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  • Writer's pictureArmiel Chandler

Culture Spotlight Featuring Yahya

Yahya McClain, a Marine for life and CEO of YAH Filmworks Inc. has been involved in the entertainment world for more than 30 years. Yahya not only succeeded as a professional boxer, becoming a Two Time World Champion, but he also learned the management and promotional aspect of the entertainment business.

In 1990, he founded Yahya Worldwide, a promotional company that promoted jazz concerts in Atlanta, Georgia, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Artists such as Najee, Will Downing jr, Jon B, and Aaron Hall among many others. In between training and boxing Yahya co-wrote and co-produced The Soda Pop Dance Show, a teen dance show that aired weekly, live on cable TV in Las Vegas.

In 1994 Yahya toured the East Coast promoting step showed at various HBCUs. In 1999 Yahya began training and advising Laila Ali. Securing endorsements with large company’s such as Adidas, Ford, and Soft Sheen Carson to name a few. Yahya also spearheaded her entire boxing career. He worked tirelessly to make sure Laila stayed on course at the right place.

In January 2001 Absoloot Boxing created the boxing event Ali Frazier IV (The Daughters 30 Years Later). The Ali Frazier IV fight was the first time in history that a women’s bout was the main event on a Pay-Per-View show. The event was projected to sell only 30,000-40,000 buys, but well beyond expectations, the fight sold more than 100,000 buys.

In 2002 Yahya opened Absoloot Boxing and Fitness Gym, home of the Absoloot Awareness Foundation (AAF). AAF is a foundation set up to fight obesity in youth through boxing, education, and mentoring. To

ensure that kids are better equipped to be successful, upstanding citizens of society.

Yahya’s entrepreneurial mind has taken his career in many directions. In 1995 he began acting but has since developed a strong passion for bringing his thoughts from script to screen. He helped produce the feature film Heroes in 2009. In 2010, Yahya created the reality show Comedy Camp.

Yahya created YAH Filmworks LLC, a film and television production company. YAH Filmworks’ debut project, C.I.G.A.R. The Movie, is a suspense-filled drama about Corruption, Intellect, Greed, And Robbery. C.I.G.A.R. was nominated for three awards at the SDBFF. Those nominations have motivated Yahya to go back to school full time to learn the art of filmmaking.

Yahya enrolled in the Art Institute of Atlanta as a full-time student at the ripe age of 47. Now dedicated to making movies that will impact the world. His next film, Comedy Camp, is a feature film about a reality show about overweight comedians joining a boxer’s boot camp to learn to fight obesity. They compete to lose weight while using laughter to educate. Comedy Camp was entered into the Chelsea Film Festival 2015, in NY. There were over forty filmmakers that entered their short film and Yahya won the Best Director Award. Yahya also Wrote, Directed, Produced, and Starred in #ThetimeisNOW another short film of his. #ThetimeisNOW won the Best Short Award in 2015, 10th Annual Peachtree Village International Film Festival in Atlanta.

The latest film project for Yah Filmworks is the documentary Casualties of W.A.R. “Warriors Against the Regime”. It’s about parental alienation and corruption in the family court systems in America. It’s currently being submitted to film festivals worldwide. Yahya is super excited about his latest endeavor. That’s being apart of Rumble-2-Rumble as the producer of the Boxing Event

Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival? My experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival was amazing. I had the most fun, meeting so many dope filmmakers. The staff went out of their way to make everyone feel like family. The other thing of course is that my Documentary won Best Social Justice Film.

Why are stories from the culture important? Our Culture sets the trend for the world. So it's extremely important that we direct our narrative. No one can do us like us and we can make a living having fun while doing so.

What projects are you working on now?

Currently, I am working on the feature film that follows my Documentary that showed at The HHFF. I just recently started a youtube talk show, "Tuesday Night Fight Talk", Where Legends come to talk Boxing. I recently joined filmmakers think tank, where a group of like-minded creatives, come together to put the next plan in action.

Why do you think the Harlem film house and Hip Hop Film Festival is important? I think The Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival are important because they give hope to the community. They show that someone from our own hood can make it. Last but not least I think the most important reason is that The Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival bring the world to 125 & Lennox Ave, to see how we do it, on so many different levels.

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