Reel Women: Yasmine Gorleku, Producer

Yasmine Gorleku

Yasmine Gorleku

Yasmin is a first-generation West African who has travelled the world, but still feels right at home in her native Chicago, where she spent the last four years as part of the team at Quriosity Productions.

From intern to Associate Producer, Yasmin’s climb to success did not come without her pulling up her sleeves to get the job done with her often-heard “whatever it takes” catch-phrase.

Now, her passion and natural abilities unite as she guides innovative creatives to pursue artistic, personal, and professional aspirations within a creative consultant power-house environment. Utilizing her background in both behavioral and I/O psychology, Yasmin unleashes artists’ fullest potential through her own consulting agency.

It’s no surprise with her understanding of turbulent creative lives that Yasmin has decided to return to her roots in psychology and study to obtain her Phd in Applied Behavioral Sciences and Psychological Theories. This mother of two is striving to improve the lives of others further by recognizing that success lies in mentorship. She works directly with Free Spirit Media and St. Benedict to help young, diverse artists-at-large navigate the industry.

Yasmin has a unique hold on this industry. We can’t wait to see the rise of this company as she carefully curates her clientele. She is quite humble in claiming to be an expert on anything, but there is one thing Yasmin knows she’s an expert on — and that’s talent… whose will it be next?

How did you get into the business? I actually entered the business out of pure curiosity… no pun intended. I have a background in psychology, yet I am very much a creative nut at heart. I dabbled in the performing arts, and soon realised how awful I was at it… The world of production was a natural transition. I desperately wanted to know more about the business and all of its moving parts. I was introduced to Qadree Holmes by a mutual friend in the summer of 2014, and we instantly clicked. However, that connection did NOT stop Q from quickly throwing me into the deep end. Which, in hindsight, was the BEST thing that could have happened to me. I found in this industry you either sink or swim… AND I LEARNED HOW TO BACKSTROKE! I am a single mother of two crazy cool kids ages 14 and 7, so I’m no stranger to hard work… or lack of sleep, for that matter. Q saw the beast in me and pushed me to rise to the occasion everyday. I have a special place in my heart for this industry. In its own special way it forces you to flex some of that inner strength that you didn’t know you had.

What obstacles have you faced specifically because of your gender? As unfortunate as it is to have to say… Obstacles are a given being a woman of color. I have fought through obstacles my whole life because of my race and gender. My parents would always teach me to exhaust all possible solutions before determining that unfair treatment was based off of prejudice of any kind. That being said, certain “snags” arise that you cannot help but attribute to ignorance. I find it frustrating that even in this day and age we still use an apology before we enter a conversation that we have every right to attend! Please understand, I was guilty of this myself. Not only until mentoring younger woman, I was able to see this disturbing behavior pattern. I want to see this action of diminishing our power stopped! I want to see us truly own our presence and ideas.

“Your playing small does not serve the world.” -Marianne Williamson

Best thing to ever happen to you to remind you that you are a woman? Outside of having children and being reminded that we are the vessels of which life is brought into this world…..I would say …..the deep comradery. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t connect / relate / support a woman. From a stranger walking down the street, your coworker, or your mailwoman; I never miss an opportunity to connect. Now this could very much be because I talk alot to begin with and could have a full conversation with just myself, but I really do believe women connect on a deeper level. These micro relationships make me feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself. It is a privilege.

Work you are most proud of? Hands down! It’s being director of The Internship Project at Quriosity Productions. Over the past few years we have really developed a program that I am proud of. There is so much young untapped talent here in Chicago it blows my mind! I have had the privilege to be a part of a program that provides junior creative talent a structure that fosters their growth. This program inspired me so much that I have actually decided to return to school to become a licensed psychologist to help counsel creatives. It’s a privilege and passion of mine to be able to get into the minds of such bright individuals.. The trust that is given to me by these creatives to help them realize their dreams, blows my mind each and every time. I have seen so many lambs walk out as lions. I couldn’t be more proud.

How do you describe the most significant #metoo moment of your life? I would say every time I pick up the phone to speak to a vendor or a client and it’s a woman at the other end of the phone….is a #metoo moment. Everytime I talk to my daughter and her friends about their dreams and aspirations ….is a #metoo moment. These girls are unapologetically confident about their futures the way I have never seen! The reality for them to be POTUS is not a question of “ can” but rather, “when”. The ambition to be more than FLOTS is epic! It gives me goosebumps every time.

How have professional attitudes towards women evolved during your career? Although the attitudes have not changed to the extent I would like to see in 2018…. I believe we still have made strides! I am also not sure when I walk into a room if the general shock is that I am a woman of color OR a woman. Regardless, whatever the initial shock is attributed to, I still hold court when I need to… and in my experience, there hasn’t been any pushback.

Trapped on an island what essentials must you have? Ha! I love this Question…..I need MUSIC. It is my first love! Rather, it is coming from tree sticks and various rocks to tap on…we are gonna have some beats. I might pull a chorus line from the local island birds if they are down to collaborate. Chapstick and hand cream as well, if I have to be picky.

If you had a time machine, what would you say to your past self? Assuming my past self would actually listen… I would say, “Yas, you are absolutely the person to do it. Don’t make them wait!”

If you could have a one-on-one with anyone who would it be? And why? I am sure this answer is not surprising, but the Dali Lama would be my answer. I am obsessed with his teachings. The power of forgiveness has changed my life. He has a perspective that I find fascinating. Every day on this earth is a new opportunity to listen, learn and love. I live by this.

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