In a world that often pushes dreamers to have one aspiration and muse, Howard University television and film sophomore Jacob Bellevue is trailblazing his own path to success. As a model, director, content creator and more, Bellevue is working to show the world not only how limitless he is but offer an authentic reflection for marginalized communities through film and media.
Born to two Haitian immigrants who settled in the creative enclave of Montclair, New Jersey, Bellevue grew up in the company of artists. His father, a scriptwriter, poet and director, offered Bellevue an early introduction to the arts and served as a guide to what his future could look like.
“At first, I was the type of person that tried everything I could, to not be like my dad. But literally, I am just like him because everything that I’m doing right now, that’s what he was doing when he was younger too,” Bellevue shared. “I went to a Montessori school, so I think that kind of aided in my creativity because …we had opportunities to express our creativity [through] different activities… so it kind of put me in a different space.”
Although his early education and home life planted the seeds for his aspirations, Bellevue describes his passion for modeling and film truly sprouting with his move to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
“When I got there, it was kind of like, huh, I didn’t really like it as much, but I feel like that was pivotal in my development as a creative…I needed to find some way to express myself,” he said.
Bellevue explored his craft throughout middle and high school, first on fellow students shooting small projects and photos for Instagram, and then on himself. It was here that Bellevue honed his skills in front of and behind the lens and became a talent that did it all, and he hasn’t stopped since.
From walking in DC fashion week, partnerships with skincare brands like USTAWI, and working on an up-and-coming documentary Life at Howard as a producer and second assistant director, Bellevue has become a multi-hyphenate powerhouse. As he progresses in his artistry, he plans to create diverse stories that are rooted in the humanity and variety of the Black experience.
“I could barely see any stories that I related to. Being a child of an immigrant, Black queer… the intersectionality, I couldn’t find those stories. And I’m tired of seeing the same stories told of the same tropes about black people, the typecasts – I’m so tired of seeing it,” Bellevue expressed. “We have a plethora of stories to tell about black people. For white people, you can see those everyday stories – a normal, coming of age, just simple, not anything traumatic or crazy – but for Black people it always is crazy. We could never have a simple story…stories covering multiple things like sexual identity, mental health, all of that.”
“The stories I want to tell are the stories that make us human…we need to have our stories told from our perspective.”
Following in the footsteps of his icons Issa Rae, Jordan Peele and Berry Jenkins, Bellevue is not content to simply maintain the status quo; rather, he sees himself as an agent of change who seeks to inspire transformation within the film industry.
Through his work, Bellevue aims to share this spirit with his audience and share what he has. Working as an assistant on the Ujima Film and Stage festival, to modeling for TruFace, an African clothing brand with pieces featured in Black Panther Wakanda Forever, Bellevue continues to be a champion for Black stories and artists. To this, he sees it as a part of his purpose and moral obligation.
“I think it’s my moral obligation… I was born to change the world. So I’m dimming my light and I’m doing myself a disservice – I’m doing the world a disservice – if I don’t make a change…I want people to take away from my work the power of authenticity…I want them to be inspired to create,” stated Bellevue.
Through it all Bellevue sees the power of Black creatives as agency, and names his Black art trailblazing.
“For me, being a Black creative is taking control over the narrative,” Bellevue said. “My art allows me to tell stories, and inspire and represent a multitude of people. My creativity has no bounds, and I think that’s the purest thing about it…my Black art is trailblazing…It transcends what we expect…[and] it’s going to inspire new stories to be told.”
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman