The coalminer’s daughter. The bartender. The police brutality activist. The grieving mother. Each looked at the man representing her in Congress and said, “I can do better.”
On the 12-hour shift with some of the very few women who captain yellow cabs.
Loud flashes of yellow are all around you in this city—46,000 taxi sedans, vans and S.U.V.’s streaking across the streets of New York. Yet, only about 170 of them are driven by women, a percentage even lower than the national average. In all my years of hopping into cabs here, and elsewhere, I never met a female driver until I shot this documentary. I needed to find them.
I went from one taxi garage to the next, the only woman in a sea of men, and the drivers would look at me like I was crazy. For weeks I had no luck. Then one evening, a good friend of mine hailed a cab—and there was Shonna Valeska behind the wheel. He told her about my project, wrote her phone number down on a record sleeve, and texted me right away.
In November 2010 I began filming Valeska, and Elena Tenchikova, to whom I’d been connected via the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission. They graciously brought me into their world—one of late nights, early mornings, and forgotten corners—and a year and a half later, I caught up with the women for an update.
Tenchikova recently graduated from Brooklyn College with a master’s degree in urban policy and administration. She put driving on hold for ten months as she completed a program at the NYC Civic Corps, an AmeriCorps initiative, through which she was placed in the NYC Housing Authority to work on its “green” agenda. She hopes to someday work in environmental sustainability, but until then she’s back behind the wheel, navigating a yellow cab through the streets of New York.
After driving for ten months, Valeska hung up her taxi license in February 2011 because of the exhausting and repetitive 12-hour shifts. She loved the customers, but wasn’t making enough money to support her photography studio and simply did not have enough time to pursue her passion for photo work. She continues to take photographs and most recently shot her fourth book cover for Ann Coulter. In the future, Valeska hopes to produce a documentary about the taxi-driving industry.
“Who would look after him if I wasn’t here?” and other questions this mom asks herself every day.
Get up close and personal with the athletes of the reemerging ancient pastime of mallakamb, in Narratively’s first 360 film.
Once a year, residents of this mountainous island gather at two churches on opposite ends of town and launch 100,000 handmade rockets — directly at each other.
When Dee came out as a transgender, it meant the end of her marriage to Penny. And that’s when the empowering journey for both women truly began.
As Chinese investment turns this mineral-rich region into a cash cow, does the Southern Mongolian culture have any hope of survival? A few families are willing to fight for it.
We humans are far more complex than the news headlines and clickbait would have you believe. Let the Narratively newsletter be your guide.