Interview with Tempest Storm Director, Nimisha Mukerji

Tempest Storm and Director Nimisha Mukerji
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At a time when Marilyn Monroe was the poster child for all things sexy in Hollywood, there emerged another woman – a close friend of Marilyn Monroe – who was to become the Queen of Burlesque.  Annie Blanche Banks, better known as Tempest Storm, left her humble beginnings in Eastman, Georgia to launch a successful career in Hollywood and Las Vegas that has spanned nearly a century.

Tempest Storm was and still is a sight to behold but in spite of her outward beauty which undoubtedly was the envy of most women of her time, she lived a not-so-sensational personal life which she kept very private until now.

Director Nimisha Mukerji goes beyond the sexual stereotypes to explore the obscure personal life of this burlesque superstar. Nimisha’s latest documentary explores the pain and triumphs of Tempest Storm in her own words.

Nimisha, I know that you are a very busy woman but I want to thank you for taking the time to allow Reel Focus readers to learn more about you and your latest film project.  First, tell our readers more about your background and how you became a film director.

Growing up my mom loved watching movies and she was a fan of every genre, from foreign films to westerns. I think her passion for films is one of the reasons I was so drawn to making them. In high school I volunteered at a local cable station as a camera operator and I took a lot of theatre classes, so I really started out directing small, one act plays as a teenager. I did my undergrad at the University of British Columbia but it wasn’t until my second year that I stumbled on the film program and realized I could take production classes as an elective. At the end of the year students were able to apply for a major in film production (which was a two year course where they only accepted 15 students). While I got shortlisted the first time I applied, I didn’t give up and went back the following year and got in. I often joke my first experience with film was rejection, and it taught me early on you can’t take no for an answer if you want to have a career in directing.

What sparked your interest in doing a biography on exotic dancer, Tempest Storm?

I was immediately drawn to the story of Tempest because she is indisputably the last great surviving burlesque performer from her era, and she’s also a very private person, which I found quite surprising. Tempest is a funny, charming woman, who has given countless interviews with the press. But I wanted to get past the usual questions and answers and delve deeper into her experience to get a better sense of what her life is like today. As it turns out, becoming a star involves a lot of sacrifice and loneliness, and Tempest was very honest about this side of the industry. She was willing to show us both the glamour and the grit involved in becoming an independent, working woman, who started out in the 50s and remains an icon to this day.

How well has your biography been received thus far?

We’ve had a fantastic reception at festivals, especially from female audiences, and thankfully Tempest has been able to attend many of our screenings. At our world premiere at Hot Docs in Toronto we were voted in the top 20 of the festival by audiences, we were also selected as the international spotlight film at Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival in Arkansas, and in Georgia we recently won Best Documentary Feature at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival and Best Director at Atlanta Docufest. These last two screenings and awards meant a lot to us since Georgia is Tempest’s home state and we filmed parts of the film in Eastman and Waycross.

What’s in the works for you in the near future?

I’ve been directing for television this past year and had the opportunity to work with DisneyXD and Amazon which has been really fun. It’s great to collaborate with actors and work with visual effects! It’s also been a nice change to have a script! I’ve spent the past ten years making feature documentaries where the story is constantly evolving.  I’m looking forward to developing a feature script based on a novel as well as a half hour comedy series that I’m been thinking about for a long time. While I love working as a director I think the best way to move the needle forward for women is to keep creating content that features our own stories and voices. I’m excited to keep directing and writing for both narrative films and documentaries.





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Getting Better Acquainted With Actress and Director Extraordinaire, Tangi Miller


Image of Diva Diaries Director, Tangi Miller

ATLANTA – Written by Yolanda Lewis

Like most in Hollywood, Tangi Miller is hard at work carving out a very successful career for herself. This multi-faceted businesswoman is a business triple hyphenate with her hand in the acting, directing, and producing pools.

Reel Focus recently got a chance to speak with Tangi about her entertainment pursuits and her thoughts on Atlanta’s booming film and television scene.

Tangi’s fascinating story began with her love for the arts in high school. She dabbled in acting a little but switched gears in college to pursue a communications and marketing degree at the University of Alabama. The acting bug bit her again when she pursued a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of California, Irvine. This renewed interest in her first love -acting – landed Tangi her big break on Felicity as Elena, WB’s Emmy-Winning popular hit show that aired on television in the late 1990s.

Other film and television projects that Tangi has worked on include Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion, Half and Half, Cold Case, The District, Leprechaun: Back 2 The Hood, Love & Other 4 Letter Words, and The MC Hammer Story – a track record which spans over twenty years.  Tangi also appeared in the video “Yesterday” with gospel duo Mary Mary.

Tangi’s most recent directorial project, Diva Diaries – a film in which she produces and co-stars as Sophia – is  about five women who are taking charge in the business world, balancing it all with relationships and fighting wars whether it be in the bedroom or the boardroom.

When asked about the inclusivity in film trending now, Tangi responded with a positive outlook. She is especially excited with all the diversity in film and television right now and hopes that the mediums continue to reflect this. Tangi stated that “Film and TV should reflect who we are, it seems we are getting closer. I believe things are getting better, which means we are going in the right direction.”

Not only is film and TV becoming diverse but film production locations are also expanding outside of Hollywood. Atlanta, where Tangi has recently been involved in some film projects, is becoming an international interchange for entertainment. Tangi says, “The beautiful thing about working in Atlanta is that I can work every day and then have Sunday dinner with my family, which helps me stay true to my southern upbringing.”

Tangi is a busy, hardworking business woman, so it is hard to take a break and enjoy the fruits of her labor. However, when she has downtime, she likes to binge watch The Escape Channel because she is into murder mystery real life stories. She claims that she is not normally into that sort of thing, but it has been addictive as of late.

Regarding potential future film projects, Tangi mentioned that she would love to adapt The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman for the screen. She says the reason this book is a favorite is “because I like to work on relationships and I would take the books insightful analogy and actionable wisdom and wrap it around three or four couples in a movie.”

One insider tip that Tangi shared with Reel Focus is how she chooses gigs. She states, “That in order for her to feel passionate about a project, she has to fall in love with the story first. If that foundation isn’t there, it does not fuel my energy or desire to tell it.” Her advice for those looking to get in the industry is to study the craft and take it seriously, especially if they want to be taken seriously in return.

Finally, when asked what she would be doing if she hadn’t pursued acting, Tangi eagerly said that she would have pursued teaching at the college level. She loves to share her experiences as an artist, filmmaker, and businesswoman and plans to do the lecture circuit in the future. She is also an advocate for supporting women and families as well as building educational programs targeting young women from low-income backgrounds. Tangi lives by the words of Maya Angelou in that “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and style,” and from the look of things she is doing just that.





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