CFDb Interviews Cheryl Ariaz Wicker ~ Producer/Publicist/Media Personality
= > How long have you been in the media industry?
Sixteen years… and may I say that it’s been a one exciting and challenging ride as I have worked my way up in the industry. After I decided that a legal secretary career wasn’t right for me, I changed directions with a job as a television news reporter. I then went on to hone my skills in a variety of areas, including television hosting and producing, casting, publicity and marketing, producing commercials and promotional videos, and a variety of other film production roles. All these experiences prepared me my current career as a film producer, publicist, and media personality.
= > How did you get involved in film producing?
The funny thing is that I never planned to become a film producer. After I moved to Louisiana is when I decided to pursue a new career direction for my life. My creative mindset naturally gravitated to media so I began pursuing one media opportunity after another. Living in a small town without a lot of opportunities in this field has taken a lot of creativity and often an entrepreneurial spirit to keep myself employed in entertainment media. I got my first job as a producer after getting an email totally out of the blue from a friend telling me he was starting a film production company and would like my help casting a short film. My involvement kept growing until they eventually hired me on full time. When they were ready for their first feature, I was promoted to the role of producer…it was a bit scary at first but a great learning experience. I never would have dreamed I’d be living the life that I now am. I have just taken life one day at a time and trusted God to open doors for me.
= > Do you only produce Christian films? If yes, explain.
I do not limit myself to “Christian” films per se. But I do limit my life’s work to things that are redemptive in nature. Since my teens, I have felt a calling to ministry. So as a producer, my standard is that a film be either faith based, family friendly or life affirming. I believe there is a place for evangelical films as much as there are for films that simply reflect good values without an overt gospel message. I believe that the Godless values found in today’s media play a big part in separating people from God and destroying the faith of today’s culture. Therefore, it is essential to lay the foundation of a Christian world view in order for hearts to be receptive to the gospel. Hollywood has changed the thinking of the culture slowly through the years with very subtle messages that conflict with Biblical values while they dish out truly great entertainment. Christians have the opportunity to reverse this effect and impact the culture in a positive way by producing equally high quality films with a Biblical worldview. This is my passion and my calling.
= >What is the greatest achievement so far in your career?
The highlight of my career thus far has been producing “Flag of my Father,” starring John Schneider, GiGi Erneta, Andrew Sensenig and William Devane. The film, which received the Best Narrative Feature Film Award at the GI Film Festival, is available on DVD and has aired on Trinity Broadcast Network. It is a film that has been an inspiration to many people, particularly veterans and families who have lost someone in service to their country. I enjoyed the great cast and a crew and am thankful to R2 Productions owner Rodney Ray for bringing me onto the team.
(Here is a link to “Flag of My Father” on CFDb.)
= > How were you involved in the film “Flag of My Father”?
I was the producer of the movie. I was involved from development to post production…pulling together a crew, taking on the role of casting director which included casting John Schneider and William Devane, and overseeing publicity and distribution.
= > Tell us about your experience as an actress?
I consider myself an “aspiring” actress. I started in community and church theater and have spent many years as an on-camera host and celebrity interviewer so being in the spotlight is not new to me. Film is a little more new though. I have trained off and on for about three years and have had several speaking roles in smaller independent films as well as background and featured roles in major film and television productions. I recently booked a lead role in “The Maker Unknown” by Majesta Films, featuring Hugh McLean of Dave Christiano’s “Seventh Street Theater,” which will shoot January 2012.
= > Can you tell us about Christian Movie Connect? (what it is about and why you started it)
Christian Movie Connect is a weekly video podcast that features top personalities in the Christian film industry, including filmmakers, actors, screenwriters, studio heads and other well known Christian media professionals who influence the industry. The interviews are conducted on location at leading Christian media industry events such as National Religious Broadcasters Convention, Biola Media Conference, Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival, International Christian Visual Media Catalyst Conference, etc. I started the podcast because I saw an unmet need in the Christian film industry for a venue to showcase Christian movies in a video format. It seemed like a no-brainer considering my background as both a filmmaker and a television host and interviewer. And considering my passion for promoting positive entertainment, it also fits very nicely with my personal goals to support the Christian film industry.
= > What is your favorite job that you do now? Please explain.
Okay, now that is a hard question. I have lots of energy and a lot of different skills and interests. So I must say that the job I love best is the job I’m doing right now. I enjoy being behind the camera as a producer, casting director and publicist; and I enjoy being in front of the camera as a film actress and TV/radio/podcast host and interviewer. They all have their positive aspects, so I think I will just continue walking through the doors as God opens them for me in any and all of these areas.
= > What recommendations would you have for others that may be interested in working in the media industry?
I will share four recommendations:
(1) Be willing to pay your dues. You can’t expect to jump into your dream position right off the bat. You will need to work your way to the top. And you may have to do freebies for awhile to gain experience and make connections in the industry. But in time, it will hopefully pay off as you move up and gain the recognition you desire.
(2) Learn whenever you can from whomever you can. There are people everywhere you go that you can learn from. Don’t be afraid to ask questions…most people are willing to share their wisdom. In general talk less and listen more. Sometimes when you get in the presence of seasoned professionals, the temptation may be to try to impress them. However, the smart thing to do in this situation is to talk less and listen more.
(3) Don’t try to do it all alone. The best works are collaborative works. If you want to do it all, it will only be as good as you are. However, if it is a team effort, it will be as good as your entire team put together. I always seek out the best to work with me and defer to them in their areas of expertise. I have nothing to prove, only great things to accomplish.
(4) Realize that entertainment is a tough industry to work in. Stay grounded in your faith so you don’t compromise your standards. Put God first in every area of your life, including your career. Entertainment is a good field for people with great passion and unwavering principals to impact the world in a positive way!
To learn more about Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, you can visit her personal website at http://www.cherylwicker.com/. You can also view her Christian Movie Connect video podcast at http://www.christianmovieconnect.com/ or stay in touch with CMC on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChristianMovieConnect.
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