Hollywood, despite its California location, can be cold; freezing out the most talented individuals on the planet for the opportunity to make a quick buck. Thus, it is not for the weak minded or faint of heart. Those who want to be stars and masters of their craft learn to roll with the punches and that rejection is like breathing air—involuntary and a necessary. Few directors know this better than Princess Monique. After years of work and preparation this amazing director is releasing a new film, becoming one of the entertainment industry’s rising stars!
Pretty as a picture and a master of cinematography, Princess Monique is truly a rare combination of a beautiful woman who equally as well put together with her work. Hailing from the mean streets of Cleveland, Ohio; Princess was sheltered from the mean streets of the city by her family. They wanted to shield her from her outside environment; thus she spent lots of time inside and watching television. “I grew up watching television…all the shows you know and love…’The Jeffersons,’ ‘227,’ all that!” From television she realized she wanted to do something with film; and directing and producing came naturally to her. Although her path seems divinely laid out for her, she was blessed with guidance from her mentors, Bill Duke (Predator, Get Rich or Die Trying), Chip Fields-Hurd (Girlfriends, The Parkers, Meet The Browns) and Daren Grant (Diary of a Mad Black Woman) and Pamela Fryman (How I Met Your Mother, Just Shoot Me). “They are just so amazing and you cannot help but learn so much from them. I love their insight into the industry…I’m blessed to have him all of them in my life and be able to learn from them…” Since film became her passion, Princess Monique has directed and produced Man Made (2002), The Call (2002), and Seasons Of Love (2014).
As her latest venture, Seasons Of Love, has been quite a hit for Lifetime Television Network. The film entails the tumultuous, yet comedic love story between Amir (Cleo Anthony) and Kyla (Letoya Luckett) whose fledgling relationship is threatened by the sudden death of his father (Richard Portnow) and the appearance of her ex-boyfriend, Miles (Rob Riley). The film truly shows the trials and triumph of love with a star studded cast so talented they might as well be their own galaxy! Sure, when you hear “Seasons Of Love,” you immediately think “Rent,” but you would be wrong! This film puts a new twist on the holiday love story with a thematic color scheme for the seasons that is nothing short of brilliant and beautiful. Despite, the recent backlash and controversy due to Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic, the movie debuted with impressive numbers on the network. “I wasn’t really worried about how the biopic would affect our premiere because it’s totally different, but the more I hear about it, it’s been on my mind…” Princess Monique admitted. Thankfully, she had nothing to worry about.
Princess Monique had a vision for the film nearly a decade ago, but found no success in getting it green lighted. Thankfully, she found a godsend in actress, Taraji P. Henson who loved the concept and personally walked it into Lifetime with her. “I’d been trying for ten years to get this done and honestly was getting nowhere…She [Taraji] looked over the script and loved it…it just shows what a little star power can do…” After the project was given the “go ahead,” she found most of the casting for the film to be relatively simple, already having in mind who she wanted to portray each character. However, there was a hiccup with Amir’s character. The original actor to helm the role had to drop out of the production just days before filming was to begin. “He had to drop out of the film and we had to cast a new male lead…the new guy, Cleo Anthony, came in and just blew my mind away…everything happens as it is meant to be, and I truly believe that role was meant for him…honestly I can’t even see the guy who initially had the role being Amir now since Cleo just did such an amazing job…He is Amir and Amir is him…” Although she loved the entire cast, she admits she loved working with Taraji the most. “She is just so fun and funny in general…most people know her for more dramatic roles, but she has a comedic side too and in the scenes where she’s being funny she is really funny! A lot of times it took everything in me not to bust out laughing while we were filming and she was on set!” Seasons of Love is definitely a must see movie, and should become a holiday tradition for your family. Love should be felt 365 days a year and through every season. If you learn anything from the film it will be that true love is timeless!
Princess Monique’s cinematic accomplishments are nothing to brush off. Sadly, African-America female directors are as rare as unicorns on the grand scale of the entertainment industry. “…I saw a pie chart once where they showed the makeup of directors and we [African-American females] were less than one percent…” This is disturbing, especially since it means individuals not familiar with African-American women are writing and creating content based or directed at that audience. Thus, stereotypes are perpetuated and in many cases Black women are exploited. This is the argument currently surrounding reality television and its portrayal of Black women. “…that whole genre is built off negativity and women tearing each other down…they [other ethnic groups] think this is how we act and it is not okay…” For these reasons it is important to support the work of minority directors for diversity sake and more resonating works of art that are true to the culture of the audience they cater to. Princess Monique has found her answer to this dilemma by forming her charity, La Princessas, Inc., which is dedicated to empowering teen girls through mentorship and sisterhood. She has also formed her own company, Princess Films Productions to continue creating quality work led by her vision.
CEO, director, producer, and powerhouse those are just a few of the hats worn by Princess Monique. As aforementioned, she believes everything happens as it is meant to be. Truly, this is meant to be her time! She hopes Seasons Of Love will move forward and even become a television series. She also hopes to work more with Taraji in the future. As a director, she knows the grind must never stop and is always ready for the next challenge! You can catch your girl on her grind by checking out her website, www.PrincessFilmsProductions.com. Follow her on Twitter @PrincessFilms, Instagram @PrincessMonique, and check out her Facebook page. Be sure you check out Seasons Of Love on Lifetime, check your local listings for channels and show times!
Check out some Behind The Scenes footage from “Seasons Of Love!”