As I walked into the AOL offices, Jacques Morel Jr. was having a meeting in the front conference room with four MCs from across the country for his latest show of BARS, a Facebook Live streaming show living on the Huffpost Black Voices’ page. The only weekly show I’ve ever heard of strictly on FB Live. Minutes before the show, we were able to snap a few pictures around the office and set. As the show went live, I sat in the cut enjoying the talented MCs, especially one by the name of Sex the Rapper (You will see in the video below). After a quick breakdown and clean up by Jacques amazing crew, we headed back to the conference room for a convo…
“My name is Jacques Morel, I am from Long Island, NY, specifically Massapequa & Amityville. 27 years old, living in Bed-Stuy. I am VERY HAPPY TO BE ALIVE. ALL THE TIME.
Being happy is a choice. I lost my father about eight years ago & that showed me how fleeting that life is. It was really sudden & didn’t expect it. What it engendered in me is this belief, the cliché; “Everyday is cherish, everyday is special.” But it’s a real thing. Happiness isn’t something that happens upon you, that people just have and some people just don’t. It’s actually something that takes effort, takes work. Sometimes planning & having foresight. Sometimes you have to find reasons to being happy. I feel, because I made the conscious decision to be happy, it is a lot easier to be blessed & have some of the opportunities I have today & have gotten over the last eight years since my dad died.
I started doing interviews for DJBooth.net. In my opinion, they are one of the best hip hop sites on the internet, Brian Zisook out of Chicago & Dave Macli, also the founder of AudioMack. I used to do stuff on my website “Jacques Morel: The Experience” & I remember hitting them up trying to do this podcast series. We ended up putting a lot of work into it but never put it out. I felt bad. I remember Dave was working on the website while mines was falling out but I wanted to do on-camera stuff.. I don’t know why I wanted to do on-camera stuff. Maybe because I wanted women to like me or something? LOL… But he let me do it & my first interview was with a dude named BK from Brooklyn. By my third interview, I was with Wiz Khalifa at the Highline Ballroom in Nov 2009. That was my first big interview at the time. I watched myself at the time & I look at myself now. I cringed through what I watch but know that is years of tangible progress of what I was then to what I am now. Some people will call me a “Natural” but I don’t believe in that in a sense. For every “Natural” there are hours & hours & hours of putting in that work and really working hard to getting to that point. That is one of the blessings, DJ Booth allowing me to use their website to do so many interviews for them.
I was able to work for Roc4Life, Aura Harewood set me up with that. She also got me my first internship, at Warner Bros. which came through an interview with Lyfe Jennings. While interviewing, I asked Aura if she needed any interns & she said yea. So by pretty much just asking. I was going to school for TV & Film at St. John’s University & ended up getting an internship at Warner Bros. Thats an opportunity I don’t think I would of had unless I stayed happy.
It wasn’t that I was particularly happy at that point. But by using my father’s passing & really thinking about how I live my life & the days happen; it is just one of those things that kind of open themselves up somehow.
I would get jobs and internships by doing on-camera interviews and being in the building already & kind of just asking folks. That is a theme of everything I’ve done for the longest time, asking people for it.
Now I host a weekly show called “Huffpost Black Voices Presents: BARS or simple BARS. It started in a small room on Periscope which would delete itself after 24 hours to blossoming into what you saw today. It was started by Jeff Stevens, who used to be our social media head. I was doing a lot of hip hop interviews & Jeff suggested I work on the show. It grew a lot this past August thanks to Jake Heartman, who was responsible for making the set as big as it is and getting cameras. Another philosophy I have is “ask for forgiveness, not permission.” We would use the stuff that was just around the AOL studios. There is so much cool shit just lying around that no one is using. There would be a full open set & we don’t have a budget so we’d just use what’s already there. Leveraging my contacts, at first I would get artist. But now we have a sharing partnership with TeamBackpack, the #1 Facebook page for hip hop, period. Now we do around 80-100k in views within an hour.
I also host a lot of streams out in the field for Huffpost Black Voices. I travel all over the country: Philadelphia, Toronto, Baton Rouge, DC, Chicago. I would stream during protest, Caribana parade (the largest Caribbean parade in North America), and more. I did a stream in Baton Rouge during the worse flooding they ever witnessed. It was terrible. They never fold & did not expect it. I streamed a young man who left his mom’s ashes from his home while evacuating. We had the opportunity to get on a little boat with him for a hour and a half journey through 10ft deep water in the streets of these people’s town. The kid found his ashes on Facebook Live. It was very immersive and even started crying.
I had the opportunity to march with Chance the Rapper in Chicago through the closed off streets of downtown Chicago with 5000 people. This is during the election and everyone thought Hillary was going to win. A couple weeks ago, I was at the Women’s March in Washington. It has been non stop work. Besides streaming, I help produce short form film and documentaries with an amazing crew here.”
To see more of Jacques streams/projects and more follow him on Instagram: @Jmorel_jr
Purchase Equipment Used In Shoot Here:
Sony A7 MkII: Amazon
Sony Zeiss 35mm F1.4: Amazon
Sony GM 85mm F1.4: Amazon