Edwin Walker is no stranger to Perfectionist Wannabe. You can read his first interview (when he was 27) and his latest interview (at the age of 35) to see how he’s still living the journey in pursuit of the dream that is ever-evolving.
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Favorite moment in your life so far. Traveling to the continent of Africa, all 3 times.
Name one place you would like to visit. Tokyo
Advice you live by. Bask in L.I.F.E (Live In Freedom Everyday)
Advice you would give to your teenage self. Slow down man, enjoy these years.
Biggest impact Chicago has had on you. It’s kept me grounded and authentic to myself and others.
Biggest impact Hollywood has had on you. It’s taught me to know who the hell you are and own your work and identity.
Would you ever do theater? Of course, I started out doing theater and stopped, but I plan on returning one day and making it to Broadway in the future, God willing.
Favorite film festival. South by Southwest
Favorite artist. Jean-Michel Basquiat
Name an artist you think everyone should be following. Myself – Edwin Walker x E. Micheaux
Your social media go to. Instagram
Favorite filmmaker. Oscar Micheaux
Which project challenged you the most? Caged Birds
What do you do to relax? Meditate, walk, read and rest for half a day once a week.
Morning person or night person? Night
Streaming or in theater kind of person? Both
Favorite movie snack. Any gummy candy
Coolest celebrity you’ve met so far. Tom Hanks
Best advice someone in the industry gave to you. “It’s a marathon journey, not a sprint so pace yourself, slow and steady wins the race.”
First movie you loved.The Lion King
First crush. Kyla Pratt
Person (alive or dead) you would love to meet. Tupac
Do you get imposter syndrome? Nope
Do you get nervous right before you get on stage or get in front of the camera? Of course, I thrive off my nerves and excel in the moment.
Best advice a friend has given to you. Don’t ever change, keep being yourself!
What’s next? So much, we are traveling the country with the “PreSchool To Prison” documentary project. I’m curating art/photo exhibitions, and dinner parties with artists and brands with Lab Eighty 8. I’m shooting a documentary series titled “E’s Global Quest” where I’m traveling to places around the world, meeting new people, learning about culture and cuisine from my POV. I’m producing and directing a feature documentary titled “Every Second Saturday In August” about the enriching chronicle of an annual vibrant celebration of black culture on the South-Side of Chicago. Along with prepping a feature film titled “Love’s Intention” that I’m praying to get cameras rolling Summer 2024 in Chicago. I have so much to be grateful for.
Building Your Collective When Following Your Dreams
It’s been eight years since I first met filmmaker Edwin Walker at the American Black Film Festival and he did an interview for this site. I said back then that I knew we would end up being good friends for the rest of our lives. So far, I’ve been right about that.
Every time Edwin stops into NYC, we try to get together. We spend more time walking, talking, and eating than anything else. We are kindred souls in that we are not just storytellers, we also understand each other on a spiritual level. I think, in a way, we keep each other going on this journey as we follow our dreams.
I do not recommend following your dreams on your own. You need people around you to help you navigate through this journey. It is not all sunshine, unicorns, and rainbows. There are a lot of things that happen along this path that can completely sideline you for years.
For me, I think maybe the hardest thing after leaving hockey was my identity crisis and trying to figure out who I am now and where I wanted to go next. When the pandemic happened, it got even worse. But luckily, I had Edwin checking in on me, forcing me to get on a Zoom call with him, just to talk…so that we both knew we were not alone.
Edwin is a huge reason why you see a resurgence on this site. He came out to NYC during Tribeca Film Festival in June and we stopped into one of the panels. He asked a question that resonated within me. What do we (creatives) do when we become uninspired? How do we push through? We’ve been asking each other this question for the past few years. The answer he received was literally the answer we were looking for.
We, storytellers, need to push through. We need to continue to tell our stories and the stories of others, because we are a very important part of humanity. I think for me, putting a label on who I was helped me figure out what I wanted to do next. It helped me to understand why Edwin and I became friends. We are storytellers.
It is important to always surround yourself with people who are pursuing their dreams, just like you are. It is vital that you know you are not alone as you go through each win and each failure. There will be times of mediocrity and times that will completely gut you and leave you an emotional mess. Sometimes the entire world just stops or your country creates so much turmoil you are scared for your life. This is when you need to reach out to your pack of friends…your collective. Sometimes it helps to know that we are all going through the same thing as we navigate becoming who we are meant to become.
That’s the key. We are inspired by the people we surround ourselves with. Even when we’re stuck, wading through the mud, we need each other to help pull each other through this together. Following our dreams is not an easy task. There are moments we are going to feel uninspired and don’t want to continue. There are times life will hit you with something huge and you need to figure out how to get through this, even when you are an emotional mess.
Creatives need each other, because we need to know we are not the only ones going through this hard part of the creative process. But it is not just about the creative process. It is about the dream and the pursuit of it. Following your dreams is not easy. There are going to be a lot of disappointments along the way, a lot of learning curves, but that is just the universe’s way of helping you find your way.
I met Edwin right after I left hockey. The universe helped us find each other because as these eight years have proven, we needed each other when we created our own collective of creative friends. We inspire each other. We lift each other up and encourage each other, even when we are stuck. We help each other figure out what in the world the universe is saying we should do next. We help each other find our way.
Edwin Walker x E. Micheaux ( A MONIKER in which he uses to pay homage and continue the legacy of pioneer filmmaker Oscar Micheaux) is a talented multi hyphenated creative architect/artist with a focus in filmmaking, storytelling, creative directing, experimental art curation, and facilitation of spaces. As an innovative filmmaker his credits include writing, producing and directing several narrative and unscripted short films, series and specials. He has produced shows for Netflix, CNN, Peacock, BET and Comedy Central. He produced one of the finalist films for the 2011 Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s Award, along with producing the winner of the 2015 Essence Magazine Short Film Contest. Through his 2012 founded production company Edclusive Entertainment he produced the indie thriller “Caged Birds”, starring Khalil Kain, Bentley Green and Kamil McFadden, which is currently streaming on Amazon.Edwin is also an accomplished ACTOR having appeared on NBC’s Chicago PD, FX’s Atlanta, CBS’s MacGyver, Fox’s Empire, and Starz’s BMF to just name a few. This audacious Creative Architect/Artist founded Lab Eighty 8, a creative experience brand that is building dynamic and curated spaces, experiences and exhibits by artists of color who are bringing impactful creative change to the world. His work as an installation artist and curating for Lab Eighty 8 has engineered several artistic spaces in Los Angeles, London, San Diego, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston. Working alongside clients such as AfroPunk, Saint Heron, Nike, Uninterrupted, and Netflix. Edwin Walker x E. Micheaux is poised to revolutionize, disrupt and empower the entertainment, arts and media space. His creative core value and MISSION is to amplify black creative voices, humanize the narrative and imagery of black people with powerful stories, resources, spaces and bold unapologetic art.
