpit,’ which was a play that we ran for a few months in Jamaica, and we provided employment for a lot of young people.
“We had young people working ‘front stage’ and backstage, because it’s very important to have a sense of sustainability of our culture,” he notes.
Mr. Mignott says he is hopeful that after the pandemic “we can expand and continue to do the work that we had intended to do with Lighthouse Production”.
Since returning to Jamaica in August after completing his master’s programme in the United Kingdom (UK), he has resumed his position as drama teacher at Hillel Academy, where he teaches students between kindergarten and grade six.
“It has been going pretty well. As a specialist-area teacher, one would say ‘How do you teach drama virtually?’ and I would say, this new aesthetic demands for us to be quite flexible and versatile in our delivery and our approach as educators,” Mr. Mignott tells JIS News.
Meanwhile, he is encouraging more young people to pursue careers in the fields of arts and culture.
“Young persons like myself never think that drama and the arts is solely for entertainment. It’s so much more than that… . I think that we as a nation can do a little better as it relates to our attitude towards the arts and culture.
“It’s not just for going onstage and trying to get a laugh. It’s also for socialisation, it is also used for mental and physical health, and as therapy,” he points out.