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School's out, Candice Buchanan intent on media ownership

Published:Wednesday | June 19, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Candice Buchanan

 Jordane Delahaye, Gleaner Writer

There's hardly a challenge that Candice Buchanan won't face head-on. The media talent moved to the United States (US) to study at Full Sail University in Florida. The decision to move to the US wasn't easy.

"At the end of the day, I did what was best for me. I wanted to study film and there are no film schools in Jamaica. I have always said that I wouldn't get a degree until I could get one I would actually use ... And I found that in the US," Buchanan said. She added that there were criticisms, and even some patronising, from different circles.

Buchanan has had a vibrant career in media so far. As a teenager she was on three nationally aired TV shows and was a frequently used voiceover talent. Buchanan was also on radio and a producer on several media projects. Her work also landed her on TV shows aired across the Caribbean and one on BET as well.

"I was doing the same thing over and over for more than eight years. I felt like my life was going sideways. Unless I owned my own production company, there would be no real room for growth. If I stayed in Jamaica, I would have continued doing the same things, at the same level, every year, for the foreseeable future. That might work for some, but I was always a free spirit who marched to the beat of my own drum," the film and media enthusiast explained, pointing out quickly though, that she would not trade the experience for anything.

Buchanan has a passion for service and being involved, so she became vice-president of Full Sail's Black Student's Union and a member of SPARK - an elite group of students at the university that worked with top brands such as ESPN and World Wrestling Entertainment.

Buchanan also worked on bringing a number of prominent Jamaicans to Full Sail University to speak to the communities there, including Wayne Wonder and Carole Beckford.

"Even with my hectic schedule I was very active in school. I made it my duty to Jamaicanise the school as much as I could," she said, laughing.

The 'hectic schedule' came as a consequence of the fact that Buchanan was on an accelerated programme which saw her graduating in two years instead of four.

"I had to go to class at 1 a.m., 5 a.m., midnight... Some really off hours!" Buchanan exclaimed. But it paid off. Buchanan graduated with a degree in film and television production, a minor in cinematography and an Advanced Achievement award for Producing. She was also the sole recipient of the school's Platinum Scholarship and had a 4.0 GPA.

Like most success stories, however, Buchanan's comes with its own trials. She recalls almost not getting the chance to complete her degree as one of her most frightening experiences. After an unfortunate occurrence with one of the key persons involved in securing her student loan, Buchanan was on the verge of being kicked out.

With nowhere to turn, Buchanan reached out to her home country for help. But, much to her disappointment, none came. Left with no viable options, she then appealed to the school's president, Garry Jones, for help. Inspired by Buchanan's story and her resilience, Jones was moved to set up and award her the inaugural Platinum Scholarship.

Buchanan is now determined to make the most of the opportunity she was given and is on a path to building her own media enterprise. For now, Buchanan is working on consolidating her brand while hosting and producing The Candice Buchanan Show (aired on ABN1100 in Atlanta), as well as co-hosting Back To Basics (aired on WOKB1680 in Orlando). She is also redeveloping her website and will stream her shows on www.candicebuchanan.com.

So far, she has featured Jamaican artistes like Denyque and Acmatic on The Candice Buchanan Show, which airs every Thursday.

In the world of TV, Buchanan is currently working on a documentary called Days of Wonder and shooting a pilot for a new series she calls Candice Buchanan Presents.

Despite her decision to study abroad, Buchanan said she cherishes her homeland dearly. She is now looking to return to Jamaica and put her newly acquired skills to good use.

Her dreams are bigger than just helping to develop her country however, and she has her sights set on building an international empire.

"To the young people wanting to get into media, I say if you feel that fire in your gut and you are doing it for the love of the craft, go full speed ahead. Do what you love, everything else will fall into place. Only the pure love of the craft will keep you going and ultimately make you successful," Buchanan encouraged.