In 1999 John Fredericks was known for gospel and contemporary Christian. With two number one songs on the contemporary Christian charts, he decided to step back and increase his business education. Now, known to most as Bigg Persona, he has a resume as big as his heart and passion. His most recent accomplishment, the musical short film “On the Mind of a Beautiful Woman” features 12 new songs and a cast of 200, including Central Florida local residents and pageant titleholders.
Orlando Style: Tell me a little about yourself and how you got to where you are as an artist.
Bigg Persona: During my first tour as a contemporary christian artist I decided to get more education on the business side of the recording industry. I interned for Def Jam in New York between 2005 and 2007. Afterwards, I moved to Orlando, started recording as an R&B artist and got the attention of A&R. Having my own knowledge of the business I formed my independent record company and began releasing music as Bigg Persona. I released “Need it So Badly” which was picked up by Top 40 radio stations and some night clubs. I also recorded a remake of “You Give Good Love” by Whitney Houston and was contacted by stations interested in airing my version. The president of RCA liked several songs on my record at the time but believed I was too late in the game and should stick to writing. It was during the brief tour for my second music video, “I Got Her Forever”, that I was requested to serenade Jackie Siegel for the 2015 Miss Florida Pageant and we began making plans for the film.
OS: What inspired the creation of the film and how did the idea come about?
BP: As a record company I wanted to put out not one music video but something to promote the whole body of work. At the time music and film were being merged like never before so I decided in 2015 to get ahead of the game and create this life love story that would be intertwined with all of these songs, and would give it a unique concept. It was during my meeting with Jackie Siegel that we decided to create it featuring pageant titleholders.
OS: In your own words can you explain what the film is about?
BP: It is an over the top musical production that incorporates the pursuit, loss, regaining and celebration of true love. It also deals heavily with domestic violence and inspiring the courage to leave and to live.
OS: The film features a cast of over 400 Central Florida residents. Why did you decide to feature state residents and sponsors?
BP: It was the timing. I consider myself a practical person and a realist and the things that things were unfolding, it had the aura of needing to be done here. And it gave me the opportunity to work with people who had never been in something and wanted to, as well as to work with a lot of starving artists who had never gotten visibility. People came together from everywhere for this journey and dream and ended up forming lasting friendships.
OS: Why include major pageant titleholders? Why was their appearance in the film important?
BP: It was my word to Jackie Siegel. There were 200 women in the film and 50-75 were pageant titleholders. I had the opportunity to work with each and every one of them and keep the integrity of my word.
OS: A lot of filming took place at the Bella Collina country club. How did that decision come about?
BP: Steve Dehardy, the general manager I worked closely with to feature luxury cars, recommended shooting there. Paula Wyatt called and spoke with Rick Arughi, who said no, but was willing to meet me in person. Arughi did his research in the time I rushed over and was immediately interested. Despite it being a very private community he was open to the idea and the more we looked into it the more we fell in love with the idea.
OS: Was there anything in the film or album that was especially important to you?
BP: The last two songs in the movie. One is “Find the Courage”, meaning the courage for women dealing with domestic violence. The last finale song is “So I’ll Pray for Love”, and it’s a universal song that talks about praying for all mankind to come back to love for one another and to treat each other the way we want to be treated. Those are the songs that I believe will run to form with most fans.
OS: The film features 12 new songs, each supposedly dedicated to one of the most influential female entertainment industry icons. Can you share with us who each song is dedicated to?
BP: Sure, they are “Let This Man Sing” –
“You’ll Always Find Me Here” – Sade
“Her Love” – Adele
“Show Off” – Beyoncé
“Letcha” – Patti LaBelle
“Michael” – Janet Jackson
“Chardonnay” – Aretha Franklin
“Have A Drink With Me” – Anita Baker
“I Got Her Forever” – Celine Dion
“Find The Courage” – Mariah Carey
“So I’ll Pray” – CeCe Winans
And the Outro “Never Too Late For Love” – Chaka Kahn
OS: What was the scariest part of your filming experience?
BP: There were two instances. We were out in the deep ocean on yachts with drones flying in the air to film and sharks and everything else. I’m on the bow of this yacht, and I’m not afraid of water and I can swim, but I’m terrified of the wide open beneath me and not knowing what’s below me. I did conquer my fear and had to get out there. Then we were filming at wonderworks, with drones again, and I’m outside, stories high on a ledge with no harness. One close friend talked me into doing it.
OS: Was the response to the film what you had hoped for?
BP: The feedback we have gotten has been enormous and wonderful, it’s one of a kind and unique. Right after the premier at Mango’s Tropical Cafe, it was sent to South by Southwest Film Festival, the number one music festival in the world. Then it started garnering attention from producers in Hollywood who wanted see what else I was working on.
OS: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
BP: I’m engrossed in writing a new script and movie that we’re hoping will feature Jackie Siegel, called “A Life Lived”. It’s not a musical, it’s a sci-fi drama and were hoping to begin production sometime at the end of the year. I’m hoping to create it in Central Florida again with the same people and sponsors.
OS: Is there anything you would like to add?
BP: I will always remain very appreciative of all of my sponsors, partners, volunteers, extras, supporters, fans and any prayers. For everything they have done, every ounce of their contributions to helping me and helping me create my first major motion picture musical film. Without them joining my journey, this would not have been done or we would still be working on it.