It has been eight years since your last interview for PerfectionistWannabe.com. Where has life taken you?
Wow, eight years flew by in a blink of an eye. What a wild ride it has been, from a Pandemic that made the world stop, to political madness, to a deep personal development journey I’ve been on. I’ve traveled to over 10 countries since our last interview. In 2020, I moved back to my hometown of Chicago, IL after doing a 13 year bid in LA. I joke and tell people, living in Lalaland is like a bid, of some sort, into a different world. But that place was really impactful in my growth as a man, an artist, and overall identity in my career. I met so many amazing people and built a collective of friends. A lot of development and evolution happened for me in LA that I’m forever grateful for.
What film projects were you involved in?
I have two projects as an actor. I hope to be able to talk about them soon. But I’ve appeared on NBC’s Chicago PD, FX’s Atlanta, CBS’s MacGyver, Fox’s Empire, and Starz’s BMF to name a few. I recently produced under my production company, Edclusive Entertainment, an indie thriller called Caged Birds. It’s a story about three black high school seniors going to school in the suburbs who are forced to cover up a murder when a prank against a white bully goes wrong. As the investigation into the murders intensifies, the boy’s relationships begin to splinter and their loyalties are tested. It stars Khalil Kain, Kamil McFadden, and Bentley Green. It’s currently streaming on Amazon. It was a great learning experience on my journey as an independent filmmaker.
Life has taken strange turns for everyone in the creative field. From the pandemic to the George Floyd protests to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike, how has your life and work changed for you during these times of adversity? What have you seen as positive (and negative) coming out of these times for both you and the industry?
I would honestly say these past 3 years in turbulent times have been impactful years of major artistic growth for me. I feel more powerful, liberated and free within myself than I have ever felt on my journey. I have created an energetic force field of faith, peace, passion, purpose, and positivity from all the chaos and noise. During the pandemic, I reflected so much about who I am as an artist, spiritual being and filmmaker. I was able to get into therapy, and do some healing from untreated traumas and self awareness work. I was able to keep myself inspired, hopeful, full trust in the most high and in alignment with new possibilities. Now, of course, I had some days that were rough, but I have a motto of “DON’T GIVE IT NO MORE THAN 24.” I process my feelings and survey what I am truly in control of and move forward in gratitude and ease. So as this dual WGA, SAG- AFTRA Hollywood strike has been going on, which I’m a member of both; I reverted back to that energetic force field of faith, peace, passion, purpose, and positivity. I hope we get a resolution soon, but I can’t let it affect how I show up to my creativity and life. I’m pivoting and continuously creating.
Tell us about your latest documentary PreSchool to Prison.
PreSchool To Prison is an amazing short documentary that examines how the United States public school system is built and operated like prisons. Zero-tolerance policies are used to justify suspension and arrests that set up a pathway to send children of color and children with special needs to go from school to prison. Children are being suspended, restrained, dragged, physically manhandled, and subsequently arrested for minor offenses such as throwing candy on a school bus. These personal accounts from people affected by the school-to-prison pipeline give riveting tales about the generational impact on society. I produced this along with the director, Dr. Karen Baptiste, who is a powerful educator, speaker, consultant and now filmmaker. We met at Sundance three years ago,and instantly connected and we’ve been on this amazing journey to eradicate the educational lynching that has been going on in this country.
Lab Eighty 8 is a creative experience brand that is building dynamic and curated spaces, experiences and exhibits by artists of color who are bringing impactful creative change to the world. I founded Lab Eighty 8 in 2021 during the pandemic after seeing so many artists of color struggling to create and not seeing enough spaces that allowed us to create, build and connect. Since starting the creative brand it’s been a rollercoaster ride but an exhilarating one. I’ve grown as an installation artist curating for Lab Eighty 8, I have been able to curate artistic spaces in Los Angeles, London, San Diego, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston. Working alongside clients such as AfroPunk, Saint Heron, Nike, Uninterrupted, and Netflix. We have a few sponsored curated experiences happening in Fall and Winter. So I’m continuing to build the Lab Eighty 8 community and team of bold artists.
What inspires you to create?
Life inspires me. From moving to LA at 18 (only 3 months into adulthood I might add) with only $1,700. Traveling the world, going to foreign places, new elements, being in nature, meeting new people. I have been so blessed to experience life in a way many haven’t been afforded. From being raised by a single mother, being an only child, having to grow up so fast, being in an unpredictable and wild industry and working every job you can think of. I embraced the struggle and grew through it. I value and appreciate every good, bad and ugly experience that has happened to me. At 34, I have lived like 10 lives, it seems. I mentioned building an energetic force field of faith, peace, purpose, and positivity and that must be anchored somewhere. Moving back home to Chicago, I created a creative sanctuary of peace in a garden unit apartment filled with art, plants, candles, and books. Full of peace. You have to find a place to retreat, recharge and have stillness. When I return from my traveling adventures, I need a place where I can process myself and sit still. I’ve done so much reflecting in my creative sanctuary. As I check my life’s journey travels, I am so inspired to create bold art and continue to grow as a man, artist and filmmaker.
Since the George Floyd protests, do you think the narrative is starting to change for Black stories? Are you seeing more of a demand for Black stories, or has it tapered off (as if it were a trend)? Are you seeing more Black creatives and writers breaking ground and becoming a powerful voice?
There’s been some progress, but more progress is for sure needed. It’s so many unique, powerful and creative black voices that need to be amplified. Many black creatives are in need of resources, platforms and spaces to be unapologetic with their art. There are many who are creating these spaces like me, but we need more. I truly believe we need more Allies from corporations, major art/creative institutions, film studios and investors who are not black who want to make sure black creatives have EQUITY in their futures. A true commitment to assisting creatives with resources, and knowledge to own their IP and work. Not performative commitments which we saw a lot of after the George Floyd protests in 2020. Companies spotlighting and highlighting black creative voices, but then they slowly fizzled out and didn’t build a promising 5-10 year plan of creating effective resources and tools. We need more backing and collective unity amongst ourselves as black creatives. I hope to assist in building that paradigm before I leave this earth.
