By Robert Serge Saint-Pé
Jackie Russ might not be a familiar face, but he is definitely a household name in Liberia’s entertainment industry. He is the creative mind behind some of Liberia’s biggest and most memorable music videos. The west-African native is responsible for some of Liberia’s most remarkable musical films, from Christoph featuring Margas “Hold Your Polaruh” and C-Jay’s “My Vow” to TeddyRide and DJ Blue’s 2020 MTN Liberia Music Awards nominated song, “Pray For Me”.
With a seven-year experience, the visual artist whose real name is Alex Nyenga thrives to elevate the entertainment bar of Liberian musical videos while cementing his name amongst the elites of entertainers.
Born in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia on May 14, 1990 to a Grebo father and Kru mother, he originates from the south eastern portion of the West African nation. Like many regular Liberian kids, he grew up with fewer opportunities. His parents struggled like many others to provide for their family, and there were even times he was sent home from school for owing tuition.
Nyenga started his entertainment career in 2007, first working as a music producer using his bedroom as a studio, and like most sound engineers he also became a musician. The love for producing music along with his knowledge in information technology, and his ability to learn fast gave him a curiosity thirst that eventually led to the birth of his videography career in 2013. With the knowledge received from creating audio and visual arts, he opened his own production company, Massive Media Concepts.
Music has always been a part of his family. His father is a huge lover of reggae music, so he grew up listening to songs by Bob Marley and Lucky Dube. The presence and influence of his father encouraged him to follow his dreams and allowed him to be the productive person he is today.
In 2006, Jackie Russ completed his primary education at the Saint Matthew United Methodist School, Logan Town, and three years later in 2009 he graduated from the International Institute of Computer Studies and Manpower Development (IICS/MPD) were he bagged two diplomas in computer science and computer engineering.
Aside from getting behind the camera for some of Liberia’s best visual records from 2013 till 2020, Jackie Russ has also produced several songs and served as mentor for many Liberian artistes— his career has taken him to the heights of the trade, producing songs and directing videos for C.I.C, Stunna, PCK & L Frankie, Faithvonic, MC Caro, Soulfresh, and multiple audios and clips for his younger brother, Christopher Nyenga, alias Christoph The Change.
With over 600 plus songs and 120 musical clips produced for others, Jackie Russ has cemented his name into Liberia’s entertainment workforce. He has also worked behind the scenes as a motivational figure for the success of many other Liberian artistes. From the experiences gathered from working with other people, he then decided to reciprocate that same energy into himself. The Logan Town raised now has about 40 plus songs and 3 music videos under his musical career’s belt, which includes his 2020 debut album with 22 songs, Magic SZN.
In terms of accolades and recognition, he has won four awards and received eight nominations from the last 4 years. Seven of his nominations came from Video Director of the year. His 8th nomination came from Magic SZN being nominated for album of the year by the 2020 MTN Liberia Music Awards.
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Jackie Russ was nominated for Video Director of the year by the 2017 Tunes Liberia Music Awards, 2019 Liberian Entertainment Awards, and most recently the 2020 MTN Liberia Music Awards. He was the recipient of the 2018 and 2019 MTN Liberia Music Awards, along with the 2018 and 2019 Tunes Liberia Music Awards.
Apart from being the creative mind behind most of the fans’ favourite Liberian music videos, the C.E.O of Massive Media Concepts has grown his brand to recording a couple of short films documentary and publicity videos. In 2007, he had the privilege to work at the highest level in Liberia, serving as an official videographer for the Republic of Liberia, at the UN General Assembly in New York, USA.
Also in 2017, Jackie Russ was contracted to film on the last days of the then president of Liberia, H.E. Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) along with her delegation. The trip lasted from the 17th of September to October 2nd, and was geographically held in Amsterdam, New York, Washington DC, Nairobi, Accra, and Monrovia.
From his crafty storylines, amazing camera movements, color grading skills, and knowledge from making documentaries, Jackie Russ has put himself in a class of his own, so the idea of producing a full length film is not far from the sight of the 30-year old videographer.
As a protégé of the slums community in Logan Town City, the story of Jackie Russ shows that determination pays off, and that anyone can achieve great things once they have passion for their crafts. Over the years, he believed in himself when he had nothing but words of encouragement from his family, and that did not stop him from focusing on delivering the best quality in a difficult and inexperienced environment.
Jackie Russ grew up with little opportunities and had nothing but passion and love for music, so to see his passion paying the bills, he considers himself as a middle class person who is able to afford all of his basic needs. With his stardom popularity, all he can do now is reflect on how difficult it was receiving professional equipment, and how it was working on poor quality instruments to provide the best of audio and visual productions.
Outside of his cinematography and musical career, Jackie Russ is a professional tattooist and the father of three children, two boys and a girl. If he had not ventured into the world of entertainment, he might have been an accountant – a job inspired by his father.
Like many African entertainers, Jackie Russ is faced with battling piracy on a constant level, while the lack of investment in the entertainment industry is the major backlash as to why Liberia is not competing internationally with other developed and developing nations.