Humans of Emerson: Mark Yirrell


Mark Yirrell, 21, VMA Major

Q: It sounds like you were always an artist at heart, would you agree?

Mark: I think I was an artist in denial. I don’t know if “artist at heart” would fit. I think that’s too generous of a term for me. I played instruments as a kid, piano and viola. I got into chorus in sixth grade and that just floored me, I really loved singing. I took two years off from middle school to be home-schooled because school was filled with bullies and it really wasn’t working out for me. I thought learning from home would be a better environment.

When I went to high school that was a very dynamic time for me. I went back to the orchestra and I wasn’t very serious about it. I was playing football and I was pretty good at that. I’m ashamed to admit I became a high-nosed jock and I thought I was better than I was.

It wasn’t until my senior year and during college that I realized I have serious creative passions and that I needed to pursue them. I really opened up to the idea that art and being creative wasn’t something I should be ashamed of. You know how kids in high school can be, petty and judgmental, and how they label the drama and band kids as being a bunch of weirdos. I realized you can’t label people like that because it doesn’t help you grow as a person. Once I got through that, I realized I wanted to get into films and that I wanted to start a production company.

The best way to put it, is that my relationship with the arts has been ambivalent, and it wasn’t until I matured that I realized that this was what I should throw all my effort into.

Q: So what is your masterpiece? When it’s all said and done, where do you want to be and what do you want to be doing exactly?

Mark: I want to be a combination of Kevin Smith and Andrew Carnegie. My end goal is to make cool shit. I want to enjoy what I’m doing and make beautiful content, whether that means films or podcasts or whatever I put my hands on.

Another big thing is that while I’m making all this material I want to also own the way I’m producing them. I want to own my own career, not have it be part of a big corporation; that’s a big reason I got into the business in the first place – I have that entrepreneurial spirit in addition to having that creative drive. I want to create something from nothing and in order to have all the freedom I can, and all the things I want to do, I need to be able to own my own stuff.

So I guess my masterpiece would be to own a production company that has enough power to defend itself from competitors and enough reach to impact others with my work.

Interview conducted by Benjamin Schachter Gordon, Luminary Writer, Office of Diversity & Inclusion