Monday, 28 August 2017

STRENGTH OF A WOMAN: Debbie Bissoon commits to being a great mom and finds courage to live her dreams

POISE & PASSION: "I'm more driven and I don't make excuses when I fall short," Bissoon, 29, readily admits.

Totally enjoying her role as first-time mom – and getting set to enter her third decade on the planet – Debbie Bissoon is giving thanks and living life like its golden. She tells TALLAWAH why the best is yet to come.

YOU know those people who’ve found their dream jobs and truly come alive when discussing the work that they do? Debbie Bissoon is one of them. On a balmy Thursday evening on the outdoor deck at the Spanish Court Hotel, Bissoon brings a garrulous energy to our conversation, dishing up her experiences so far as Brand Manager for the Bob Marley Group of Companies. 

She’s been in the full-time job for the past three years. “I love it because it stretches me out of my comfort zone. Cedella is a great CEO and I’m guided by the family. Basically, the job has done what I wanted it to do,” says Bissoon whose chief responsibilities include overseeing how the Marley brand is positioned globally. I repeat: dream job.

“The highlights have been so many, but more than anything I enjoy working with Cedella and seeing her just be who she is. You get to see how the Marley family has built up that structure to protect the legacy for future generations and build on it without compromising what their father stood for on a moral and philosophical level,” explains the 29-year-old, who can attest to the hundreds of “crazy emails” the Marley family gets from around the world and where they draw the line. “They have gotten offers to do so many things, but there is a standard and they’ll only agree to things that are in the best interest of preserving Bob’s legacy.”


By all accounts, Bissoon immensely enjoys the pace and scope of her job as Brand Manager, but television will always be her first love. As we all know, prior to joining the Bob Marley Group, she was the longest-serving host of Television Jamaica’s nightly culture and entertainment spot E-Prime. Bissoon brought warmth, poise and eloquence to our living rooms, and it’s a gig she relished. Sadly, she had to walk away from it. Why? “I wanted to do more. [The] RJR [Group] was a great start, but for whatever reason they saw a problem with me doing other things. I didn’t see a conflict of interest but they did. So I had a decision to make, and I’m happy with my decision,” she explains. “Anybody who wants better for themselves is going to go after better.”

As one can imagine, she does look back on her old job with fond memories. “I miss doing TV because off-the-bat it’s the passion,” says Bissoon, who feels the station is not as rigid in their demands on freelance presenters as in years past. “I’ve seen a shift in their structure since I left, in terms of presenters being able to branch out and work in other areas. And I still work with them from time to time. I’ve been invited back for Smile Jamaica. I did the Burger King Schools’ Debate. They respect what I bring to the table.”


If you want to see Debbie Bissoon burst into a contagious cascade of giggles, just mention her baby boy Josiah (she gave birth in April), who has taught her to love all over again. “It’s so surreal. Motherhood is without a doubt my greatest accomplishment in life. He’s a gem, very bright. He has a mind of his own. Love his mommy to death,” the first-time mother dishes, while the dad, Donovan, sits a few feet away captivated by something on his mobile phone.

But this joyous moment in Debbie’s life could easily have been the opposite, given the fact that in her teens a physician told her that she might not be able to bear children, due to hereditary matters. Debbie declines to go into detail about these hereditary issues, but she always knew God had big plans for her life, and she’s beyond grateful. “My being here is a miracle and having a pregnancy so smooth,” she admits, her eyes brightening. “[My son] has really changed my life. I’m very sensitive of my time and where I put it. I know more is required of me. The best possible chance in life, I want to give that to him.”

Just so you know, Josiah (named after the Biblical king who ascended the throne at eight years old) has his own Instagram account with over 1000 followers. “We call him King Sire,” his doting mom adds, laughing. “Everything I wasn’t able to access growing up, I want him to have.”

If you think motherhood is the only thing that has forever changed Debbie Bissoon for the better, think again. That’s just the icing on the cake. “I’ve grown a lot as an individual and in terms of my expectations for myself. I’m more driven and I don’t make excuses when I fall short. And it helps when you have a partner who guides and supports you,” shares the very accomplished daughter of Clarendon, who spent most of her early years in Vere and attended Clarendon College before going on to do her Language/Communication/Entertainment degree at UWI Mona and subsequently landing an on-air job at Fame FM.

Unsurprisingly, as she gets older, she wants more out of life. “There are certain things that don’t excite me anymore. I’m more serious about stability and making long-term plans for my life. I’m more accepting of myself, and I’m more my authentic self now,” she explains.

And the best is yet to come. In addition to hosting events, plotting a TV comeback and penning a motivational book about motherhood and other real-life experiences (due out in April 2018 on Josiah’s birthday), Bissoon is putting major plans in place to diversify her brand and broaden her reach. “I’m all about the business of creating,” she says. “The more freedom I get to do what I love makes me happy.”

At present, she is the force behind Bissoon Productions, whose projects so far include the appealing, celebrity-endorsed “No Violence in Love” PSA, which they are taking into the schools. “What I most strongly believe in is doing good work and letting that draw people to you. That has been my power,” Debbie asserts. “I’m very grateful for what I did in my 20s, but I procrastinated a lot. For my 30s and 40s, it’s all about revolution.” 

gt; QUICK TAKES: Debbie on looking good and the Rihanna factor 

On summer living: “I’m working non-stop, but I have my girlfriends, a group of us from UWI days, who get together and do fun stuff.” 

On “Wild Thoughts”: “I love DJ Khaled. He’s a smart businessman and a genius for branding. And you can do no wrong with Rihanna’s voice. She appeals to a wide cross-section of people. It’s a nice, liberating single. It’s one of those great feel-good songs.” 

On fashion: “I have a very diverse sense of style. I can go from heels to sneakers. I go with what appeals to me at that particular moment and what is appropriate. I love looking good.”

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