Bianca Rhodes is a producer, artist and film maker in the Twin Cities. Currently, she is the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) Productions and Sponsorship Coordinator for Community Productions. “My goal, my mission is to change the narrative of black woman in regards to media depictions.”
Her career started at the young age of 14 with a TPT Television show called Don’t Believe the Hype. “I just fell in love with it. I saw the lights, I saw the cameras and I thought, how do you do that?”
In college, she was one of the few black women in television production. “I felt like there was a lot of media about ‘us’ but not by ‘us.’ I was disturbed by the various media depictions that aren’t very positive in regards to black women.” Instead of complaining, though, she found her passion to be different and to become a positive force. Through her journey, she has been blessed by other women and men who understood her purpose and found incredible support lifting each other up.
Miss Robin Hickman, one of the co producers from Don’t Believe the Hype poured into Bianca’s heart along with her best friend, Essence Jones. “She became the ‘Aunty’ in our neighborhood.” St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood is a very vibrant, collaborative, inter-generational community that feels like family to the locals. The people in the neighborhood are best friends who have known and supported each other for over 20 years. “Since I was a teenager, this area has felt like family to me.” In that family, Robin Hickman became Bianca’s very first mentor and poured extensive knowledge into her. Because of Robin’s example of passing on knowledge, Bianca felt that it was important to do the same and give back and mentor other young black women in media. “They can reach out to me whenever they have a question, I will get back to them and help them grow. I have a lot of media daughters and sons. I don’t have any of my own children, but they are like my kids.”
Right now Bianca’s big project along with SPNN and Crown Lens Media Group has been doing a show call Candy Fresh. The show recently celebrated its second anniversary. It’s a show about music, arts and culture. It has a DJ, dancers, interviews, live musical performance with a live studio audience. “We highlight artists, visual artists, musical artist, and business owners. It’s all volunteer based. No one is getting paid.” It has no funding. SPNN and Crown Lens Media Group have been gathering volunteers and people who want to learn more about video production and gain experience in the field. It’s an inter-generational crew. People who are free lancers, volunteers older and younger, and everyone comes together to build this beautiful community protect and allow audiences to experience live television. The teams works on it once a month, the last Friday. The program highlights people across the Twin Cities, so it is not limited to people in St. Paul. “It changes your perspective when you’re on a live set and seeing everything happen right in front of you. That’s what inspired me at a young age and got me interested in media. We consume so much television, but we never ask how it’s made. It’s just been a beautiful journey and a beautiful struggle. It’s a very collaborative place. I want to share that experience with people.”
“Giving back is what Robin instilled in me. It’s about legacy building. She still inspires me. Now it’s very emotional for the both of us (knowing me for 20 over years) and she’s watched me grow into my self. Shout out to Robin, you know I love you!”
“People think I’m everywhere. My nickname is Miss Everywhere.” Bianca’s life is fulfilled by her endless charitable love for others. She is just now learning how to balance it all. Her heart is HUGE and as hard as it is, she sometimes has to say no so she can feel mentally and physically balanced. She’s learned to encourage and delegate to her mentees for help with some of these projects so she is not as stretched thin. “I really enjoy my alone time and my rest. I recharge myself, or what I call ‘cocooning myself,’ so that I can go back out and be an extrovert again. I’m an omnivert (both extroverted and introverted). I also need to empty my mind and journal. Sometimes at work I can feel the list pile up in my mind and I have to say ‘STOP! Just right it down,’ so I can record the thoughts and continue. I have a very strong spiritual life. That is a HUGE help for me and that is a big part of my self-care.”
In Hollywood, they have budgets to keep people happy, but with Candy Fresh there is no budget. Bianca has to be a miracle worker to pull this production together. Candy Fresh is one of the hardest things Bianca is facing right now. Among the tears and many details to pull this production off once a month, she refers to it as “herding cats.” It’s a constant hard job, trying to keep them together, emailing, calling, texting, marketing, getting the crew together, the talent together, scheduling to make sure people are where they need to be, doing what they need to do in order to air this show on time. Managing people is no easy task! “Producing is really herding cats and chaos people management.” After rounding everyone up, the creative part comes naturally.
“Anytime I felt doubt about what I’m doing, someone out of nowhere would shoot me a text or through email say, ‘I caught your show on YouTube, it was awesome, keep up the good work.’ OK, we’ll keep it movin’, I got this! I mean every time I feel down someone lifts me up on a consistent basis.”
There is no doubt that Bianca has a huge heart. Her mother “Miss Laraine” (as she calls her) always knew Bianca would listen and be a good person. Her mother shares this super cute story. “When I was born, they wouldn’t let my mom leave the hospital until I made a bowel movement. So she held me in close, looked into my eyes, and she said, ‘Honey, they won’t let us go until you poop and I need you to poop.’ Within a minute I finally pooped. From that moment she knew her daughter would always listen to her. And, honestly, she has been absolutely right. I always follow her counsel and direction.” They have a wonderful bond. Her mother was a teacher and Bianca was a big help for her mother. Bianca loved helping her set up the classroom with cute crafts to make the classroom colorful and inviting. “It is just a joy having her as my mom! Now that I’m grown I don’t get to see her enough. She still gives amazing counsel and inspires me.”
“As women who are in business or at home living their lives, don’t forget to believe in yourself. Help and inspire the people around you. Nurturing is inside of us, let it out. Despite what you have been or are going through, you must believe in yourself no matter what. Get the instant gratification thought out of your head. Love your life as it is now and accept where you are, then you’ll be able to move forward and do better things.”
Check out Candy Fresh. This is more than a show highlighting amazing artists, visual artists, musical artist, and business owners. This is a program that builds individuals with real experience, giving people a chance to learn and grow. It’s an opportunity to lift a community and inspire each other. It is not a competition, it’s about lifting each other up and learning that dreams are possible and we know people who can help you get there. This is real beauty and this is what life is really about!