Photo Credit: Roni Nicole


i am forever a work in progress/in this school of scattered thought/don’t know what will become of me
but i sculpt anyway/hoping my chisel will reveal /someone beautiful… -Roni Nicole

Many years ago, my oldest daughter showed interest in filmmaking, creating multiple mini-short comedies with her little sister called, “The OSO Random Show”. For her age (at that time), I thought she was really talented and was onto something with the skills she displayed. Being the cheerleader-of-a-mom that I am, I did some investigating into furthering my daughter’s untapped potential. I turned to my ‘oh-so’ resourceful friend, Maori Karmael, and told her what was brewing. She then had me contact her friend in Atlanta who has a film company, Moving Pictures, named RONI NICOLE. Maori also suggested that I have my daughter intern or ‘shadow’ her on the project she was then currently working on, just so my daughter can get a behind-the-scenes look at filmmaking.

Since that moment the name ‘Roni Nicole’ was brought into my existence, her name would frequently pop up in circles of conversation I was part of. Soon after, I got to witness her amazing work in Kelly Love Jones’ video “For You“, Hot Heavy and Bad’s “ONE” and Shanti Om’s “Deliverance“.

Her most breathtaking work I’ve seen thus far is the trailer for her upcoming film, “Grace”. Man, Oprah Winfrey’s “Beloved” aint got NOTHING on this! The cinematography is absolutely beautiful, and it’s evident that she has an ‘old soul’. As our mutual friend Fahamu Pecou puts it,

“…her work documents an aesthetic that is reminiscent of the visuals conjured by “grandma’s stories”. Her narratives tell tales of personal magic, dreams and mystery – but all wrapped in moody hues, breeze-blown tree branches, and tingling glass bottles. If you quiet your mind just enough, you can hear the blues humming through her power-filled images…”


Alas, my daughter never did get a chance to be under Roni’s tutledge, but as synchronicity would have it, guess who DID get a chance to work with her?

MOI! 🙂

She and I were featured in photographer Brandi Pettijohn’s photo series entitled, “Eye See You” during the summer of 2010 (and would you

photo by Brandi Pettijohn for "Eye See You"

believe this incredible visionary took some photo direction from ME?!? hee-hee).

Soon after, she and her daughter packed

their bags and headed for a life in New York City.

While I was recently visiting the Big Apple, I had a chance to catch up with her and ask how life had been treating her. Roni’s beautiful smile and fun-filled stories gave me the answer (which is GREAT, by the way). Her creative mind and free-spirit had me curious as to who exactly Roni Nicole is, since she’s come a long way from her days with The Freddie Hendricks Youth Ensemble. Though she would simply tell me she’s a “filmmaker, image maker, storyteller, conjura, and lover”, I wanted more than a synopsis, for heaven’s sake!

So during our MOVING PICTURE shoot, along with stylist Hekima Hapa for her clothing line-Harriet’s by Hekima, I got to dissect the complexity of  this self-proclaimed ‘simple’ woman…

Earthcandy: How did you become interested in photography/cinematography?
Roni Nicole: My mama was a painter and I was frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t draw like her–forget about painting.  I knew I was an artist though and it was when I was told by my department head to take home the English department’s unopened camera to “figure it out” that I fell in love with the shadow and light of the “framed world.”
EC: Who are some of your influences?
RN: I am influenced by painters mostly–my mama being the first.  She painted exaggerated worlds, shapely and empowered women and I see that I have taken on her love for otherworldliness in my work. Secondly, Romare Bearden, with his brilliant layering in collage to tell stories of black life, has empowered my love of texture and depth in the simplest shots. Dali is the composition master and manipulates perspective to make you just feel a way about what you are seeing–even if you don’t have a tangible clue.  Outside of images though, I love words that are so good, they evoke imagery: Toni Morrison, myths from ancient cultures and Paulo Coelho come to mind.
EC: What, according to you, are the qualities that a director should possess?
RN: A director needs vision, stubborness, flexibility and an understanding of both the shadow and light as motivators in human behavior.
EC: Who do you think is a better director- a focused person or a wandering-minded but imaginative person?
RN: They must co-exist within one person…either extreme will achieve a whack film. The nature of directing is focused attention to a million things at once.
EC: What are some of YOUR favorite films? Foreign films? Television shows?
RN: I love all the early Spike Lee Joints, of course. Dark Knight, Inception and Requiem for a Dream were really well done films as well. Foreign: Besouro, Amelie, City of God, and Yesterday are lovely films.  On the tube, I have a guilty pleasure and it is called LAW & ORDER!!!  Don’t judge me. Project Runway is my joint too!
EC: What is the most amazing thing you’ve learned, being a filmmaker?
RN: That if you expect it, magic will unfold right in front of your eyes!
EC: Where do you see MOVING PICTURES in five years?
RN: The future…hmmm. Well, I’m working towards large scale projections of my experimental short-short films, inspired by street art.  We hope to enter preproduction on the feature-length version of Grace this year as well. I will always be shooting stills because it is a meditation of mine–so prints will become a major element in the business as well.
Witness where creatives united for a “dance in jade” among textile (Hekima Hapa of Harriet’s by Hekima)/organism (me-Jamila of EARTHCANDY)/ and lens (Roni Nicole of MOVING PICTURES)…

Luckily, I had this precious opportunity before she embarks on yet another departure. In a twist of fate, the stars have aligned and LA is a’callin…so she and her daughter are packing up and heading to Los Angeles to explore its stories for a time. I tell ya, when opportunity comes knockin’ and spirit moves Roni Nicole,  there’s NO stopping her!

See for yourself why all want a piece of her:

Much success is deserving for this talented woman, and I’ll be proud to say, “Yep, I know her!” when I see her visions shown larger-than-life on the silver screen. 🙂


5 responses »

  1. Great story, great images. I really enjoyed knowing more about Roni and can’t wait to see more. I love the clothes in your shoot. Gonna check her out when I get up north!

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