Triple Threat Jonelle McPherson Makes Strides Towards Her Dreams

As Jonelle McPherson was beginning her professional career, she found her bright future suddenly eclipsed by the uncertainty of the global pandemic.

Despite the added challenges she faced, the Edna Manley College graduate continued to shoulder the weight of teaching, entrepreneurship, and acting, refusing to abandon her dreams.

Three years on, Jonelle’s drive and resilience have led to a string of triumphs. She’s now in her third year of teaching theater arts and civics to seventh, eighth, and ninth grade; this year, she launched an online subsidiary, Drip Kicks Jamaica, following the success of her main business, Drip Stop Shop; and, most recently, she starred in a two-part video project for the new Jah Cure singles, “Everything” and “Undeniable,” both directed by one of Jamaica’s leading filmmakers, Sameel “SAMO” Johnson.

Jonelle, a Kingston native, credits much of her success to the purpose she’s found in her work. Teaching began calling to her around the time she was fifteen, shortly after she began leading church lessons on Sundays. “The joy it gave me when the children would reiterate what they learned in Sabbath School, knowing I was the one who taught them, fulfilled me.” She was so moved by it that she decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Education at Edna Manley College.

Of that experience, Jonelle recalls, “They teach you about the ‘hidden curriculum’ at Edna Manley College – that’s the most fulfilling part about teaching. It’s not all about what’s in the curriculum, but [we consider] the values and morals that you can leave with a child, especially in the society we live in. [I’m] teaching them to be kinder, more wholesome individuals that offer some type of good to the world.”

While Jonelle studied at Edna Manley College, she also began selling clothes from her wardrobe, first on campus and then to wider communities in Kingston.

Following her graduation, she moved to Mandeville and decided that, upon her return to Kingston, she would launch Drip Stop Shop, an online clothing brand featuring her own designs. So, in 2021, she launched her first business. This year, she and her business partner expanded with Drip Kicks Jamaica as they work to bring their online apparel to the international marketplace.

More impressive is that, while nurturing her business and teaching career, Jonelle has made time to pursue acting, a passion she’s had since high school. She worked in the theater in college – in lead and minor roles, as a stage manager, and in the costume department, among other positions – before transitioning to music videos after her graduation. She’s since appeared in videos for Kranium, Electric Entourage, Pinkfox, Al Third, and, most recently, Jah Cure.

A few months ago, she received a call to play a lead role in the two music videos for Jah Cure’s latest album, Undeniable, after receiving a referral from a former crew member. It is, perhaps, her most ambitious video project yet: “The concept was different. The dystopian world that the director [SAMO] created for us on set was unlike anything I’ve ever worked on. The styling and costumes were unique. The level of professionalism and organization was also commendable. The creative minds really showed up and showed out.”

And she hopes to take on bigger roles and opportunities from here, some in design and styling. Explaining the key to her success up to now, she says, “From the many things I learned on this journey, I’ll share one thing with you: Even when the odds are 110% against you, it all comes down to one thing. How badly do you want it?”