An exclusive interview with Jai' Chewe
Photo Creds Courtesy Of Jai' Chewe
"Time management is a skill" and Jai' Chewe proves this to be true as a very active member of her community. She is involved in numerous organizations, including but not limited to, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and has also served in several leadership positions. Jai' is also the proud author of not one, not two, but three books! In addition, she recently served as a Brand Agent for Hollister.
In this interview, I focused on asking questions about Jai's journey as a young author, her leadership positions, and her time as a Hollister Brand Agent.
What was the inspiration behind your three books?
The first book I wrote was the "Jazzi Club." I was in the fourth grade going to fifth grade when I published it. Basically, that one was a realistic fiction book and I really wanted to be a fashionista back then, which is kind of coincidental. It makes sense now because of the Hollister thing. I was really into fashion and this book was really about making friends, being in a new environment, trying to acclimate to that, and being who you are despite your own personal circumstances. Thinking back on it now, it is definitely a more complex topic than what I thought it was when I was writing about it.
Click Here To Purchase "Jazzi Club"!
The second book is a historical fiction book based on the 16th street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. That one is called "Angels." So I published that one in fifth grade going to sixth grade. My inspiration behind that book is just the fact that black history is not heavily exposed in modern education and in the common core. Upon realizing that at a young age, I sat down and looked at what I wanted to speak about and what I wanted my classmates to know about. I remember going around my classroom and literally asking my classmates if they knew about it before I started writing it. It was definitely an experience looking back on it, it's a lot more complex than I thought.
Click Here To Purchase "Angels"
My third book is called "Deeply" and I published this book last year. This book is a realistic fiction book. It deals with mental health, sexuality, identity, and being comfortable with yourself again despite your circumstances. So, there's that 'line of reasoning' right there with your identity and just being okay with who you are and finding your purpose within yourself rather than just overextending yourself.
Click Here To Purchase "Deeply"
What is your biggest inspiration for writing?
Writing in essence for me is my outlet for all my emotions and everything that's happening in my life. A lot of my friends like to journal or put stuff in their Notes app. I was just talking about this with one of my friends earlier and that's never really been my thing like using my Notes app for anything. I kind of just create stories around how I'm feeling. That's basically how all of these stories came about.
I remember when I was younger like in elementary and middle school, I never really felt listened to because I talked a lot when I was little---I talk a lot now! So I thought to myself how can I put my thoughts into something that people can kind of come to in pieces instead of just hearing all at the same time and being able to appreciate it. That's how I was able to get geared into writing at such a young age.
What advice would you give to young aspiring writers?
One piece of advice I would give is to not put too much pressure on yourself when you are so young. You are still experiencing life! In order to create a good book, you have to have life experiences.
How did you begin your leadership journey?
My journey began in middle school in sixth grade. I applied to run for Student Council and I did not make it. I was so heartbroken. That was really the beginning of my journey, but I think through this organization I am involved in called Jack and Jill, I was able to see a lot of people I see as brothers and sisters in leadership roles. Seeing them take action the way they did and go forth and conquer the way they did was so important to me. I believe that it is important for all young people in general, but especially young women, to see and emulate in their own lives and in their leadership roles as well. I started as a Historian, then an Editor, and then President. Finally, I became Teen Regional President of Jack and Jill.
How do you balance your roles and responsibilities along with school work and having a social life?
I balance my roles and responsibilities along with my school work and having a social life because I believe that time management is a skill! It's a trade really and it requires a lot of practice and being able to say "no." I believe that you must also allocate time for yourself and not overextend yourself to the point that you burn out.
Do you plan to continue being involved in leadership roles?
Absolutely! I am already involved in this honor program at my school. It focuses on cultural implications in various systems in our society. For example, the health care system and the law system. Additionally, I am a part of the system core and I go out in the community and service others.
What do you believe are the most important characteristics a leader should have?
One of the best characteristics is empathy and then also having a community-based mindset. Being a leader means being able to speak on behalf of the people and also making decisions on their behalf as well. For example, in Jack and Jill with the Regional Teen President role, I had to speak on behalf of everyone and make tough decisions. This was not an easy task because it will give you a lot of criticism. But at the end of the day, I believe it is important that as a leader you are not easily skewed one way or the other and just be for everyone.
How did you become a Hollister Brand Agent?
There was an application process that I went through. the Hollister Brand Agent program is different from being a brand ambassador. I think that is where the confusion comes in. A brand agent works very closely with the marketing team and helps with that aspect.
What do you do as a Hollister Brand Agent?
One example I can give is "activations" and I had to go into my community and market on the ground for Hollister. Another example is the passion project. There are four verticles in the project including the music verticle, the sports verticle, the gaming verticle, and the fashion verticle. I was put in the music verticle and I was tasked with making a music passion project. I had to make a podcast about music and music culture and how that impacts creative thinking. It was a great experience. We received funding for our project, we were able to get flown out to Ohio, and recorded our podcast in a professional studio.
Many thanks to Jai' for this interview. We thoroughly enjoyed it and wish her much success in the future.
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