As a new feature for Perfectionist Wannabe, I present The Interview. Here, I am sharing the stories of the people I’ve met over the years. These stories go back to the start of my professional writing career, when I was a beat reporter covering the New Jersey Devils (NHL) for Inside Hockey. Over the decade following my hockey writing career, I interviewed authors and filmmakers. Now? The Interview season begins and you will find a whole new crop of interviews from the people who made their dreams come true. These are the interviews that will help inspire you and maybe learn something new.
The Crazy Ride Ilya Kovalchuk Took Me On
Looking back on the interview I am presenting below, I still shake my head at everything that happened while I covered Ilya Kovalchuk when he played for the New Jersey Devils. I do not know why this Russian chose me out of all of the reporters that covered the game of hockey, but he chose me.
Let me explain.
Kovalchuk appeared in the Devils locker room after a trade from the Atlanta Thrashers. Kovy is one of the best Russian players to ever play hockey. I did not say ‘the best.’ He is one of the best.
He came to the Devils right before the 2010 Winter Olympics. When I went around the locker room to interview the players about the upcoming Olympics, this was the moment he prepared me for what would eventually happen three years later.
I had asked him about being one of the Olympic ambassadors for Russia for the 2014 Sochi games. It was here that he explained that if the NHL did not choose to play in the 2014 Olympics, he would defect. It was expected that other Russian hockey stars (like Alexander Ovechkin) would also defect.
That was right before the Olympics in 2010. He prepared me.
At the end of the season, he was set to head to free agency. He was in his locker being interviewed by a Russian reporter. He looked at me and stopped the interview. He let me ask my question. I asked what everyone wanted to know. “Are you signing with the Devils?” He told me, “Yes.”
I never printed it. He told me that in March 2010.
By June, his agent contacted me. He asked why I never printed it (Kovalchuk was looking for the article). I explained that I’m not about to publish an article unless I had certain guarantees that what he told me was the truth. If I were to print he was planning on signing with the New Jersey Devils, I needed guarantees that was where he was going, because I am not in the business of writing rumors.
The main assurance I was given: Kovalchuk promised he would never lie to me. He kept his promise. He never did.
After the assurances were made, as well as his agent feeding me exactly what Kovalchuk wanted printed, I published the article. The LA Kings fans (at the time) believed they were getting Kovalchuk. Their General Manager was behind that rumor. He made them believe it was a done deal. There were articles saying, “Michelle Kenneth Thinks the Devils are Getting Kovalchuk.” They were vicious. They were mean. They made fun of me, and they slandered me, saying I was just like “Eklund” (who is actually a friend of mine that has a website that caters to the rumor mill). But if you are accused of being like Eklund, that’s actually not a nice slander word, especially when you are a woman who is trying to be respected in this male dominated industry of sports.
What they did to me while we waited for the announcement in July was horrible. Even the Devils players got wind of it.
I remember Patrik Elias reading the article and then reading my blog going…who is Kovalchuk talking to? There were things I had written that made it sound like I knew Kovalchuk very well…like I knew personal reasons why he would sign with the Devils. But then the New York Post would print something and it confused him. He knew Kovy was talking to someone. He just didn’t know which reporter. He would text Kovy and never received a return text.
When Kovalchuk signed, that’s when the team found out exactly who was feeding me my information to say Kovalchuk was signing with the Devils. He had given me the most coveted information in the entire NHL and I had known since March. NHL fans may remember that the summer of 2010 became the Summer of Kovalchuk because of his insane contract deal with the Devils that was rejected by the NHL. They negotiated it down to a 15-year $100 million contract.
When Kovalchuk’s son, Artem, was born, I got a text message telling me.
When I couldn’t be there at the news conference or the celebratory party after he signed with the Devils, the players made sure I was texted a photo.
Kovalchuk gave one of the only women in that locker room a huge opportunity. And I was hated for it.
David Clarkson (NHL) had complained to me at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season that I was always traveling with other teams. I never did a tour of duty with the Devils. So after whatever European trip I took with whatever teams that fall, I decided to do the California tour of duty with the team. That meant we were heading to San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles.
I showed up to the Anaheim game with a little sun. David asked me where I had been. I told him I went to Disneyland. He was like, “You went without me?” Yes. And I would do it again. LOL.
I say it that way, because I never allowed players to hang out with me.
When we finally headed to LA, I was met with harassment throughout the entire game. It was so bad, the players heard it from the ice. It wasn’t just about me. It was about me and Kovalchuk. Jamie Langenbrunner, who was the Devils captain at the time, was not happy over what they were saying about both of us. He tried to console me (and I never told him what happened, he heard it from the ice). He said that obviously they really wanted Kovalchuk, but apparently he was only talking to me. I printed the truth. They’re just mad because they did not like the truth.
I haven’t liked LA Kings fans since. [The irony is that Kovalchuk would later go play for the LA Kings.]
Sigh. That Kovalchuk. The journey he would take both of us on. This was just the beginning.
In 2013, faced with the NHL’s indecision of whether to allow players to go to the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, Kovalchuk retired from the NHL to defect to Russia. Vladimir Putin was behind that. A few weeks after he retired, the NHL made their decision to go.
So what happens when fans get angry? They come at the hockey writer that they knew Kovalchuk spoke to. I had to explain that I had been saying since the 2010 Olympics that if the NHL did not decide to go to the Sochi games, Kovalchuk would defect. I told them that before he even signed that 15-year contract. And what happened? Putin gave him a cut-off date.
I still haven’t spoken to Kovy since he defected. I follow his wife on Instagram. But I haven’t reached out to him in all of these years, even after he came back to the NHL. Part of me wants to thank him for helping me in my career. The other part of me wants to say WTF. Why would you drag me through all of this with you? Why me?
Maybe some day we will run into each other and he can tell me.
This interview is part of the growing up hockey series I liked to write and fans loved. Reading this again, I am actually impressed with the amount of research I did on Russia vs the NHL, especially centering around the time Kovalchuk was born.
I can’t remember if I got to the second part of the interview, but I remember him telling me that he knew he wanted to marry Nikol Andrazajtis when he was 18. He saw a music video for her all-girl singing group, Mirage, and he knew that was the woman he was marrying.
I used to tell him that on a scale of 10, his wife was definitely a 15. She’s super tall and like most Russian beauties, absolutely stunning.
In this interview, you will learn a little bit about Kovalchuk’s upbringing, along with the history of Russia vs the NHL. Frankly, I am amazed at what I learned in order to write this interview.
In the beginning of every dream, there is that moment that defines us in our youth. It’s the place where we find our meanings in life. They are the things that shape us into who we are and creates our destined paths that we will follow in this lifetime.
Whether it was experiencing something magical with our own eyes or following in the footsteps of a parent, these are all things that help mold us and inspire us to become who we are today.
