They are often nameless, yet they are part of our daily routine. They walk our dogs, make our lunch, drive us to our destination, deliver our packages, and entertain us in the subway. An integral part of the fabric of any city -- including New York --they are the people we interact with every day.
My Everyday Hustle, an original digital series from Chasing the Dream, WNET's multi-platform initiative on poverty and opportunity, offers five first-person accounts to reveal the struggles, successes, and explores the everyday hustle of New Yorkers who support themselves and their families in jobs that are often overlooked. In this series they share how they are chasing their version of the American Dream.
Shot in New York City, My Everyday Hustle, introduces us to a dog walker, Nadir Samara; a street cart vendor, Walid Abdelwahab; an on-demand driver, Cecilia Brentlinger; a courier, Daniel Rodriguez; and a subway performer, Heidi Kole; who are all working hard to just get by. How do they make ends meet in one of the most expensive cities in the nation? Is the American dream achievable for them?
This series will be available on the Chasing the Dream: Poverty & Opportunity in America website Fridays, July 14 through August 4 and Thursday, August 3. Each runs approximately five minutes. As part of the launch for My Everyday Hustle, there will be a social media component with a companion photo series on Instagram and short clips on Twitter.
Chasing the Dream: Poverty & Opportunity in America –
My Everyday Hustle
"The Dog Walker" – Friday, July 14
Ever wonder how dog walkers manage those enormous packs of dogs, let alone support themselves? Meet Nadir Samara, a New York City dog walker who makes more money walking dogs in Brooklyn than he did working for an insurance company in Philadelphia. A recent college graduate, Nadir's "everyday hustle" means walks during the day, rain or shine, so that he can work on film projects -- his true passion -- at night and support himself.
"The Street Vendor" – Friday, July 21
There are an estimated 10,000 street food vendors in New York City, many of whom are immigrants. Walid Abdelwahab is one of them. His "everyday hustle" is working long hours cooking and selling food from a cart in Manhattan to support his family. He also confronts constant challenges that come along with vending on New York City's streets, from long hours to obstacles deliberately placed on "his" piece of sidewalk. If he can't work, he can't feed his family. Yet for him, it's all part of his American Dream.
"The On-Demand Driver" – Friday, July 28
On-demand drivers are becoming a vital and sometimes controversial part of every American city. But these drivers face challenges in their "everyday hustle" from road rage, to personal safety issues, to low pay. Cecilia Brentlinger came to New York from Peru in search of a better life for her son. She started working as an on-demand driver for the freedom of determining her own hours, but quickly learned this flexibility comes at a price.
"The Courier" – Thursday, August 3
Weaving and whizzing through traffic, bike couriers are synonymous with a thriving city. In a world where practically everything is "on-demand," they contribute vitally to delivering things almost instantly. Twenty-one-year-old Daniel Rodriguez loves being a bike courier, but he relies on tips to supplement his hourly wage of $11. Still living at home in the Bronx, he gives half of his earnings to his mother to pay bills, but will he be able to save enough to finish college and start his dream career?
"The Subway Performer" – Friday, August 4
While millions of New Yorkers ride the subway to work, Heidi Kole is already at work busking. Despite the tough crowds and the dangers, Heidi's "everyday hustle" means singing her heart out. She competes with trains and cellphones for your ear -- and your donations. But does she make enough to get by?
Following the presentation of My Everyday Hustle online, the five-part digital series will be packaged into a half-hour program and air Friday, August 11 as a MetroFocus Special at 5 p.m. on WLIW21; 5:30 pm on NJTV; and 6 p.m. on THIRTEEN.
My Everyday Hustle was produced by: Geraldine Moriba, Executive Producer; Hazel Gurland-Pooler, Producer; Maya Navon, Associate Producer; Julie Florio, Videographer and Editor; Andrew Robertson, Videographer and Editor; and Ed Hersh, Programming Consultant.
Chasing the Dream: Poverty & Opportunity in America is WNET's multi-platform public media initiative providing programming on poverty, income equality, and opportunity. Since 2015, the initiative has produced reports, including news segments, documentaries, and radio and digital stories. These stories have been seen by a cumulative 14.7 million viewers on television alone and the Facebook postings have had over 3.5 million impressions.
Major funding for Chasing the Dream: Poverty & Opportunity in America is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.