A Harlem Artist’s Journey with The Fellowship Initiative | JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Stereotypes. They’re annoying to me.
People create this notion. They create stories. The only label I actually truly claim is that I’m an artist. Anger, sadness or anything like that; you just take it and you just turn it into art. I’m Ezekiel Claire. I’m 18 years old
and I’m from Harlem, New York City. As an African-American, living in
Harlem is awesome. Because that’s where art that we
create, came from. When I was younger, around ten
or nine, my mother had a camera. She didn’t use it that much, so it
was just there. And I just started playing with it. I was like, “ok mom,
this camera is mine now”. So I took that camera, and then I
made my first film. I want to direct. I want to be like
Christopher Nolan. He was my inspiration. I went to school in Gramercy Arts, in Manhattan. That’s where I learned screenwriting and stuff like that. The fellowship initiative by JPMorgan Chase, they help us with college readiness, and even the playing field for young men of color. They really did prepare us for college. The agenda wasn’t to make hard workers in corporate America. But, to make fighters, and people who will no matter what, stand their ground. Brotherhood is important to young men of color. The whole point is we all will climb this ladder together. I remember our program manager was saying “if one of us don’t graduate, then we all don’t graduate”. The fellowship initiative helped me learn how to actually be a team player and how to work with other people. So I guess in my perspective because of the programs, is that you need another person to succeed. And that was the whole point. They told us we would get mentors, at the beginning. They actually really tried to match everyone up which was cool and I appreciate that. I just think that relationship, that mentor-mentee relationship is
really important. Especially if you’re a struggling student, and you have someone to talk to, who went through the same thing. Anyone that’s just ready to be there for you, was really nice. And that was probably my favorite part of the program. We applied to 18 schools, I selected SUNY Purchase, because I just couldn’t go to a school that wasn’t an art school. Especially if I’d went to an art school my entire life. I hope to never lose my passion as a filmmaker, and as an artist. It’s good to know who you are. And to find that person first. From there, everything isn’t easy, but it’s much easier.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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