Tamika R. Guishard
Mind of a Ranger, heart of a teacher, soul of a dancer
Tamika is a first-generation American with heritage from the sister islands of St. Kitts & Nevis (SKN), the smallest independent nation in the West recently popularized as Hamilton’s birthplace. With her last name being akin to “Smith” in SKN, she grew up in East New York and her identity as a Brooklyn-born African with Kittitian roots has come to the forefront as her filmmaking career continues providing a platform for her to amplify marginalized voices. She does this by crafting cinematic Social Studies—history, civics, humanities, social trends and the like—to help amplify humanity and communities such as her own. Her time as a middle school Social Studies teacher inspired Tamika’s drive to fuse media and education, a pursuit that led her to the Graduate Film program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
As a result, Tamika sees edutainment as boundless. She combines video and pedagogy in fresh ways with rising stakes. Endowing stakeholders with tools to sustainably accelerate progress by spotlighting the extraordinary that is already there, she unearths stories to forge a distinct lane for education and cinema. She has collaborated with school districts, Tribeca Film Institute, Great Minds, National Parks, and on Leech Lake Reservation to make “films that help”. Her forthcoming African dance-driven feature film debut won Tisch’s (version of the Black List,) Purple List, a grant from NY State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and the Rooftop Films Filmmaker Fund. The coming-of-age story about young adults from East New York aged out of the foster care system received support from Brooklyn’s IFP Week and Residency Unlimited, the same year that Tamika was selected as one of two non-Canadians with Black Women Film! Canada during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Tamika views filmmaking as her activism, a way for her movies to pay forward the access that she’s had to educators, mentors, and freedom fighters. Tamika’s projects have been earmarked for their diversity in key roles, authenticity and ability to calibrate diverse perspectives. “Jackie.”, the proof of concept for her forthcoming feature was also shot by Cybel Martin, the first Black woman cinematographer to graduate from the NYU Graduate Film (also with roots in St. Kitts!), and responsible for helping secure the inaugural Women Cinematographers Grant from Digital Bolex. T’s edutainment, produced as both a creative and civil servant, has been recognized by Oscar-qualifying festivals, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Gates Foundation, SXSWedu and Harvard’s Center for Educational Policy.
Her storytelling is fostered by values like Schuyler’s “to whom much is given, much is required”, her Bushwick Middle School motto, the “nonsibi” fundamentals imbued in her at Phillips Andover, and a Quaker state-of-mind cultivated in undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania. Her personal draw to ancestry and legacy intensified during her service as an African Burial Ground National Monument Park Ranger, where she helped coordinate a Teacher’s Institute and launch Ken Burns’ National Parks docuseries with Harlem Children’s Zone. Tamika had the awesome pleasure of managing THE AMERICA I AM, Tribeca Film Institute’s inaugural partnership with National Parks for NPS’ centennial.
In addition to pioneering pedagogical video for school districts and nonprofits, Tamika’s first serialized screenplay, inspired by her Park Ranger days, was recognized by Nashville and Canada International Film Festivals, as well as Made in NY Writers Room. Her short script "Pride", also based at the African burial ground, won the Governor's Office's "Celebrate Equality NY" Film Challenge. One of eight “Athenas” in the inaugural Athena Film and TV LA Writers Lab and thirty-three profiled in Shadow & Act’s eye-opening #BlackWomenFilmmakersSpeak series, Tamika continues to bolster the Diaspora, youth and women with robust support from her community. She currently champions NYC’s Summer Youth Employment Program and is Community Manager of Screenwriters Colony, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the number of groundbreaking stories in popular culture.