I have earned the nickname “Carrier Pigeon” after more than twenty years flying around the world and immersing myself in cultures while playing all the documentary roles: host, producer, director, camera, writer and editor. I feel most at home when I’m traveling.
My sense of adventure was first apparent while growing up exploring forests in Illinois and carving turns around moguls in Colorado. Later, while studying journalism at Indiana University, I swung a Betacam over my shoulder to raise environmental awareness through media. After graduation, my storytelling continued at CNN Headline News where I helped produce and edit the new 24×7 news during the first Gulf War.
I couldn’t resist the lure of adventure, so I eventually moved on from CNN to join the Peace Corps and headed off to my first assignment in the Comoros Islands in Africa. The boundless joy and optimism of the African people was a perfect antidote to the previous war-footage editing. I created environmental action groups in every village on the island of Anjouan. Then, a military coup forced us all to evacuate.
Senegal became my new two year assignment and I was embedded into a local family and given the name “Oulie Mata Diop.” During that time, I initiated a range of environmental, agricultural, and women’s development projects. A deep water well in one community still bears my name.
After returning from Peace Corps, I picked up a camera again, and became known as a “jack of all trades,” go-to person, during the late 90’s digital revolution. My continuing comfort with travel, combined with comprehensive production skills, landed me many documentary commissions in diverse locations including Tibet, New Guinea, Indonesia, Senegal, Tanzania and India.
In between the great documentary filmmaking adventures, I honed my production skills on docu-reality series: starting with rediscovering the Partridge Family to rehabilitating wayward youth through wilderness therapy, on to weight-loss, rednecks, bridezillas, celebrity dating, dancing with the stars, living as LGBTQ, as a Muslim in Michigan, as truck drivers navigating deadly roads in India, surviving in Alaska, surviving hunger games, Primal Quest adventure racing, giving birth in the wild, and trying to make it as a BMX star when gang-banging is all you know. The cultures and subcultures of the world are not only fascinating and amusing, but also breath-taking.
I continue to further missions of non-profits worldwide. I created promotional videos for the Smithsonian Institution and the United Nations. I even tried my hand at creating strategic political ads during the 2008 election.
In 2006, Travel Channel hired me to host the national television show “Not Your Average Travel Guide.” For a year, I led audiences on trips around the world, while juggling producing, writing, shooting, and editing. Segments from my seven episodes have garnered thousands of views on YouTube.
I’m a citizen-activist of the world. I long for the next assignment, whether in my own country or halfway across the world, roughing it on long treks with gear on my back while I tease out the story elements from the local people. That’s when I’m truly in my element. If you have an interesting project that could use the Carrier Pigeon, drop me an email!