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ST. LOUIS — Tyale McNary calls himself an “expert on life.”
At first glance, McNary is your average 22-year-old growing up in North St. Louis. He has an infectious smile peaking through his self-described “resting kick-ass face.” Also behind that smile: someone who has developed tightly held opinions and insights through life experience and self-reflection, lending credibility to his self-proclaimed “expert” title.
In “Tyale McNary: He May Be Wrong, But He Doubts It,” a new online series for PBS affiliate Nine Network, filmmaker and producer Frank Popper, leans on McNary’s takes on issues like voting and running for office in hopes of stirring up broader discussions. (He also has strong opinions about Air Jordans.)
McNary and Popper sat down with Nine Network to talk about how they first met and what exactly makes McNary an “expert on life.” Video by Nine Network
Popper met McNary in 2016 while shooting a documentary called “Gentlemen of Vision,” which chronicled the successes of the step team at the Riverview Gardens High School in St. Louis. Popper immediately recognized that the camera loved McNary, a member of the team, and that McNary loved the camera back.
To Popper, there wasn’t some grand, large narrative to tell with McNary. Instead, what was magical about him were his random observations on life, musings that unexpectedly stopped you in your tracks. That seemed to be the real value of McNary’s words: the ability to knock down your defenses and get you to contemplate something in a different way in a matter of minutes, Popper has said.
And, just like that, Popper’s concept changed from a documentary to a series of short videos with the charismatic young man.
In one video, McNary described how local politicians should feel like high school counselors to voters. Video by Nine Network
Each week, McNary hits the streets to visit with random people and take on any number of topics. One week it’s voting, the next week it’s how you season your food — all things that Tyale takes very seriously, and has strong opinions around.
“Stand for something, or fall for anything,” Tyale said in one of the videos, describing why he’s a community activist.
The web series “Tyale McNary: He May Be Wrong, But He Doubts It” originally appeared on Nine Network’s YouTube channel.
Nine Network of Public Media is a PBS affiliate located in St. Louis. The station connects the St. Louis region to the world and the world to St. Louis.