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Jerrod Dukes, Operations Coordinator, Vibestreet: ‘Learn More, Help More’

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Jerrod Dukes, 24, is operations coordinator of Vibestreet Photography and Recording Studios, a rental space near Five Points South that opened this year and hosts a broad range of photo shoots, videography, art shows, meetings, and even served as a site for a local reality show. He recently spoke to the Birmingham Times about the multipurpose location for creatives in the Magic City.

Birmingham Times: What do you like most about Birmingham?

Dukes: It’s an emerging city that hasn’t reached its full potential yet, so it still feels quaint, but it’s advancing, so it doesn’t remind me of Mayberry, [the fictional town where The Andy Griffith Show was set]. Also, its location in the middle of the Southeast offers short travel to all the major cities in the region. But if I had to just pick one thing, it would probably have to be the fact that my family is here. I feel that family helps keep you grounded, and having a support system can help you reach farther than you ever thought possible.

If you had someone visit from out of town, what’s the one place you have to take them?

Railroad Park for tacos. While enjoying tacos, we could view the Rotary Trail or simply just walk around the park and people watch, even start up a game of tag or kickball and have it feel like we’re just at someone’s house playing in the backyard.

What’s your favorite movie?

I get torn over classics like “A Streetcar Named Desire” or the hot new thing like “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Do I like it because I think the actor was really good, like Leonardo DiCaprio in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” Or do I just think the actress is gorgeous, like Nia Long in “Love Jones”? Well, like I said, I don’t have a favorite movie, but a couple that I could always watch are “A Bronx Tale,” “The Wood,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and, of course, “Love Jones.”

Who’s your favorite musical artist?

I’ve never had a favorite musical artist because my musical selection tends to change so frequently. Nowadays, I’ve been listening to a lot of Southern rap, such as UGK and Jeezy. With that said, I also had to listen to my sister’s music of choice as a child because she was older, so now I find myself listening to N’Sync and Beyoncé—solo and Destiny’s Child—as well. Also, as many of us can attest, I still go back to the music I listened to riding with my parents, which includes Frankie Beverly and Maze and The Temptations. So, if I had to give you my most played in the last week, it would be Kevin Gates, YBN Cordae, live Beyoncé albums, Celine Dion, and Starlito & Don Trip.

What’s a food dish you can never get tired of?

Chicken wings would be my meal of choice 9.5 times out of 10; the other .5 would probably be tacos. Wings are my favorite because of their versatility and simplicity. They can be fancy or ordinary, but as long as they’re well-seasoned they’re amazing. Also, the abundance of flavors, ranging from spicy to sweet to plain, they can do no wrong if well-seasoned.

What are you most passionate about professionally? Personally?

Professionally, I always want to show people that there is a more convenient way to do things. Everything doesn’t have to be all suit-and-tie and mountains of formalities. If there is something that needs to be done, what is the best way to satisfy all objectives that doesn’t require meaningless meetings? Personally: Find what makes me happy and do it whatever it is. I want to never limit myself because of overthinking. A few years back I went skiing, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. So, since then I’ve been on the hunt for what excites me and trying it.

Who is someone you admire, and why?

My mother, first and foremost, because of her strength and selflessness. She literally will break her back to make sure we have everything my family needs, while still getting us some of the things we want. She is an inspiration to my entire family, and we can do nothing but thank her. As far as a celebrity, I really like Samuel L. Jackson, not just because of the profanity, although it does add a certain flair, but for his humanitarianism and his unflinching attitude to do what he feels. He and his wife contribute to many causes worldwide to help bring peace, aid, and just an overall wellness to the world. Also, he is talented enough to say whatever he feels without fear of being blackballed. He has done Broadway, which is a feat in itself, while also having been at least two movies a year for the last 30 years.

What are three pet peeves?

People who don’t eat all the chicken off of the bone and don’t break the flat wings apart. It’s shameful and wasteful. People who don’t use the right direction for explaining how to travel from place to place, like from Birmingham to Nashville they would say, “We’re going down to Nashville,” even though it’s definitely to the north. When people pop their tongue off the roof of their mouth like they’re a dog trying to get peanut butter off of it, it irritates me to my core! Honorable mention: People who don’t know how to play cards.

How do you want to be remembered?

As someone who sought knowledge and helped everyone he could with it. I found out a few years back that I find real joy in helping others make their dreams come true. That’s the main reason I started working with Vibestreet. I saw [fellow co-founder Micah Lewis’s] passion for it, and I felt compelled to help.

What do you want to do before you die?

I wish to open a production house to help people get interested in or even rekindle their passion for films and filmmaking. I was not always set in my dreams of being in the film industry, and the people around me have always heard me speak of it as an idea. So, before I die, I want it to become a reality.

What publications or websites do you regularly read?

I’m a huge sneakerhead, so daily I receive upwards of 250 messages from various websites and magazines, such as Sneaker News, Sole Links, and Nike, about shoes. From these messages, I look at the websites and blogs, learning about new colorways and how the creator was inspired to make the shoe. I also use Internet Movie Database (IMDb) a lot. Every time I watch something new, be it movie or TV show, I check out IMDb to learn more about the actors and actresses. It also comes in handy if you can’t quite remember where you remember an actor from. Another magazine I read is Bon Appétit. It provides me with different versions of staple recipes, such as low-calorie or gluten-free options. It also gives me fresh takes on new recipes from different countries. Another great thing is that the recipes are usually some adaption of a family recipe, so you feel like it was handed down to you and you’re a part of the family.

What is your personal motto?

“Learn more, help more.” I always want to keep learning about everything because that way you can always find what works best for you. Also, when you constantly learn, you can help others more effectively by being able to help them find what works for them.

Compiled by Ameera Steward, the Birmingham Times. 

Click here to read about Vibestreet’s chief financial officer, Josh Echols.