SMC did an amazing interview with the up-and-coming filmmaker Ty Adams. She talks creativity, the industry’s “lookism”, ways to overcome challenges in the creative field and how to have a successful career. She is determined, fierce and we should 100% keep an eye on her and her incredible work.

Ty Adams and her human portraits.

SMC: Ty, It’s such an honor, thanks for being with us. Tell us a bit about you to our followers and where they can find your work :)

TA: My name is Tiesha, pronounced “Ty-E-Sha” for some and “Tie-Sha” for
others, but it’s just easier to call me Ty. I am a writer and, what I like to call, a
Directographer {director, cinematographer (and photographer) in one}. But at the forefront of it all, I am a storyteller. And because I am a storyteller, I have become a woman of many hats and talents — writing, directing, filming, acting, designing — all in order to be able to tell my story, my vision.
Link to my video portfolio:
Link to my film photography

SMC: Why did you decide to become a cinematographer?

TA: At an early age, I had already been imagining and creating my own stories. I’m telling you — as soon as I was able to write proper sentences, I never stopped writing. And along the “Game of Life”, it became definite that I wanted to write and produce my own work through any means (producing in the sense of creating a product). With that resolve, I studied . EVERYTHING — the ins and outs of playwriting and screenwriting, the ENTIRE production process (pre- and post-included) and each roles’ significance in both fields (theatre and film). I learned to design lights, scenery, coach actors, bringing all the elements together as a director, etc. The Cinematographer role was just one of those significant roles I felt I needed to take on for myself because I thought who better to trust with my story than myself? I had the vision in my head- I just needed to figure out how to take it out of my head and on to the screen. And after diving into it all, I became this
hybrid, a Directographer.

SMC: How does your creative process work?

TA: My creative process doesn’t necessarily have a definite path, for lack of better words. My ideas for stories and shoots just come to me however they come, whether it’s from seeing something while I’m on the train, or on my way to work, or even out of my dreams — they could form from anything! The only definite thing I do every time is “jot it down”. I find that my mind races and doesn’t stop for anything, so if I don’t write the idea down, I will surely forget it. Once its written down, I can either develop the idea then and there, or I come back to it later and decide whether it should become a script or a themed photoshoot, etc. Then as I shoot, for me it’s like “let’s see what happens” all while trying to mold the project into something my core resonates with.

SMC: How are you managing to keep creative during social isolation?

TA: Well, when I’m writing, I usually block everything and everyone out, so staying creative in that way during social isolation is quite easy. Very beneficial, in fact!
But now I am not able to really go out and shoot like I’d like to, so photography and cinematography has taken a backseat for a while until the pandemic gets under control. But the ideas haven’t stopped coming, so I’m still jotting them down and planning shoots. It’s just a sort of waiting game now to make them happen. Besides that, I’ve been very interested in TikToks, so… be on the look out for a few from me lol.

SMC: Who are your biggest inspirations?

TA: At the moment, my biggest inspirations first and foremost are my close family and friends. They encourage my creative mind and soul every day, and has never given me a reason to doubt myself. Directing wise, most definitely Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler inspires me and not just in their literal directing styles and choices, but they show me that you can do amazing work, be respected, and still be yourself without having to change who you are for the sake of other folks’ own standards. They continue to push the envelope and challenge their audiences to actually think and it’s absolutely amazing to witness. Another more recent inspiration is Lena Waithe, and I could honestly go on and on about how much I love her as a creative, but — in my eyes, she is another fellow hybrid. She acts, writes, directs — and she also hasn’t changed who she is for others. Absolutely love it!

SMC: Do you think there is a lot of lookism in the creative industry?

TA: Oh, 100%! Because the industry’s “lookism” has evolved. It has changed from being something particular to becoming something a bit more accepting and inclusive, but it’s still there. At first, it seemed like only people that were of a certain standard of beauty could be seen and could make it far in the industry, and those influential decisions were made by a select group of high powered individuals. But the industry has grown so much and has expanded much more because of social media platforms that — literally anyone could become someone. So lookism is not what it used to be, but it is still there for sure. I like to think that every one of my own projects have a certain look for each of them, and for the most part, I let the project speak to me instead of me forcing things to work for it. Just gotta feel for it!

SMC: What’s your message for companies that spread diversity on social media, but do not hire a diverse workforce?

TA: My message to companies that spread diversity on social media, but do not hire diversely would be… What are you so afraid of? What do you think would really happen if you hire diversely?? Put aside your own prejudices and biases, and do what you set out to do. Stop being hypocrites and practice what you preach. As a “creative of color” myself, we’re out here, so stop saying that you can’t find us.

SMC: Can you give some tips for girls that are starting now? How did you
overcome the difficulties and became successful?

TA: To young girls who are starting now and even to those who want to start — never stop learning and never stop developing yourself to become a better
more expressive creative. Your creativity is a gift and you should cherish it like
the most important gift you have ever received. At first I was just a writer. And
finding people to love and respect my work, just as much as I did, and enough
to want to create it with me was extremely difficult for a number of reasons —
But I never let that stop me from creating. In turn, I strived to learn what I
needed and take on those roles to bring my stories to life, and it was only after
that that other creatives began trusting me with their ideas and their stories,
and we made magic. Trust yourself more and most definitely, invest in yourself.

SMC: What are your future goals as a cinematographer?
TA: I became a cinematographer to take a step forward in my overall goal of
writing and producing my own work (again, producing in the sense of creating a product). And to be honest, I believe my years of being a cinematographer will end once I find another cinematographer I can trust wholeheartedly with my vision so I can step aside and solely be a writer and director. Not to say that I will completely stop shooting, but it will probably continue as more of a leisurely thing than professional.

SMC: Thanks so much Ty, we are very proud of you and your journey! We will keep supporting your work and rooting for you in whatever you do!

TA: Thanks for having me guys, it was a pleasure.

Follow Ty Adams on instagram (@DIRECTEDBYTY) and let her know how you like her work. ELEVATE A WOMAN IN FILM TODAY.

See you guys next Monday. Stay home and keep safe!

xoxo SMC.



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