Mervin Spence: From ‘Wutliss bwoy’ to success story
If ever the odds were stacked against someone, it would be Mervin Spence. Growing up in Kingston, common words such as ‘wutliss’ ‘good for nothing’, ‘idler’ and other degrading terms were the norm for him.
After roaming the streets as he termed it, “looking for comfort” with fellow youth like himself, those terms came from adults in the community he lived at the time.
But from somewhere deep within, Spence somehow knew he was better than the way he was being regarded.
Today, he is a multitalented, innovative, artistic young professional with wide-ranging skills. He has been crafting his skills through directing, set designing, stage designing and lighting operating. He is also an architectural 3D technician (draughtsman). He teaches, involved in puppetry and miming and he is also is involved in construction project management, acting in areas such as movies both short and feature films, plays, music videos, television and radio commercials and poetry.
Spence shared with Rural Xpress the real reason behind his drive to succeed and his having his finger in almost every pie
“Over the years, my full ability has not been utilised and my desire is to help those persons who are at a crossroad, to preserve their dreams in the midst of difficulties. I also hope to spread positive communication, understanding, and inspiration to the world,” he said.
He uses a quote from National Hero Marcus Garvey, “There is no height that a person cannot reach by using the intelligence and innovation of his own mind,” as his inspiration.
Spence has been working that ‘mind’ over the years at institutions such as Excelsior Community College, School of Cosmetology, HEART Trust/NTA, Edna Manley College, School of Drama achieving a certificate in theatre arts Vocational Training Development Institute, University of Technology, and Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, United Kingdom, where he earned a bachelor’s of science degree in construction project management.
Spence said though being neglected and facing many disappointments and being ill-treated, he has always kept the faith and motivated himself.
One key thing Spence ensured is that he never had time to idle.
“Whenever I had free time on my hands, I used it to educate myself some more. I didn’t want the devil finding time for ‘my idle hands’,” he quipped.
Financially-challenged, Spence said he forged ahead by doing jobs such as barbering, cutting down trees to make charcoals and selling the fine art painting he made.
In 2000, he embraced Christ as his Saviour and got baptised and that made him even more determined to capitalise on his God-given talents.
He was very involved in the church, the Yallahs Baptist Church, after his mother relocated to St Thomas.
Spence said his life is about living the most important mandate set forth in the Bible love.
“Love must be spread throughout the world to accomplish peace and prosperity, not greed and selfishness.”
Spence will be the first to acknowledge that growing up in poverty is not an excuse to get involved in illegal activities, or to lose your way.
His mother struggled to take care of him as she had life hard, and with many looking down on him and predicting his future, he beat the odds.
He is now reaching out to those who are at a crossroad, or disillusioned with their lives, to hang in there.
“Just remember, no matter who you are, you are one of God’s creations a wonderfully made person on this planet earth. Therefore, you must consider yourselves as being blessed, despite the financial struggles, difficulties, skin tone, place of birth, or parental background. I am here to let you know that nothing is impossible.”
Born in Kingston, the 36-year-old spent most of his teenage years on the streets as his mother had very little to take care of him.
Now living in Longville Park and working in Clarendon, Spence’s greatest desire is to impact other lives and show them there is no obstacle too great that faith in God cannot overcome.
A husband and a father, he has been doing commercials for a number of companies including Digicel, Jamaica Public Service, Victoria Mutual Building Society, National Integrity Authority and KFC since last year.
He also gives motivational talks at schools and churches, especially in Clarendon.