Many people see working in the entertainment industry as a constant grind, that you are on call 24/7 and need to out hustle the person beside you. There is some truth to that, and there is a level of resilience needed to become successful, and Rochel “Rocky” Pamphile, knows this all too well. Not only has Rocky planted strong roots in the entertainment industry originally working as talent to becoming a publicist and working with celebrities like Jamie Foxx. Rocky has built a strong track record of putting reality stars into the spotlight as well. Rocky’s next endeavors are to use his skills and strategies as a publicist to help his community. We speak to Rocky about his transition into community outreach with his organization, The D.A.R.R.C Coalition, which is focused on creating healthy relationships between community and police. Along with creating actionable measures to eliminate racial inequality within communities like his hometown Brockton, Massachusetts. Read our interview with The Reel Effect founder, Meah Denee, and celebrity publicist, Rochel “Rocky” Pamphile, below.
Meah Denee Barrington: What did your journey look like to becoming a publicist?
Rochel “Rocky” Pamphile: I went to Virginia State, I was living on campus and stuff like that. I just had a spiral of things that happened, and I dropped out of college. I lost my job, I wasn’t getting an income, and pretty much living with aunts, uncles, and family members going back and forth trying to find places to live. Things weren’t so good, I guess, in a sense.
One random day, I was like, “Okay, I gotta get myself. What’s the best thing to do?” I didn’t get a degree. I’m not going to be a famous talent overnight. What can I do right now to generate money and do something still in the entertainment field?
So I started helping some of my local friends around the neighborhood, with their career. I didn’t know the role was called publicist. I didn’t know what I was doing. I just thought I was helping my friends.
I was like, “Oh, you know, my friend, he has a magazine, and you should talk to him” or “Hey, I’m gonna email this person for you.” One wanted to act, one wanted to rap. I never had a title for it, and as I got more involved in the entertainment industry I started to work with more experienced people in the industry. They’re asking me “what do I do?”, and I’ll describe it to them and they’re like you do a lot of publicist work. So I just took that and ran with it for a little while, and then eventually it became a job, and I became a professional, and people started paying me for it, it just happened that way. I was like, there’s no way that this is what publicists do, you know, because I actually enjoy doing what I do.
MDB: So what do you consider is your first big opportunity?
RP: I started working on a project in 2000 with Jamie Foxx, that was my first big thing. I met him in Atlanta, and I was pretty much helping them with anything. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I spoke to his team saying, “My name is Rocky. I’m out of work right now. I do a lot of PR work too, and he was like, You know what? We’re looking for a publicist intern. Come on our team, and I’m like, Really?”
He went to his managers and harassed them for like five months and then one day he just called and said, “Hey, you know the publicist we were working with had to move to Australia.” So I jumped on the project to handle his magazine and editorial work, his press releases and all that stuff, I did that. I think they needed me for a couple of months before she came back, and then it just went uphill from there. I just kept meeting another person, and another person or somebody around his circle of people. So I was just like, I’ve only got six months, so I’m trying to get all the contacts I can get before this internship expires.
MDB: What skills and strategies have allowed you to succeed in the industry?
RP: What makes me number one is I don’t take no for an answer. I’m going to push through, and I’m not going to back down from what I believe in. So I think my tenacity, determination, entrepreneurism, and professionalism are qualities that I have to be better. Especially when it comes to PR, professionalism is probably my biggest thing that I really love. Unfortunately, especially with black publicists, it’s not their priority but for me, I’m really, really big on that because I grew up working in a corporate world. I come from working in stock, doing computers and customer service.
So those trades I learned from corporate jobs and I always take it into my own business with my own company. “Hey, how are you? Great. I’m gonna email you by Tuesday. Make sure you get it by Tuesday at three o’clock.”
MDB: Can you tell me why you felt the need to start your own organization?
RP: I’m super excited about the DARRC Coalition, “Demilitarize, Accountability, Reallocate, Reimagine Community” it’s super, super fun. I started it because, I’ve been watching Black Lives Matter and I obviously wanted to join because I’m black but I was skeptical because I didn’t really understand the agenda. There was no real formula for the agenda, so I kind of questioned that, and what was the end game?
So what I can say is, we are a chapter of Black Lives Matter but a whole other representation and we have a goal. We have a team, and we have an agenda, and we have a name that tells you the agenda.
I reached out to my friends in Brockton, Massachusetts. I actually grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and ended up meeting some of my high school mates, and we started putting together some type of organization. An ally for black lives matter but we wanted to represent in whole other way. We want to be open. I want Republicans, Conservatives and Democrats, all of us, to join together but have the same vision. I don’t care what your political belief is, I don’t care what your religion is, we need help here.
Some things are not right in America. It is not giving us what we need. I want to be a part of this and want people who want to support it or want to shed light on what’s going on.
MDB: What specific goals does DARRC have right now? Where do you guys want to be in the next month or two?
RP: So that’s another thing we’re having to figure out. What? Because we obviously say, “Hey, DARRC stands for Demilitarize, Accountability, Reallocate, Reimagine Community, right?”
So it’s like we have all these things, but which one is going to take the lead. So demilitarizing is one of my main focuses and is what I want to bring to the police chief and has been the forefront of the City Council. Why is it that the police stations are buying military weapons. They have an AK-47. You’re buying a helicopter. You’re buying facial recognition. What for? So with that being said, money is not being allocated really to education or to the homeless, or mental health resources.
MDB: What strategies from you being a publicist are you using as you transition into more political, community focused work?
RP: I would say public relations and publicity, because right now I’m actually putting together a concert for my organization. So I’m using all my experience in the entertainment world, and I’m bringing it to the DARRC coalition. So I’m using my skills of organizing and interacting with other organizations and people. I’m bringing all these skills and now I’m utilizing it for more activism work.