Influencer’s agent on backlash after school visit: We all make mistakes

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: Social media influencer Matara French, left, receives her flu shot during a Ministry of Health vaccination event at the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain on November 18. –

Nigel C Watson, agent of popular social media personality Matara French, is calling for compassion from the public and the government after she began facing a backlash for visiting a school to speak to students, despite being seen in controversial and sometimes obscene content on social media.

“I believe that the ministry and the people in the school are watching this in a totally wrong way,” Watson said. “They are sending a message that once you did something wrong, you should not be forgiven and nobody should hear you and you should just stay under the bus, and I think that is wrong. We all make mistakes.”

French visited the Carapichaima East Secondary School early in February along with Watson. Watson told Newsday  the public relations officer of the school’s PTA invited him to assist in an event with social media personalities.

Watson said, at the school event, French’s message was very positive and encouraging.

“She told them she herself had it tough growing up, and she learned from her mistakes and now she’s trying to turn over a new leaf. She told them to stay away from drugs. She talked about bullying and how she was also bullied online. She encouraged them to be strong about bullying. It was all positive, along that line.”

He said  a week after that event, they had a gig at Army Fete, after which French went to a party, and later on a bar, where she was filmed engaging in lewd acts. In a subsequent video she said she was intoxicated and alleged that she may have been drugged.

In a release on Friday, the Ministry of Education distanced itself from the school’s invitation, saying it did not receive any request to include French in any school event. As a result the ministry never issued any approval for French’s visit.

“This participation was not sanctioned by the Ministry of Education,” the release said. “All school supervisors and principals are in possession of instructions with regard to the selection and approval process for external parties to speak at schools.”

The release said the guidelines were re-issued with the mandate that only the Ministry of Education, through the Chief Education Officer, can approve external speakers at school events.

Watson said despite the poor image of French that the video portrays, she is trying to make a difference in her life and the lives of the people around her.

He said French was also a businesswoman who sold beauty products and had done charitable work in her community. He added that, although the recent controversy had damaged her efforts to change her image, she should be given a second chance.

“I’m not going to say that it is a good look – it is not a good look for somebody who just visited a school. Naturally people see somebody like that they will try to say, ‘That is not a role model.’ But they wouldn’t look at it as someone who is trying to make a difference.”

He added that his group, the Social Media All-Stars, were all people who had been seen in a negative light and were now trying to make a change. The group has so far done three comedy shows in SAPA, Central Bank and in Tobago.