We caught up with the incredible and truly enlightened director of Cherry Pop, Assaad Yacoub, to unveil who Assaad is and what inspired him to make such a bold and courageous film. Assaad’s brilliance as a human being is captivating and his meekness is rather charming as well. Read our interview below and learn about the inspiration behind, “Cherry Pop” as well as what success is to the revolutionary director and the role that authenticity and Art play in his life. Assaad Yacoub definitely gets the heART of Cool STAMP!
HoC: Who are you? What is your purpose on the planet?
Assaad: I’m Assaad. Nice to meet you!
I’m a storyteller and making movies is how I tell them.
HoC: What inspired you to direct?
Assaad: Well, I’ve always enjoyed it. I would take our old school video camera and film my brother and my friends doing anything and everything
I like being the one in charge I guess!
I mean…I enjoy the art of telling a story. Its fun! I used to dance with a group in Dubai and that form in itself is storytelling. Then I went to art college where I majored in painting. I remember one of my teachers, and I’ll never forget this, told me to get the hell out of the Middle East and move somewhere that would actually allow me to succeed and have a career in my talents; which was in the arts. At the time there was no “art scene” in Lebanon or the Middle East – No one took it seriously as a career pursuit – Art classes were basically just electives not majors. Moving to the states was the best thing I could have done for myself and my future.
HoC: What role does authenticity play in your work?
Authenticity is important with any work. – With Cherry Pop its relevant because its about a world that not many people know about or are exposed to so the authenticity of the story was one of the most important things to capture. It’s also important to be authentic towards the comedic tone and flow of the script. If it’s’ not authentic it won’t play out as funny.
HoC: How do you define Art? What role does Art play in the evolution of you as a human being?
Assaad: Art for me is about storytelling. The process of evoking emotions through storytelling is what gives me the “thrill”. For a brief second someone can escape their reality through a story of dance, singing or painting or movies.
I have always been an artist – Art evolves as you evolve as a person. Art imitates life as they say right? Evolution is constantly happening no matter what my project is at the time.
HoC: Why did you desire to create Cherry Pop?
Assaad: I discovered this world when I first moved to NYC – I experienced my first drag show there and I wondered why I had never seen anything like this on screen. The only thing that was successfully on TV was and still is RuPaul’s drag race. I wanted to shed some light onto this world that I found very intriguing – Making a movie about it I felt important. It’s about time!
HoC: What underlying messages are most poignant?
Assaad: Acceptance of others and yourself. Every character in the movie has to go through a journey acceptance.
HoC: What was the most important reality you learned as a result of the production of this movie?
Assaad: The response we received from Cherry Pop was insane. The audience has been craving a movie like this for sure – it made me happy to see that.
The topic is now more important than ever – the timing is perfect especially with transgender/LGBT community speaking out a lot more nowadays. It’s amazing to be a part of the bigger picture of it all.
HoC: What does success look like for you as it relates to Cherry Pop?
Distribution across the world – To countries where Drag is not as prominent as it is in the States – I want the movie to go to places where the story would be education as well as fun entertainment.
HoC: How do you qualify success in your life in general?
Assaad: Success is getting to do what you truly love every day.
HoC: What Artists inspire you the most?
Assaad: Matthew Barney – Bjork’s ex husband – I love his work. His Cremaster Cycle collection was a big inspiration to me and his work is highly stylized which is what I decided to do with Cherry Pop and its movie sets.
HoC: What are your top 3 films and why?
Assaad: Mean Girls – I enjoy having an ensemble cast. A lot of Cherry Pop was molded around many different sub storylines going on that connect to each other as one singular bigger storyline.
I enjoy that kind of comedy too. Mean Girls is hilarious.
Clue – Same reason, ensemble cast but the movie has a fusion of a thriller and a comedy. I like the reveal aspect in Clue where you don’t know who the killer is. I incorporated the reveal aspect into Cherry Pop. I love surprises you don’t see coming.
Halloween – The original. It’s the first horror movie I ever watched. I love it. I love the old school slasher movies and horror is definitely going to be something I will do in the future.
HoC: What advice can you give aspiring directors?
Assaad: Stay true to the message you’re trying to convey.
Don’t let anyone tell you what is acceptable or appropriate – Make the story that you want to make. You’re going to get people telling you your idea sucks; don’t listen.
HoC: What should we expect next from you?
Assaad: My focus at the moment is taking Cherry Pop through the festival circuit – Maybe evolving it into a series. The fun never stops!
HoC: What is the heART of Cool to you?
Assaad: Truth and Authenticity.
HoC: Describe your background. What was your childhood like?
Assaad: I’m from the Middle East. Originally Lebanese but I was born and raised in Dubai and moved to the states six years ago. My childhood was great – my brother and I spent most of it getting into mischievous trouble! We had a lot of fun. Our house was always full and happy – Friends were always over my mum hosted amazing holiday parties and I had a great collection of pets!
HoC: If you could change one thing one this planet what would it be and how would you dare to change it?
Assaad: I believe in the fair treatment of animals. Animal cruelty should be considered a serious crime with heavier consequences and all animal testing should be abolished. You can see someone’s true character and personality in their treatment of animals.
HoC: What is love and how does it shape your life?
Assaad: Love to me is when I come back from a long day and my dog is so happy to see me – No matter what I smell like! No judgement just love!!!
💜Love & Light🌞,