The Mitchells aiming to inspire
The love shared between Tami Chynn and Wayne Marshall would have permeated the dancehall landscape for almost two decades ago as the then recording artistes chronicled their friendship-turned-love story in the lyrics of — and the music videos of songs — like Arguing, Why, and Good Loving. And, of course, everyone remembers Good Ole Wife, which was recorded on the iconic Matrimoney Riddim in 2011, which saw fellow artistes Lady Saw, Tifa, DJ Liquid, Fambo, Sean Paul, Mr G, and Chico in character in scenes for their tracks on the rhythm.
Now, as The Mitchells, on their journey as a married couple and parents, they have unearthed a way to share their creative sides, engage Jamaicans locally and in the diaspora, all while showing a different perspective on family life through digital media. What started during the lockdown periods of the pandemic as an online vlog series, titled Meet The Mitchells (MTM), has seen tremendous growth and viewership since 2020 and has recently earned a spot in CVM TV’s prime-time programming and see episode accompanied by never-before-seen confessionals.
“I literally call it the little-vlog-that-could because when we started it two years ago, it was just to document our daily life and show people that we are ‘regular-degular’ persons tackling similar challenges as any other family. There were persons with preconceived notions of how we were living, but we were able to change that,” Tami told The Sunday Gleaner.
She added: “We try to maintain that we are not a perfect family, we don’t have a perfect marriage or even perfect children (laughs). And while we are not all in the same boat, we are all in the same storm. Just to have women to say to me, ‘You have given me something new to try with my children’, makes me feel good, and I never thought it would be the thing. We’re happy to transition to television, and in doing so, we try to make sure it is not putting too much pressure on us or our family.”
Wayne suggested that the time is right “to test the waters” on local television with unscripted and unfiltered family-centred content.
“Most of the content people are getting these days is scripted, and Meet The Mitchells is a real-life series that shows family structure and functionality, and it gives me a proud feeling to know that our normal lives, where we go through the motions which we decided to share, has inspired and also entertained a wide audience thus far. That’s why we are excited to expand on local TV. I can’t wait to see how it can inspire Jamaica,” he said.
Tami and Wayne celebrated 13 years of marriage on September 20, 2009. Wayne, who described Tami as his “vulnerability coach”, admitted that he was a sceptic prior to seeing the reactions of the public to their vlog and also had apprehensions about showing the unfiltered side of him, especially with his image as a dancehall artiste, but soon recognised the positive impact it was having on viewers and on his own family.
He said: “As a dancehall artiste, yuh nuh want go clash and someone pick up something dem see online and use it, but Tami coached me through it. She had been vulnerable, and I, having observed the reactions of people to those moments especially in the comment section, showed me how it impacted people, and based on that, I wanted to be a motivator by giving them that side of me. People who are not vulnerable have never been vulnerable. When you become vulnerable, you realise it is the release you need. Other than that, we bottle things up and keep them inside when we could release it into the world and take off that burden off your shoulder. It’s a masculinity thing, a macho man behaviour, that we as men do, and Jamaican men cut from dah cloth deh.”
Wayne said that with Tami, he is trying to offer in their parenting journey traditional and new ways to connect with family.
“My overarching theme, in aspiring to do this, is to bring functional family values to the forefront. We try so many things, all sorts of things as a society in order to set [an] example, but why not let us try to bring positive family energy to mainstream, stop complaining, and see if we can have that real, tangible impact on the people. It is really just a way that involves us growing, us learning, and the audience doing it with us, and at the same time be inspired and entertained,” he said.
Their parents are also on board as a new adventure is being mapped out with Meet The Mitchells. Tami’s father, Richard Chin, who adds some amount of flavour to the series, said that he was “beyond happy for them, because I believe when a new door opens, you should go through it and not wait until it closes on you”.
“I have great confidence in what they are giving by just putting our family out there, and really, I don’t need to say it, but I will say it, they are great kids,” Chin continued.
Paulette Mitchell, who was also present at the launch and featured in the first episode of the ‘Best of MTM’ series expressed joy at seeing her son’s growth as a partner and father become something of national and international significance.
“I have a friend in Austria, she so much appreciates this piece of Jamaica that she can tune into ever so often and see a family, my family, in their element. It shows how being natural and so very authentic will impact people in this country and across the world. The way I’ve seen my son develop, and the show evolve, I knew something was on the horizon, and I’m happy,” Mitchell shared.