This Mississippi Monday we are proud to share about a lady that is moving mountains and making waves for our state. She is what you'd call a "wizard behind the curtain", doing so much for our community. You've likely seen or taken part in many of the works she helps produce, (Crossroads Film Festival, TedX Jackson, #HappyMS, etc.) but today we're excited to put turn the spotlight back on her. Introducing, for those of you who don't know her just yet, Nina Parikh.
Q & A with Nina:
Tell us a bit about yourself... To my knowledge, I’m one of only 2 Gemini-born, Filipina-Indian-Americans in the state (the other being my sister). And our families live next door to one another; we’re our own sitcom. I’m married to a nature-loving Renaissance man, and the thing we’re mutually most in love with is our awesome 5-year-old son. My weekdays are filled working with filmmakers producing projects in Mississippi as the Deputy Director of the Mississippi Film Office; non work-hours are also film-related as a co-founder of the Crossroads Film Festival, adjunct teacher/professor of film (Millsaps College, Canton Young Filmmakers Program), and filmmaker/producer of my own work (#happyMS video, feature film “Ballast”). I love being an ambassador for the state through the work I do and creating projects and events that celebrate and challenge us to build upon our indigenous creativity through events like TEDxJackson (Save the Date: November 12, 2015). My Pinterest boards are filled with recipes, craft projects, gardening and home ideas that rarely come to existence in my daily reality. I’m an 8 on the enneagram, I have no karma, and I love strawberry milk. What does a typical day look like for you? Seuss, our cat, usually wakes us letting us know the alarm clock is going off. The first hour of the day is dedicated to getting our kindergartener out the door and the next hour is more laid back as I get ready – coffee or tea, breakfast (my favorite meal!), maybe a chore or 2. Each day at the office is a surprise, with every email or phone call comes the potential of another film project. I answer questions about locations, crew , our cash rebate incentive program (one of the best in the country, btw), how to start a film festival, field complaints, or advise on how someone’s cousin’s best friend’s brother can turn their life story into a movie, among other things. I’ve come to hate the multiple mediums of communication because they’re always with me and I’m never going to catch up with all of the emails, text messages, PMs, comments on FB posts, voicemails (Calgon, take me away). My life is pretty fluid – home life and work life and my individual creative life flow together all day, every day. I’m constantly re-prioritizing based on what needs attention. Sometimes I wish I was more defined with my time rather than letting everything meld together. My suspicion is that I might feel more accomplished at the end of each day. Evenings are quickly made-dinners, reading books to the young’un and if I don’t fall asleep in his bed, we may have a parents night of watching multi-episodes of Game of Thrones, Bloodline, Veep, or my newest guilty pleasure, Lip Sync Battle. What background or foundation has lead you to where you are today? I loved photography and stories when I was in high school, so when my best friend suggested that I should marry those interests and study film, that made perfect sense (life lesson learned: our friends often know us better than we know ourselves). I graduated from the Radio, Television, and Film program at the University of Southern Mississippi with an emphasis in Film and studied 16mm film production (barely even a format now) in an intensive program at New York University. While at USM, I interned on a short film based on a Eudora Welty story which led to paying work and I’ve never looked back. After 6 years working as a freelance crew member, I was hired at the Mississippi Film Office. I thought I’d stick it out for no more than 3-5 years. 16 years later… How does Mississippi play a role in your work? I wonder if I would even be in the creative arts if I weren’t a Mississippian. What are some of your career goals and where do you see yourself in 5 years? I want to produce another feature film with a crew of my talented friends. I want to finish the documentaries I started 15 years ago and share them with an audience. I want to tell universal stories in Mississippi. I want to help change our perspective on being 50th in every category as a state, and thus move us up the charts from 50th to say, 47th! I think subconsciously it’s hard for us to be progressive, even though we have some of the most progressive and innovative and creative thinkers in the world. Statistics and the media and our everyday world constantly tell us we are last, we are the worst, we aren’t good. Our collective self-esteem is a powerful negative force and I want to look at the other side of that. #happyMS was my first adventure in that direction. Where do you draw inspiration from? Everywhere. Music. Being outside with our son. Music. Long dinners and conversations with friends. Travelling and generally being out in the world. Live MUSIC. While washing dishes or pulling weeds or any redundant, meditative work. I’m an idea storm 24/7. When you aren’t working, you are… My family would say – working. However, I do love to try new restaurants, shop for an amazing bargain, sit in a theatre, or boogie with the Southern Komfort Brass Band. What are some of your favorite local places to shop and dine? In Jackson metro - Walker’s, Pop Culture, Saigon, Treasure Hunt / Hudson’s /Dirt Cheap, Kalalou / AWE, Ding How, Crazy Cat Bakers, Library Lounge at Fairview Inn, Pizza Shack, Hamil’s, Livingston Market, Lemuria Books. Around the state - Bottle Tree Bakery, Snackbar, Off Square Books, Le Bakery, Mamie’s Cupboard, Walnut Hills, Grace Hardware, The Forest Retreat, Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art. Why do you call Mississippi home? My family is here and I feel like I’m no more than 3 degrees from anyone in the state. Despite the challenges of living in a place that generally holds different social and political views from me, it always feels like home. Mississippi is part of my family – I can talk bad about it, but you can’t. It’s hard to know Mississippi if you don’t live here and even harder to explain its charms. How do you think what you are doing is helping to share the local community and the image of MS? We’re approaching 100,000 views on YouTube for the #happyMS video (help us out, Thimblepress readers!!- Watch it below!) Businesses have told me they show our video to prospective out-of-state employees to counteract the negative reputation we have. Several people have told me they’ve unexpectedly cried watching the video because they had never seen Mississippi represented in way that mirrored their reality of their home state. And countless parents tell me their children watch it on a daily basis. I’m thrilled that there is a new generation of kids that will remember watching the Happy Mississippi video over and over and over again.
Keep up with Nina through her incredible work in these places: