Award-winning visionary Hezues R, whose worn the hats of creative director, executive producer, screenwriter, music video director, U.S. delegate, and two-time White House honoree, says he is now doing his most important work to date with his upcoming film about mental health, Suicide Saint. The branding and advertising maven, who is also an entrepreneur and keynote speaker, has created successful campaigns for many including Sean “P. Diddy” Combs (Ciroc, Sean John, and DeLeon tequila); Russell Simmons; Mona Scott; CNN; and Boadicea the Victorious perfume, which won the Wallpaper Design award for best fragrance, has been worn by First Lady Michelle Obama, Madonna, and Kate Moss, and was the official fragrance at the Prince William and Kate Middleton Royal Wedding.

“My whole career I’ve spent serving other people and other brands and never focusing on myself and my talents,”  the filmmaker tells So Booking Cool. He describes it as a gift and curse, a gift because of the experience and sensibilities he gained from his career and a curse due to the self-doubt and regret of not pursuing his dream sooner.

“Because I always knew that I was most passionate about directing,” he continues. “And that’s the thing I was most talented at, regardless if I created fragrances or was an executive producer or creative director or did other things that were very successful. For me, I knew those things paled in comparison to the greatness I had as a storyteller. So I’m excited to be getting at it this late.”

Even prior to dedicating himself to filmmaking full-time, the New York native had long since been motivated to make art that inspires social impact. He felt called to do so after overcoming personal hardships. When he was 22 years old, he survived more than 20 gunshots. The life-changing incident propelled him to launch Guns 4 Cameras, a nonprofit organization that encouraged youth to aim and shoot with cameras instead of guns. He got involved with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence; and BET and UrbanWorld film festival enlisted Guns 4 Cameras for a charity partnership.

This was just the beginning for Hezues. He would later start a TV show, open up his own broadcast studio, win a Telly Award, and get selected to represent the United States as a delegate for the global initiative, Ignite the Americas, which saw him design an industry-respected plan aimed at youth involvement in the arts. The then mayor of his hometown, even declared his own day on October 25.

Today, Hezues continues to launch youth empowerment movements. He opened the Hezues R S.I.C. (Social Impact Content) School, a community designed for youth to create content based on issues that directly affect them. Last summer, the program centered young people impacted by gun violence, who took free classes, and, in true Hezues fashion, made a film.

When asked advice for what artists should be doing during these times, Hezues replies: “Create dope shit. Create something inspiring, amazing. Push the envelope. Do something that’s never been done before. Just create something epic and really think about the idea of creating a masterpiece. Don’t think about doing a million projects and making all this money. Just think about: what is your voice, what is your passion, what is your purpose, what is the greatest thing that you can give this world as an artist with the perspective of whatever field and just make something amazing.”

Check out the interview to learn more about Hezues, Suicide Saint, his thoughts and insight on mental health as well as mental health vs. mental illness; his thoughts on art and algorithms; his new ongoing six-part series, Real Talk About Mental Health and Suicide Saint, some of the upcoming episodes including the first one, which featured conversation with the actors, today’s episode with the movie’s sponsors, and more. For more information, visit his official website.

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