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Meet Rookie: Chicago filmmaker, rapper and photographer

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Photo credit: Mo Parker

In these days and times it is not enough to know how to do just one thing. The world is moving at warp speed and being able to have the ability to express different talents and skills will ultimately reap huge rewards as long as you are diligent and humble. Willie White IV, also known as Rookie, has taken his many talents and used them to blaze his own trail and impact the world of film and entertainment. We talked to him about his different skills and why it is important to never stop learning.

Tell us about yourself.

I am an ex (track and field) athlete and Hall of Fame recipient. I am a guerrilla filmmaker [and] TV producer, photographer-editor and also I am apart of a rap group called The Ol’ Days that specialized in Boom Bap hip-hop. I am also the proud father of a 7-year-old boy (Willie White V) that’s on his way to being an A student in his first year in grammar school.

What is it about what you do that makes you unique?

I would say that because I do so many things there is no one name for what I do and that in itself leads me to believe that I am unique in a world full of talented people. I mean of all the music video directors, how many can rap? And of all the rappers how many can do photography. I have so many different scenarios I could make up that may illustrate me to be unique but I love the list of talents God blessed me with.

How did you get started in your profession?

I basically got started out of college trying to get into film school. I only tried for one year and after I got rejected by three schools I decided to just start my own production company under the name of Rookie Films. I shot music videos and did weddings, anything that was related to production but also what came from that was my show Rookie TV that I brought out and spread via cable access. As far as rapping I started when I was 30 years old. I had just lost my job and I wanted to do something to keep my mind off depression and loss. There were so many wack rappers out at the time that I decided to put out a mixtape. It was half comedy and half serious called The Wackest Mixtape EVER and the rest was history. Years later, I joined a group with my now band mate called The Ol’ Days and we’ve been able to accomplish a ton in a few short years!

The Ol Days Mo Parker Shot

The Ol’ Days (Photo credit: Mo Parker)

What would you say is the most challenging aspect of what you do?

The most challenging aspect is that when you start out with an idea it mostly always comes out differently in reality as it does in your head, but it’s still good because you completed something! That’s the most challenging thing though if you ask me. The uncertainty of it all.

Who are the biggest personal and professional influences in your life?

Bar none, my father is the biggest influence in my life. He too is an ex athlete that is in the Hall of Fame (football) a retired principal of the Chicago Public Schools and taught me everything I know about production and writing. Other than him I would have to say Spike Lee is one of my heroes too.

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Photo credit: Ten Lashon

Tell us about the last book you read. Why did you choose it?

I am bad because I read books in spurts usually without finishing it completely and going on to another one. I would have to say the last book I finished was Manchild In The Promised Land by Claude Brown. What drew me to the book was the real language used. You could totally tell when the author would be narrating from his eyes or speaking with his mouth in the book and this gave it a pretty personal feel to it even though the view expressed wasn’t mine in particular.

What encouraging words do you have for our readers?

Never stop learning and wanting to learn. Even if you feel as though you have reached your life’s pinnacle, you can push yourself to do more and better things through just continuing to stay hungry education-wise. There is always some new program, some new skill that you can teach yourself or learn that could sharpen your sword.

Lean more about Rookie on his twitter: @Rookie_Chi