Photo by Jermaine Cruickshank


The multi-talented Teri - Leigh Bovell

By Nicole Farrell talks to Teri Bovell

If I had to create a silly rhyme that relates to Terri-Leigh Bovell, it would be: "Teri is so very merry and as sweet as a berry". While this may sound infantile, it is so apt.

Bovell and I met one overcast morning, and as I entered the building at which the interview would be held, her sunny demeanor could not be ignored. She greeted me with a huge smile and exuded such a cheerful nature that it boosted my already upbeat mood.

After talking about her old and new aspirations, I found out that she was also very patient and accommodating since for some weird reason, the recording had failed. So we had to start all over again and she just made light of it — thankfully!

Having worn many hats, including that of director, producer, model, actress, event host and music video 'vixen' — having been in videos for the likes of KMC, 50 Cent, Pharell and Robin Thicke — she now excitedly dons that of bandleader. Working with four directors and a cohesive team, Bovell has formed the new band, 'YUMA' which is actually an acronym for 'Young,Upwardly-Mobile Adults".

Asking about this new chapter in her life, Bovell replied, "I'm glad you said 'chapter' because we are all in this book of what is life and in this chapter, it says, "YUMA". In my book, it entails entertainment. Whatever I do in life must be within the boundaries of entertainment."

For Carnival 2011, YUMA's presentation will be Zodeak and centres around the theme of zodiac signs. There are 13 sections, the 12 zodiac signs and the 13th being the 'controller' of sorts of these signs, the Oracle.

She explained with enthusiasm, "By folklore, the Oracle was sent by the gods to determine or predict the fate of men, so we thought it was important to include this element. Interestingly, as the Oracle predicts the future for people, we want to be the future for prospective masqueraders.

"We wanted a band mainly for people in their 20s and 30s who have a mission to have fun in a small intimate setting with proper service. Although, if the 'young-at-heart' want to join in, fine!" exclaimed Bovell, gesturing excitedly.

Admitting with a raucous laugh that she was mentally debating whether she should have callaloo with her macaroni pie after the interview, she continued, "This is just a great movement to go forward with and I say movement because we definitely want to persuade the youth to believe that we can achieve something together, even if it's in a fun way. It's about thinking, 'I have ambition, I am a leader…and I can have fun. I work hard, why can't I play hard?'"

Seeking to be a source of inspiration to the youths, her mood changed slightly to one of consciousness. "I want to tell youths to be a leader, not a follower. You can do whatever you set your mind to and it's all about what you want for yourself. Be different, be bold, there's nothing wrong with that."

A true member of any team of which she is a part, she spoke highly of her YUMA team. "Everyone is involved in decision-making and other issues. We even had Wayne Berkeley sit in on some discussions and he was very pleased with our vision. The group feeds off of each other and there is an easiness that goes with us. As a matter of fact, I expected this experience to be much more hectic and frustrating but it really hasn't been that bad. The team spirit has definitely helped things flow smoothly."

Graciously enduring round two of the entire interview, Bovell, giggling, said in the midst of answering a question, "Sorry if I don't sound as eloquent as I did the first time around but I just thought of macaroni pie and my thoughts went somewhere else."

While her concentration may have waned at times, her commitment to the masses is very present. "We understand that it's not just about Carnival Monday and Tuesday. It's about the registration, distribution and providing a service to our masqueraders every step of the way."

Zodeak will be launched today at the Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain from 6 p.m. Tickets are available and interested persons may call 799-YUMA for relevant information.

Smiling broadly, she boasted, "The Oval will be transformed into a special arena that is in keeping with our presentation's theme."

After wrapping up the interview, Bovell escorted me outside and as I left, it was impressed upon my mind how much of a personable individual she is, for as I attempted to shake her hand as a gesture of goodbye, she leaned over and gave me a friendly hug and the 'air kiss'.

Bovell is an absolutely focused, charismatic, dynamic presence who exhibits foresight and intelligence. Unlike the Oracle, while she may not be able to predict her fate, she is indubitably determined to make it a positive one.

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