“Despite what you are seeing right now, don’t give up hope. The country is not beyond repair. We have to work together to help TT come back in a positive light,” says Stephen Thomas, 30.
And he knows what it takes to find the positive again. For many of you, Stephen Thomas Jr is best known as Mr Fast Forward. His popular Synergy TV series Press Fast Forward: Crime is not an option gained a wide following.
The motivational speaker, entrepreneur, artiste and ceo of Fast Forward Media Productions Ltd (incorporated in 2014) hopes to once again inspire the youth through his series (which will soon find a new home and air again on May 1) and his recently released CD Press Fast Forward. The cd features two of Thomas’ tracks currently playing on radio: I am Fast Forward and Be Your Own Boss.
The 14 track CD also features some of Thomas’ motivational messages.
Becoming Mr Fast Forward was not easy. Thomas grew up being involved with the “wrong company” (the bad boys and rude boys). But when his older brother Wendell Samuel spoke to him and told him about living in a positive way and following the Lord, at 19, he made a change.
“I ended up giving my life to Christ and that transformed my perspective of life. I started to seek God and get involve in youth groups and churches all over the country. Eventually, I ended up in a church and worked with youths for five years. I ended up becoming the youth leader of the organisation.” Thomas led the Youth Power Group of the Universal Church for five years.
The lower Santa Cruz resident started off as a regular youth in the group. But soon began dedicating most of his time to the group.
“I started off as a regular youth. I worked hard. I helped out. I dedicated my time, after work I would be going there in the afternoons, on the weekends, all the time. To make that sacrifice to help out with the youth there as much as I can. During my tenure, (he became youth leader) I saw young people’s lives transformed. We grew our youth group from ten youths to basically 1500 youths plus nationwide.”
While he enjoyed the work done with the group, Thomas had greater plans to impact wider TT. He eventually made the hard choice to leave the organisation.
“So in 2013 I left and I worked in the media for a small stint. I soon realised a regular job was not for me. I needed to become an entrepreneur so I could empower myself to be able to empower other youths as well.
“So In 2014, I ended up in a position where I was unemployed, I walked away from that job a few months before. The job that I got did not work out. I was unemployed and three months past and I reached the lowest I had ever reached. I only had $41 in my name. I had a camera so I basically I said. During the time I was in the youth group, I learnt how to do video production. The organisation hired executive producers from CNC3 to mentor me how to do TV production. I also ran the TV arm of the organisation for that five years as well. I learnt all sorts of things in video and TV production.
“When I was in that lowest point of my life with only $41, I decided I am not going to give up. I decided ‘hey I am going to use my situation and use it as a message to reach the youths of the nation.’
With the $41, Thomas went to Massy stores, bought a case of water, ice. Put it in a cooler, sold it and made $245. He recorded the entire process “proving to youths that no matter where you are in life you don’t need to turn to a life of crime....”
The video which was then posted on social media went viral. He soon amassed a following and kept making videos. It was at this time as well Thomas started his own video production company.
His social media following eventually translated into Synergy TV picking up the series in 2015 and running the show for a year.
“I was nominated for the national youth award and the show kept getting bigger and bigger.” He also launched his music career at the same time.
Despite having a sizeable following, Thomas and his team did not get the support from corporate TT.
So when the show’s run ended on Synergy TV in 2016, Thomas took most of last year to conduct research. During this time he also kept on creating short films and videos. He also began touring the nation’s schools bringing his positive messages to them.
Currently, Thomas is negotiating with two major local TV networks to bring Press Fast Forward into homes across TT. His 11 year work with youth continues as he has also started a youth group in his lower Santa Cruz area, teaching them video production as well.
Thomas is promoting his show online, on the TT’s streets and is all over the country. “From north, south, east and west, people know this face, as they say,” he said with a smile.
His ultimate aim is to show TT’s youth that crime is never an option and that there is always a way. For him, it is “not just waiting for a boss to pay you or turning to a life of crime” but rather “it is motivation to help you step out on your dreams.”
Snipets of the show can be seen on Thomas’ social media platforms (Mr Fast Forward at Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter).