The afternoon sun was barely visible behind a barrage of bright, white clouds, but the unbearable 3 p.m. warmth was a dreadful reminder of its presence. However, the sweltering heat had no effect on the bustling, prepubescent faces of the “Do-Re-Mi Daycare” after-school students as they marched down the path towards the back entrance. A non-uniformed face stood out amongst the children, herding them safely into the building and out of the persistent blaze.
Inside, he was surrounded by their boisterous voices; some recanting their day and others complaining about their pestering peers. His expression was unreadable. Whether he was bored or entertained could not be discerned, but he met each of their eyes and listened intently to their stories with the same focus he gave his craft.
For Virgin Islander, Rashad Martinez, each task given to him is met with diligence, pride and unmitigated focus whether it is photography or managing after-school children.
“He’s passionate about whatever he’s into,” said his mother and owner of “Do-Re-Mi,” Patricia Martinez. After a slight laugh, she added, ‘He duh go in’. “If he’s into something he does it whole soul,” she said.
Martinez was privileged to grow up in both the Virgin Islands and the U.S mainland—New York—embedding in him the ideals of the big city and a small island perspective.
He has built a career in videography, photography, and a video production/clothing business—Forever Kings (FK)—that may have been just a dream for a young boy growing up in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The brand’s name was the result of a phrase that epitomizes Martinez’s belief that he will always be a king and strives to dedicate his life to that standard.
So why is he at a daycare center? Martinez is not only a production assistant, videographer, entrepreneur, and photographer. He is also an after-school teacher.
Martinez is the youngest of two children and he credits the positive examples set by his sibling, his parents, and other members of his family for his growth and accomplishments today.
“My mother has been very supportive in everything that I do. In fact, I persuaded her that if she bought me my first camera I would be able to pay her back in a year,” Martinez said. Cheerfully, he added, “I never did and she never asked, but I made enough to pay her back.”
Martinez also attributes his achievements to being persistent and working hard. Despite leaving college nearing its end, Martinez held no worries about his future as he was already invested in his current field.
Fortunate to be exposed to videography through working along Garry Anthony at TV 2 so early in his career, Martinez felt he gained all the necessary experience that he was not receiving in the classroom.
” When I started at the University of the Virgin Islands I had already started TV2 and was studying chemical engineering. I also got a job with tempo as a production assistant and produced a show called ‘Cross Caribbean countdown’,” he said. ” I did a year and half on each island before I realized it wasn’t what I needed.”
According to Rashad, the outdated equipment–the few that were there–was more of a hindrance than helpful. Working in the actual field was more beneficial than attending classes where things didn’t add up.
Martinez also attributes a great deal of success in his careers to his time spent at TV 2, great friends and family, and Michael Nissman from whom he picked up photography.
Outside of the workplace, many natives consider Rashad to be an overall friendly guy with a laid back attitude. Others regard him as antisocial, arrogant, and island famous due to his widely popular photography and connections to local and international talent. Rashad, on the other hand, believes that he’s just another regular guy.
“I think people are under the impression that I think more of myself than I actually do,” Martinez said.
Rashad isn’t antisocial, exactly. Observing him at Turtles Deli during a shoot for local TV series “Best Bites,” he exhibits some normality in his behavior. He takes breaks from his unwavering focus and the absolute precise line-up of his camera to joke with his colleagues. His grin has a quick trigger and he’ll engage anyone who happens to be around. The staff consider him family almost and notes that he is there almost every day. During the shoot, Chef Steve Reynolds acknowledged that the dish being prepared for that episode–sesame encrusted tuna with Chinese seaweed and rice–was actually Rashad’s favorite dish.
However, during the interview, as our conversation grows longer his answers get a bit shorter, and his interest in the questions begins to dissipate. He begins to put back up a guard and his emotions are wiped off his sleeve again.
“He’s very private with himself,” his mother said. “He has to know you really well to let his guard down, and even then he puts it back up. It’s like starting over every time.”
She also noted that while others think highly of him, he used to have a hard time believing in himself; a trait even Rashad confessed.
“I had low self-esteem growing up, but that’s over with, ” Martinez said. “But now and again I still slip into it.”
More importantly, Martinez remains hopeful that he can use his connections with outstanding talent in the Virgin Islands that will benefit the youth of community.
Martinez was visible at the University of the Virgin Islands’ fifth annual Man Up Male Empowerment conference which targets the young men of the Virgin Islands. As with all his endeavors, he wasn’t seen without a camera in hand and his trademark stoic expression.
While displaying his works for the “Dub in the rain forest” photo exhibition to the curious after-school students, their focus wasn’t just on the pictures splayed on the table. A set of inquisitive eyes noticed the unfamiliar face at the desk, scribbling notes onto a large pad.
“Why is she writing about you? Are you famous Rashad?” the girl–no older than 12–asked.
Despite his association with local and abroad talents such as: Mind’s Eye Entertainment; Rock City (Planet VI); model/personality Janeisha John; CBS TV 2; musician, Pressure Busspipe; KDM productions; Rashidi Clarence; Laced Legacy, and many more, as well as his own personal successes as a businessman, Rashad humbly responded, “Nah, not me.”