"I didn't know what I wanted to do when I first went to college," Thabi Moyo, 26, says, reminiscing about the spiral of events that led her to her current jobs as festival coordinator of the Crossroads Film Festival and cultural manager for the Canton Visitor's Bureau.
The constantly evolving artist and Jackson native graduated from Murrah High School in 1999, and left her hometown to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.: "I didn't know much about Howard until my senior year. I'd always said I was going to go to Jackson State, but when I learned more about Howard, I knew it was for me."
Moyo took film classes her freshmen year at Howard, and the courses ignited undiscovered passions. She says she knew she'd found her calling by her sophomore year, and the budding filmmaker declared a major in film and education.
"I didn't take basic photography until my senior year. It was one of those classes that everyone wanted to take. But by the time I took it, I already knew how to frame a shot and all that, so it just confirmed for me that I was doing what I was meant to be doing," she says.
Though she loved D.C., Moyo decided to leave the culture-saturated nation's capital where she'd whet her vocational appetite and grown personally to move back to Jackson. She says the cost of living was too much for her, a recent college grad, without any significant job leads.
But moving wasn't the end of her cultural exposure. "I came home and saw a copy of the (Jackson) Free Press, and knew that I needed to find a way to work there," she says. "It reminded me of what I'd just left." She began an internship soon thereafter.
During her time at the Free Press, Moyo says she not only had the opportunity to realize more of her "God-given gift" as a photographer, funded by an AAN diversity grant, but she also did things she never expected to be able to do.
"I got to interview Nikki Giovanni and Thelonious Monk Jr. I was so nervous," she says. "I was so nervous (former JFP assistant editor) Casey (Parks) had to type for me. I couldn't ask questions and listen and type at the same time," the spoken-word artist and jazz-lover says.
By the time Moyo had finished interning with the JFP, her determination to do something that combined cultural edification and artistry was strengthened. "I'm doing what I want to do right now. I love it," she says with a satisfied smile.
Catch Thabi doing what she loves at the Crossroads Film Festival this weekend, March 29 through April 1.
Thabi is a Jackson treasure with tons of talent! A very inspiring person...
Ohhhh, so THAT'S where she's been. You go, girl!
We are lucky to have thabi. She is very effective at organizing people and recognizing what needs to be said to help get everyone started.
- daniel johnson