Jay Highsmith is a man who has transformed calamity into serenity.
Once a bullied child, Highsmith became a youth pastor who is as gentle as he is creative through his company, Jay Highsmith Productions.
“Video editing is very therapeutic for me. I can get lost in a zone and work for hours. I find peace and enjoyment in editing videos,” said Highsmith, a 35-year-old married to Shanelle and father to 19-month-old daughter, Jordin.
“I’m a husband, father, photographer, videographer, video editor, content creator, interviewer, and so much more. My main clientele is families. My goal for my business has always been to create and capture memories, laughs, smiles and true joy for generations to come.”
Highsmith shared his spiritual journey with Zenger.
Zenger: Are there any particular projects you’re most proud of?
Jay Highsmith: The work that I’m most proud of is my series “The Christian Creative.” It’s an interview series that promotes, highlights and encourages Christian creativity. It was started with the vision to put a spotlight on the creativity of those who are creative in whatever field or space they’re in.
I’ve done events like Sharon’s birthday, and weddings like Eric and Stephanie’s, and Kyle and Jasmine’s. I’ve interviewed comedians like Morgana, and poets like Kezia, as well as photographers, videographers, chefs, podcasters and kids.
To date, I’ve conducted 34 interviews that have been posted on YouTube. I have almost 100 videos on YouTube, but those 34 interviews are the foundation of my channel and are special to me.
Zenger: How was your courtship with Shanelle and your relationship with her parents?
Highsmith: Shanelle and I officially met through a Bible study in April 2014, though there were people who tried hooking us up a couple of months prior. We were friends for a year and a half, then dated for six-and-a-half months before getting married. Shanelle and I have been married for five-and-a-half years. Our daughter, Jordin, is 19 months going on 19 years! I have a great relationship with my in-laws, Herbert and Tonie Geddis.
I couldn’t have inherited a better set of parents. They have been such a blessing to us throughout our marriage. We lived with them for two-and-a-half years before moving out and getting our own place. Living with them was very beneficial because it allowed us to save money. We purchased our first home in October 2020. It was truly an amazing feeling once we reached the finish line.
Zenger: I understand that Shanelle has a business as well?
Highsmith: My wife, Shanelle, is a foodie! Period, point blank, she loves food. She loves to explore different restaurants and cities, and loves trying new food.
She recently created a food blog on Instagram where she goes to local restaurants she’s never been to, explores the menus and highlights the food she loves on her page. Her page is quickly growing too.
Zenger: How did your relationship with your parents shape you into the man you are?
Highsmith: My parents are John Highsmith and Brenda Redman. My relationship with them helped shape me into who I am today because through them, I learned the value of hard work and determination.
They both worked long hard hours, while also doing their best to tend to us and keep us active as kids. They wanted the best for us, and I want the best for my family as well.
I have five siblings — three brothers and two sisters. My dad had two from a previous marriage. I’m the oldest of four, and the third of six. Having younger siblings made me very protective, and I still am today, but not nearly as bad.
My younger sister, Michelle, says I’m overprotective because I always made sure the boys stayed away from her, or was always ready to fight a boy because of them messing with her. I just didn’t want anything happening to them. My childhood was fun, but it was also rough.
It was fun because I was always active, involved in different sports, karate, swimming, summer camps and things like that. I played basketball, T-ball … as well as participated in band, playing the clarinet.
Zenger: What part of your childhood was rough?
Highsmith: I was bullied until I was about 13 or 14. When I was a kid, I was short and small. I don’t know if I stood 5 feet tall before I was in seventh grade. I didn’t have my growth spurt until the end of eighth grade, when I grew by about a half-foot, to 5-foot-7 or 5-foot-8.
I had older kids that pushed me around in school, teased me and called me names, and when I spoke up, they threatened to beat me up and tried to jump me. For a while I was scared to go to the playground in my neighborhood because I didn’t want to be seen and jumped by them. In eighth grade going into ninth grade, I grew. I got taller and got some size on me.
I told myself I wouldn’t let anyone pick on me again. I had three younger siblings to look after, and I didn’t want anything happening to them, which is why I became so protective. Early into ninth grade, we moved to a new neighborhood, and from that moment on, I slowly became the man I am today.
Zenger: Did you attend and/or graduate from college?
Highsmith: I went to a technical school right out of high school that was a 10-month program. I graduated with a degree in graphic design. Since then, I’ve taken classes at the local community college for things such as creative writing, photography and videography. One day, I think It’d be nice to get my degree.
Zenger: What was your path into entrepreneurship?
Highsmith: I think my life experiences and spiritual foundation more than anything have influenced my decision to become an entrepreneur. I honestly hated school growing up. I always felt like I learned more through my own experiences or through the experiences of others.
My spiritual foundation has been the basis of me becoming an entrepreneur. I started my photography business in May 2015 because of my love and passion for it. I titled it Jay Highsmith Photography. In 2019, I started doing more video work and transitioned it into Jay Highsmith Productions to encompass a larger umbrella of work to fall under it.
Zenger: Does your business in any way serve as a therapeutic method of channeling or gaining peace and serenity, and is any aspect of it geared toward inspiring change?
Highsmith: I love shooting video, and I guess in a way it is therapeutic. I love capturing people in their happiest of moments. It always brings a smile to my face when I watch the videos at home while editing them.
My goal for YouTube has always been to inspire others through the stories of others … even through my own stories. I want to inspire others and hopefully through my life and videos, lead them to Christ.
Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Judith Isacoff
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