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Tamika Miller

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1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it

I directed my first television commercial(s) for broadcast for Lifetime TV in January 2018, as part of their #BeyondFirsts campaign. The campaign highlighted African American pioneers in politics, sports and aviation. I wrote and directed two commercials. One commercial highlighted tennis legend Althea Gibson - the first African American to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament, including the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. My second commercial highlighted Shirley Chisholm - the first African American to run for the United States presidency, and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke - the first member of Congress to give birth while in office and the first to be granted maternity leave by the Speaker of the House. I was thrilled to put a spotlight on three women I admire. And, both commercials were fun to shoot!

2) How did you get into directing?

My first job out of college was working as a production assistant on a Toyota commercial directed by Antoine Fuqua. I was always a storyteller and working in commercial production became my film school. I started directing commercial spec spots, and eventually wrote and directed my first short narrative, Gift for the Living, which won the Showtime Black Filmmaker Showcase and aired on the Showtime network. This accomplishment out the box gave me confidence to continue to hone my craft and pursue a career in directing.

3) What is your most recent project?

My most recent project is a TV movie--a romantic comedy--titled Back To The Goode Life, about a successful New York banker who goes from being a boss to being broke overnight after the feds freeze all her assets when she’s wrongfully blamed for unethical banking practices. She’s forced to give up her hard-earned, lavish lifestyle and move back home to her humble beginnings with her uniquely hilarious, Southern family that she thought she ditched and left behind in a small town in Georgia. However, it’s here that she rediscovers her self-worth, an old love, and the true meaning of family. The movie premiered on the BET Her Network on April 27th, 2019.

4) What is the best part of being a director?

For me, the best part of directing is the collaboration! Directing isn’t a soloist endeavor, but very much a collaborative effort. And, there’s something magical about having a vision, articulating my vision and having other talented creatives become equally excited and invested in seeing my vision come to life. I’m all about IT being the best that it can possibly be, and I recognize that it takes other creatives to elevate the vision. This is why it’s important for me or any director to have a great team around them!

5) What is the worst part of being a director?

The worst part of being a director is when you don’t have the support you need to simply create and execute your vision. For directors further along in their professional careers, this becomes less of an issue.

6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre--comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?

Creatively, I think we’re living in a unique time where content creators don’t have one focus. As a director, I think it’s important for me to be diverse in what I’m capable of directing. I’m interested in directing commercials and branded content, episodic television, as well as features. My most recent commercial work focuses on comedy - family and children. However, I also gravitate towards high-energy, fast-paced athletic content - particularly with strong women at the center.

As for my narrative work, my three award-winning short narratives are drama; however, my most recent work, a TV movie, is a romantic comedy. I can do both!

7) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?

Over the years I’ve sought guidance and counsel from friends who are further along in their careers. Commercial and television director Maurice Marable has been a friend and mentor. Producer Leslie Belzberg, also a friend, has been a mentor without her knowing it perhaps!

I wish I had more mentors earlier in my career.

8) Who is your favorite director and why?

This is a tough question for me to answer! Quite simply, I don’t have a “favorite” director, although there are directors who I consider masters at their craft. I suppose some of my favorite films point to them.

9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?

It’s impossible for me to choose only one film as my favorite! As for movies I’ll watch over and over again - Godfather I & II, Out of Africa, The Color Purple, Goodfellas, Terms of Endearment, Boyz N the Hood, Road to Perdition (I like Sam Mendes’ sensibility as a director)...

As for television, Game of Thrones and Shark Tank

There have been some great commercials over the years. A few spots that stick with me are: Nike’s “Together” commercial featuring LeBron James, directed by The Malloy Brothers; P&G’s “The Talk” directed by Malik Vitthal; and, P&G’s “Winter Olympics | Thank You” directed by Alma Har’el.

10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)

I grew up in Miami, Florida, and went away to college in Chicago - to Northwestern University. To this day, Chicago is one of my favorite cities in the world! After college I moved to Los Angeles, where I’ve lived and worked ever since.

I got my start in the ‘business’ by working as a production assistant for television commercials. I moved up quickly and started coordinating, production supervising and line producing commercials. I’ve been freelance my entire career, and have worked on numerous high-end commercials and managed budgets totaling over $150M.

While making a living working in commercial production, I wrote and directed independent projects in between - short films and commercial specs.

Contact

Contact Tamika Miller via email
www.tamikamiller.com