BE Modern Man: Meet 'the Director,' Emmai Alaquiva - Black Enterprise

BE Modern Man: Meet ‘the Director,’ Emmai Alaquiva

Emmy award winning film director, Emmai Alaquiva. Photo credit: Matt Metrovich

BE Modern Man is an integrative program that honors the essence, image, and accomplishments of today’s man of color. With features of today’s leaders, executives, creatives, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals, and agents of change—these men share the common thread of creating a new normal while setting the bar in tech, art, philanthropy, business, and beyond. The BE Modern Man is making a positive impact, his way, and has a story to tell.


Name: Emmai Alaquiva 

Age: 42 

Profession: Emmy Award-Winning Film Director 

One Word That Describes You: Grateful 

Social Media: Twitter: emmai_alaquiva  Instagram: emmai_alaquiva  Facebook: Emmai Alaquiva 

What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?

Being recognized as a 2018 BEMM 100 takes my breath away with the thought of occupying the same space as palpable pioneers, community champions, and creative leaders rooted in faith. This fellowship provides the construction of pillars needed for me to lay a new foundation for others.  

What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?

I strongly believe that the suede of struggle is the leather of success. Learning to accept my mistakes with honesty and own them have allowed me to use the adversity of my life to build character needed to fly. Being homeless in the streets of Pittsburgh, I still never lost focus of the potential that I could hold and instead use each day to build the courage to claim my feet again. 

What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others? 

The quality of energy is very real. I look for the genuine frequency vibration of each soul I share time and space with. The best investment we can make is in people.

What are some immediate projects you are working on?

I’m currently working on a film with Leon Ford, a police brutality survivor from Pittsburgh; writing my first book;  additional film projects with The Roots, Black Thought, and award-winning DJ J Period; building on our award-winning arts education program, Hip-Hop On L.O.C.K., and my interactive photography exhibit, OpticVoices.  

What is the best advice you ever received?

As a filmmaker, my best motto of life is that “There is not a Take Two in life so make your first take your best one.” The best advice I ever received was from one of my mentors, Candi Castleberry-Singleton, who told me, “Relationships are like bank accounts; make more deposits than withdrawals and make sure nothing bounces.” 

What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?

My advice for men who want to make a difference is that you’ll never have a change unless you take one. Find your melody and rhythm like a DJ, your voice like an emcee, and move toward your dream like a breakdancer. Leave a legacy like a graffiti artist and tag away. 

How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?

Knowledge is power. The best way that I know how to prep for an important business meeting and/or event is to do my research first. Get to know any and everything about that person, organization, or event to ensure the very best reflection of what that situation provides. 

As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.

As a busy man, the best way I know how to press the reset button all my life is to put family first. I aim to be the very best father through the simple things like producing toy videos with my 6-year-old as well as being a devoted husband and recognizing that small things make a difference, like sharing the path of life by holding the hand of my wife and praying. The best vacations are the spiritual.  

If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? 

Africa. The energy that I have received from this place is absolutely astounding. All the places, the rich history, and most importantly the people.

What is your “Extraordinary Impact”? (Describe how you are making a major difference for others, in a way that distinguishes you as extraordinary in your profession and/or day-to-day life).

As GOD as my foundation, I believe my extraordinary impact comes in the form of telling stories through the arts by taking my life’s adversity by the hand, accepting it, and processing it to create an award-winning arts education program, Hip-Hop on L.O.C.K., which employs music as a tool to empower and educate young people all over western Pennsylvania. We started with 16 students in 2007 to now over 7,000+ graduates in 11+ school districts with over 48+ partnering organizations. Additionally, a digital multimedia agency that employees a dozen outstanding individuals. Lastly, creating the first interactive photography exhibit of its kind, OpticVoices. Recognizing the loving people is something that I strive to improve on each day and exercise every chance I get. 

Anything else you’d like to say?

Webs work when the silk connects. I encourage us all to work each day on being strong silk that will connect our communities, connect our people, and most importantly connect our world. #ItsGODsfault.