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Hard Work Gets Her to the Top

by Peterson Metellus

RonnieListen a lot, don't talk, pay attention, and don't miss out, ask questions when you are curious.

That was the message given to this reporter at a recent taping with The Fugee All Stars and Savion Glover. Ronnie Wheeler, an assistant director, who has worked with many of the stars seen on music videos and award shows, spoke about her responsibilities as assistant director.

"The assistance directors are in charge of managing the set. That means we actually make sure they have all the talent they need, hire the crew. If they need cranes and equipment, cars, if they want boats, helicopters, cameras ... that's our job," said Ms. Wheeler.

Perhaps most important to the others, she also makes sure that everyone gets paid. (Show us the money, Ronnie)

With headset, short cropped hair and lots of energy, Ronnie runs around the East Harlem block, making sure all is well. The Refugee All Stars and Savion Glover were working together to shoot a carnival scene for an ABC music special. The video dealt with the bond of rap and tap dancing in a way that all people could appreciate. HarlemLive was able to interview people that work behind the scenes that make these shows possible. (We also interviewed Wyclef, Pras and others. We interviewed the PAs, (production assistants), the tour manager, the people that keep unwanted people from coming on the set, the people that bring out the food, the makeup artist, the wardrobe person, who makes sure that the artist has the right clothing from head to toe.

However, to this reporter, Ms. Wheeler was really special. She is a member of the Directors Guild of America. She started out in 1986, as a production assistant, for a movie called Coming to America, starring Eddie Murphy. She said it was hard work, not enough money, but good experience.

This reporter saw the Refugee All Stars as normal people, because that's how cool they all were. They kept it a hundred percent real. But Ronnie was different. Here was this African American woman taking care of so much. To think that back in the eighteen hundreds, women didn't have that much power to do a lot; vote, speaking out, nor equal opportunities in the work place. She is setting an example for young black youth, showing them that you could do anything that you put your mind to.


Ms. Wheeler also made a statement that was very clear. She didn't start off with a lot of money. She started off from the bottom and worked her way to the top of her profession. It's all about hard work and getting to know the right people, she said. When asked what message she had for the youth, she said very clearly, her lips and mouth voiced that education is very valuable to each and every one of us.


When asked what made her decide to do this kind of line of work. "As a young black women, I realized that all the stuff I saw on television didn't look like me, so I wanted more of us (African American Woman) to be a part of this experience."





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