[Interview] Music Video Director Chris Robinson Gets ‘Stoked’ On Inspiring Others

Photo: (Getty)

Haven’t heard of Chris Robinson? Dude, you’ve def. watched his music videos. NBD, He’s directed vids for artists like Nicki Minaj, Drake, Usher, Alicia Keys, Kanye West and Ne-Yo. And he’s using his ridiculous talents to pay it forward. This past summer he mentored a bunch of high school kids over the summer, who helped to create a commercial for Lil Wayne. We. Kid. You. Not.

Chris partnered up with Stoked, an org focused on mentoring under-served youth through sports like skateboarding and surfing. Chris, along with 10 students from Stoked, spent their summer creating a commercial for Lil Wayne’s DEWeezy campaign with Mountain Dew. Watch the final commercial from Chris and co. below!

+ Watch Lil’ Wayne’s DEWeezy commercial.

Chris’s Robot Film Company has worked with Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake and more, but he got a whole new experience by getting involved with the DEWeezy project. We wanted to learn more about the project, plus what he learned from directing amazing musicians. Read our Q&A with him below.

ACT: You’ve worked with some incredible artists over the years to make some of the world’s most popular music videos. How was the DEWeezy project different from the other work you’ve done?

CHRIS: I just like to hear that part about the videos. [laughs] No, just kidding. I hadn’t worked on anything like this before because it was an idea that was generated by the kids we were mentoring. We mentored them through the creative process, but they had their own ideas and their own perspectives on what Lil Wayne communicated and what [Mountain Dew] communicated. It was interesting to be at the front, as far as mentoring, then watch what happens in that process and what comes out in the end. And then actually being able to direct that with the same kids you mentored.

ACT: What was your favorite part of the DEWeezy project?

CHRIS: To me, it was seeing our budding directors and filmmakers and graphic artists. Seeing the discovery in the kids’ eyes. It inspired me all over again to watch and feel that process. It’s so organic. They just understood the emotion they wanted to get across.

ACT: What do you think is the most important lesson the Stoked kids learned on your set?

CHRIS: I tell you, these kids were already so intelligent. They came from different parts of New York City and they seemed to already have a certain moral compass, a certain work ethic, whether they were shy or more outgoing. I think that probably the most important thing they learned in this process, which I think Stoked is teaching them every day, is that when you show up and you work hard and you dream, you discover anything is possible.

Photo: Everyday they hustlin’! Stoked teens working on the DEWeezy commercial. (Stoked.org)

ACT: What motivated you to participate in the Stoked program and become a mentor?

CHRIS: Once the pitch happened and I investigated Stoked and talked to the kids, I was hooked. Just watching what they do and how they do it. They want to mentor kids, and people are so in and out of kids’ lives. You know, you have this teacher for this semester and you click, but then they’re gone. You have this counselor and they’re gone.

Kids also make a commitment to Stoked, and I think that’s important. I think it’s amazing how it’s set up. The world should feel like everything is possible, and both spiritually and mentally Stoked opens up that “I can do anything” thought.

ACT: Do you think you will collaborate with kids again on another project?

CHRIS: I do. Yes, definitely. They’re my little homies. We’ll see what the next thing will be and how I can extend this from my end. We’ll try collaborating with the directors in Stoked about how we can do something more with their organization. I think calling it “positive” doesn’t really do it justice, but I think something that really matters is going on. We have to keep that ball rolling so the kids can expand and change the world. I know I sound a bit lofty, but I know it’s absolutely, positively possible to set somebody’s mindset in the right direction.

ACT: You’ve had to direct artists like Drake, Nicki Minaj, Usher and Kanye. WOW. Any advice on how to be a good leader, whether in school or in your personal life?

CHRIS: It was great working with those artists, and I’ve learned something on every one, and I think I’ve learned about being a leader through working with some of those people. My advice is just to listen. Understand. Because when you do, the universe inspires to make you successful. And that’s it. I think as a leader you have to listen, and when you speak you have to mean what you say.

In partnership with The DEWeezy Project + Stoked Mentoring, MTV Act has created a DEWeezy hub to bring you exclusives with Lil Wayne, stories from youth involved in The DEWeezy Project, and resources on how you can get involved in your community. Every action counts!

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