At Home With: Merecedes Williams
click to enlarge Mercedes Williams - PHOTO: MERCEDES WILLIAMS
Photo: Mercedes Williams
Mercedes Williams
Everybody is dealing with COVID-19 quarantines and restrictions in different ways. While there's no single right way to cope — social distancing and staying TF home aside — connecting with friends, family, and neighbors is a good place to start. You can contact your loved ones on your own, but you might also be curious how your favorite strangers in Pittsburgh are coping, so Pittsburgh City Paper is reaching out once a day to artists, activists, workers, and makers to see how they're doing.

Today, it's Merecedes Williams, Movie Scene Queen owner and film critic.


How is Movie Scene Queen operating these days?

Movie Scene Queen can typically be found at the movie theaters dumping Nestle's Buncha Crunch into a warm bag of buttered popcorn. But, those days are temporarily obsolete as Governor Tom Wolf placed a stay-at-home order over the commonwealth, forcing non-essential businesses like movie theaters to close. Now, MSQ has collaborated with other organizations and local small businesses such as Revival Printing Co. and In Touch Consulting on special projects and giveaways.

I am watching more TV — actually, a lot of TV. Admittedly, I was one of the millions who broke Lifetime TV ratings by watching The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel. It was a good movie.

I recently became a member of the African American Film Critics Association. Through AAFCA, I have been busy with online screeners, celebrity interviews, and professional development.

Have you seen any movies recently that are related to pandemics or disease? i.e. Contagion. Do you like that genre?

I have not watched any pandemic/disease related movies. But I do love the genre. They’re always interesting and pose societal questions that create good conversations and great social media memes.

I was looking forward to the pandemic episode of NBC’s New Amsterdam but the network pulled the episode in light of recent events. Instead, NBC aired an altered version that felt rushed.

What moves are you making to help MSQ make it through this difficult time?

Right now, we are working with Revival Printing Co., a small business in Lawrenceville, to sell MSQ shirts. Half of the proceeds directly support Movie Scene Queen’s Single Parent Project, an initiative to provide immediate cash assistance to single-parent families, foster families, and families with incarcerated parents. Let me be clear— Daniel Parente of Revival Printing is a lifesaver. He came up with this idea and he’s keeping small businesses like mine afloat during a global pandemic.

Movie Scene Queen T-shirt from Revival Print Co.
Movie Scene Queen T-shirt from Revival Print Co.
I am leaning on my husband, Keith, a lot for every kind of support imaginable. Also, I am leaning a lot on family and friends during these times. Not [so much] financially, but my family and friends provide me encouraging words, unlimited FaceTimes, and support. From purchasing a T-shirt to dropping off prepared dishes, groceries, or toiletries at the house, I am surrounded by people who truly love me.

What’s your day-to-day routine like now?

To be honest, the majority of my day consists of homeschooling my three children. At the Movie Scene Queen Academy of the Hard Knocks, I am principal, teacher, lunch lady, custodian, tech support, social worker, and referee. It is exhausting.

What piece of art/book/TV/music is bringing you comfort/inspiration at this time?

Music has always been my savior! During this pandemic, as crazy as it sounds, I have been going back and forth between my Jonathan McReynolds and Megan Thee Stallion stations on Pandora. Jonathan McReynolds keeps me humble and grateful with his contemporary Christian music, while Meg Thee Stallion reminds me of just how bomb I am! It's a safe balance.

What’s an object that you have with you that has particular significance to you these days?

My Pittsburgh Public Schools staff ID. While its physical purpose is to provide access to a secure building every weekday, the badge represents so much more. Its wear and tear reminds me of how much I have been afforded the opportunity to serve Pittsburgh families. Now more than ever, I am grateful that I have a job. I am humble that I am in a space where I can still help out.

What’s an organization or charity that you’d recommend supporting at this time?

412 Food Rescue. I am a proud 412 Food Rescue hero. I have seen firsthand as a volunteer how 412 Food Rescue has changed the course of addressing food insecurities in Western PA. There are families who rely on school meals and food banks on a daily basis. This food insecurity intensifies during times like these, and that's where 412 Food Rescue steps in. Co-founder and CEO Leah Lizarondo and her team strategically work around the clock to prevent food waste and redirect the food to those who directly benefit from the need.

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