Class Act: Webb landed his first role in the musical Once on This Island in sixth grade when he wanted to get out of math class. “I had math class as my final period and there was a test that I did not study for. So when I heard that play auditions were happening during last period, I was there. Once I started practicing and performing, I caught the bug.”
Word Play: The following year, Webb’s English teacher assigned a poetry chapter to the class. At first, he protested with the rest of the class. But as he wrote, he felt a passion for what he was doing. His poem turned out so well his teacher had him read it to other classes, which made him nervous. “I can’t remember the title of the first poem I wrote but I can remember the first two lines. Life for me is like a bumblebee flying high above the sea / fishes gonna try and bring me down on all sides and all around.”
Hard Times: Webb had to endure a lot of heartaches while in college. Two of his friends were killed, his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and his mother was injured during a hit-and-run accident. “I turned on the news and I saw the car that I learned to drive in wrapped around a tree. But no one understood what I was going through. My classmates were Jim Carrey’s kids and Forest Whitaker’s kids. They were driving Beamers and Maseratis and eating at the Cheesecake Factory while I’m just trying to get through.”
World Tour: Searching for a creative outlet, Webb started attending an open mic night near his college. He and other poets would perform their faith-based verses in front of a crowd and a camera. Before they knew it, multiple videos had gone viral. They began getting calls for bookings throughout the country, but rather than go at it alone, he joined the Poets in Autumn, a group touring throughout the U.S. “We talk about so many different things from depression to my experience with abuse through the guise of faith.”
Through The Lens: After the shooting of Robert Godwin Sr. on Easter 2017, Webb was fed up with the sensationalist coverage of gun violence in the city. He got the idea to make a film that would show the effects shootings have on others through the lens of a little brother returning to school after his older brother was shot by the police. His idea won the 2018 Cleveland Film Incubator Project, and he received a director of photography, assistant director, sound operator, two production days, all camera and lighting equipment and a $1,000 cash budget to make his film. “We get so caught up on the shootings themselves that we forget about the families involved. My hope is that people see this film and start looking at gun violence in a new way.”
Interesting Fact: Webb’s poem “The Gate” clocks in at more than 9 million views to date on Facebook.