Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Jonelle McPherson’s music video journey with Jah Cure’s ‘Undeniable’

Schoolteacher puts her students first

Published:Friday | March 31, 2023 | 1:11 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Jonelle McPherson plays the lead role in Jah Cure’s latest videos.
Jonelle McPherson plays the lead role in Jah Cure’s latest videos.
Jonelle and JR in a scene from ‘Everything’.
Jonelle and JR in a scene from ‘Everything’.

Jonelle McPherson has appeared in videos for Kranium, Electric Entourage, Pinkfox, Al Third, and, most recently, Jah Cure, but video vixen she ain’t. In fact, McPherson is more concerned with moulding young minds through the discipline of theatre than she is with capturing hearts in the oftentimes lead roles that she plays onscreen.

But, there are times when her two worlds collide, or possibly fuse, and there are serious decisions that she has to make. A teacher of civics, English literature and theatre arts, as well as a model, actress, and entrepreneur, McPherson is cognisant of how her actions can affect impressionable young minds, especially in a fast-paced online world where secrets are a luxury. In light of this, it would be challenging to hide her “other lives” from her teenage charges.

“Do my students know that I appear in music videos? Oh my gosh … yes, they do! And that’s one of the reasons why I don’t do certain types of videos,” McPherson said. “The roles have to align with who I am and my values. I have turned down roles before because they didn’t represent me, even if it’s acting.”

A past student of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, McPherson has been on cloud nine since filming her last video, and although part of it is the “big cheque”that she received – more than she ever imagined – the role itself was a dream. She was actually referred by a cast member from a previous video project, who thought that she would be ideal for the role, and for that she expressed her gratitude.

“She got in touch with me and asked if it was okay to pass on my information to the director and I said ‘Yes’. There was a lot of secrecy surrounding this project. I wasn’t even told whose video it was, and although I had never worked with film-maker Sameel ‘SAMO’ Johnson before, I knew of him and respected his work, so I was confident that everything would be all right.”

McPherson was actually recruited to play the female lead in a two-part video project for new Jah Cure singles, Everything and Undeniable, from his album, Undeniable, which was released through VP Records on February 23. The storyline features JR, another Edna Manley alum and Jonelle “playing romantic partners in a fictional world where time is the central motif”. Both videos were shot on location in Port Royal.

“I feel honoured to be the lead female in telling his story. When they finally told me that it was a music video for Jah Cure, I was confused at first. I said to myself, ‘But isn’t he in jail?’ I played his lover, the person who he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Samo created a dystopian world for us.”

For McPherson, it was the most professional set she had ever been on. “It was the biggest set I have worked on. Everybody had their role, they were on time … it was the best experience I have had on a music video. And I was compensated very well,” she shared. “Plus I like Jah Cure’s music and my mother is a big fan. And to think that I forgot to tell her about this role!”

Ascribing her forgetfulness down to the secrecy which enshrined the project, she vowed to make amends, while also basking in the compliments from friends who have watched the video and scored her highly. “They are very proud of me and can’t wait to see my next role.”

McPherson had kudos for her co-star, JR, whom she met for the first time on set. A seasoned actor, JR, made her feel comfortable.

“He made it easy for me. JR became my friend on set, carrying banana chips and water for me during breaks and talking with me. The story starts with Everything and concludes with Undeniable.”

Ghanaian star Stonebwoy bolsters the soundtrack for the Everything video, appearing as a feature on the song. Undeniable introduces Kaylan Arnold, a talented young Haitian-Belizean singer/songwriter from Miami.

Undeniable debuted at #1 on the iTunes Reggae charts in Japan, UK, France, Switzerland and #2 in USA, Canada, Germany.