Rocky Otoo, the main subject of PBS’s new documentary “Bronx Princess,” is not your average American teenager. And yet, as filmmakers Yoni Brook and Musa Syeed document Rocky’s life as she graduates from high school, travels to Ghana to live with her father, and begins college life, she feels pretty relatable.
When Bronx Princess begins, you’re immediately thrown into Rocky’s world, and the filmmakers make it easy to become engaged in her story. Rocky has a BIG personality, and is extremely driven. She knows where she wants to go, and is ready to work to get there.
All of the settings in the documentary serve as a classroom for Rocky: from her high school to her mother’s store, her father’s palace, and the campus of Dickinson College.
While Rocky is ready to be on her own, her parents want her to take life slow.
Her mother, Auntie Yaa, moved her family to America and is the owner of a beauty supply store in the Bronx. She’s proud of her daughter’s scholarly accomplishments – Rocky’s the first in the family to go to college – but she worries that Rocky will leave behind her respect for her heritage once she goes away to school.
“I just want to leave and never look back,” Rocky asserts after an argument with her mother. Shortly after, Rocky prepares to live in her father’s palace in Ghana for the summer. Her father, a royal chief, also battles with Rocky culturally as he tries to teach her the importance of Ghanaian traditions.
Later, we see Rocky settle into college life and at the end of the documentary, the same young teenager who would do anything to get away from home can’t wait to go back.
In a statement to the viewers, the documentary’s co-directors Yoni Brook and Musa Syeed write, “Rocky’s journey between her parents’ worlds and her future may be filled with squabbles and tears, but those growing pains reflect a young woman forming her own identity.”
And the directors of Bronx Princess make watching Rocky’s journey to independence an enjoyable documentary.
Bronx Princess is available for viewing here until October 23, 2009.