Born during the Cold War in 1983, Ilya Kovalchuk’s humble beginnings in life took place to the north of Moscow in a place called Kalinin, a medieval city with a population of over 400,000 people. Kalinin changed its name to Tver in 1990, shortly before the Cold War ended.
On the day Kovalchuk was born (April 15), Tokyo Disneyland opened its doors for the first time and the Islanders were leading the New York Rangers 2-0 in the Patrick Division Finals.
But in the US, the relations with the Soviets were still on the iciest of terms.
The New York Times reported back on April 15, 1983 that, “People tend[ed] to accept the President’s description of the Soviet threat but reject Mr. Reagan’s strategy for meeting it, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll. By about 3 to 2, those interviewed said they viewed the Soviet Union as a growing threat, but by an even bigger margin of 2 to 1 they felt that the American arms buildup would prompt only a further Soviet arms buildup and not in serious negotiations.”
It would still be another five years before the first Russian would be permitted to play in the NHL. Kovalchuk was born during a time when talks of being drafted by the NHL would result in a ban from playing hockey. Viktor Khatulev was drafted in 1975 by the Philadelphia Flyers. Soon afterwards, he was banned from playing hockey for five years after being in a fight during a game (the ban was later lifted in 1978). [Khatulev didn’t even know he was drafted by the Flyers until after the ban was lifted (1978)].
There were rumors that the ban was made in an effort to make an example of him, just in case any future Soviet players were considering disembarking to play in foreign countries. It was also an attempt to thwart the NHL from attempting to draft any future Russian hockey players.
This was the hockey world Ilya was born into… a Cold War where playing for a foreign country was betrayal to your homeland. This was a place and time where you played hockey for your country and no one else. Nationalism was instilled in each and every person from day one. It was the Cold War after all.
“I started to play when I was probably about four and a half. I started skating” Kovalchuk said of his early beginnings in hockey. “My dad convinced me to go to hockey school. It was the only one in my hometown, and I started playing.”
Valeri Kovalchuk, llya’s father, was a former Soviet pro basketball player, and one of Ilya’s most influential figures in his life. “[My dad], he [was] always with me. Hockey was his wholly favorite sport.”
Even though he was a pro basketball player, he was there every step of the way for his son out on the ice.
“He was skating with me all of the time. He was pretty good, actually. He was my challenge until like 12 years old… and then he [couldn’t] keep up with me anymore.”
Was llya the better hockey player at that age going up against his father?
With that slight smile of his where he pretends he’s not smiling, he responds in a very serious tone, “Yes. Yes, definitely.”
Ilya describes his family life as ‘normal.’ “It wasn’t any special family. My mom, she was a doctor. She works. My dad, he was director of [a] sport club. He got his own store. They spent a lot of time with me, nothing really special.”
Even though Valeri was a huge part of llya’s young hockey training, he didn’t influence his son’s decision to play hockey.
“He knows I wanted to play a top sport, so he asked me what I liked the most. At that age, probably, I didn’t understand. But he put me in all different stuff. I played a little tennis, a little basketball, a little soccer. But I liked hockey for some reason or another.”
One of the hockey players that Ilya has cited as being the reason why he wears number 17, Valeri Kharlamov, was not the reason why he became inspired to play hockey.
“No, not at that age,” he said. “When you’re four years old, you don’t even know those guys.”
His father ended up showing him a lot of tapes later on in his childhood of Kharlamov. “He passed away before I was born.”
Kharlamov died at the age of 33, in a car accident, just two years before Ilya was born. But it was that fondness that he saw his father have in Kharlamov that led him to wear his number 17.
“It was his favorite player. He showed me the videotapes. I think he’s one of the most dynamic players. He was great to watch, that’s for sure.”
Kovalchuk was five years old when the first Russian played in the NHL. At what point did the NHL factor into his decision on where he wanted to play?
“When I was 18, it was the best… it is the best league in the world, and all of the best players play here. So I was drafted and I decide to try for myself and play for the best league in the world.”
It wasn’t until 1994, at the age of 11, that Ilya got his first glimpse at an NHL game. It was the Stanley Cup playoffs … the year the Rangers won the Stanley Cup over the Vancouver Canucks. This win, of course, led to riots in Vancouver.
Who was Ilya cheering for?
“Vancouver, because [Pavel] Bure was playing there. At that time, Pavel scored a lot of goals and was one of the leaders on the team. I looked up to him.”
“[Bure’s] just one of the greatest players ever to play the game, I think. He’s just one of those guys that is fun to watch.”
[Ironically, Pavel’s father, Vladimir, an Olympic medalist swimmer, is a scout for the New Jersey Devils, and has been with the team for several years.]
Even though he watched these Russian hockey stars on television, they were not the ones that influenced him. Not even his father’s favorite player, Kharlamov, was an influence on him.
“I think the biggest influence on me is my dad… my parents, because I’m not that kind of guy who dreams about being someone [else] that has already done it and try to be the same.”
While Kharlamov was known as one of the greatest hockey players in the world, Kovalchuk did not aspire to be an even greater hockey player than him.
“You can’t compare players now and before that. He was one of the best in our generation. It’s just a different game right now. You can’t really compare. I never even think about it. You can’t be better than him. How are you going to compare who’s better? It’s impossible. It was a different time, different era, different tournament, everything was different.”
“There were greats in their time. We try to be as good as we can in our generation.” Was his dream to always be a hockey player?
“Yes. I wanted to play hockey. I wanted to play the best I can. In my hometown, we’ve got a men’s team that played as a professional team. When I was there, I liked to watch them. I wanted to be, maybe one day, in their position and try to get myself to play at their high level.”
He didn’t set his sights high with big aspirations of playing for one of the biggest leagues in the world. He set his humble dreams on his home team, because to him, they were the greatest team around.
Long before Kovalchuk caught the eye of scouts at the age of 15, he was no stranger to North America. He had visited America on several different occasions.
“We [had] a lot of tournaments here. We played in Minnesota with my Spartak team. We were like 10, 11,and 12. We were here a lot before I moved here.”
Did he like North America enough to want to move here?
“No. I never. It’s the best league here. I respect everything here, but my home is in Russia.”
Kovalchuk ended up leaving his hometown early in his teens to play for a team away from home in Moscow.
“I was playing in Moscow. My dad, he was driving me every time. I was practicing in my hometown with my team with two of the guys that were three years older than me. He was driving me to Moscow every Saturday and Sunday we had games. I would play for Spartak. But then there comes a time that you have to be with your team that you play for and practice with them, so then I moved to Moscow when I was 15.
