We had the good fortune of connecting with Ericka de Alexander and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ericka, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
I’m not going to lie, trying your best at something new and not getting the results you want is not a very fun feeling. Especially when this new thing that you’re trying is something that you feel will make your soul happy if you do it. We constantly misplace our focus on the results of our actions rather than valuing their process. We like to focus too much on the big picture, and often times, we tend to forget to celebrate when we win the smaller battles. Being a passionate human isn’t easy, and at the same time, I don’t think it is a choice for us. Having this fire burn inside you and begging you to let it out in the form of art or a piece of work is not really something that we want to do, but rather something we ought to. We’re here for a reason, and that is to make this place a tad better than how we found it. You won’t get to the finish line if you don’t reach the checkpoints- that’s why checkpoints are so valuable. They reassure you that you are moving forward by trying and doing; they are what makes you grow. So, don’t give up because you are afraid you won’t get the results you are looking for, because most likely you won’t- you’ll get much better results the more you try and live through the process. Don’t be afraid to suck at something new, because that is the only way to get better at it. Just keep reaching those checkpoints.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Following your dreams is no easy thing, that’s one of the biggest things I’ve come to learn. You have to constantly remind yourself that you have a voice that is unique because it is yours, and that you are an individual who has something meaningful to say. This is not easy when you live in a society that is sinking in liquid consumerism. Because most times, meaningful things take more time to create. I direct and produce short films and music videos. When I work on a project, I work on it because I am in love with what it represents. And I tell myself that it will only be as great as it can be if I believe in it. That if I believe and care for my projects, others will too. And hopefully, it will make this crazy world a little better, a little nicer, a little more humane. My personal life has not been the easiest, growing up I seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on a couple of extraordinary times, and that hurt me very deeply. I feel like I had the opportunity to see an unfiltered life- one without the ‘safety mode’ on- where I saw many sad and hurtful things. These experiences made me sad for a very long time until I started creating little visual projects where I would take my pain and ‘read it’ so that I could find lessons in it, and use those to tell my stories. I believe we can all find extraordinary things in our ordinary lives, and I think that if I focus on telling stories inspired by this, I can help remind society what really is important and can make us innerly happy when we are suffocating with noise and superficiality. Back in school, I was never great at science or math. I read about historians, scientists who develop cures that have saved humanity, and people who, through political movements, have pushed the boundaries and fought for what is right- and I want to be part of those movement in my own way. As a visual human, talking, sharing, and creating have always been my outlets to express my ideas with others. And since I was very little, I noticed that movies thought me important lessons about friendship, family, love, freedom, acceptance. The stories and values told through movies are endless, and so emotional, you can connect with these even if you are not familiar with the language of the film. Movies like ‘E.T. the Extraterrestrial’, ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘The Parent Trap’, and ‘The Sound of Music’ thought me most of the values I have adopted and wholeheartedly believe in. And now I want to give back to the community the same way I learned from it- through this art. As a director and filmmaker, I believe my job is to connect and share values and ideals that teach my community how we can move forward, and why it is important to be human. That if you fall or make a mistake, there is always a lesson that comes from it. My job is to guide you to not give up and to see the light at the end of the tunnel- the lesson.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
One of the most special things about LA is that the city of full of culturally diverse spots, interests, and activities. Many of the most interesting ‘sightseeings’ in the city are the different locations that have been used on iconic movies. A trip to the Griffith Observatory, and going hiking on the more local trails of Griffith Park would be one of the first spots I would hit with a friend who is visiting. Checking out some spots in DTLA, like, The Last Bookstore and The Little Easy. In the evening, we could go to the Arts District and check out a couple of breweries and local restaurants. Living in LA, we have the luck to experience many different museums that show many different styles of art. Visiting LACMA, The Broad, and Norton Simon, would be some of my top options. On a Tuesday night, I would definitely take my friend to ‘Da Poetry Lounge’, a spoken word night full of amazing energy and humans who see beyond color, gender, and sexuality who simply gather together to open their hearts and share their stories to the beat of poetry. The show ends past midnight, and after that, many of the attendees and poets hang out at the In ‘N Out in Hollywood and we all grab a midnight snack. I would take my friend to Los Feliz or Melrose to grab lunch and take pictures, walk around and go thrifting. We are relatively close to the beach, so we would definitely have to go visit Santa Monica, the Pier, and 3rd street, and have a nice, chill day being tourists. Thursdays are really fun days. I would take my friend to Hollywood and Rodeo Dr in Beverly Hills, because that is a must. And in the evening, right before sunset, I would take them to grab a drink at No Vacancy or maybe Dirty Laundry if there is a show or performance happening, and I would tell them to get ready for the night because Thursday is lesbian night in West Hollywood and we would totally go to The Chapel. On Friday, we could do another hike or watch the sunrise at the beach before breakfast. Maybe take my friend shopping to a big mall like Americana or The Grove, and at night we could find an indie concert at The Echoplex or somewhere in Hollywood, DTLA, or the Arts District, because on Saturday we would go party back in West Hollywood, and go bar hopping from Flaming Saddles to The Abbey. On Sunday, probably after having a chill morning, we could go to Universal Studios and grab dinner somewhere nice in DTLA.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to give a shoutout to 2 valuable humans and a very meaningful book for believing in me and helping me get to where I am: My mother Sheila for her honest and unconditional support, psychologist Dr. Sanchez for helping me figure out how to love my imperfect life, and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry for his book ‘The Little Prince’- the closest thing that I have found to be the answer to a meaningful journey through life.
Graduation photo taken by Brian Charbonnel. ‘The First Color’ poster, and set still in color (on the set of ‘The Devil’s Son’) by photographer Emerson Lee.