EXCLUSIVE FIRST-LOOK: Visual Storyteller Joshua Kissi Highlights the Power of Community in Heart-Warming Holiday Spot

Screenshot:  Courtesy of Chevrolet
Screenshot: Courtesy of Chevrolet

In the newest holiday spot from Chevrolet, visual director and storyteller and Glow Up 50 2021 honoree Joshua Kissi beautifully weaves together a timely and heartwarming story about the power of community.

Through the lens of the fictional matriarch and community pillar “Mrs. Hayes,” we follow her life story across pivotal moments throughout the decades and watch as her sentimental ties to her late husband’s and his 1957 Chevrolet Nomad and neighborhood kid Billy unfold and blossom. Showcasing the quiet strength, resilience, and giving nature of Black women was a notion that Kissi himself could immediately relate to.

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“The story of Mrs. Hayes, her connection to Billy, her being a matriarch in this community is very much what I experienced in my life being a young kid growing up in New York,” Kissi exclusively told The Root in an interview during a break in filming on set in Atlanta a few weeks ago. “Being from Ghana originally, being a Ghanian-American—this aspect of the ‘the village helps to raise everyone’ is something that we’ve kept as a people and something that’s beautiful within this script. To be able to speak to the work that a lot of Black women do, mentally, physically, spiritually—Mrs. Hayes is a walking personification of that. I think everybody experiences the blessing and benefit of somebody stepping outside of themselves while choosing themselves in order to choose others and I think that’s an important way of storytelling.”

The Holidays with Mrs. Hayes :60s – Chevy Commercial | Chevrolet

When I arrive to the neighborhood where the campaign is being shot, feelings of familiarity, warmth, and the nostalgia of simpler times are immediately present. Of course, there’s the buzzing of multiple crew members making sure things are in place, the chatter of cast and extras shooting the breeze and rehearsing lines, and the meticulous watching of the multi-players in the video control room keeping things moving behind the scenes. But the overwhelming feeling of that cool, autumn morning is palpable power of connection and community to bring this universal story to life. And as I later found out when speaking to Chevy Marketing Expert Torri Turner, one of the reasons why the story’s themes were so observable was because it was inspired by true to life stories.

“Not only is it inspired by the relationship with my grandmother, but it is a story that resonates with so many people. Mrs. Hayes is someone special to everyone—we all have someone who has loved us, poured into us and given us tools that we carry in our personal toolkit daily. This story is special to me.”

Added Chevrolet’s Marketing Vice President Steve Majoros, “We try to be authentic and credible, earn our way into these initiatives. And I think that that’s part of our approach here. That drove why we made the selection with the director and the production company.”

With over 10 years of experience and a passion for creating projects that highlight honest representation and genuine storytelling across many moods, shades, and depictions, Kissi seemed like a no-brainer as director for this particular task. But just as it’s important to have alignment on the part of Chevrolet, it was equally important for the creative to feel those same feelings as well.

“The core of why I love telling stories is to be able to inspire and aspire. And I think it’s super important to tell stories that shift the zeitgeist for people but as well as feels connect to everyday people,” Kissi explained. “When it comes to African-Americans and our stories that aren’t always based in trauma or isn’t always based in what the media highlights, I think there’s beauty in our everyday. There’s beauty in our ordinary.”

Speaking to core of the story in Chevy’s new holiday spot, he continued:

Just because you experience loss, doesn’t mean it’s the end of your life. Throughout her [Mrs. Hayes] experience and loss, she experiences gain which is the gain of this community, the gaining of her relationship with Billy, and the gaining of the relationship with this car that was left from her husband before he went out to the Vietnam War.

He concluded, “The reason why I said yes to this opportunity is to tell in-depth, nuanced, stories from our culture, from our community that continue to move the needle.”

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