“But then the men’s team in Spartak, the main team, was playing in the Super League at that time. Their coach told my dad that they want him to bring me up and practice with them… try to play. So I was playing, when I was 16, for the men’s team already.”
What was it like being away from his family so soon?
“It was different. It was a tough decision when my dad told me that we’ve got to do that. I think when you’re away from your parents, you’ve got to learn a lot of responsibilities and you grow up quicker.”
This entirely explains why Kovalchuk is wise and mature beyond his years.
His desire to want to play in the NHL and move to North America didn’t come until after he was drafted. “You can’t know for sure where you’re going to play. Everyone was saying that I leave too early. I was only eighteen. They said I should have played a couple more years in Russia and get better then come here. But I decided to go right away.”
Kovalchuk became the first Russian to be selected first overall in the NHL Entry Draft in 2001 by the Atlanta Thrashers. He created history in both the NHL and in Russia that day. After all, he was born into a time when being drafted by the NHL meant being banned from hockey in the Soviet Union, and there were no Russian players in the NHL.
Kovalchuk became the new future for Russian hockey players that day. He would lead the way as Russians became one of the hottest hockey commodities in the new generation of the NHL.
As a new feature for Perfectionist Wannabe, I present The Interview. Here, I am sharing the stories of the people I’ve met over the years. These stories go back to the start of my professional writing career, when I was a beat reporter covering the New Jersey Devils (NHL) for Inside Hockey. Over the decade following my hockey writing career, I interviewed authors and filmmakers. Now? The Interview season begins and you will find a whole new crop of interviews from the people who made their dreams come true. These are the interviews that will help inspire you and maybe learn something new.
The Rookie Interview
The first one I am going to share is a story I needed today. As crazy as my universe is and the opportunities that arise, I came across this as I was going through my writing samples. It helped me to understand what I am going through right now. It had the words I needed during a time when I feel blocked and like everything isn’t working out right. But at the same time, I know my life is starting down a new path.
A hockey fan once told me that there were two articles in hockey journalism that he could never forget. He told me what both of them were, and I stood there going, “Wait. I wrote both of those.” He was shocked. Hell, I was shocked. I went to school for law. I didn’t go for journalism. One professor even wrote on my midterm paper, “Is English even your first language?” So to hear this diehard hockey fan tell me that his two all-time favorite hockey articles he had ever read were both articles I authored? I think he validated that what I was doing was the right thing. I was telling the stories of the people I meet.
“Madden’s Timeout” is one of the articles that I’ve heard hockey fans list as one of their favorite hockey stories. The other one was an interview I did with David Clarkson (NHL) who was playing for the New Jersey Devils at the time. A NY Rangers fan that adamantly hated Clarkson messaged me and said that the interview I did with Clarky helped him to change his mind about the guy. He, actually, became a fan of his. That’s the power of a good interview.
I wrote this piece during my rookie season. Yes, I heard the players tease Madden about me calling him a Cinderella Man in this piece, but they did so with respect to both the man and the author. This is the story that won NHL players all over the league to become regular readers of mine. It was stories like this that would have the most coveted player in the NHL tell me where he was going to sign before anyone else knew.
Sometimes people see who you are before you can even see it in yourself. They believe in you before you can learn how to believe in yourself…that you are good enough. This story is the story I needed to remind me of who I am and where I am going.
I’m thankful that Madden was stuck in his locker the entire season. He heard what was said to me. He saw how I reacted. When the moment came when people would accuse me of some misogynistic crap, he’s the one that stood up for me and allowed me to continue for years to come. For him, I am thankful. He gave me the best interview to date.
All season, I’ve watched John “Mad Dog” Madden sitting in his stall seething game after game. I always watched him, sitting there quietly awaiting any member of the press to come by and ask him a few questions. But that aura he gives off is that of a ‘mad dog’ ready to bite off anyone’s head that asks the wrong question.
Most of us have been too scared to walk up to him and ask our questions about the game. Regardless of whether we stop at his stall to talk to him or not, he sits there and waits for his ten minutes of press time to be over, like a kid sitting in timeout.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve overheard him ask the Devils communications team if his ten minutes were up and if he could leave. Those times he asked, no one from the press had stopped by to talk to him during those ten minutes. If those ten minutes weren’t over, he’d sit there and wait a little longer until someone said he could go.
After the Calgary game, as I was walking from one side of the locker room, past Madden, toward Martin Brodeur sitting a few stalls down from him, my Blackberry caught Madden’s “Are my ten minutes up, yet?” It was a little humorous to hear it on the feed, so I decided to make sure his next ten minutes in his locker room stall were more productive than his ten minute timeouts over the past few weeks.
Interestingly enough, Madden had a lot to say in those ten minutes while I sat next to him in David Clarkson’s neighboring stall. His story is not the common story we hear from most NHLers. His story is indeed a Cinderella story. Not since the legendary boxer Jim “Cinderella Man” Braddock have we seen this kind of story.
In The Beginning
Any blue collar worker or kid growing up in tough times can’t help but have a lot of admiration for Madden. He grew up in the projects of Toronto, but luckily he had a guardian angel on his side making sure that this streetwise kid grew up to become something better.
But all of that hard work during hard times gave Madden the backbone he would later need when he joined Lou Lamoriello’s team. That hard work is what gave him his work ethic that would define him as a New Jersey Devil. But it was that guardian angel that provided him with a lot of luck and opportunities.
“I was fortunate in a lot of different ways,” Madden said as he began his tale. “I was a good hockey player. So a lot of teams wanted me to play for them. A lot of teams kind of waived their fees to play. Well, I shouldn’t say kind of…they did. So that really helped out a lot.”
“I was really young,” he said about his youthful hockey start. “I can’t remember, maybe four or five years old.
“As soon as I could walk, I think my Dad threw me in skates, if I can remember correctly.” His Dad was a big part of his hockey development years. The reason why Madden is one of the best guys at the face-off circle for the Devils has to do with the fact his father forced him to practice the face-offs again and again.
“He never played professionally,” he said of his father. “But he played a lot of hockey. I remember watching him play a lot of hockey when I was young kid and going to his games all of the time, even though they were late at night. He allowed me to go and it was great.
“It was just a normal childhood growing up in a broken home. My mom did everything she could to give me the best of what I needed, and working two jobs, etcetera. She found a way and I found a way to get to the rinks, whether it was hitching a ride with a friend on a team.”
“Or taking, when I was a little bit older (maybe 13),” he said with a smile of remembrance. “I was able to take the Toronto transit system by myself if I’m allowed. I thought that was great until it got real cold out.” He then paused to laugh, “Then I didn’t think it was so great.”
