We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Gibson Jr and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Creativity is so deeply ingrained in me I feel like I could not have chosen anything else but to pursue things to release the valve so to speak. Like most people, I have been surrounded by media. I just knew that I had to be involved in it in some way. My father instilled a very eclectic love for music as he would play dance around the living room to his record collection when I was younger. I remember watching I Love Lucy and a litany of of other television programs, films, and stand up comedy specials from a young age and I loved the enjoyment I received from all of it, but also recognized the art of story-telling from a early age as I recited these jokes and stories to my friends. I have always been enamored with language, loving how the right composition can evoke a certain feeling from the person reading a book, listening to a song, watching a film, or gazing upon a photograph. I also love the process as a creator of catching some spark or facet of inspiration, going off to a corner alone to cobble together a representation of the spark, and delivering to the world a representation of your soul. The crazy thing about the creative process is the part that the viewer plays in it. It is a symbiotic dance of sorts. The audience brings with them the entirety of their experiences, which you can never know, which colors how they take in the art. At that moment, the art in a sense no longer belongs to you. But when you reach in a touch the person and make them feel something, that is truly a magical moment.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am originally from Jamaica, but I have grown up in Texas most of my life. I graduated from Fossil Ridge High School where I started writing and performing sketches, performed and helped out with the theater, and I sang and danced in several choirs. I attended the University of North Texas where I majored in Radio, Television and Film and minored in English. While there, I started performing stand up (my first show I won 3rd place and $50 as a walk on) and was a dj for a few years at KNTU before deciding to focus on film production and writing. After I graduated, I juggled several jobs including working for an audio visual company based out of Dallas while hosting at a restaurant and working in a department store. The A/V company would do small things like in hotel conferences to big things like concerts. The biggest thing I worked on was running the spotlight at a banquet and tearing down afterwards. I later asked for more work and it was explained to me that the nature of the business was that they scheduled me based on the clients that they had each week. I later quit all 3 jobs to get a desk job through a temp agency working for an auto finance company, where I met a gentleman named Tony who trained me. We discovered we both were Jamaican and had attended UNT around the same time. I learned that his mother worked for a local media company which happened to be my dream company to work for. A few years later, with the downturn in the economy following a merger, came layoffs. I was unemployed for about 2 weeks when Tony called me up to inform me that his mother was looking for a part-time person with a strong work ethic for a very, very clerical job in media that would not involve production and that he recommended me and that I should apply. 11 years and 2 Emmys later, I am currently the Senior Producer for the Community Investment Department with NBC 5. I recently made a short film called “Alora” that was screened on Thursday, November 12, on KERA’s “Frame of Mind” Presented by Art&Seek. I co-wrote and co-produced it along with the very talented Nicholas Muthersbaugh, who is an amazing up and coming director. It’s a story about a single mother training to be a NASA astronaut that has to make a choice between her dream opportunity of lifetime to go on a mission to outer space, and the love of her daughter that she would be leaving behind if she goes. The film features 3 incredible actresses: Lauren Brizendine, Maddy-Lea, and Nicole Fancher (who also stars in the body-horror film “Shifter”). The short has won several awards including Best Film at the 2020 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Film Festival in Toronto, Best Short Film at the 2020 Dallas VideoFest: Alternative Fiction, Best Space Travel Film at the 2019 Sci-On Film Festival, Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film at the 2019 Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase, and was 1st Runner Up in the Best Texas Shorts category at the 2019 Denton Black Film Festival. You can follow @alorafilm on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The trailer is available here at https://vimeo.com/394086238. I have performed various styles of comedy off and on through the years. Near the onset of the pandemic as the lock-downs were occurring and people were sheltering in place, a gentleman by the name of Richie Lunsford who is a very talented improvisor with Four Day Weekend put a call out on social media. It was for creatives who wanted to come together in these crazy, scary times, to take our minds off the uncertainty, off our downtime worrying from while working from home, and some of us, from being furloughed to write sketches and to keep spirits up, to laugh, and hopefully make others laugh. Several writers and performers answered the call and Socially Distanced Comedy was born. I have written and/or had the opportunity to perform in a few sketches with some of the very talented performers including Blaine Toole – https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
DFW has a lot of amazing food and hangout spots! When the pandemic is over, we would absolutely have to see a show at Four Day Weekend or see a show or hit an open mic at Hyenas then hang out and have a drink at the Flying Saucer in Downtown Fort Worth! If you’ve never been, you have to have a burger from Rodeo Goat! The chaca oaxaca is my favorite there! I also love Flips burgers (I’m a fan of their chips) and as a place to hang out. For sushi, I love MK’s Sushi! I love museums! The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth always has some mind-blowing exhibits. I also enjoy The Modern. On the Dallas side, It’s The Perot Museum if you have never seen Dallas Black Dance Theater perform, you need to correct that mistake. Their performances are breathtaking! I also like hanging out at Mockingbird Station. The Magnolia always has such interesting films and film festivals going on. Around the corner, I would love to hang out at Trinity Hall Irish Pub! I also love poking my head in at Dallas comedy spots like Stomping Ground. Don’t forget about Fair Park and Klyde Warren Park, just to name a few!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents for raising me and making me who I am. Christina and the kids for supporting my chaotic creativity, letting me see the world through your eyes, and for keeping me grounded. I would also have to give a spotlight to my high school choir teacher, Mr. DeVous for his friendship, being a mentor, and giving me back my love of the arts when others has stripped it away. Also, to Rachel Parrott for her amazing friendship through the years, having my back as I have had hers through all the ups and downs, and for always believing in me.
Other: Linktree: https://www.linktr.ee/_nebula_one_ Alora Trailer: https://vimeo.com/394086238 Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/michaelgibsonjr Socially Distanced Comedy YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjvng96XqFLoPRM0hksr2IA Socially Distanced Comedy Special Delivery Sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92yCFmbKx_Y&t=1s Socially Distanced Comedy Community Soup Sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgcQgT42zUE
Maira Hinostroza, Michael Gibson Jr., Nada Ruddock, Steve Lemonds, Nicholas Muthersbaugh, and Lauren Brizendine