Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
One sometimes needs the trained eyes of the best to help unearth the best emerging talent. Similarly, you need the inspired to track and identify those who are inspired.
For the past two weekends, a team of talented and inspired judges has been helping to select talent at the Heineken Inspire castings in Westmoreland and in Montego Bay. Among them are two of the island's best fashion designers as well as one of its best contemporary entertainers.
Heineken Inspire is a competition of the arts that aims to spark the creative talents of Jamaicans in the fields of graphic art, film, music, and design.
Minka, known for her authentic crochet designs and jewellery, is among the panel of judges. She and Carlton Brown, guest judge dancehall entertainer Tifa, as well as Heineken brand manager Nasha Douglas, and Imru James, have been the ones keeping a keen eye out for who could be the next batch of artistically inspired Jamaicans
Minka, the diminutive fashion giant who uses natural fibre for her creations, which are carried by a number of leading fashion houses in Jamaica, is well on her way to creating a business empire that will most likely involve television and film production, graphic arts, and herbal medicines.
Currently studying to become a naturopath, Minka is also developing her own cosmetic line. She is also a producer on the long-running local television soap opera The Blackburns.
"I am building more than just my fashion. I want to build an empire," she said.
So far, at the two casting stops, a few Jamaicans have caught her eye. "There was this one girl. She entered last year but didn't reach far, but this time, she travelled all the way to Montego Bay from St Elizabeth," she said, revealing that the young woman apparently had to overcome several obstacles to attend the casting.
PASSION FOR FASHION
"I admired her passion and was very impressed by that. She has stood out so far in terms of fashion."
Minka admits there has not been a lot of fashion at the castings so far, mainly people from the music.
"People were coming in thinking it was an audition like a Rising Stars, but after we pitched it to them, a few people flipped the script and put in something with Heineken in there. So for those people, I kind of stepped up their grade because of their willingness to try," she said.
"There was this guy last Saturday who came with a Heineken water fountain, and that just blew me away. It was really good. There have been one or two people that we have been really impressed with."
Brown, whose impeccably tailored suits have been featured in Martha Stewart magazine as well as in London, Toronto, and at the Miami Beach International Fashion Week, echoed Minka's observations but noted that most of the talent that came out at the castings so far were from music and dance. However, he expects to see the bulk of the fashion and design talent step forward in Kingston this weekend at Triple Century in New Kingston (formerly the Asylum nightclub).
"I'm really looking forward to that. Those are the people who are really going to bring it," Minka declared.