By Denise Scott
We see her dazzling smile; we hear her infectious voice. We love her personality! She seems larger than life but in reality, she is just a woman who has been moulded by God for an unsuspecting ministry. Lisa Wickham is many things to many different people. She is well known internationally as a film producer and director. Ask anybody in Trinidad and Tobago about Lisa Wickham and they will probably tell you about her smile. But if you go to her parish of St Theresa’s, Woodbrook, she is still referred to as a youth leader extraordinaire.
Where does her journey begin? To Wickham, the answer to this question is not as simple as it seems. “I grew up in the church in the era when Fr Clyde Harvey and Fr Christian Pereira were in the Morvant/Laventille cluster and boy, was that a great time to be a young Catholic!” she laughed.
She reminisced on her time as a young woman involved in Youth Ministry and you can actually hear the excitement in her voice.
“Plenty talent and new leaders were emerging, people like Peter Telfer were drumming; some were playing pan in church; and Dwight Merrick was a young seminarian making waves in the cluster and I loved it! But you know, perhaps my journey began at birth, belonging to a line of devout Catholic women, like my aunt Majorie, my mom, and my grandmother.”
Holy Name Convent also had a part to play in her story. “I have to recognise Holy Name Convent, because Fr Girod was the Chaplain at Holy Name, but he later became a close family friend, and he was instrumental in a lot of who I am today.”
She continued, “maybe God has always wanted to use me and sent the right people throughout my entire life to ensure that I stayed connected to Him”. She named Sr Monique, Sr Sandra and many others who have accompanied her on this faith journey.
Many of us looked on at the sweet, dark, beautiful, little six-year-old Lisa on Rikki Tikki. We danced with her on Party Time; laughed with her on Community
Dateline and on the TTT morning show, and then beamed with pride when she became the CEO of that same television station.
But throughout her journey, to which the whole nation took a front-row view, Wickham held on to her faith and defined herself as “unapologetically Catholic”.
She is the first to admit that there was once a period of doubt, but one day she attended a retreat with Fr Hudlin and his talk was on the power of the Eucharist. It was there her eyes opened.
“I became so convicted in my faith and the power of the Eucharist, there was no turning back for me after that.” It is one of the reasons why she proudly displays her Catholic identity regardless of wherever she is across the globe.
“I don’t think anyone can understand my love for the Eucharist!” she declared, “It was J’ouvert 2015 when the rest of Trinidad and Tobago was enjoying wining down low to sweet pan and Soca, I was locked in a room with the Blessed Sacrament until Ash Wednesday.”
She laughed and confessed about her love for Carnival but admitted that reconnecting with her love for the Blessed Sacrament was one of her greatest experiences. “Recently the words ‘calling’, and ‘ministry’ has been used to describe what I do, and it shocked me”.
Wickham is seen as a powerhouse in the entertainment industry. Some of her more popular work includes Home Again; Girlfriends Getaway; Hero: Inspired by The Life and Times of Mr Ulric Cross; Forward Home: The Power of The Caribbean Diaspora; The E-Zone TV series, Lisa Wickham’s E-Zone; BET Turks and Caicos Jazz Show; BET St Lucia Jazz Show; Girls Cruise, Tobago and Trinidad Episodes, Love and Hip Hop Atlanta Season 8 Trinidad Episodes. She never imagined that what she was doing could be considered ‘ministry’.
“One day, I was having a chat with Fr Robert Christo [Vicar for Communications], and he said, ‘Congratulations on your ministry’.”
She remembered perplexedly looking at him and he said, “God is calling on you to minister in this way.” She remembered thinking, “Minister? Me?”.
Recently, a parishioner said, “Lisa, I love your ministry.” And it is only now that she can look back at her life and see the hand of God present, shaping her into all that she is today.
There are things and people that she loves about being a Catholic Trini. While she has travelled the globe, there are some people and things here that continue to feed her spirit, like how much she loves St Dominic’s in Penal.
“I love parishes where you can see people. It’s not transient. That sense of community really helps your spirit.” She also loves the idea of retreats and of course, one of her favourite places to be is Mt St Benedict, too.
She talked about her love for Sr Monique and Sr Sandra that grounded her during her University of the West Indies days, and her lovable parish priest Fr Girod and her youth leader Jessica Chin, who saw more in her than she saw in herself.
“People who make things look easy are taken for granted. Things that people think is good luck is really hard work and the international community recognises quality,” said Wickham about her amazing career in the media, film, and the entertainment industry.
“There have been times that I have worked 92 hours straight and when it’s finished, people just think it was a lucky break,” she sighed. “I remember working non-stop on Shurwayne Winchester’s music video and when Jennifer Holness, the producer of Home Again saw the high quality of the music video she asked to work with us.”
On September 22, Trinidad Remains directed by Karen Martinez and produced by Lisa and Natasha Dack Ojumu recently won the Best Narrative Short Film Award at the TT Film Festival. Wickham expressed her excitement as though it was the first time. She spoke about her team with both love and gratitude.
Lisa Wickham is indeed an inspiration to Catholic women everywhere.