Jasmine, by Michael Davis
About a year and a half ago my very good friend Giselle Fernandez (yes that Giselle Fernandez) called and asked me to dinner because she wanted me to meet a young lady named Jasmine.
Never one to pass up free food, I said yes. Truth be told if Giselle would have said; “Michael, Bigfoot is in my backyard break dancing, can you come over? I think you should meet him.” I would have believed her, dropped what I was doing and gone to her house.
I love Giselle Fernandez. She has been like a sister to me since the moment I met her. In the often BS world of Hollywood she is exactly what she appears to be, a warm, SUPER talented, genuine person. Trust me, that is as rare in Hollywood as a bacon eating Muslim. I still think she was robbed when she was on Dancing With The Stars a few seasons ago.
Giselle’s husband John is also a great guy…dammit!
Anywho, I get to this dinner at this swanky restaurant on Sunset Blvd. and there at Giselle’s table sitting quietly among some real heavy Hollywood playas was Jasmine. Jasmine is very pretty singer from Fiji. Giselle told who ever was sitting next to her (I think he was the head of some mideast oil generating country) to move and I was seated next to Jasmine.
She and I started talking and in the brief hour or so that we spoke I learned a lot about this beautiful young lady. One of the many things I learned was…she did not have a clue, but she was not stupid.
She had come to Hollywood with a real following from Fiji, gotten the attention of a manager and had set out to take the American music world by storm. She told me how her manager was “setting up deals for her.” I asked “what deals?” She said nothing had happened yet but he was working on it.
He was “working on it.”
In Hollywood speak, “working on it” means the check is in the mail, or I’ll call you, or No, you don’t look fat in that dress, or Yes, I will respect you in the morning.
It’s all fantasy, it’s all a dream, and it’s all a lie.
Jasmine was a sweet girl and I wanted to scream at her “You are being played!!” I didn’t. Instead I told her that deals take the time that they take. I also told her that in Hollywood if someone says one thing and it does not happen that’s one thing. Things often don’t happen in Hollywood.
If nothing ever happens and there is always an excuse then you have to consider that the person telling you what is what has no real juice and is simply playing you. Having never met her manger I can only assume that he was a decent guy and for whatever reason things just were not moving the way he said they would be.
Jasmine recounted a few stories in which she was offered some “deals” from other Hollywood types that were suspect, to say the least. These deals came with money and the promise of fame. She turned them down. She was not having any of that. She wanted to be a singer first and be true to her music. I was very impressed with that.
When dinner was over I gave Jasmine my card, wished her well and said goodbye to Giselle, John and the rest of her guests. John is a great guy and a good sport as evident by his getting up and singing at a Karaoke bar I took him and Giselle to.
Yeah, he’s a great guy and a good sport AND he’s married to Giselle Fernandez!!
I think I hate him.
Fast forward some time later, I get a call from Jasmine. She is asking me about the music business and I sense that this young lady has decided to take a stake in her own career. I’m sure that is what Giselle wanted for her in the first place. Jasmine’s manager and she decided to part ways and she was calling me for some counsel. Because of the tragic events that took my sister and grandmother from this world I have a real desire to make sure women in my life are protected. Jasmine came into my life from an introduction from Giselle, which makes her important to me so I listened.
Jasmine’s decision to call me is significant. She’s very young and talented and there are a multitude of parasites in Hollywood who come at people just like her trying to sell a false bill of goods and take advantage. Jasmine fits the profile of someone begging to be taken advantage like OJ fits the profile for stupid.
As I have written before in this column, there is a dangerous trap to Hollywood that many young artists fall into. It’s very easy to see the light of “fame” and cut corners, make horrible decisions and eventually sell your soul. It’s very hard to decide that you want your dreams but not at the expense of your integrity, soul and your vision. Making that decision is much harder than taking the easy route.
Making a decision to be the best actor, actress, dancer or singer before you think about stardom is the hardest decision an artist can make in this town. Jasmine made the decision to be a great singer, not a star, not an American Idol. She made the decision to become a great singer, to care about her craft.
That decision meant, wait for the fame, damn the money, and forget the easy way in, she kept her integrity and called me to help. Why did she trust me?
Two words. Giselle Fernandez.
If I told Giselle I wanted a mole on my neck removed and she vouched for Dracula, I would be holding my collar down so he could get a closer look at my throat. Giselle is simply a good person who can be trusted.
After speaking to Jasmine I made a call to my friend and music mogul Bruce Walker. Bruce and I met at Motown 10 years ago. We became fast friends and partners on a variety of projects. Bruce and his wife Brenda run b-sharp records and are as connected in the music world as water is to wet. To give you an example of just how much juice Bruce has, I called him once at his studio he calmly told me that he had some people over just hanging out. Those “people” included Janet and Michael Jackson, among others. Not to be undone, I told Bruce that I was having lunch with The Pope and Bill Clinton.
