Behind the Wheel with NYC's Female Cabbies
On the 12-hour shift with some of the very few women who captain yellow cabs.
Loud flashes of yellow are all around you in this city—46,000 taxi sedans, vans and S.U.V.’s streaking across the streets of New York. Yet, only about 170 of them are driven by women, a percentage even lower than the national average. In all my years of hopping into cabs here, and elsewhere, I never met a female driver until I shot this documentary. I needed to find them.
I went from one taxi garage to the next, the only woman in a sea of men, and the drivers would look at me like I was crazy. For weeks I had no luck. Then one evening, a good friend of mine hailed a cab—and there was Shonna Valeska behind the wheel. He told her about my project, wrote her phone number down on a record sleeve, and texted me right away.
In November 2010 I began filming Valeska, and Elena Tenchikova, to whom I’d been connected via the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission. They graciously brought me into their world—one of late nights, early mornings, and forgotten corners—and a year and a half later, I caught…