Seventeen-year-old Chayim (pronounced kime) Usher runs his own multimedia production company called Living Hebrew. With professional commercials, videos and company logos under his belt, Chayim’s business provides creative services like photography, videography, graphics and website design—“All those good things,” he says. “Living Hebrew is kind of a mixture of me. Chayim is a Hebrew name which means ‘life,’ and I’m also Hebrew.”
Born in Atlanta, Chayim (a homeschooler) is currently enrolled at Georgia Cyber Academy, a tuition-free, virtual homeschool available to kids K-12 throughout Georgia. Homeschooling has given him a sense of direction without distraction. “I’ve been building a company for three years. If I can do it starting at the age of 14, anybody can do it.”
Chayim’s courage and confidence start with the influence of his mother, his primary educator. “She gives me a lot of direction and makes me stand up for myself as person.” Latesia Clayton Usher starts dancing as she receives the highly deserved accolades from her oldest son. Mrs. Usher chimes in: “I have a total of six children. Chayim is a twin. I have two in-between, and my youngest are twins as well.” The proud mom continues, “I homeschool my children because I don’t want them in that [public school] environment. They’re mine. I can teach them better than anybody else.”
Clayton (Chayim’s twin) holds his brother in high esteem. Says Clayton, “I perceive Chayim as a worker. Anything he wants, he works for it. He’s a little mean, but most of the time it’s a push in the right direction. He’s an influence to us all.”
Drummer and music educator JFly, who’s accompanied artists such as Kelly Price, Toni Braxton and New Edition to name a few, calls Chayim “a child prodigy beyond his years.” As an active mentor, Chayim says, “He’s incredible—full of knowledge and experience. Without JFly, I don’t think I would be able to grow as quickly as I am. He pushes the youth to dream, establish goals, and actually helps us achieve them.”
Chayim also produces music. “Dance music like LMFAO,” he says. His goal for Living Hebrew is to redefine the possibilities of music and video. “Everybody looks at this work as something they can’t afford or creatively make happen. I want to take this to where it’s something everybody has a right to.”
Focused on his excellence, Chayim rarely leaves his computer. “I get up in the morning, check out schoolwork and my work projects. I may step away for food, but then I’m back at it.” The exceptional talent and up-and-coming businessman thinks the coolest thing about himself is his personality, but also his sense of self. “Nobody can be me,” he assures. “I’m too awesome.” So awesome that when he spouts the teen mantra “I’m bored,” he creates. Check his video.
Cool List from the Coolest: Chayim Usher
Music Producer: Dr. Dre
Book: Steve Jobs
Musician: Michael Jackson
Band: Lady Antebellum
Singer: Chester See
Music Video: Will.i.am, “This Is Love” ft. Eva Simons
Quote: “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are normally the ones that do.”—Steve Jobs
Joicelyn Dingle travels to find the Coolest Black Family in America exclusively for EBONY.com. She splits her time between Savannah and Brooklyn. She is currently completing a documentary on the making of Honey magazine and the 1990s urban publishing era. Friend her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter @editorialgenius.