Anyway, that’s how Bruce rolls. Now his wife Brenda rolls hard also. How hard? She once ran operations for Death Row records and is still alive. That’s hard.
Before I go on there is something else I have to share with you about Bruce. He is VERY low keyed and laid back.
If Bruce says “Nice.” That’s a RAVE. I mean that’s a fantastic endorsement from him.
I invite Bruce to lunch to meet Jasmine. He’s late. Yes, he’s black. To new readers so am I so I can make that joke. ComicMix used to run my photo next to my byline but women all over the world were fainting at the site of my handsome features. So alas, they had to stop.
While we are waiting at The Cheesecake Factory Restaurant, (I hate that restaurant, but that’s another story) I tell Jasmine not to get her hopes up because Bruce is hardcore when it comes to music. I had listened to Jasmine’s demo tape and I liked it but what do I know? I voted for William Hung on American Idol so I’m no judge of music. Like most of us, I simply know what I like.
I liked Jasmine and her music, and because Giselle was looking out for her that was enough for me to hook her up with my contacts. I’m really very cautious whom I hook up nowadays. I have spent the better part of 20 years building my business infrastructure to a point where I can reach with one call some of the most powerful people in entertainment. Just because you can connect somebody does not mean you should connect somebody. You can do a lot of damage to your career by introducing the wrong person to a trusted contact.
By the time Bruce arrived I hoped that Jasmine’s expectations were not too high. Bruce listened to Jasmine with a stone face while she talked about her music. I started to feel a bit sorry for her. I mean Bruce is laid back to be sure but he looked bored out of his mind. I was beginning to think I had made a big mistake and called in a favor that I should not have. At the end of the meeting Bruce took her demo tape said goodbye, leaving Jasmine and I alone. I told her that the least that would happen is she would get a real assessment from an important producer and she would know where she really stood in terms of her music.
Jasmine smiled (she has a GREAT smile) gave me a hug and we said goodbye.
I work at least 16 hours a day. Sometimes even more. So it’s a pretty good bet that if you call my house at 2am I’m still awake. When the phone rang that morning at 2am, I was not awake. No it was one of those rare times when I decided to get some sleep, so I was not at all prepared for this call:
Hello?? (VERY sleepy)
MICHAEL! IT’S BRUCE! (VERY LOUD)
DUDE, I JUST LISTENED TO JASMINE’S DEMO. THIS GIRL CAN WAIL!
You in jail?
WE HAVE TO TALK! I’LL CALL YOU LATER!
You in jail for killing Darth Vader?
I swear that call went just like that. I could have sworn someone called me from jail and needed my help. Hey that would not have been the first time. So I did what any real friend would do. I went back to sleep.
A few hours later I got another call from Bruce he was as excited as I have ever seen him. Remember I told you he was laid back? Well, not this time. He wanted me to know that he was going to produce Jasmine and he had BIG plans for her.
That was a year ago. In the last year Jasmine has worked as hard as anyone I know on her craft. She is relentless and always full of joy. I’m pretty hard on her as is Bruce and Brenda because she is young and talented and that is a recipe for disaster if you don’t watch out.
Yes, I am pretty hard on her but I’m also very proud of her. I’m prouder still that her single, “I’ll always be there 4 u” was just released on iTunes Dec 4th and her album will be out in April. You should all check it out and buy a copy. 99 cents is a small price to pay to support an artist who did things the right way.
Jasmine’s record is a remarkable feat considering she came from Fiji on her own and made the right decisions and not the right now decisions. Jasmine’s mom and sister have always been in her corner and I’m sure they are even prouder than I am.
This part is just for you Jasmine. Everybody else stop reading!
Jasmine, I know I can be a pill and I’m hard on you sometimes but you have absolutely made me very proud and there are big things in store for you. At some point when you are riding around on your tour bus with a #1 hit and a few Grammys under your belt I hope you look back at these days and think of them with joy.
Oh by the way if you EVER get a big head about success you know I will kill your puppy with my DEATH RAY! What puppy? The stupid little puppy that divas always get and carry around with them.
Remember that…DEAD PUPPY WALKING.
I love you, Jasmine and as your song says, I’ll always be there 4 u…and that puppy, if you get my drift.
Michael Davis is a comics creator and the founder of the Guardian Line series of comics as well as being a television producer and writer. He was a co-founder of Milestone Comics and his artwork has appeared in Wasteland, Green Arrow: Shado, Green Hornet and The Question, among others.