Article by J. D. Thrasher
This year looks to be a benchmark year for Jabari Johnson. He is working as a host for BET’s “Face to Face,” a one-on-one talk show program on the network’s website and he is also working on a documentary profiling the celebrity stature of Tinie Tempah.
Johnson, who rose to recognition almost entirely from video interviews he did with celebrities prior to their fame (he was one of the first people to interview Nicki Minaj before she was the ultra-famous Nicki Minaj she is today), is continuing his interviewing work on “Face to Face.”
The road to his successful career was not easy, Johnson said.
As a child, Johnson knew he wanted to be in the entertainment industry, but he knew he had to find the right route. As a child, he moved around a lot, but he knew that there was one thing that people always talked about wherever he went: Howard University’s homecoming. Jabari had been to Howard for the homecoming himself, and knew that Howard had strong relationship with celebrities, some being Howard alumni themselves, including Diddy, Taraji P. Henson, Anthony Anderson, and others. The school’s strong relationships were the driving forces behind Jabari’s fascination with Howard.
Johnson applied and was accepted to the school, where he studied advertising. While he was not doing academic work he was focused on curving out a niche in the celebrity world.
“This (Howard University) was a place to hone my skills,” Jabari said of his time at Howard University. His university experience encouraged him to chase after what he is passionate about.
During his freshman year, Jabari worked as a bell hop at a local hotel. He worked long hours and dealt with disrespectful bosses. The experience left an indelible impression on him.
“After that experience, I promised myself that every other job that takes up any of my time will be a piece to the puzzle to my chosen career path,” Jabari said.
He held a series of internships including one with the Washington Mystics WNBA team, but it was when he took a journalism course that his interest in interviewing piqued. Jabari had now found a legitimate means of getting in contact with celebrities and exercising his journalism skills. A lot of interviews were conducted at homecoming, but sometimes, Jabari went through extreme lengths to get interviews, such as waiting long hours outside a venue. To date, he has interviewed many celebrities, including Pusha T, Nicki Minaj, Wale, and Russell Simmons.
Jabari’s interviewing skills, which he describes as conversational-like, were valuable in building relationships with artists. Pusha T and Nicki Minaj collaborated on the track “Dopeman” for a music project of Jabari’s. Both Pusha and Nicki did the track free of charge.
Music will always be his love, it has given him many opportunities, including a stint at Capitol Records and Virgin Records in the digital marketing and video departments, said Jabari, and he will continue to interview upcoming artists, but film has his attention now. The documentary on Tinie Tempah will profile the London-born rapper.
“I only knew of him from a stateside perspective,” Jabari said. Tinie Tempah told Jabari that he was the biggest young star (after Adele) in England. To convince Jabari, Tempah invited him to London.
Jabari was shocked by what he saw.
Crowds of fans requesting autographs, crying girls, cell phone cameras being snapped—all because of Tinie Tempah, who debuted with his solo album “Disc-Overy” last year.
“I immediately thought, ‘I have to do a movie on this dude,’” Jabari said, recalling the moment.
The film is in the editing stages and will be released this year, first in the United Kingdom, then in United States. Jabari is the director of the film, and it is funded by Tempah’s record label, Disturbing London.
Jabari continues to upload videos on his website, iamjabari.com, and continues to host parties in the D.C. area.
Looks like Jabari’s hard work is helping him reach his goals.
Follow Jabari on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/Jabari
Check out Jabari’s exclusive interviews here: http://www.iamjabari.com