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Millicent Shelton / Writer-director

March 15, 1998|Steve Hochman

Millicent Shelton didn't have to look far to find material for her feature writing and directing debut. Her own experience of getting 30 Harlem kids to Miami by bus to be extras in a music video for music producer Teddy Riley provided plenty of fodder for her comedy, "Ride." Now Shelton, 31, who's just moved from New York to L.A., is working to establish herself among the talent emerging from the video world.

GENERATION GAP: "My film is made for kids 18 to 29, so if you're 30, you probably won't get it. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel. It's a comedy about what kids go through at that time in their life from an urban environment."

CULTURE GAP: "I'm in a unique situation because I did a black film. We would have screenings for the studio people, and no one would laugh. But we had screenings for a real audience and they thought it was hysterical, and then the studio people said, 'Yeah, it's funny.' "

HUH?: "Some of the slang . . . [studio people] don't know. And some of the cameos, like Snoop Doggy Dogg, they didn't recog-nize him. But for the kids, he appears and they go, 'Oh, [wow]!' "

BECOMING VISIBLE: "Part of the struggle of being a woman and being black--but more being a woman--is it's hard for people to see you. You have to work harder. I would have liked to have done my first film by 26. But that's all right. I'll be around longer."

NETWORKING: "Since I got this movie, I hear people say they were looking for black female directors, but they didn't know where to look. I went up to Kasi Lemmons, who did 'Eve's Bayou,' at a party and said, 'We need to stick together because there aren't a lot of us out there.' "

HOLLYWOOD ROCKS: "I'm interested in a script about the music industry that's at Fox. There's been a lot of interest in that topic. I've pitched ideas about it, and at least three studios said, 'When you have a script about that, give it to us.' "

UP-AND-COMERS: "You're going to hear a lot from Malik Yoba, who's on 'New York Undercover.' When he appears on screen in my movie, people scream. And Kellie Williams from 'Family Matters'--people won't recognize her in the film. No one's going to be thinking Steve Urkel when they see her here."

STAR QUALITY: "What's with all the stories in music videos? Everyone wants to be a movie star. Then when you go to them to offer a role, they don't just want a part. 'I want to be a star.' But can you act? Doing music videos is not acting. That's sort-of acting but not really acting."

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