It’s Never Too Late For Yr Dreams

Twenty one years ago I was a film student at the prestigious UCLA film school. I lost both of my parents to cancer and became a mother in one very quick moment. When several friends, mentors and advisors at school discovered I was pregnant, they said that I couldn’t be a filmmaker and a good Mom, and that I ruined my shot at this.

Me with the camera in 1997 at UCLA Film School.

I didn’t stop making films, but my big Hollywood dreams were pretty crushed... until now. I have been given the chance of a lifetime and I’m proof that it’s never too late to live your dreams!

I been given the opportunity of a lifetime to “break in” to directing television and feature films after 20 years of being a college professor and indie filmmaker. Ava Duvernay called me unexpectedly and said it was time to come back and honor the talent I have... she brought me back into my light.

If you don’t know how it works in Hollywood, there are many barriers to entry. Very few women and even fewer women of color can break into television as a director. The stats are something we need to improve. It’s not easy.

Directing a 40 ft crane on a night exterior on QS.

Also, to be hired you must be in a union or guild. A recent blessing of being hired to direct Queen Sugar by Ava DuVernay has allowed me an invitation to join the Director’s Guild of America (DGA),  which makes me eligible to direct network and cable television and gets health insurance for me and my children. The DGA helps ensure fair labor practices and working conditions on set.

My first is the intiation fee to the Director’s Guild of America (DGA). I owe nearly $12k.

I am a single mama of two. My oldest Tiana graduated from college in May. I put her through college completely on my own.

Tiana graduated college before her 21st bday

My youngest Joseph wants to be a marine biologist. In our spare time, we volunteer for an aquarium. Joe has given over 100 hours of service. Jost lost his Dad three years ago in a tragic and mysterious accident, but he keeps a smile on his face. Joe is also a super gamer kid.

I am a mentor many and to hundreds of students over two decades. I am a tenured professor at the University of Alabama where I have spent the last decade giving to others before fostering my own needs and dreams to direct. I am very proud of my students who work in industry but for a college professor and single mama with a mountain of student loan debt, it’s been hard to keep things moving.

Directing Bianca Lawson and Michael Michele.

I have achieved many things as a woman, as a mother, as a scholar and a filmmaker but always with a dollar we stretch. It’s time to try to go big with my dreams and honor my talents as a director, but I don’t have the financial wherewithal to make this next big move: I need to be back in Los Angeles.

I am stepping out on faith, but I need some help.

I have taken an unpaid leave from U of Alabama because I have a fantastic manager now who has gotten me in big meetings all around Hollywood. Shows have expressed that they do want to hire me, but they need me local in LA. All the meetings are ending with, “We love you. We love your story and we want to work with you. Tell your manager to call as soon as you’re moved and settled in LA.”

So my next big steps are to pay the DGA, secure an apartment in Los Angeles, get my sixth grader settled into junior high school and hire movers to get our things across the country.

I will resume my teaching obligations for Alabama online and through my in Los Angeles industry mentorship program which brings Bama students to LA to study on the ground in Hollywood, but it’s going to be a tough many months ahead.

& I need to share a big ROLL TIDE ❤️ to Alabama. They are supporting me to keep my position as a tenured professor and try to make a successful career and a pipeline for our students.

My students are industry underdogs but have been so successful breaking into industry after working with me. I have mentored over a dozen to get the most competitive internship - the Television Academy (Emmys) internship. Now they work all over town.

Check em out: 

Due to timing, I can’t teach again until January, so I am freelancing in LA but this single mama is without a consistent paycheck. I’m scared, y’all.

This is a bold move, especially for this single mama but in Hollywood your chance lasts like a whole half a second and my moment to try is now.

I am grateful for any help. If I have helped you in any way, please consider giving back if you can.

All funds raised will go to DGA payments, moving expenses, care of my son and bills.

I’m scared, smiling, but ready for the future!
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Rachel Raimist
Tuscaloosa, AL

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