Meet Donald Jacobs, a Fall 2023 Community Reporting Fellow

Jacobs will be doing community reporting work in New Orleans this fall as part of the Lede New Orleans fellowship program.

Meet Donald Jacobs, a Fall 2023 Community Reporting Fellow
Donald Jacobs, Fall 2023 Community Reporting Fellow (Photo By Bryan Tarnowaki)

By Elisha Davis

In the vibrant city of New Orleans, where culture seeps into the souls of its inhabitants, we find a remarkable individual named Donald Jacobs. Through his love for storytelling, Jacobs, a 24-year-old car tech, overcame the familiar challenges that come alongside growing up in St. Bernard Parish, such as dealing with a poor school system and feeling generally unsafe in his neighborhood. He is a poet, and his work, like his favorite poem “Rock & Roll,” is an outward expression of his inward reflections on the city and helped him cope with feeling captured.

His passion for creativity helped him deal with life from a young age and now he is using the same gift to bring equitable media to the place he grew up. Jacobs comes with a unique blend of creativity, resilience, and a genuine connection to the community he calls home. His personal mantra is “create your own paradise.” He finds joy in the simple pleasures like watching a good movie, spending quality time with friends, and writing. Through his storytelling gift, Donald aims to inspire others to embrace life's challenges with an unwavering determination. 

I spoke with Donald Jacobs to learn more about his interests and reasons for joining the fellowship. Here’s what I heard. Note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Lede New Orleans trains creatives to make equitable media that inspires and informs our city. What does equitable media in New Orleans look like to you?

I think that it looks like just information being spread and resonating with the natives. I’m from here. We're going through the same issues, we basically grew up living the same life because we had the same obstacles against us. I'll be able to go out into the community, see a lot of people that went through the same experience as me and be able to tell their story from that standpoint.

What do you hope to get out of your fellowship?

Really just to learn as much as I can about the film aspect. I want to learn the writing part of it, photography part of it, you know, just the whole interviewing process too. But more focus on the film aspect because I want to start shooting music videos and editing. I want to work with my favorite artist from the city, Curren$y. Just whoever else in the city, you know, that's coming up as well, you know, doing music, like I'm open to work with anybody. 

Imagine it's a perfect sunny and cool fall day in New Orleans. What will we find you doing?

You'll probably find me waking up in the morning and probably eatin’ breakfast. After that, I'm immediately leaving the house. I’ll walk around, enjoy the atmosphere… you’ll probably find me in the city parks. Also  just chilling in, like, Uptown. It's this snowball thing called Red Rooster, get you a sno-ball lead and chill by the bridge. It's gonna be a quick drive …like five minutes to go to the lake. I might go on Bayou road, one of the oldest roads in the city. Just enjoy the atmosphere, be out & about in the city in general. 

What does it mean to be true to who you are?

To be true to who you are, is to not think of pleasing everybody else around you. Just really sit down with yourself and see what it is that you love to do and what would make you happy. Think of what pursuits you have in life and go for that. And, you know, just try to be as best as you can be. 

Elisha Davis, 23 is an actress and storyteller, native to Houston, Texas. Davis studies TV and Film Production at University of New Orleans and wants to continue making films and other media that capture the everyday experiences of people in the community.

This article is available to republish under a Creative Commons license. Read Lede New Orleans’ publishing guidelines here.

Support Lede New Orleans and its community-centered reporting by becoming a supporting donor.

To get weekly emails with New Orleans stories and events, sign up for Lede New Orleans’ newsletter.

Lede New Orleans