Beyond the Frames: Brandyn Magee and PBLC WRKS
Brandyn Magee, a humble and talented creative based in Brooklyn is Bohten’s Beyond the Frames feature for September. Brandyn was selected for his innovative ideas, cultural impact and the undeniable intention he puts behind his work. Hailing from the likes of New York, London and Chicago, we introduce the founder of PBLC WRKS - a New York-based creative agency, specializing in curated Black content through film and digital.
It is very clear in your work that your creative eye is heavily influenced by your upbringing. Can you talk to us about where you are from and do you believe that your work is influenced by being a product of your environment growing up?
This is always a tough question because it's no one true answer. I'm out of Brooklyn, NY, but by way of London, ENG and Chicago, IL. I've spent substantial time in all three places and they've all had a profound effect on who I am. Not just as a creative, but as a human. A lot of my content, visual or audio, hovers over the plane of "urban landscape" and I believe that my authenticity and comfort in telling those narratives is a product of my upbringing.
Take us back to the beginning of your career. Where did you study and at what school? What industry were you in then and why did you transition to the arts?
I went to school for Journalism and Media Writing in Baltimore, specifically at the HBCU, Morgan State. The Bears! I've studied architecture and design my entire life, so when it ended up not working out in university? I went with my next love--writing. But I actually didn't end up working in that field. I pivoted into Hospitality & Hotel Management, mostly out of necessity, and worked in that industry for 8+ years after school. One day, I woke up and realized that this wasn't what I wanted to do and quit. I wouldn't recommend anyone else do what I did, but it's worked for me after a long period of figuring things out.
PBLC WRKS is catered towards creating content for Black people, by Black people. What was the concept behind that? Why is it important for you to tell the stories of BIPOC?
Because I'm of the diaspora and it's my duty, if I have the means, to assist in etching the narrative of my people for historical reasons. When I created PBLC WRKS, it was literally to create a medium where I could hear stories and channel them through my filter for an audience that needs to hear stories of triumph or brilliance. People need a push at times to chase after themselves, from their dreams to their desires. However, to hear another person land in their purpose is valuable to any community.
When and where did your self-awareness of Black identity and culture come from?
It came from my time in school. It came from my many instructors, who not only taught English but also the language and culture of my ancestors at the same time. It came from my environment. I grew up in some unapologetically black spaces, good and bad. However, one thing that it wasn't? Devoid of culture and identity. It constantly reminded me of my Blackness and all the things that came with it. I didn't have much of a paternal connection and I grew up in single guardianship for my entire life, so I was left to discover the world and who I was for myself, not filtered through someone else's eye.
What have been some challenges you have faced? What about rewards?
When I went to school for Journalism and pivoted into a real-world industry like management? I didn't realize that the world kind of holds you to it. The path to this point? This "Cosi" that Bôhten is sharing with the world? It came with innumerable amounts of failure and rejection because I didn't know at 18 that I'd want to be a multi-hyphenate in my 30's. So, jobs are asking for a prerequisite that my life simply cannot provide because of a decision I made in my youth? That was frustrating, but the victory is that I'm here and flourishing without them, so I bet on myself and it's working well.
Who/what were some of your influences growing up? What about now?
My influences are my contemporaries. Honestly, the people who stand right beside me and firm in their purpose. I love the aesthetic of Josef Adamu, the approach of Steve Sweatpants, the tenacity and inquisitive nature of Cloud Nai, but the storytelling of Joe-Kennth Museau. Search them and you'll see for yourself. I wish I had a story where someone took me somewhere and it clicked or a person put a camera in my hand and it was off to the races or I was exposed to the arts early to develop a sense of what I liked. I did not, so I have the unique honor of being that child, as a grown man finding his way.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
Don't chase perfection. Perfection holds you hostage and sucks all the air out of the room full of goals and ideas. Pursue consistency. Consistency will fling open the window and allow you flight. Consistency is just doing work, for free or not, and honing yourself and your gifts. I don't care about being perfect, but being consistent is what got me here.