Priscilla Star Diaz is one precocious preteen. Living in a shelter with her sister and single father, she discovers that she has a gift. At six years old, she tells her father Jesse, a failed rapper and producer, that she is going to become a rap superstar and make a better life for her family.
It’s clear from the start she’s not waiting for stardom. When she is only nine, Jesse shuttles her to open mic nights at 2 AM in Harlem, where she wows the crowd as much with her chutzpah as with her rhymes. She adopts the stage name “P-Star” and carries herself with a tough-guy swagger. But, like the child she is, she wakes up in the morning to Winnie the Pooh cartoons on TV and a breakfast prepared by her dad.
P-STAR RISING is both the tale of a hapless single father trying to recapture his dashed dreams and the rise of a young rap prodigy. Jesse becomes something of a stage father, controlling his daughter’s career and basking in her reflected minor fame. In his eagerness, he signs a contract with Hunc Records to record a P-Star debut CD, and is blinded by the $10,000 he receives in return. The family goes from the shelter to a four-bedroom apartment, Priscilla buys some serious pop-star bling and Jesse splurges on an SUV.
P-Star adopts the persona of a tabloid celebrity, complete with a tiny dog and the prima donna studio attitude. But when fame doesn’t arrive instantly, the money runs out and the family is again scraping to get by. Relationships are frayed when Jesse disagrees with producers about the way P-Star is being marketed.
Meanwhile, Priscilla and her sister Solsky convince Jesse to help them find their mother Doris, who is a drug addict and frequently homeless. They have a brief, tearful reunion before Doris disappears back into the dark streets of New York.
The film follows P-Star over several years, and we watch her grow in many ways. She never lights up the Billboard charts, but she does score minor celebrity as part of a tween group known as Reggaeton Niños, and later as a cast member on PBS’s show The Electric Company. She still pursues her rap career and remains steadfast in her ambition.
P-STAR RISING is a gentle observation about the elusive nature of fame, the determination of youth and the seductive power of celebrity culture. It may also be a peek into the childhood of one of America’s next bona-fide stars.
In June 2009, filmmaker Gabriel Noble provided an update on what some of the people featured in P-STAR RISING have been doing since filming ended:
Priscilla (also known as P-Star) is taping her third season of The Electric Company, where she has one of the lead roles. She is also recording her new CD. She is a full-blown teenager now, so at this moment she is probably on Facebook chatting with a boy!
Jesse is engaged to be married, remains P-Star’s manager and is also managing another rap artist. Although Hunc is releasing P-Star’s next album on his label, Jesse and Hunc only communicate when absolutely necessary.
Solsky graduates from high school in June 2010. She is looking into colleges.
Doris, their mother, has not been seen since her last visit three years ago.
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