Emmanuel Tyson is a Barbadian actor and former model, most recently seen in the music video for the song “Body” by local artist Ch’An and whose face may be familiar from his appearance in a Rock Hard Cement ad campaign which saw his likeness plastered all over bus sheds across the island. He would also be recognisable to students of the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination thanks to his appearances in student films made there.
Along with being an actor, he writes, directs and produces his own short films, which can be viewed on his YouTube channel. These include his latest short film Countdown which was released yesterday, February 25th, and has been submitted for the Moment Invitational Film Festival, a film festival that aims to “encourage filmmakers around the globe to push the limits of what can be shot on a phone.”
Emmanuel is a young man with big dreams and the drive, passion and dedication to make them come true. He spoke to Zeitgeist about his work as a model, actor and filmmaker.
Zeitgeist: You’re both a model and an actor, which did you fall in love with first?
Emmanuel Tyson: I fell in love with acting first.
Z: Do you enjoy or prefer one over the other?
ET: Definitely, yes. I always wanted to do acting since I was young. So I do enjoy and prefer acting over modelling.
Z: How did you get into modelling and acting?
ET: For acting, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, a group of German film-makers came down to Barbados and I was cast for a German movie with my family called “Betrayal In Paradise”, which was my very first time acting and being a part of a movie. From being on set, having one of the important roles, to the overall feeling that filled my heart while being a part of the production and then seeing myself on the big screen to review the final. I knew [acting] was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
For modelling, I got scouted by a local talent agency and saw it as a great opportunity to get my name out there and to further develop myself. I pursued modelling for a bit, but then through that I realized that acting was what I was truly passionate about and decided to pursue that with full force.
Z: Have you done any local model searches and competitions?
ET: In my high school years, I took part in The Lodge School Highway to Fashion competition.
Z: What are some of the campaigns you’ve been in as a model? Which one has been your favourite to date and why?
ET: I’ve done multiple campaigns in the past. A few of them have been Rock Hard Cement, Karbon Clothing Brand, Baje International and Bubba’s Sports Bar. However, I have to say my favorite was Karbon Clothing Brand. I had an amazing time working with that team.
Z: Are there any local film productions that you have been a part of or are currently working on? Any overseas productions?
ET: Most of the film productions I’ve been in were my own; Brother to Brother, Mission Failed, Conquer and Countdown. For my overseas productions, unfortunately I cannot disclose any information on any overseas productions that I have done thus far.
Z: You recently worked with local filmmakers Movement Film Collective and local singer Ch’An on the music video for the single “Body” how did you get involved in that?
ET: A close friend of mine contacted and informed me that an upcoming artist by the name of Ch’an [was] debuting her first single “Body” and that she liked my look for the production. After we both got in contact, I heard the song and knew what [it] was about and meant to her, I made the decision to partake.
Z: What was it like working on the set of the music video?
ET: It was great working on set with Ch’an and Movement Film Collective. Both are tremendously talented at what they do and have great energy. We all worked extremely hard to make this project a success.
Z: When you saw the final video, how did you feel?
ET: When I saw the final video, I was extremely impressed at how everything came together and proud of all of us, because I knew how hard we worked to get the end result.
Z: You also describe yourself as a writer and director on your website. What are some of the things you have written and directed?
ET: In the previous question I had mentioned that I had acted in my local short films Brother to Brother, Mission Failed, Conquer and Countdown. Along with acting, I also write, produce, handle the creative direction and direct/co-direct. However, Dan – Jamal Weekes; a talented local cinematographer, directed the first 3 short films. I directed my short film Countdown. I also co-directed T’is Copacetic Eyewear and directed other productions that I wasn’t cast in.
Z: Are there any models, actors and/or models-turned-actors that you look up to as inspirational or aspirational figures?
ET: I look up to a lot of actors as inspirational. Whether it may be older actors like Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Cuba Gooding Jr, Ice Cube, Wesley Snipes, Viola Davis and the list goes on, or younger actors like John Boyega or Kofi Siriboe. I love to see great work and art and if you’re making that type of quality work, I’ll support you.
Z: With your last name being “Tyson”, obvious comparisons can be made to one male model in particular. Do you feel any pressure to live up to that name?
ET: No, not at all. No pressure because I am in no competition with anyone but myself. However, I will live up to the own name.
Z: You moved to Los Angeles a while ago to further your career. How has that gone so far and is it as tough out there as people make it out to be?
ET: My time in Los Angeles was amazing and I am still up to this day applying all the information and knowledge I was given while I was there. I’m aware of what must be done, the amount of hard work, drive, ambition and passion that needs to be put in in order to achieve the goals that I’ve set upon myself and I am absolutely down for it and giving my all.
What may be tough for one person may not be tough for the next, so what I’d say about L.A. is that you definitely need to know or have an idea of what you are doing when you go out there to pursue whatever you are pursuing.
Z: What are some goals you’ve had that you’ve met and what are some goals you’ve yet to achieve?
ET: Some goals, just to name a few, I had that I’ve met career wise were: getting to Los Angeles, connecting and networking with the right people, getting my work across to larger audiences, having an international following across social media, training/developing myself as much as I can as an actor/film-maker and using my talent to help people and inspire others; especially the youth and [the] next generation to come after me.
For personal goals I’ve met and [am] working on everyday are: maintaining a great relationship with God and my family, breaking any limitations or boundaries I once placed in my head, staying positive, becoming a vegan and living a healthier life spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Some goals I’ve yet to achieve: to successfully launch my non-profit charity “The Emmanuel Tyson Foundation”; I want to make a difference and inspire the masses. I want to represent ideas and possibilities. I want to use my talent to help people and also to be one of the greatest actors to ever walk this planet.
Z: Where do you see yourself in five, ten, fifteen, twenty years?
ET. Making the world a better place.
Z: What advice would you give to other Barbadians who would like to get into modelling and acting?
ET: Not only to aspiring models or actors, but to anyone aspiring to be something or somebody great in whatever field it may be I [want to] say all of this: Set goals, take risks, be positive, be true to yourself and decide what you truly want, focus on making a difference, study and dedicate yourself to being better every day, believe in yourself and that something different can happen. Our thoughts are physical so think about what you want. Attack your fears, protect your dream and, last but not least, feel good and enjoy the journey.