“The Chosen Ones” Pt. 6 – Juice Harris, Filmmaker & Creative Entrepreneur
We all have our “why” behind what drives us to pursue our deepest passions, and for 29-year-old, filmmaker and creative entrepreneur, Juice Harris, his “why” just so happened to be his namesake.
What lies behind his self-titled brand, JUICE, is an encrypted message for his personal mantra: just a unique individual creating empowerment. A motto that weaves both his unapologetic creative outlook and hybrid-like brand logo into one, “I don’t really know what it is because it’s a lot of different things; it’s kinda a chameleon of sorts and just goes to show that anyone can be ‘JUICE.’”
Having navigated between the different worlds of his southern roots, from Clemson, SC where he calls home and attended college for a while, on to Virginia Tech where he played on a football scholarship, Juice soon found himself drawn back home to complete his Fine Arts degree at Clemson University. “The spaces that I find myself in, - being the only Black male most of the time - I have to blend in and stand out at the same time,” he shares, echoing the experience of most Black men in American; straddling a double consciousness that affects how they see themselves in their own eyes and through the eyes of their peers, family members, employers, and professors.
Now located in Los Angeles, California to complete his Master’s in Film at the University of Southern California, Juice is using his love for film to dismantle the stereotypes associated with Black men and women on the big screen. Ironically, his inspiration comes from California natives like 2Pac, F. Gary Gray and Black Panther director, Ryan Coogler, “I wish people would stop comparing me to him,” he says half-jokingly.
BTS from Juice's short film, "Josh"
With his many creative talents, Juice’s goal is simple, “I just want to empower people to be themselves unapologetically, think outside the box, and use what they have to create what they want to see.” It’s one thing to say it, it’s another to actually do it, and let’s just say, Juice is leading by example.
AA: When people talk about South Carolina, it never seems to be in the best light. Some say we’re behind on everything or that there’s simply nothing to do. What’s your take on how South Carolina is perceived?
JH: I don’t think it’s perceived correctly by people who aren’t from there. You have to be there to experience what people are doing, how people are putting in work, and how people trying to change the culture for the better. If you don’t witness it firsthand, you’re going to base your point of view off of an old perspective. Different people are putting out different things and it’s creating this whole movement that compliments everybody. So you have to be here to see it and I think it’s headed in the right direction.
I feel like there’s a stereotype surrounding Black-owned businesses. Do you think Black folks have difficulty supporting Black businesses because of this stereotype? Or is this a shifting perspective?
Do I think we get a bad rep? Yes, I do. Do I think it’s warranted? No. So it’s two sides to this. I think Black-owned businesses don’t get supported because people think that just because they know the owner, they shouldn’t charge what they charge or run their business the way they do. Or you should just take their suggestions about things because the can get in contact with you easily. But what people don’t understand is that with my brand, it’s exclusive.
The packaging is different, the detailing is different, and this stuff costs money. So you can’t expect me to just charge you $10 for a t-shirt that cost me $20 to make. If the tissue paper is custom, the tag on the inside is custom, if I’m overnight shipping it to you, that all adds up to a quality product. That’s why you won’t ever hear anything bad about my product because I stand by my product. So sure, I do feel like Black-owned businesses get a bad rep but there are some that don’t live up to the quality that you should have as a business owner.
How can Black folks improve when it comes to this type of tug that we experience as supporting Black-owned businesses and also being Black business owners?
We can’t be afraid to share each other’s work. It doesn’t cost me a dime to retweet somebody’s product. It doesn’t cost me anything to double tap a photo or to shout-out a brand if I’m pleased with the product. Word of mouth is still the best marketing strategy. If you have someone raving about your work, you’re good. You just gotta be consistent and keep them there.
We also can’t be afraid to work with each other. It’s not going to take money out my pocket if I show you how I did something. But a lot of people are too afraid to give out certain information and help someone who’s trying to come up in that same way. We should be more collaborative and supportive. It doesn’t cost anything to show love.
So I couldn’t help but notice that you have a lot of post about Black women on your page, showing support to them. Where does your admiration for Black women come from and how do you view their contribution to society?
My admiration for Black women comes from Black women. I’m inspired by Black women. Just the way y’all move and interact. With my mom, sisters and niece, I hit them up just to say that I love them. And I got that from my dad, seeing the way he treats my mom and his mother. I just get it from a lot of different places because y’all just don’t get love a lot of the time. People say y’all loud and argumentative, but that’s not my experience with Black women.
You know that song by Andre 3000, Prototype?
Yasssss, I love that song.
That’s how I feel about Black women. Y’all are the standard. And everyone’s trying to be like y’all and I’m like, “How you gone disrespect the original?” As a man, I know that there are some things I’m guaranteed to, and if I can bring a Black woman up with me and show some love and support, I’m going to do that all day. No question about it.
On behalf of all Black women, we appreciate you *laughs*. Because as you know, a lot of the messaging Black women get about how we’re received by Black men, nowadays, comes from social media. So would you say that the Black men in your circle share this same sentiment?
As for me and my circle, we respect Black women around here. But what’s perceived on social media, I believe that’s true as well, that’s just not my personal experiences. But it also depends on where you’re looking and where you want to focus your attention.
I have this shirt that says, “For Black female consumption only,” and I wore it this week and this guy said it was “racist.” [When I asked him] why it was racist, he didn’t have a reason. I don’t understand why when someone is uplifting and praising a Black woman, everybody got a problem with it. I don’t ever see it being a problem when another race wants to stick with and f--- with their own. So yeah, Black women get all the love from me.
How do you reflect this through your work as a filmmaker?
One of the things I’m working on with this draft is how I’m addressing the Black women who are in my story. I’m making sure to give them jobs, friends, and their own personal lives outside of their husbands and kids. When I was getting feedback on my work, I swear to God my professor said, “Why don’t you have one of them on drugs like in [the movie] Moonlight? Just make it really hard for her.” And I was like: this has nothing to do with my story! Why make it harder for her?
What’s the last movie you saw with a positive Black female lead? *I struggle to answer* See? So if I’m in this position, I want to help change the narrative.
For more information on Juice Harris and his endeavors, follow him everywhere per the links below! Leave a comment and show some love Black male creativity! If you’ll be in the Richmond, California area on July 28th, check him out during his art show with Trap X Art. He’ll also be releasing more short films and clothing from his JUICE line very soon, so stay tuned!