Mervin Spence: From ‘wut­liss bwoy’ to suc­cess story

Jamaica Gleaner - - SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH COUNCIL - Ce­celia Camp­bell Liv­ingston Gleaner Writer ru­ral@glean­erjm.com

IF EVER the odds were stacked against some­one, it would be Mervin Spence. Grow­ing up in Kingston, com­mon words such as ‘wut­liss’ ‘good for noth­ing’, ‘idler’ and other de­grad­ing terms were the norm for him.

Af­ter roam­ing the streets as he termed it, “look­ing for com­fort” with fel­low youth like him­self, those terms came from adults in the com­mu­nity he lived at the time.

But from some­where deep within, Spence some­how knew he was bet­ter than the way he was be­ing re­garded.

To­day, he is a mul­ti­tal­ented, in­no­va­tive, artis­tic young pro­fes­sional with wide-rang­ing skills. He has been craft­ing his skills through di­rect­ing, set de­sign­ing, stage de­sign­ing and light­ing op­er­at­ing. He is also an ar­chi­tec­tural 3D tech­ni­cian (draughts­man). He teaches, in­volved in pup­petry and mim­ing and he is also is in­volved in con­struc­tion pro­ject man­age­ment, act­ing in ar­eas such as movies – both short and fea­ture films, plays, mu­sic videos, tele­vi­sion and ra­dio com­mer­cials and po­etry.

Spence shared with Ru­ral Xpress the real rea­son be­hind his drive to suc­ceed and his hav­ing his fin­ger in al­most ev­ery pie

“Over the years, my full abil­ity has not been utilised and my de­sire is to help those per­sons who are at a cross­road, to pre­serve their dreams in the midst of dif­fi­cul­ties. I also hope to spread pos­i­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion, un­der­stand­ing, and in­spi­ra­tion to the world,” he said.

He uses a quote from Na­tional Hero Marcus Gar­vey, “There is no height that a per­son can­not reach by us­ing the in­tel­li­gence and in­no­va­tion of his own mind,” as his in­spi­ra­tion.

Spence has been work­ing that ‘mind’ over the years at in­sti­tu­tions such as Ex­cel­sior Com­mu­nity Col­lege, School of Cos­me­tol­ogy, HEART Trust/NTA, Edna Man­ley Col­lege, School of Drama – achiev­ing a cer­tifi­cate in the­atre arts – Vo­ca­tional Train­ing Devel­op­ment In­sti­tute, Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, and He­riot-Watt Univer­sity in Scot­land, United King­dom, where he earned a bach­e­lor’s of sci­ence de­gree in con­struc­tion pro­ject man­age­ment.

Spence said though be­ing ne­glected and fac­ing many dis­ap­point­ments and be­ing ill­treated, he has al­ways kept the faith and mo­ti­vated him­self.

One key thing Spence en­sured is that he never had time to idle.

“When­ever I had free time on my hands, I used it to ed­u­cate my­self some more. I didn’t want the devil find­ing time for ‘my idle hands’,” he quipped.

Fi­nan­cially-chal­lenged, Spence said he forged ahead by do­ing jobs such as bar­ber­ing, cut­ting down trees to make char­coals and sell­ing the fine art paint­ing he made.

In 2000, he em­braced Christ as his Saviour and got bap­tised – and that made him even more de­ter­mined to cap­i­talise on his God-given tal­ents.

He was very in­volved in the church, the Yal­lahs Bap­tist Church, af­ter his mother re­lo­cated to St Thomas.

Spence said his life is about liv­ing the most im­por­tant man­date set forth in the Bi­ble – love.

“Love must be spread through­out the world to ac­com­plish peace and pros­per­ity, not greed and self­ish­ness.”

Spence will be the first to ac­knowl­edge that grow­ing up in poverty is not an ex­cuse to get in­volved in il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, or to lose your way.

His mother strug­gled to take care of him as she had life hard, and with many look­ing down on him and pre­dict­ing his fu­ture, he beat the odds.

He is now reach­ing out to those who are at a cross­road, or dis­il­lu­sioned with their lives, to hang in there.

“Just re­mem­ber, no mat­ter who you are, you are one of God’s cre­ations — a won­der­fully made per­son on this planet earth. There­fore, you must con­sider your­selves as be­ing blessed, de­spite the fi­nan­cial strug­gles, dif­fi­cul­ties, skin tone, place of birth, or parental back­ground. I am here to let you know that noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble.”

Born in Kingston, the 36year-old spent most of his teenage years on the streets as his mother had very lit­tle to take care of him.

Now liv­ing in Longville Park and work­ing in Claren­don, Spence’s great­est de­sire is to im­pact other lives and show them there is no ob­sta­cle too great that faith in God can­not over­come.

A hus­band and a father, he has been do­ing com­mer­cials for a num­ber of com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Dig­i­cel, Ja­maica Pub­lic Ser­vice, Vic­to­ria Mu­tual Build­ing So­ci­ety, Na­tional In­tegrity Author­ity and KFC since last year.

He also gives mo­ti­va­tional talks at schools and churches, es­pe­cially in Claren­don.

SPENCE HARD LIFE

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