November 2001
Film and TV merge in the world of a Director : MTVís Real World falls under the helm of maestro conductor Alphonzo Wesson

Interviewed by Kellye Whitney

Film and TV merge in the world of a Director : MTVís Real World falls under the helm of maestro conductor Alphonzo Wesson

ĎYour beef is not with meí is one of my sisterís favorite phrases right now. Itís a standing joke between us, and if we talk about the war, sheíll bring it up. Loosely translated it means, this is not my fight, and aside from the occasional red, white and blue flag induced patriotic suggestion, I agree with her. I honestly believe that my country would be better served if I mind my own business and keep doiní what Iím doiní here at Black people in general have too many deeply rooted issues to address as a community to try and take on the problems of another race of poor, disenfranchised, economically suffering and most definitely manipulated people like those in Afghanistan. And letís not forget anthrax. Thanks for coming out!

Many artists are struggling to reinterpret and put into proper perspective the life-shaking events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, and Filmmaker/Director Alphonzo Wesson is no different. Only he must cope with the beast of Reality TV in addition to his tasks as the maestro of what could be called one huge, voyeuristic, social experiment. Wesson is the first black director for MTV staple reality show, ďThe Real World.Ē In their 11th season, Wesson will take on our hometown of Chicago, and itís about doggone time! Hereís what he had to say about his newest job as Director/cheerleader/visionary/chef at MTV.

KW: Whatís the new gig like?

AW: You have no control. My job is to monitor the relationships between the kids and making sure Iím there when something happens. We follow them everywhere. Go with them to clubs, church, restaurants, all in the hopes of gleaning something we can utilize as a story. We follow a plot as it unfolds. Itís real life in that we donít tell them how to feel. You put these seven personalities together and you see what develops in their environment and you observe to see what happens. Itís probably one of the greatest social experiments ever to be broadcast. Thatís entertainment!

KW: Your usual style of directing is a bit different from this.

AW: Definitely. Iím a filmmaker. In my work, the actors, writers, everyone collaborates to create something. Reality TV is a whole different animal, but after this there will be no directing situation that I can walk into and not dominate.

KW: How do you think the war and the WTC tragedy will affect the show?

AW: How could the cast not be aware of what happened? I canít go into detail, but we were all very aware of what happened and it will be reflected in the show.

KW: Can you give us any hints, a little sneak peek inside into this next season?

AW: The story is so interconnected that if I told you one tidbit, it will be out of context, but I will say this. I have been in every club in the City of Chicago, and the diversity of clubs in the City of Chicago is astounding. Iíve been North, South, and Iíve never been bored. Iíve been in the highest to the funkiest clubs, in limos and cabs. If I spilled anybodyís drink in the process, I am sorry. My nickname while shooting this project was the Dark Knight, my crew was Ronin because in some of the clubs and bars we went into thereís been drama. Iíve had drinks thrown at me, Iíve been shoved, people have tried to start things with me, but it has been amazing to see how people respond when you walk into a social situation with a camera and a light. The hoochies come out and the guys start strutting. Itís amazing. I want to start a new service called Lights, Camera, and Get Some Action. ďAre you so ugly to get a drink of water you have to sneak up on the glass? Call me, Alphonzo Wesson at Lights, Camera Get Some Action.Ē (laughter) American culture is fixated with the idea of stardom and getting their fifteen minutes of fame. I owe it all to and Martell Cognac. They screened my short film ďOpen the SkyĒ at the Dragon Room in Chicago and the producer for Real World Chicago and the Production Manager were there. They approached me about directing. Itís a Cinderella story in a way, and that doesnít really happen. Besides having a phenomenal evening and getting a lot of support, I walked away with something that gave me entrťe into a world I formally didnít have access to.

KW: From me and the crew, know weíre absolutely and utterly thrilled to have a small part in your success. What else are you working on?

AW: Iíve started a new company called Zomotion Productions. Iíve gotten tremendous inquiries about shooting commercials which is how I make my living. Iíve left Proctor & Gamble, weíre fully funded, and Iím hoping to work with BET soon on some exciting new projects.

KW: What happened with ďOpen the SkyĒ?

AW: It ran in the Cincinnati Emmies, got nine nominations and we took five. Best entertainment program, best director, and the thing Iím most proud of, three of my actors won for best performer. Including the ten-year-old kid who played Joshua. So heís ten, and heís got an Emmy, how cool is that?

MTVís The Real World will begin airing its 11th season in January 2002
Special thanks to MTVís Coordinating Producer Peter Wilson, and Director Laura Korkoian.