Middle school buddies now head creative firm for businesses, social change

When three middle school students at Piedmont Middle School went to an afterschool videography program in 2017, they walked into the class wide-eyed but knew that somehow, they were going to be a creative force.

Meet Lawrence Campbell, Emmett Thornburg and T.J. White, the creative directors for 450 Multimedia and they are proving that age is just a number.

“We really came together during the 7th grade, and that was the first time we did something creative, and we’ve been best buds since,” said White.

In high school, Campbell was rapping and they decided to turn up their talents a notch to create a music video.

Creatives blossom in their element, and in this age of the internet and technology, they confidently launched their first major project to showcase their talent.

“The summer we spent working on the music video showed us that we could do something special. It was hard work, but fun,” said White. “Looking back, by the end of the summer, we knew we wanted to continue.”

They unburdened themselves with thoughts that it was too early to become successful and started stepping to the drum that they could be an achiever at any age.

“It’s been great working with my best friends who are my business partners. Emmitt and Lawrence are my brothers and I love them dearly,” he said. “Throughout all the hardships it’s always worth it because we’re very proud of the work that we put in.”

Since the beginning of their cohort, they have branched out to produce commercial productions for businesses, design elements for various media social media platforms, videography and photography.

“A lot of small businesses do not have a media infrastructure, but it’s an important component for advertising and we’re able to deliver that,” he said. “Even in the short amount of time that we’ve been doing creative, it’s been a great joy to see their reactions to our content.”

But the focus of 450 Multimedia has the added elements of social justice, social change and advocacy.

“We grew up during a very turbulent period so we don’t think there’s a way to approach arts and culture without talking about the issue of race and putting those issues at the forefront and being advocates,” White said.

A political science major at UNC-Chapel Hill, White says that politics is intertwined with culture.

“When I was growing up, I was just not exposed to a lot of Black-owned businesses, and it’s inspiring to see right now the amount of talent and creativity behind businesses that are run by people that look like me. As a Black business owner myself that gives me a push forward,” White said.

450 Multimedia will continue to branch out into different venues and use its various outlets to share the message that all races want to have the space to understand the experiences of their Black peers and spaces to talk about creating equitable social outcomes for all.

From his own perspective, White knows change will take time.

He pulled out his phone to listen to the final speech from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Mason Temple, in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968 when King nobly vowed, “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know, tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

With his head nodding in agreement, White said, “We’ll get there.”

Contact information for 450 Multimedia is 450multimedia@gmail.com

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.