THE TIME I WAS A VIDEO GIRL
We all have our "what-ifs", things we would do if the opportunity presents itself, if we're in the right place and the right time. All of it. My aim in life is to die without them. I want to be sure that I've taken advantage of all my opportunities to have fun, create memories and gain experience.
One of those what ifs was to be in a music video. Think about it, I grew up seeing the shawties glistening riding in the passenger seat looking crisp and bougie alongside the rappers in drop top benzes. Shit was fly and it mesmerized my young and impressionable mind. It became an experience I longed to have; low-key of course.
I'm not one to pursue the spotlight in most situations, so this one caught me a bit off guard. Doing my daily scrolling of Instagram, I came across a picture for a casting call asking for basic measurements, a name, age and an Instagram account. Here's the catch, it was for one of the members from a famous hip-hop collective that's based here in NYC, so seeing it made me do a 180 flip.
But I scrolled past it anyway.
"Ehh let me not, they probably won't pick me."
Don't get me wrong y'all, I know I'm fly but I never equated myself to the video girl type. I'm not built like Bernice Burgos or Bria Myles, so girls who look like me on TV are rarely / if ever exalted. No sweat, it just seemed unrealistic.
A few hours went by and my phone started blowing up, it was theGIRLMOB's group chat. So I peeped my text messages and saw the same damn flyer. One of my girls hit us up about the casting call, encouraging us to apply. ( Shout out to Vee ❤️ she always motivates me. Thanks mama! ) I felt as though it was a sign, and she was so adamant and excited about the chance so I couldn't let it slide. I sent in my information. But my wheels started turning, one mass email for thousands of submissions?! I wanted to see what my chances would be; I'm super analytical so my finite attention to detail kicked in.
I began searching to find out what the reception of the casting call was, who was discussing it, where they were located etc. It was on that search that I saw a direct email for a casting director, looking for submissions for the same video. I took out the middleman, and slid in the email - with a picture from Snapchat.
Here's a slight timeline: I saw the flyer on Instagram on Friday, sent in my information on Saturday and the shoot was on the following Sunday. So I was cutting it reaaal close. However, immediately after I sent in my picture the director hit me back. I was pressed too, walking through the mall, trying to answer the email with my phone on 1%. The Struggle. But of course I got it done & the director asked for my Instagram account; she wanted to see a picture of me without the Snapchat filter ( and yes it was the flower crown. Sue me.) Regardless I clearly fit the image because about 10 minutes later I got the follow up email saying that I would be contacted with further details later on that day.
So I was hype!
I went home, but I didn't tell anyone. I kept it to myself, as I've never been the type to chat about my moves before I officially make them.
9:00 PM hits and I get an email, explicitly detailing the location, rules and etiquette for being on set, time for the shoot and the wardrobe we needed to bring. Everything was gucci except for one thing. I had to wear ALL WHITE. In the middle of March. Who the hell decided that?? *rolls eyes*.
I don't own white clothing, intentionally. I am around children 24/7, at home and at work. Wearing white is a personal death sentence. So I save money, wear black and stay cute. I was SKRESSED y'all. I live in the boonies so all the stores around me were shut down at that time. I had some dirty white Air Force ones I wore to Afropunk and hadn't touched since. Ultimately I was stuck with that bc I wasn't going to drop dollars and resolved that I would go shopping once I hit NYC in the morning for the shoot.
I went to bed at 1, and had to pop right back up at 6 am to start my trek into the city. I hit the train station at 6:30am and beat my face. I am the queen of face beating in public places and must I say that my hilight was immaculate as if God kissed me right on my cheekbones. I does this.
I hopped on the train just in time, and started calling stores. I called Kmart at Penn Station and used my bougie voice on the phone, and kindly inquired if they had white skinny jeans in stock. They went to look for me, found a pair on the low and held it behind the counter for me.
I was short on time so I had to make every minute count. Working in customer service helped me learn that niceties and manners go a very long way, and people are more pleasant at work early in the morning; it all worked in my favor.
As soon as I hit the station I ran to the store and copped the pants. Then I ran down the street to forever 21 and scoured the clearance rack for a white shirt. I copped a shirt for 8$ and called two TGM ladies--Yari & Vee for a stamp of approval. They both said I was good money and my makeup was fly, so it was then that I was on my way.
I hopped in the Gett, on my way to the location. Very nervous and almost convinced that I would be late. I got to the venue, it was a super dope spot in Williamsburg, that I had seen a million times before. I frequented a local space around the same area for an internship of mine so it was dope to see things manifest full circle. After my moment of introspective thought, I realized that I was the first person to arrive. I checked in with the director and not too long after more people started to show up. We were sent to a larger room where we posted up and waited for a few hours.
The directors all came through and introduced themselves, the team fed us and we waited a few more minutes. The directors came through again, asking us to invite a trustworthy person, as they needed more people for the shot and wanted to make everyone feel welcome. I immediately hit my cousin's line and told her to hop out of bed and bring her ass to the spot. She lives in Flatbush so the journey was doable. I just needed her to run. She arrived in the nick of time. I beat her face in the bathroom and by then we were good to go!
We all were led upstairs to the main room that looked like a church. They placed us by height on steps and stools surrounding a silver turntable illuminated stage. I initially was upfront on the stage, but I was short and it was too much. People were fighting to get on screen, and it wasn't that serious for me as being there was an experience already.
I did about 5 takes in the same spot. It was at that point I decided to take a break, & simultaneously one of my girls from theGIRLMOB came through, so i went to say what's good and see what it looked like behind the camera. Mind you, at this point the Rolodex in my head is whipping through the work like crazy. I'm putting faces to names and labels, occupations, Instagram accounts all that. I make an effort to know who I'm around at all times, bc that in turn helps me navigate the room.
Post water break I decided to stand on the side to get a better perspective of the room. It was in that moment that my cousin who was continuously taking the shots, waved me over and told me to get back into the video shoot. Right when I stepped back we did a take the rapper whose video this was very respectfully asked my name and moved my spot on the stage, but before I could take a seat he beckoned me to the front, with the main girls who were dressed in heels with fresh blowouts. Let that sink in.
Here I am, in someone else's fur with my old sneakers and my new Kmart white jeans with the knees rubbed out alongside seasoned girls in their best video girl wear in front of the camera. Handpicked. For the rest of the shoot I was lit and extra, I wasn't going to waste any time in not enjoying myself.
I know some video shoot sets can get a bad rep about being insensitive to women and hyper-sexualizing them by being misogynistic, not paying people or feeding them and being super demanding. This was far from the case. Everyone on set was super professional, diligent and well mannered. We all had a job to do and we got it done. I admire some of the people behind the camera. Imagine being on payroll on a weekend just to chill at the video shoot. Those are my #goals. I’m just happy my cameo didn't mean I had to twerk in a thong, so I don't have to be embarrassed to show my mama.
See a small clip below I'm the one with blue hair, watch the whole thing here
image post credit: @missguided
@monie is TGM's resident music guru