Q#1: Are you a Bay Area Native? and if not, how long have you lived in the Bay? Rocky: This is yes and no. I’ve lived in the Bay off and on since I was six, (born in D.C. while my father went to Howard) and grew up in Oakland. But I was shipped off back East every summer to relatives from June to September in NJ/NY, and lived in New York for 5 years, so I identify with both coasts.
Q#2: When did you start on the creative path you are currently on? Rocky: I’ve been a film lover ever since I can remember…also an activist. Both can be directly attributed to my father, who took me to a zillion movies since maybe 3 years old, and had to deal with massive amounts of racism in the 70’s (even getting his life threatened several times), because he was the boss of many that didn’t want to work for a Black man. Most of the films that I like to screen deal with social justice issues.
Q#3: Where do you find your inspiration? Rocky: Everything that has to do with the senses, I think. Film, of course; just one film can change the course of your whole life if it resonates with you. Fashion, architecture, photography, fine art, music, even food. Love. The art component is a little surprising–I have gotten deeply into the art aspect since coming back to Oakland…we have such amazing artists here it is unreal; it’s time for it to be recognized on a national and global level. I am also deeply inspired by people who fight injustice, but transcend anger and do it from a loving, objective, intelligent, and spiritual understanding; that is a very, very hard thing to do. Even the people who do this with just everyday living and regular life issues are so inspiring to me.
I also get inspired by reading the I-Ching every day and my children, but definitely in a more indirect way–I get ideas out of heart and spirit from that. Being grounded from there is helping me to evolve into making films of my own.
Q#4: What was the first piece of vinyl you ever purchased? Rocky: Ummmm…purchased for someone else, Earth, Wind, and Fire. Given to me was The Police’s “Roxanne” (my born name). Purchased for myself, whatever that Luther Vandross album was that had “Never Too Much” on it. Oddly, I never liked anything he made after that! Lol After that it was Prince all day every day; I would buy without even listening to it first.
When I was a kid my parents were very social and had lots of parties. I just thought about this…I’d really forgotten. Every time they would have a party they would just buy whatever was on Jet magazine’s top 20 list–old, old school! After the party they would give all the 45’s to me and my sister. And we would play them to death.
Q#5: Anything else you’d like to share? a joke/quote? Rocky: Please supportive of everyone in Oakland in the arts and culture if they are genuinely passionate about what they do. There is a renaissance here of sorts, and it can be parallel to the Harlem Renaissance, if we let it. In my opinion, it’s imperative we let it/support it…I don’t want the Oakland that I know/love/grew up in get watered down through changes that we are not a part of. We must make the big picture bigger than small agendas and small thoughts.