April J Exclusives with Abeni Nazeer
As a journalist I have had the opportunity to speak with political figures, celebrities, athletes, as well as a variety of interesting and diverse people. However, none have impressed me more than Abeni Nazeer. It was an honor and a privilege to spend a few hours in the presence of the amazing, talented film director, Abeni Nazeer, The Baltimore Princess. It was 2:43 in the morning and I'm feeling somewhat awkward walking in the Four Seasons Hotel, but this was the time Abeni said she was free. I knocked on the hotel sweet door, she answered in a fitted adidas sweat suit and adidas socks. "Come in, I was just editing ", she said with a smile. The room was bright, and it appeared to me that sleep was nowhere in her immediate future. I set up my voice recorder. "Do you mind if I edit while you interview me" she asked. "Of course, not", I replied. I had a list of typical questions I prepared, like, when did you become interested in directing, how old were you when you started, what was your childhood like, etc. but I decided not to use them and I went with the flow. April J - What are you editing now? as I looked over her shoulder? Abeni - A video...these rappers from out east...I'm actually shooting the last scene here. April J - Tonight? Abeni - Yeah, it’s a quick scene, girls, bottles, rappers, money... April J – When do you get to sleep? Abeni - I don't, as she laughs April J - What motivates you? Abeni - My city, I want people to know who and what Baltimore is. There's a lot of talent here in Baltimore other cities overlook. Another thing that motivates me is when I see videos and movies, I’m like, I can do that better... watch, I’m going to have a Emmy, Academy Award, Golden Globe or something. and when I win, the city wins. we all win.
April J - What do you like to shoot the most, movies or videos? Abeni - Both are exciting. I started with documentaries, but I enjoy it all, commercials, movies, promos, videos. I really get super excited when I shoot my stuff. April J - What are you currently working on? Abeni - A few things...I don’t want to speak on them yet but it's going to put the city on...watch. - as I'm asking the question the song she’s editing keeps repeating the same 4 bars over and over April J - Do you ever get tired of listening to the song as you're editing? I've only been here 25 minutes and those same 4 bars been repeating itself. Abeni - I guess I block it out till I'm finished, then I listen to it.
April J – Where did you get the name Baltimore Princess?
Abeni – I was at a shoot a few years back and this guy couldn’t pronounce my name so he just called me princess. He was like “m, yo I can’t say yo name for real so can I call you princess?” Then he was like, “Naw… Imma call you Baltimore Princess.” All that day, he was like, “Where you need me to go Baltimore Princess… Hey, Baltimore Princess… You need something Baltimore Princess. My team teased me about it the rest of the day, and it just stuck, so I ran with it.
April J – Do you ever see him?
Abeni – Naw, but when I win my Academy Award, I will thank him.
Abeni answers her phone and looks at me...they're here. I'm like, oh, ok...let me leave so you can.... she cuts me off, “you're not leaving" she says with confidence. I responded by saying I don't want to be in the way, but as her clients came through the door I became sort of curious. The bad and bougee girls...and tough looking dudes were all dressed in designer clothes. Abeni immediately showed the girls the room where they can change. The guys were standing holding champagne bottles waiting for directions. The Baltimore Princess went into action. She organized, placed, directed, and managed the set effortlessly. She usually has her dad, Seven Nazeer and/or an assistant but she was alone for this last scene. Just as I was thinking someone is going to complain about the music, someone knocked on the door. It was hotel security. I was nervous, but I underestimated the Princess. Instead of kicking us out they participated in the video, ironically, as hotel security kicking the rappers and crew out. Yes, you read correctly they were part of the video. Security left excited about their experience. Shortly after, everyone else left. Abeni sat back at her computer and revisited her editing. It was 4 something in the morning. She looks at me and said, "okay you can finish asking your questions". I was exhausted, but she was still full of energy. I only had one more question. April J – When you win your first Academic Award where do you plan to put it? Abeni - Next to my Golden Globe and Emmy....as she smiles.