Even if you’re not a Drake fan, it’s impossible to ignore his new music video for “I’m Upset.” It’s essentially a giant Degrassi reunion filled with cameos from Drake’s old co-stars (although there’s no sign of Jimmy’s wheelchair), and it’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane for anyone who loved the show. It’s also impossible to ignore the woman behind-the-scenes who made it happen. Meet Karena Evans, the 22-year-old who directed the video for “I’m Upset.”
Evans is a Toronto-native and a rising star in the directing world. With an already seriously impressive resume, she’s a name you’re going to want to watch out for. As a director, actor, and writer, Evans is a triple threat.
Evans started out in the industry as an intern for veteran music video director, Director X, at his production company Popp Rok. She quickly climbed the ladder and is now known as his protege.
“I’m Upset” isn’t even the first big music video Evans has directed, and it’s the third time she’s worked with Drake. Evans was behind the star-studded video “Nice For What,” working with other female powerhouses like Issa Rae, Jourdan Dunn, Rashida Jones, Olivia Wilde, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tiffany Haddish, Yara Shahidi, and Zoe Saldana. She also worked on “God’s Plan.”
As the first female recipient of the Prism Prize’s Lipsett Award for her innovative and creative approach to directing, Evans holds one of the highest music video honors in Canada. And while she’s currently most known for her work with Drake, she also directed SZA’s music video, “Garden,” featuring Donald Glover. She’s worked on projects like the Nike Air Max campaign and CBC Arts’ Heartbreak to Art 10-part series, as well as a Black Lives Matter social commentary piece.
Her success in the industry has gained Evans a lot of praise, including some from Director X, who has publicly raved about her as both an intern and a director. In an Instagram post a few months ago, he wrote, “@karenaevans started as an intern. She stayed longer worked harder than everyone else. From intern to director at my company. Last year grinding on low budget jobs giving big budget results. This year she’s directed @champagnepapi God’s Plan & the new single Nice For What. When work ethic is matched by talent. Big up the team @popp_rok for pulling this wide ranging job off. Here’s some bts footage for all y’all 🙌🏽 (feel like a Dad video taping his daughter at a recital when ever [sic] I come to set).”
Watching Evans succeed at such a young age — and in a notoriously male-dominated industry — is beyond inspiring, and we’re so glad she’s getting the recognition she deserves.
We can’t wait to see what Evans does next.