At 15, Jackson-native Essence Odomes made her way into an acting class hosted by actress, director and producer Tasha Smith in Atlanta. Smith gave the teenager advice: leave her home country.
âBasically she said to me, ‘You’re going to have to get out of Mississippi if you want to (act) because there’s nothing there,â Odomes says. “So I spent the next two years until graduation focusing on getting out of the Mississippi.”
Odomes starred in her first play at the age of 7 and then honed her acting and acting skills in the Academic and Performing Arts program at Jackson Public Schools. After high school, she attended Spelman College for a semester before moving to California to study at the University of California, Los Angeles.
On a trip home, she met her husband, Dezron Odomes, who soon joined her at UCLA and majored in the music business. Essence has completed her bachelor’s degree in film and television performance. However, the pre- and post-production classes she took most intrigued her.
â(These classes) opened my eyes to the backstage world I had never heard of,â she says. âI knew that if I could get some of the backend then I could not only give myself the opportunities I was looking for, but I could also create them (for others) as well. “
Essence and Dezron moved to Atlanta in 2013, where the former held several production positions, including the seventh installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise. These experiences opened the door for both to land positions at Tyler Perry Studios. The couple married in 2018.
âWe started working at the Tyler Perry Studios with the goal of someday doing this type of work from home soon,â Essence says, and they returned home, returning to Mississippi in December 2020.
The Odomes founded their own production company, The Chosen Entertainment and Media, now The Chosen Productions, with a mission to utilize and create a skilled labor force for film and entertainment in the region, responding to a need they noticed growing up in Mississippi.
âProducers come from out of state and take advantage of our tax incentives. They can hire a few people in Jackson for a few weeks while they’re in production, but most of them bring in shifts because we don’t have the manpower here, âsays Essence.
â(It) means that when they shout ‘wrap’, the town of Jackson still finds itself without the workforce and community of filmmakers here. It doesn’t really change what’s going on in our city.
By creating a Jackson-based production company, the Odomes hope to give aspiring actors and fellow Mississippians pursuing careers in film and television a way to use their skills without having to leave the state.
âI always felt there was so much talent here in Mississippi, and I felt so much frustration that I had to leave my family and the place I know like home just to find opportunities. “, says Essence.
Since the inception of the company, the Odomes have started producing a pilot for a television series called “Love Never Fails”. Based on the life of Essence, the screenplay tells the story of a black teenage girl who grows up in Jackson, Mississippi, struggles to find balance while pursuing her dreams and avoiding the pitfalls she sees her own parents take. face.
About 60% of the cast and crew used for the pilot reside in the metro Jackson area.
The powerful couple are also opening The Chosen Studios, an 8,000 square foot facility on Northside Drive. When complete, the space will feature a 5,000 square foot soundstage with equipment, production offices, and rooms for wardrobe, hair and makeup. Their goal is to create a one stop shop that can handle production from start to finish, and they hope the first big production will be theirs.
âIf all goes well and as we anticipate, there will be a great TV series about Jackson, Mississippi, filmed in Jackson, Mississippi, over the next few years,â Essence concludes.
To learn more about opportunities to get involved with The Chosen Productions, email Brand Manager Bianca Tatum at [emailÂ protected].