Sanaa Hamri, the daughter of a Moroccan painter and author(Mohammed Hamri), had a goal to one day become a successful actress. She worked throughout her secondary school years to make her goal a reality, and upon applying for college, received a scholarship to study theatre at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. After she completed her last year or so studying acting in Paris, she moved to Manhattan and began to pursue her dream in one of NY’s biggest cultural and economic centres. After struggling with the harsh realities of auditions and unemployment, the actress decided to try her luck with directing instead.
She taught herself editing using an Avid machine and a manual, and discovered she had a talent for putting stories together using imagery. Her first major breakthrough came when one of her associates – Malik Hassaan Sayeed – impressed by her talents, showed one of her early works to Mariah Carey, who eventually hired Hamri to direct one of her videos. She has since gone on to direct many more music videos, for not only Mariah Carey, but Jadakiss, Kelly Rowland, Prince, Jay-Z, Eric Benet, Nicki Minaj, and more; in time becoming one of the most highly recognized female music video directors in the industry.
After her career with music videos had gained her enough notoriety as a director, Sanaa branched into directing feature-length films such as “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” in 2008 and Queen Latifah & Common’s “Just Wright” in 2010. In an interview with a Sarah Lawrence College publication Hamri says, in the future she wants to continue in her career making more films… specifically about ‘daily life in the world of her birthplace Morocco, and about human beings who are in conflict and struggling to understand themselves’. With a catalogue containing such emotionally compelling and reflective works, such as the visuals to Kelly Rowland’s “Stole”, Jay-Z’s “Song Cry”, Nicki Minaj’s “Fly”, and Lupe Fiasco’s “Words I Never Said”, the artist will continue to be a thriving inspiration and example to up-and-coming video directors to “think before you act”. Ladies and Gentlemen, I Present to You… Sanaa Hamri.
Malik Carter is a freelance photojournalist and budding MC who performs under the stage name, Primary Element.
He is also a Mousai House member and Written Expressions contributor.