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10 things you didn't know about Paul Issa

Published:Sunday | January 20, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Paul Issa has worked for almost 20 years in the position of deputy executive chairman of House of Issa and Couples Resorts (the world's first all-inclusive resort for couples only, celebrating its 35th anniversary this very weekend). Once considered the least likely businessman due to what many saw as his very relaxed, almost bohemian way of life, today he proudly states he is honoured to be a part of this Jamaican family business that dates back to 1894.

And what is there not to be proud of? The House of Issa, operators and owners of Couples Resorts, owns and operates four boutique-style all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica - each with its own distinct charm - and is about to open its fifth resort in Barbados.

Today, Outlook shares 10 things we did not know about this scion of the great family.

- Chester Francis-Jackson

1. Is proud to be chairman of the Issa Trust Foundation (, founded by Couples Resorts to serve the needs of children predominantly in the rural areas of St Mary and Westmoreland. Focusing on paediatric care, education, and social and environmental projects, the Issa Trust Foundation raises and contributes hundreds of thousands of US dollars each year to the communities in which Couples operates through various donations.

2. Was born in Cross Roads. (His father was born in Rae Town.)

3. Entered Tulane University in New Orleans at the age of 16 but dropped out after a year and a half to concentrate on being a hippie.

4. Pursued his lifelong dream of becoming an actor at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York, where he studied acting with the renowned teacher Sandford Meisner. After deciding that a life in the commercial theatre wasn't for him, he began writing and hanging out with members of New York's avant garde underground scene of the late 1960s. Knew Andy Warhol and even appeared in one of his movies. (He still loves to direct, and act, and usually says 'yes' whenever anyone asks him.)

5. In the early '70s, he returned home to Jamaica to teach speech and drama at Excelsior High School and the original Drama School (forerunner to the School of Drama at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, of which he has been chairman for the past four years).

6. Produced and presented a daily programme for JBC Radio called 'YouthSound', on which he interviewed many of the leading musicians of the day, including Jimmy Cliff, Bunny Wailer, 'Big Youth' and Peter Tosh.

7. Helped Mutabaruka launch his career as a world-famous dub poet by collecting and publishing his early poems in a book calledMutabaruka: the First Poemsin 1980. (Twenty-five years later, he published Muta's later works in a volume calledMutabaruka: The Next Poems).

8. Went back to college at the age of 40 and got his BBA and MBA degrees from the University of Miami.

9. Brought the Wendy's fast-food franchise to Jamaica, and ran it for 10 years before selling the business to its current owners.

10. Has been married to Spanish artist Oriente Davila for 23 years. The couple has produced five wonderfully eccentric children - four boys and a girl, ages 12 to 21. They live in Kingston.