Felix Mendez - Videographer
Nov. 27, 2012 by Nicole V. Rohr
You won’t catch Felix Mendez sitting at his desk very often. As one of two videographers at WYCC PBS Chicago, Mendez is either out in the field covering Chicago events and organizations, or in the studio shooting in-house productions like The Professors and Justice and Law Weekly.
When asked what he does at the station, Mendez said humbly, “I’m a cameraman and I record whatever they want recorded.” In order to be an effective cameraman, however, one has to see the world in a different way – in a way that is going to look good on screen for our viewers at home.
Mendez and WYCC Senior Producer Mario Tharpe covered the 2012 Election this year, for example, and both were at McCormick Place (see photo) and Chicago bars/restaurants to capture the city’s reaction to Obama’s reelection to a second term. Mendez said he was energized by Chicago’s enthusiasm that night. “I thought at first it was just an excuse to throw a party,” he said, laughing, “but Chicagoans were really excited about the election.”
Mendez is also excited about something big happening in 2013, just before Inauguration Day in January: his wedding to fiancé Gricelda. The couple got engaged in August 2012, and Mendez explained how nervous he was around her when they first met at her church.
While filming the pastors for the church website, Mendez asked Gricelda if she would help him with the lavalier (or clip-on) microphones, mostly as an excuse to talk to her. Later, he volunteered to help Gricelda, a seamstress, reupholster 400 chairs in the sanctuary.
“That’s how we got to know each other,” Mendez said. “And then, the following week was a blessing because the kids were on spring break, so they got a chance to meet me and I got a chance to meet them.” Mendez has a 21-year-old daughter of his own named Aricela, and Gricelda has a 15-year-old daughter, Jessica, and a 9-year-old son, Israel.
Mendez drives to Morris, Ill. regularly to visit Aricela, and he made her 21st birthday very special by decorating the front door of her house before she woke up the morning of her birthday. He said that she is growing up quickly, but he still makes every effort to see her, even with all the changes going on around them. The three children are getting along well as a blended family, and are looking forward to the upcoming nuptials, but it was a process to get where they are now.
“We were at a park, and I told Israel, ‘Let’s go play ball over there.’ So, we found a branch and used it as a bat, and we found a ball, and I asked him, ‘Is it okay that I like your mom?’ He said, ‘Yeah, but don’t marry her.’”
Israel, 7 years old at the time, has since come around to Mendez and likes having someone around to play sports with him. Looking back, Mendez said, “I first thought, ‘Man, this is going to be rough.’ But it wasn’t that long. I don’t blame him. He has a gorgeous mother, and he has to protect her.”
The family spent Thanksgiving together at an aunt’s house, and is preparing for Jessica’s quinceañera, or fifteenth birthday. Gricelda has been staying up until the early morning to work on her daughter’s party dress, and Mendez has been pouring concrete in the backyard and putting down new flooring in the kitchen.
The couple is working hard for their new family’s happiness, and the kids want to see their mother happy. Mendez said, “Sometimes they stay up late just to see her come upstairs and go to sleep. And Israel will say, ‘I’m not leaving until you finish sewing.’”
“The kids are happy,” he added. “Every time I walk into the house, it’s always a hug for each one, and I say, ‘I love you,’ and they say, ‘I love you’ back. And they said, ‘We’ve never seen our mother so happy.’”
Mendez explained that he originally looked for full-time work because he wanted to protect Gricelda and his family. His job at WYCC has not only provided that steady income he desired, but has also allowed him to experience a work environment that is more like a family.
“You feel like you can’t wait to get to the station because it’s almost like a second home. It’s nice to go to a place where everybody treats you nice and you feel good. You look forward to seeing everybody, and they look forward to seeing you. Or I think they do,” he said, laughing.
We are all grateful for the talent that Mendez brings to the table, and WYCC viewers should know that our shows would not be possible without him and our entire production staff. Thank you, Felix!