What We Can Learn From P*Star

When I say “rapper”, what do you think of? Probably not a preteen girl spittin’ rhymes about how she isn’t ready for a boyfriend yet. This documentary might change that.

PStar (Photo Credit: ewphoto on Flickr)

PStar (Credit: ewphoto on Flickr)

P*Star Rising is a documentary by Gabriel Noble that follows the growth (literally) of a 9-year-old female rapper from Harlem named Priscilla Diaz, stage name: P*Star.  While I don’t know if I would have picked a name for a 9-year-old that produces google searches about the adult entertainment industry, I was instantly won over by this little girl’s wittiness and extremely apparent charisma.  The film recently premiered at Tribeca Film Festival.  Check out the trailer.

We can all learn a few things from P*Star, the artist, and Priscilla Diaz, the girl.

Connections make you or break you. P*Star wasn’t born rapping (although that would be pretty sick).  She didn’t get signed by a record label because of her musical genius.  She got signed because her father, an ex-rapper from the 80s, knew the right people.

While most of us aren’t lucky enough to be born into families with connections in the field of our choice, we can use social media to forge connections with people that will help advance our career.  Start seeking out people on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter that will provide you with an outlet for your work.  Maybe it is a museum curator, or a record producer, or an employer.  Join the communities that these people are part of and start a conversation.  Make a connection by asking questions or establish yourself as competent by answering other people’s questions.  The questions can lead to an email, the email to an interview or audition.  Most successes don’t come from luck; they come from someone saying “Hey, I know this great person you should hear about.”

You can’t do it alone. There are going to be hard times.  Really hard times.  I don’t care how strong you are, you can’t believe that you are going to make it without some support system.  Whether it is monetary or emotional support, you need someone that will always be stable, because there will be times when everything else is not.

Have an interesting story. The thing I like most about P*Star is that she has a story.  She grew up in poverty with a heroine-addicted mother and cocaine-selling father.  Her father cleaned up his act and took her in, teaching her how to rap.  She had her first gig when she was 6, was signed to a record contract at 10, and now has a leading role on PBS’s revival of The Electric CompanyFind some things, or a series of things that make people go, “Cool!

48 Hour Film Project, 2009: Washington, DC

Early bird registration for the 48 Hour Film Project has closed in DC, but regular registration is still open.

Team Gefilte Fish Eye shoots Damned Love in Tel Aviv in 2008.

Team Gefilte Fish Eye shoots 'Damned Love' in Tel Aviv in 2008.

This year, 48 Hour Film DC, takes place on the weekend on May 1st.  Yet again, I have a conflict that weekend, but I know of several people with teams in the mix this year and I might still find some way to get involved.  (Of note, 48 Hour Film Boston, is the same weekend and has already filled up, but you can get on the waiting list.)

Your Mission

For the uninitiated, 48 Hour Film Project is competition where you a write, shoot, edit and score a short film in 48 hours.

  • On the Friday evening at the beginning of the 48 hours you are given a genre for your film as well as a character, a prop, and a line to include in your movie.
  • On Sunday, the film is due, in completed form, to be screened in a local theater in the following week.
  • According to the 48 Hour Film Project site, last year there were 30,000 participants in 70 cities.  The Project has been around since 2001, and looks to be going strong.

This all makes for a crazy weekend of filmmaking fun and I highly recommend it to anyone with a weekend to spare.  Oh, right, and there are prizes for those of you who go for that.

Other Cities

If you’re not in the DC or Boston areas, other upcoming cities in May are all open for early bird registration now: