Jxn Visionary: Nina Parikh

“We are the people that help with the dreams,” says Nina Parikh, director of the Mississippi Film Office. “It’s super exciting to be able to enable, nurture and empower people.”

A female holds a marker board. A swampy area is behind her.
MS Film Office Director Nina Parikh at LeFleur's Bluff State Park
Credit: Drew Dempsey/Tell Agency

While Parikh has been helping make dreams come true for some time now, that wasn’t always the case.

Growing up in the suburbs of Jackson, Parikh was unsure when it came to a career path. “I had no idea what I wanted to do,” she remembers. “I had a friend that suggested film since I loved storytelling and photography.”

Parikh enrolled in the film program at the University of Southern Mississippi and never looked back.

“I always tell those interested in film that you have just to get that first job, do it well, and you’re set,” says Parikh, who started freelancing while still in college. “As long as you’re willing to connect the dots, you can do anything and do it right here in Jackson.”

Through her freelance work, Parikh worked the entire spectrum of the film industry, from production assistant to producing, from music videos to feature films.

“When a position opened up at the Mississippi Film Office, I applied for it thinking it would broaden my knowledge,” says Parikh, who didn’t plan to stay long. “I got into the film industry to be on set, not sit in an office.”

But, 23 years later, she has no regrets. “We have a lot of fun. It’s so satisfying to see someone with stars in their eyes, and then you see how they have been successful years later. You don’t get that type of satisfaction in a lot of jobs.”

Parikh has found great satisfaction through the Film Office’s Young Filmmakers Program.

“The kids that have come to us and walk away with a story of their own, something tangible. Plus, they leave with the confidence that they can start something from nothing, translating to all parts of their lives. It makes me realize our power as adults in all creative arts.”

As for the film industry in Mississippi and the city, Parikh says 2021 was the busiest year in the history of the Mississippi Film Office.

“The word is getting out about filming in Mississippi,” she says. “People are hearing that we are a good place to be, a welcome place to be. I’m probably not the person you think of when you think about Mississippi, and I’ve seen how the stereotypes are blown out of the water. People can start fresh, without the baggage, and establish a new idea of Mississippi. It’s great to be that kind of ambassador for the state. I love to throw preconceived notions out the window.”