The next time you happen to watch a hip-hop video,
look closely at the girls dancing and strutting their
stuff in the background. One of them may just be Teri-Leigh
Bovell, a Trinidadian currently resident in Diego
Bovell, a pumpkin-vine relation to Olympic
Bronze medallist swimmer George Bovell III, is quietly
making a name as a favourite to appear in videos alongside
multi-platinum selling rappers and singers.
She has appeared in 50 Cents and The Games
This Is How We Do video for The Games debut
single and the I Aint Heard Of That video from
new artiste Slim Thug featuring Pharrell, the more
visible half of uber-producers The Neptunes.
A couple of weeks ago she returned from the Dominican
Republic where she appeared in another Pharrell production,
this time starring Robin Thicke, the latest singing
sensation, for his debut song Wanna Love You.
Next month, Bovell is due to perform in another video
by a noted actor/singer but she declined to reveal
more details for fear of jinxing the opportunity.
am really excited about that one, she said in
an interview at her home.
Bovell appears mostly in videos by American artistes, her
entry into the world of music videos started with Bajan
year there was a casting for Rupees video Tempted
to Touch and I said nah, thats probably some
hoochie thing, but my cousin persuaded me to try out,
Bovell was cast and the director, impressed with her look
and the way she danced, hired her for The Games video.
was amazing. That was my first time in Los Angeles. I couldnt
believe I was meeting them. Theyre quieter in real
life, a lot nicer than they appear on television,
she said of 50 Cent and The Game, who are notorious for
their gangsta image.
Asked how she felt participating in a video culture that
critics see as derogatory to black women, in particular,
Bovell said she does not do anything she feels will compromise
the This Is How We Do video, I was a bit sceptical. The
director asked me what I wanted to do. He had two scenes
in mind for me, one was crawling on a bar and the other
was inside a canary cage. The scene I ended up doing was
sitting on a couch, bobbing my head, she said with
dad said whatever you do, keep your integrity intact,
said Bovell, who turned down a Kanye West video because
she didnt feel comfortable about it. I heard
it was just girls, girls, girls and I didnt feel it
was for me.
In the Pharrell and Slim Thug video, which she played for
WomanWise, Bovell, hair blown straight, is clad in a white
bikini walking and dancing alongside a pool.
Bovell, who also tours with Rupee as one of his dancers
and has been to Spain, France, Japan and London with him,
is not a trained dancer.
have no background in dance but I just love music. I dont
like choreographed moves but I like to freestyle, feeling
your own vibe. Thats what I love, she said.
The 22-year-old said her video experiences have inspired
her to establish a casting agency to provide talent, be
it models, singers or dancers, for directors and producers.
The company may start operations early 2006 but already
Bovells services are being demanded. She said she
has been asked to provide eight models for a video by rapper
Q-Tip. For Robin Thickes video, Bovell took two other
local girls to perform with her.
are so talented but our talent is not being tapped,
In addition to her already busy schedule, Bovell, who fulfilled
her childhood dream of being a star by modelling and appearing
in advertisements for Royal Extra, TSTT and Coca Cola, is
also a sales and marketing manager for Blue Hummingbirds
Productions. The company sells advertisements for publications
locally, regionally and internationally.
Bovell is currently working with a client in St Kitts and
flies there frequently. In addition to all that, she is
also studying tourism management at the T&T Hospitality
Institute and fits in classes when she can.
With all her overseas engagements, the longest Bovell has
spent in T&T in recent times is two weeks. Exciting,
yes but a little stressful on her almost four-year relationship
with popular local entertainer Kees Dieffenthaler. The two
met when they were children.
Dieffenthaler lived close to her cousins at Palmiste,
I moved to Tobago for seven years and when I came back,
we used to see each other around. He said when he saw me
he say, this girl grow up nice, she laughed.
Bovell said early in the relationship, she had difficulty
adjusting to all the female groupies the handsome former
Imij and Co singer attracted. But now its all good
and she advises him on his career based on information she
picks up from the industry heavyweights she interacts with.
If her career demands it, said Bovell, she may relocate
to another country but until then she intends to stay home,
close to her family and to the beaches and food she loves
those aspiring to appear in music videos, Teri-Leigh Bovell
has the following advice:
* The advertising industry is a good start. The exposure
may open doors.
* The Internet is a valuable source of information.
* Look for good representation.
* Keep your ear to the ground.
* Love yourself.
* Never act like a diva. Dont pretend to be bigger
than you are. The people who help you up will help you when
you are down because you cant stay up forever.