Marie-Jo?lle “MJ” Rizk loves the travel, variety and enjoyment of being a TV show DP/shooter

WHO SHE IS: Marie-Jo?lle “MJ” Rizk, sought-after DP and camera operator for TV, reality and medical shows, documentaries and narratives.

TV shooting credits include “America’s Next Top Model,” Outdoor Life Network’s “Outdoor Investigations” and “The Real World.” DP credits include award-winning films “Stray Dogs,” “Baby Time Share” and “Old Maid.”

HOW SHE VIEWS HER JOB: “I love collaborating with directors, constructing stories visually and bringing their vision to the screen.”

PROS: “So many pros! Variety and travel among them.

“I’ve been very lucky to shoot projects that exposed me to all sorts of professions and subcultures. I’ve worked with paramedics, surgeons, super models and hip hop stars, artists, photographers, wild animal trainers and bear poachers, therapists, burlesque legends, cave divers, surfers, fishermen, scientists, moon lovers and drum makers.”

CONS: Financial instability is a relatively recent concern for this once freewheeling globe-trotter. “Motherhood is a tremendously grounding force,” said MJ, mother of eight-month-old Oliver. “I want to give him the best of the best.”

BACKSTORY: Born in war-embroiled Lebanon, MJ learned the film business from visiting sets with her father, owner of one of Lebanon’s leading advertising agencies. “I loved the atmosphere and watching all those people with amazing skills create magic!” Lebanon’s increasing volatility prompted her move to the U.S. She has a BS in film/TV and television from Bradley and an MFA in filmmaking from Columbia College.

She moved back to Lebanon to produce/direct commercials for her father, but remained in touch with Chicago friends, returning intermittently to shoot projects.

After “Stray Dogs” in 2000 she settled permanently in Chicago. “It was a tough decision. Being far from my amazing family will always be my biggest dilemma.”

BIG BREAK: Landed her first American TV shooting job on “The Real World Chicago” after dropping by the set. Later, series producer Anthony Dominici told MJ he “hired me on my hand shake.”

CAREER CHOICES: MJ launched from film school with artistic aspirations that did not include television, never thinking she’d shoot for TV and enjoy it as much as she does. “I have been thrilled with the variety of topics and am hungry for more.”

KEY TO SUCCESSS: “Knowing what will be needed later in post helps me cover a scene. Being sensitive to plot and character helps me frame reality to create story.”

And instinct. An exemplary aptitude for sensing the heat of the story and capturing the energy of a moment.

WORDS OF WISDOM: “Be nice, as silly as this may sound. If you are nice, if people like you, they will hire you again.”

HER ULTIMATE GOAL: “To travel and discover more about the world with my camera, and to be a good mother to my son, Oliver,” a balance she finds ever-evolving.

“A few months ago I couldn’t bear the idea of being away from him and thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mother, caring for and documenting my son. Now I know I would rather be an exciting mother for him.”

MJ Rizk can be reached at