As a child, Jaylin Pressley fell in love with the big screen. Today, the lifelong Throggs Neck resident is living his dream as a movie director.
The 26-year-old recently finished his third film, “Rest of Us,” which was named a finalist in the best drama category in the 2020 Hip Hop Film Festival. On Aug. 20, the flick will be screened virtually.
The festival is worldwide and features more than 200 films, but only 30 advanced to the final round. If Pressley wins, he gets a sit down with Revolt TV who will work with him on a future project.
“Hearing I have the opportunity for that is truly amazing,” he said. “As an independent artist, you always want people to see your work.”
The movie deals with a teen who receives a scholarship for college, but during his senior year, he cuts class and things spiral out of control.
While the movie involves racial tensions between cops and a Black person, he stressed that there’s deeper message. Pressley said that he wants people to see that all young adults face peer pressure and it’s important to stay on the right path.
‘This film isn’t about shooting a kid,” he said.
Pressley finished the film in January and in the spring, heard about the festival while listening to Hot 97. He entered “Rest of Us” in the contest and in June, found out he was among the selections. A week later he received an email saying he was a finalist.
As the time for the festival draws closer, he reminisced about how his love for the big screen started around the age of 7 when he used to go the Magic Johnson Theater in Harlem every week with his grandfather, Edward.
This turned him into a movie buff and one of his favorite films is “Saving Private Ryan.”
“I was always fascinated by movies and telling stories,” he said.
Growing up in the projects in the Throggs Neck Houses, he was surrounded by drugs and violence. But through becoming a director, he is able to show his 7-year-old daughter, Janee, that anything is possible.
“I always tell my daughter she can be whatever she wants to be,” Pressley said.
This story first appeared on our sister publication bxtimes.com.