This article is a follow-up interview with Rosaleah Gonzalez, previously interviewed for The Call Sheet Vol. 1. To read that interview, click here! Our print magazine is released annually, but we hope you'll stay in touch with us year-round through The Ambassador Chronicles and Cinema Femme.
I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Assistant Cameraperson (AC) Rosaleah Gonzalez, one of our previous subjects interviewed for THE CALL SHEET Vol. 1. I wanted to learn about all that she has been up to in 2023. She told me about how the women in her life, including her mother who passed away in 2017, have been her inspiration to keep pushing through. “I could just think about how proud my mother would be,” she said during our conversation. “She didn’t get to see me in my prime, whereas I got to see her in hers right before she passed away unexpectedly, and it got taken away from her. Now that I’m in my prime, I know that she would just want me to keep going.”
Working as a Production Assistant and in Assistant Camera roles since 2014, Rosaleah is now seeing her career coming to fruition. She recently had her first full-time gig as an AC on a television series, a cooking competition show that just wrapped up. Now she is working on her next project: a true crime documentary. When I spoke to Rosaleah, I was amazed by her stamina for this work. She said that the job she has now requires fourteen-hour work days. But she loves what she does as an Assistant Cameraperson, the department for which she said can be broken up into "many different positions. The bigger the budget, the more positions that are available. But a lot of indie stuff I work on has smaller budgets. I know that a lot of ACs are aiming to eventually be a DP, or in some cases, a director. I once tried being a DP, and I really didn’t like it. I like working with my hands, so being an Assistant Camera operator is like being your DP’s right hand person. Anything that they need, you are there to offer it, whether it’s changing a lens, getting batteries or taking camera logs.”
Before interviewing Rosaleah, I wanted to see what she has been up to this year, so of course I go on her Instagram. I saw a post she did on the Alicia Keys documentary, UNCHARTED, which premiered at Tribeca this year. This was a very unique project that had women of color as the majority of its crew members. Rosaleah worked as an AC for the project following around hip hop artist Jean Deux for a couple days. The film highlights Black and Brown women in the music industry, and how hard it is for women to get ahead in the business. Jessica Tolliver, a DP in Chicago, connected Rosaleah to this project.
“I got on set and it was an amazing thing to see mostly women of color behind the camera,” Rosaleah marveled. "But I shouldn’t have to feel surprised, or that it was such a big deal because it shouldn’t be, right? We should just be. It should be normal. Because when I walk on a set and it’s nothing but white men, I feel like I have to live in some sort of box for the time being. I even told the team on UNCHARTED after we finished shooting that this was the first crew that I shot with that primarily had women of color. I felt so safe and special to have this experience.”
While growing up, the acclaimed DPs would hear about were all white men. “I don’t understand personally how they become such big names, but then again, if the world wasn’t so white male-dominated, would they have been as big as they are?” she asked. We then talked about an emerging AC in the Chicago film community that is emerging as a beacon of hope for Queer women of color behind the camera. Her name is Angie Zavala, and Rosaleah kept gushing about how she is having a killer career since she graduated from DePaul in 2021. “I was really happy about her career, because if white men can immediately become directors right after school, why can’t women of color?” she said.
There are two powerhouse women who have been in Rosaleah’s corner from the beginning, one of whom is the multi-versed filmmaker, actress, and producer Katherin Mraz of Ladie K Productions. “She’s an Asian director and producer based in Chicago,” Rosaleah explained. “I love her so much, and we’re always working together. She is probably one of the busiest people I know. I don’t know how she sleeps, because she is constantly onto the next thing. It’s a huge reminder that if you just keep going, you can achieve anything that you want because truly, she has acquired things that she wants because she knows how to go out and get them. And I’m like, ‘I want to be as bad as K.’ I mean, yes you’ve got to have your people, you’ve got to have your mentors and people that drive you.”
The other crucial champion of Rosaleah has been Nichole Harmon, another AC in Chicago, who has been very instrumental to her career. “She’s always taken me under her wing, and has been patient with me learning,” she said. "Nichole’s also been there from the beginning of my journey. She’s incredible.” Though Rosaleah couldn’t go into specifics about her exciting upcoming projects at this time, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for her brilliance in the months to come.
Rebecca Martin Fagerholm is the Editor in Chief and Founder of Cinema Femme, and co-publisher of The Call Sheet. The second volume of The Call Sheet is coming soon! Stay tuned for more information and be sure to check out Volume 1!