*”Who in the F knows how to be successful?/Need personal Jesus/I’m in Depeche Mode” — Jay-Z
If you’re an African American looking to get into the film industry your personal Jesus just might be a woman by the name of Raqiyah Mays. Formerly of New York’s Hot 97 radio and sister station, 105.7 Kiss FM, Mays is an accomplished writer/radio personality turned actress who started out with an idea.
Now her company, Broadway Night Out, is doing it big with Filmmaker’s View. Think of it as a Robert Lipton’s “Actor’s Studio” except Mays is bringing in black directors. The first time out she had director Malcolm Lee (Soul Man, The Best Man) and more recently there was accomplished author/director Nelson George. I had to ask how it all went down and how is she conjuring up these directors seemingly out of thin air.
“I felt like so many of us were in the dark about what do you do, who do you talk to?,” said Mays. “Malcolm, I met in my radio days. Malcolm was a guest on my morning show on Kiss FM in New York. I went to the premiere of ‘Soul Men’ and I remember being nervous about talking to him and a few days later he was a guest and I found out he already knew who I was. We had this game we used to play called ‘Beat Raqiyah’ and after the premiere I let my intern stay on the red carpet and do the red carpet interviews. She said ‘Malcolm Lee, he came up talking about you.’ I didn’t know he knew of me, before I knew him. So, when I came up with this idea he hit me back 30 minutes later and said ‘I’ll do it.’ It just came together really, really easy.”
“Nelson (George), I’ve just always admired. I followed him on Twitter, he follow me. I was excited when he started following me,” she recalled. “I was like ‘Oh, Nelson George knows me!’ Nelson took a little more (convincing). Nelson wasn’t as easy. Nelson, I just kept sending emails. Every few weeks. Then when I did the Malcolm event I sent him clips just to show him what we were doing; here’s what BET had to say, here’s what EURweb had to say about it. I sent him all that kind of stuff. Finally, he agreed to do it. He liked what I was doing and where I was headed with it.”
The Filmmaker’s View was born, as Mays states, during the opening of each affair, in a dream. She dreamed of starting an affair where aspiring actors/actresses and directors can sit down and listen to people who have some success in films and give audiences the ends of and outs of the game. So, far the Filmmaker’s View’s venue has been held at the famed National Comedy Theater in New York City.
“I pay for this out of my own pocket as of now, the venue, the space, the sound, my staff,” said Mays. “I sell tickets and that helps defer some of the costs. I have some sponsors come onboard, but it’s been more of a bartering situation. African American Women in Cinema is promotions, New York Womens Chamber of Commerce is promotions. But, I’ve been talking to different sponsors now who want to sponsor with liquor and who want to sponsor with money and so it’s slow. People always want to see what you can do and what you’re doing. I’ve always believed in my Broadway Night Out events I began my company about a year ago. It was just networking events. I would call the parties Broadway Night Out.”
Having attended both events for the Filmmaker’s View I can personally attest to the energetic exchanges between the host, the filmmakers and the audience members. At the night’s end the filmmakers make themselves available to those in attendance for networking purposes, a rare happenstance in the entertainment industry.
And what’s next for the Filmmaker’s View, as if you didn’t already know!
“I plan on bringing the Filmmaker’s View to L.A. Right now I’m planning for June, around the BET Awards,” said Mays. “Now that the word is getting out it’s getting interesting. I’ve been talking to someone who is pretty reputable. When I went to Los Angeles to look for a venue I was talking it up and people out there were feeling it. Most of the directors are out there, most of the people that I had talked to said ‘Yeah, I’ll do it but I’m in L.A. People that you know. So, I can’t say but I will say I’m really excited about bringing this to L.A. As good as its been in New York, it’ll be double that in L.A.”
Not to fear citizens of Gotham! The Filmmaker’s View will be in Los Angeles for a limited time. In the meantime Raqiyah Mays brings you the Showcase: A New Way to Shine, A Better Way to Network.
“I’ve got something called ‘The Showcase’ that’s also going to be about networking. I’ve realized that actors are looking for knowledge. As an actress I just want to bring what I feel like is missing for actors. I realized that I was not getting any handouts so I might as well create it my own self. The Showcase will give actors the opportunity to showcase their talent. Every month I’m going to pick 5 actors to showcase their talent. Not only actors but poets and people from TV who want a chance to showcase their talents on stage. Actors and poets will perform monologues and pieces they want to present to the public. Then I’ll have one feature filmmaker who will come and either show their trailer.”
The Showcase’s first feature filmmaker will be known other than award-winning author and director Yasmin Shiraz and her new film “The Call Me Dae,” which is already getting rave reviews. For more information on Filmmaker’s View or The Showcase log on to broadwaynightout.wordpress.com.