“I just found a way and I was very lucky to have a lot of people help out along the way in terms of coaches. I had a coach up in Ontario named Jim Burke who really helped out a lot when I was 15/16. He really helped out with a few things and putting me up in his house and giving me guidance along the way, not only hockey but with other things.”
The College Years
After Madden graduated from high school, he headed to the University of Michigan to play for the Maize and Blue. “I was kind of surprised, to be quite honest with you,” he said about getting into college. “I was always a decent student. I never studied, but I was able to get C’s and the odd B in there. The reason why I never studied, I just never really thought about it. As long as I was getting by, I was doing alright. I spent most of my time playing hockey outside.
“I was 17/18 years old in my senior year in high school. There were, I don’t know, 15 teams that came in to watch me play. They all offered me scholarships of some sort. I was lucky to meet a guy, Assistant Coach at Michigan, Mel Pearson, who I liked a lot, and he made me feel comfortable around him. And I think that was the biggest key to going to that school. It was kind of close to home.”
University of Michigan has had a lot of great hockey players coming out of their school.
“You know what’s funny,” Madden said about Michigan. “I didn’t look at those teams back then. I was thinking ‘how far away is this from home?’ I wasn’t thinking NHL. I was thinking, ‘what if this doesn’t work out?”‘
“What was your backup plan?” I asked him.
“I didn’t have one,” he responded.
“You were taking it as it goes?”
“Yeah,” he said. “I mean, it was really weird. I kind of fell into a lot of things, obviously by hard work and being in the right place at the right time. It was just one of those things that came about. I was kind of surprised when they said scholarship. I was like, ‘what do you mean? I get to go four years there?’
“I was kind of new to that area, too. None of the guys on our team had ever gotten a scholarship or an offer. I was kind of the first guy there. Mike Bales went to Notre Dame and Jeremy Brown (from our team) went to Western Michigan. So there were a few good hockey players on our team…so there were a lot of guys that year that went to some good schools. It was all new to us. Obviously, others had good game plans. I was just going with it. I had nothing else.” (He laughs.) “I had nothing else left to do, so I was like, ‘well, let’s go with it.’ And then by sophomore year, I realized I had a really good opportunity.
“Freshman year I was kind of going through the motions. I probably wanted to go home more than anything.”
Even with those freshman jitters, during his college days, he posted some of the most amazing numbers playing for the the Wolverines.
“My freshman year was a blur, it seems like. It seems like so many things were happening, so many new things between friends, school and opening my eyes to different parts of life I never saw before. I remember wanting to go home at Michigan, but at the same time, when I got home that summer, all I wanted to do was to go back. I couldn’t wait to go back. I was like, ‘Wow! What an opportunity!’ I kind of didn’t do my best my freshman year, so I went back and had a great sophomore, junior and senior year.
“Again, I got lucky again, because I wasn’t drafted and Brendan Morrison was [drafted] for the Devils and they came to see Brendan a lot. He was the second round pick for the Devils. I just got real lucky because they really liked my game and Lou Lamoriello really liked my game. They offered me a contract right out of college, a two-way contract. The rest is just kind of history. I just kept working and I got a chance in the NHL.”
The Present (Now) is a Present (a Gift)
Madden has been a part of two of the last Stanley Cups for the New Jersey Devils. Going into the final stretch, I wanted to know if the feeling was there now, like it was the last two times the Devils won the Cup.
“It’s the same,” he replied, getting a little quieter (just in case the hockey gods were listening). “The reason why it’s the same is we know we’ve got something special going here. We’ve got a lot of things working in our favor. To win the Stanley Cup, you need a little bit of luck…a lot of luck.”
“It seems like that’s what we have here,” I replied.
“Yeah,” he continued. “We’ve got some guys that are working really hard, and a lot of key role players, and depth. I mean, depth is the key. So many guys get banged up in the playoffs and you need four or five guys to chip in and score goals. You need everybody to be accountable, you know…a lot of intangibles to hockey. It’s not just having great pitchers pitch in and give up one run and all you’ve got to get is two. There’s a lot of different things going on. We seem to be working towards that. The one thing I like about this group is that we’re tight. We’re as tight as any team that I’ve played on. They compare this tightness to the ’03 team, when Jim McKenzie and Turner Stevens were here. We were a real tight group then. We had a lot of fun and that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re having a lot of fun.”
Going forward for the remainder of the season and into the post-season, Madden said, “I hope we just continue to win hockey games and keep building. Every year, we’ve been eliminated first, second or third rounds. It’s because of the way we entered the playoffs. You know, sputtering or injury plagued…something’s always gone wrong. It’s been real difficult getting there, and we thought that once we got there, we could turn it up. But that’s not the way it works. We’ve got to turn it up and start playing some really good hockey down the stretch here. I think that’s what I’m really looking forward to is seeing the guys pick their games up as we move closer towards the playoffs.
“In the playoffs, we have high expectations. I’m sure other teams have the same high expectations. We’ve had them all year, since day one. We’re going to continue to have those, especially when we’re playing hockey.”
Tuesday’s game against the Calgary Flames is being talked about as the preview to the Stanley Cup Finals. When I spoke to Madden about it, he responded, “So they had the Devils versus Calgary? I like that!” He laughed. “If they would have said that we weren’t in the Finals, I would have told them that they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Of course, the Devils beat Calgary on Tuesday if that’s any quiet prediction of things to come.
Earlier in the season, hockey pundits said that the Devils would not be in the Finals. When Martin Brodeur went out, everyone had pitted that the Devils were going to go out and not even make it to the post-season. But instead that happened to the New York Islanders when they lost Rick DiPietro right around the same time.
“Sure. That could be expected,” Madden said of the talks of the Devils going out earlier in the season. “I mean, you know what? Winning and losing in the NHL is a thin line. A lot of it has to do with your attitude, what you expect of yourself, and what you accept. If you accept losing, you’ll lose. You’ll lose by one goal. You’ll find a way to lose when you make excuses.
“We could have made an excuse. And that’s one of the other things I really like about this team. We could have made excuses, ‘now that Marty’s not here, we’re going to lose.’ But you know what? There’s a lot of guys in this room. It was an opportunity for a lot of guys to step up and say, ‘You know what? Marty’s a great goalie. He’s going to the Hall of Fame. He’s going to beat Patrick Roy’s record. But we’re still a good hockey team.’ And I think that’s what we said.”
