He can always be seen around campus with a camera in his hand, so it was no surprise when he showed up at Starbucks with one. It was also no surprise to see him with fellow videographer Brandon La Sure, who created the handpicked by Pharrell “UWG Happy” video. Lastly, it was no surprise that when he unbuttoned his vest and revealed a shirt that read, “A Product of Me.” He introduced himself as JC.
With plans to graduate in December, 23-year old Jeral Clyde, Jr. already has plenty on his plate. He is the creator and director of A Product of Me, which started as a feature film and expanded into a movement.
“I basically wanted to express how anyone could become a product of their environment,” said Clyde. He went on to explain that most of the time when people refer to someone that is “in the ‘hood selling drugs,” they are usually talking about an African-American male. To go against the stereotype, Clyde decided to take a different approach by placing a Caucasian male in a poverty-stricken neighborhood to capture how he too becomes a product of his environment.
Not only is there a feature film, Clyde has also filmed a new documentary by himself under the same name. He explained that for the documentary he follows the lives of five different individuals who explain how their environment shapes them in either a negative or positive way.
“From the City Councilman of Carrollton, to a drug dealer,” said Clyde. “All of these are real people. A barber/film maker, a engineer and a actor. They basically explain what it means to be a product of their environment and a product of themselves.”
Clyde also plans to release a book after the movie release. According to him, it will be a self-development book. The book will feature various scenarios that may arise in an urban setting and be accompanied by encouraging words and solutions.
As mentioned earlier, Clyde has created t-shirts to support the movement. He said he has sold at least 200-300 shirts thus far and plans to launch a website where they can be purchased.
With all this talk about going against the grain of becoming a product of your environment, I wanted to know what inspired him to create and become so dedicated to the movement.
“I’m from the environment,” said Clyde. “I’m from Atlanta. I grew up all over… University Homes, Old National, Riverdale, Moreland Avenue… Every time we moved it was a different ‘hood. Sometimes I was trapped into that environment and fell victim to some of the things I was surrounded by.”
To give further insight on why his vision was created, he lets out some very personal and devastating news.
“In 2010 my mom was killed and that really just impacted me to say that I wanted to make a change,” said Clyde. “Because if I could make a change, that’ll keep one less person from being killed or one less person from going down the wrong path. You never know what someone could be if they put their mind to it.”
Overall, JC taught me that being A Product of Me is all about not conforming to one’s surroundings, but making positive choices to ensure the successful future that is desired.
To see the trailers for the feature film and the documentary, search “A Product of Me” on YouTube.