Nzingha Stewart

Nzingha

Interview with Nzingha

What is your current role? 
 
Writer-Director
Can you tell me a little about your professional and personal background?
 
I went to NYU for philosophy and black studies, but always knew I was interested in film. While I was there, I interned for Def Jam Records where I met Brett Ratner, who at the time was a big music video director. I started interning for him, which led to me writing for him, which then led to me writing for a bunch of other music video directors (Hype Williams, Diane Martel, etc…).
 
At the same time, I started directing music videos on the side (really tiny, micro-budgets where everyone on the crew had ten jobs) and built a reel. I showed it to some of the directors I worked for and that got me a rep (agent), which led to me directing music videos professionally. I shot the video for Common “The Light,” and my career took off after that. 
 
After a few years of directing music videos, I decided to make the transition to film and television, and my first feature project was as Executive Producer of Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls, a project that I brought in to the studio. My current projects are a feature film that I’m writing for Disney (with my old boss Brett Ratner producing – showing how important it is to maintain those early work relationships!), a TV pilot for VH1, a producing partnership with actress Gabrielle Union, and I’m a current ABC directing fellow.
What are your interests? 
 
I’m a huge foodie and have styled myself an amateur restaurant critic, so unfortunately I have to list eating as an interest! Outside of that movies (obviously), I’m a big music and comedy fan, so most non-work nights find me at a live show, and I’m always in a book.
What is your mantra?
 
“I am ready and I receive.”
Who do you admire?
 
Other women directors. The late Nora Ephron, Kathryn Bigelow, Ava Duvernay… Directing is like juggling 10 things blind-folded and standing on one leg, when someone does it well, I know how much work they’ve put in to it. When it’s a woman, I know that at least in the beginning, they’ve probably had to add a little more elbow grease to either get the job to begin with, or get the cast, crew, or studio to trust them.
How do you keep going when motivation and / or inspiration is waning? 
 
It depends, if motivation is waning because of something like writer’s block or procrastination, I know that it’s because my creative tank is empty and the best way to deal with it is to fill it up again – so I get to a museum or a live show pronto! If motivation is waning because things are moving too slowly for my liking or not going the way I want them to, I usually have to talk to myself. Literally. I talk to myself out loud to calm myself down, give myself a pep talk (or several), and I keep talking to myself (sometimes for weeks!) until eventually I’m back on track again. 
Any new happenings you care to share? 
 
I directed the European leg of Kevin Hart’s new concert film “Let Me Explain” which should come out next year, and I’m getting ready to shoot a webseries starring Gabrielle Union and featuring a series of hot comedians. 
Where can we find you?

Twitter:  @zingbling