With Brodeur getting ready to make history, Madden said about being part of this historical moment, “It feels good. It feels great. I’ve been fortunate to play my whole career here, and Marty’s been in the net for a lot of those games. I’ve got to tell ya, it’s really reassuring. It makes you sleep well at night knowing he’s back there covering you up when you make mistakes.”
The Moral To Madden’s Story
This is where I need to explain why I am calling this a Cinderella story.
We all know Cinderella’s story of how she went from hard work, hard labor, being destitute and growing up in a broken home to being blessed by a fairy godmother that went on to help her to live happily ever after. Even before the finale of her happily ever after, she still had some feats to conquer and people wanting to harm her right as she was touching the tips of her path in life…freedom and a better life. In the end, she made her wish come true – success.
That is what a true Cinderella story is about. For us girls, we were taught the story a little differently…it was about meeting Prince Charming and finding true love. But that’s not what the story is really about. It’s about overcoming the odds of a hard childhood and reaching a dream that is bigger thanyourself. It’s about working through the trials and tribulations in life and succeeding in life when the moment arrives for you to follow your destiny. It reminds us that even the impossible is possible.
With Madden’s Cinderella story, he grew up without the privileged life. He worked hard, without ever knowing why. His effort paid off when youth hockey clubs helped him out. People put out a helping hand without asking for anything in return. He followed his path, never knowing where it was leading or what that path was. He followed his path in life without ever asking questions…he just lived it.
By some chance, luck was on his side. A guardian angel (fairy godmother) made sure to provide him with more opportunities as he walked along his path. He headed off to college (an opportunity that he didn’t think was possible) and worked hard. Someone noticed…and he gave Madden a contract to play in the NHL.
That path then led to a bigger purpose where he, along with his team, won two Stanley Cups. This has been his journey so far. He’ll have more feats to add to his Cinderella story as time moves on.
This goes to show that no matter how horrible you think your conditions are, those moments are there for a reason. They are there to help prepare you for the future so that when that moment arrives, we can change those conditions for the better. If you are ill-prepared for when that time comes, your path will not change. You will stay in those conditions until you learn the lessons you were supposed to learn before you can climb to the next rung. That is the secret to changing your circumstances.
When our moment arrives when we must follow our path in life, we will know how to handle the obstacles as they appear along the horizon. Life is about taking chances and learning from our past. Madden would not be the New Jersey Devil that he is without that hard work ethic he learned in his youth. He would not appreciate what he was doing, if he hadn’t gone home that summer and realized the amazing opportunity he had in his life. That realization later led to a hockey contract and the rest is history from there. Fairy tales do come true. That’s what Walt Disney has taught us (there’s always a deeper moral to those cartoons).
Also, as a side note to this story, those individuals that were part of his story that helped him along on his journey, it goes to show that good tidings in life towards others helps everyone in the longer run. Stepping up and helping others can go a long way. He was fortunate that people invested some of their time to him. He grew up to do the same for others.
It takes one moment to change another person’s life. Just make sure that one moment is a good moment.
One of my favorite songs is “Use Me” by Bill Withers. The lyrics say, “You just keep on using me until you use me up, Until you use me up.” I want to do as much work on this planet until I can not be used any longer. So I say, ‘use me,’ to me, ‘to use me up earth!’ I use that as my mantra everyday while putting my best foot forward.
When you go on adventures in life, you never know who you will meet or the people that the universe will place in your path. I met Edwin Walker (aka E. Micheaux) during the NYC Premiere of the movie “Dope” during the American Black Film Festival. We ended up sitting next to each other during the film, chatting for some time before the movie started.
I told Edwin a little about myself and he told me his story. His story is one that is worth sharing with the world because it is a remarkable story of how this young man (he’s only 26 years old) went out and pursued his dream to be a filmmaker at a very young age. He has done more things and has experienced a lifetime worth of stories in his short life than most people do by the time they are 26 years old.
Edwin continued telling me his story the day after the movie when we caught up with each other again at a special ABFF dinner. His story was so remarkable that an old gospel/jazz singer I met at the dinner was so amazed by the story, she pulled him over to remark on how inspiring he was to her! A 65-year-old woman saying a 26-year-old was inspiring her!
Edwin and I carried our conversation on over to the HBO “Ballers” party after the dinner and talked well into the late night hours about life, business, and social media. One thing I know for sure is that meeting Edwin was like meeting a new friend I know I will have for the rest of my life.
Edwin is a remarkable and amazing person that is very passionate about life and film. He’s sharing his story today in order to help inspire others to live their dreams.
1. Please tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I am Edwin Walker and I am a Creative Activist of Art & Storytelling. I am from Chicago, IL. I’m 26 years old, yet on some days I feel like I’m 66. I’m such an old soul. I am working day in and day out to bring fresh and authentic stories to audiences. My ultimate goal is to have my own distribution company, a digital media network and entity. With that, I want to target Generation X and Millennials audiences, giving them content that they want. Innovative, yet fun and refreshing. In today’s media, many companies are owned by conglomerates that are feeding audiences the same content. I want to be at the forefront of giving audiences the content and projects that they want through a Direct to Fan strategy, cutting the middle man out, and letting the content curators and audiences do all the decision making. So that is my quest, it’s a big part of who I am at this point in my life and career.
2. How did you end up in LA?
How did I end up in Los Angeles aka LaLa Land? Well…the ambition and passion that I had for the Arts & Entertainment, I knew that it would take me to LA or NYC, and this was at a young age. My Grandmother always tells me, when I was five I would call NBC and ABC in my hometown and want to speak to the person who could get me on TV, on shows like The Cosby Show and Family Matters. This was at five. So I knew this would be something that I loved, and I felt the passion growing quickly, watching TV shows and movies wanting to be in their world. So when I was 12, I moved to Pasadena, CA, a city outside of Los Angeles to live with my Grandfather, and I began acting. I started doing commercials and got the opportunity to be on the Disney Channel Show, “The Famous Jett Jackson.” Other opportunities were starting to build when I got homesick.
I was miles away from all of my family in Chicago. Living with just my grandfather and no other family was tough. I was away from my Mother and Grandmother, living with this man who was strict and everything was so different from the life I knew in Chicago. So I moved back to Chicago after only a year and a half. I felt like I was failure at 13, like I started something that I couldn’t finish. So that caused me to give up on my visions and myself.
For about 3 years, I wanted to do nothing associated with entertainment. I tried Football, Science club, the debate team…anything to try to ignore my true passions. I just couldn’t escape it. I then started writing more at 16. I wrote songs, which led to me joining a singing group. That didn’t last for long. That soon turned into me writing scripts and short stories. My passion was reborn.
I got an agent in Chicago and started back acting. I took media classes and fell in love with directing and the camera. Soon after that I got a role in the movie “The Promotion,” starring John C. Reilly and Sean William Scott, written and directed by Steven Conrad (this is the man who wrote the script for the amazing film “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith).
This experience was the game changer for me. At 17, I was working with A-list actors and top producers and directors. The week that I worked with everyone on set, I was a sponge soaking up as much information as I possibly could. They all gave me such great advice on what I should do in my career. John gave me a list of agents, Sean gave me a list of managers in LA, and Steven took all my scripts I had written and read them and told me about screenwriting programs in LA.
So I prayed hard about whether I should forego college and leave for LA. All signs pointed to this move. So at 18, with $1,700 to my name and knowing a handful of people in LA, four suitcases in hand, I did my homework. I found a few studio apartments to check out to move into. I packed up and moved there. I didn’t even finish High School. I enrolled in a program where I would get my last credits through mail. The program was called “American School.” It was like a home school program.
I can still remember getting on the plane at 18, literally a few months as an adult. I just turned 18 in November and I was sitting on this plane to LA on January 26th, 2007. Fear did not come over me at all. I was rather anxious and excited for the unknown. Once I got off that plane and returned back to LA, I was ready for the struggle, disappointment, “No’s,” doubt. Everything that could possibly happen to me in my 8 years living in LA has happened to me. From evictions, car repossessions, car accidents, bad managers stealing your money, being robbed, having to pawn camera equipment to pay rent, losing friends, losing money and losing things in fires.
Everything has happened to me, and I have had my days where I want to quit. I can’t lie, but I revert back to that 18 year old that was on that plane who had no fear. I could of turned around then, but I knew I was ready for the challenge ahead. That has kept me going thus far…along with a lot of prayer and trust in God.
3. Why did you choose being a filmmaker as a career? Were there certain influences that made you realize this is who you are?
I don’t think I chose being a filmmaker, it chose me. I’m an only child, and I always had to entertain myself. I was also a latch key kid. My Mother worked two jobs at one point in time. I’m a child of a single parent, so I would escape into different worlds. Creating scenarios of what my life could be, or how other lives were, how would it be if something was this way, or imagining life in space or life in the ocean. Creating stories and using my imagination was always thrilling to me.
I always got into trouble in school, because I felt like the teachers wouldn’t let me use my imagination and create more. I felt stifled. Once I started acting and studying my craft, I saw how much of a responsibility it is as an actor to make people believe you are another person rather than yourself.
Through studying filmmaking, I realized that the responsibility is now greater than the actor, because as a filmmaker you have to create a world and living things that people have to interpret. Growing up – I truly believe was my film school. I didn’t go to NYU or USC’s prestigious film programs. I went to 7 different schools in my life from Kindergarten till 11th Grade. In my entire life, I have lived in five different states. I’ve had all of these experiences with different people in my life that made me view people and places from a broader scope. Those experiences made me want to tell real slice of life stories, and start writing those stories. Filmmaking honestly chose me.
I think other filmmakers would agree that it’s bigger than passion when you have to spend a large amount of your time in your day giving brain power to stories that are sticking with you. You have to make that come alive through words and fonts that could take months, through scripts– sometimes even years. Then you have to find the money and the team to bring the vision to life and that could take years. Being a filmmaker is an emotional, yet invigorating, journey. You have to really be in it, knowing that it’s your calling. It called me and kept calling me and I couldn’t get away from being a filmmaker. It chose me.
4. What projects is your company Edclusive Entertainment creating now?
I have to keep myself productive, so in between gearing up for my feature film directorial debut, I have created mini pieces that are under 5 mins that are conversation pieces. My first one up is Lyfe + Def: A Reckless Love Story. It’s the tale of two young lost hearts. I’m really excited about this project because we live in a society that so many young people want to be loved, but they don’t know how to love. This project will explore that in a unique way.
The project that I will make my feature film directorial debut on is “Hometown Hero.” We are in the early stages of development. This story is one that I have to tell. It’s …
The gripping story of the demise of a young promising professional football player’s struggles with mental illness resulting from untreated trauma. Mental Illness advocacy is something that I am involved with by getting more narratives out there about cases in order to create awareness.
5. Can you talk a little about the social impact of the films you are creating?
The social impact that I intend to create is awareness and displaying slice of life stories that audiences don’t normally get to see. I want to do it from a new approach that the audience can understand and relate to. We are accustomed to seeing movies that are violent, but we don’t see many films that explore what makes a person violent. Through creating those images, I hope to create conversations that will translate into change, or new ideals of how we view one another, our communities, industries and the world we live in.
6. What is your favorite film and why? Were there any films that influenced you to become a filmmaker?
My favorite film is tough to say because I have so many, but if I could choose two that equally influenced me to be a filmmaker, I would have to say “Bicycle Thieves” directed by Vittorio De Sica (an amazing Italian film), and “The Defiant Ones” directed by Stanley Krammer. Both of these films show humanity among men and their quest for a better life. They are both authentic and intriguing. After seeing these two films, it made me make the conscious decision to be a filmmaker that makes films that tells stories with social issues from real people in real life that leaves a residue with audiences.
I want to tell stories about people who are real and have purpose in what they are seeking or know that they have. In those two films, not only are the characters memorable, but they are people who we all know, no matter if you’re black,white, green or blue. They are depictions of what we face in the world we live in. I could watch those two films everyday.
Once a week for 6 months, I actually did before. It was reassurance that I’m doing the right thing with the films I intend to make.
7. What’s upcoming for you and Edclusive Entertainment?
I have a short film that we produced titled “Perfect Love” directed by Simon Slavoj, which we associate produced. It’s the story of a woman seeking an answer that she’s not ready to really know.
I am also in production of directing and producing a documentary titled, “A Refugee’s Heart” where we follow the journey of a 47-year-old Cuban woman retracing her journey to Cuba for the first time since she left the country at the age of two. She returns back to Cuba to help other young women who are in need.
I am also producing “The Psychiatrist” directed by Bahiyjaui Allen. It’s a suspense thriller short about a twisted relationship between a patient and their psychiatrist.
We’re still developing and raising capital for the “Hometown Hero” movie. It moves slow on some days and fast on others, but meetings and interests are happening.
Extra: Why E. Micheaux? What is that name from?
When I direct, I use the moniker E. Micheaux. It’s homage to Oscar Micheaux who was the first black man to produce, write, direct and distribute his films and books in the 1920’s. I stand on his shoulders, and he is one of my greatest inspirations.
You can find Edwin and his company Edclusive Entertainment at the following places: