Monday 17 March 2014


(CNN) -- Music video and film director Sanaa Hamri moved to New York with dreams of making it big as an actress. But like so many others, she found herself struggling through endless auditions and unemployment. Born worlds away in the town of Tangier, Morocco, Hamri wasn't afraid to fight back. She'd grown up in a traditionally male-dominated society and her rebellion against gender stereotypes had helped put her on this creative career path.

Refusing to give up, she changed tact finding work with a post production company. She was soon noticed by cinematographer Malik Sayeed who, in turn, introduced her to Mariah Carey.
And with the famous singer's guidance, Hamri embarked on a new, highly successful, career trajectory, leaving her mark on the entertainment industry.

Hamri went on to direct numerous high-profile music videos as well as three feature films and several episodes of popular TV shows like "Desperate Housewives" and "Glee." Here she reveals to CNN what's like to collaborate with entertainment royalty like Lenny Kravitz or Nicki Minaj while achieving success among the stars in Tinseltown.

Embrace your heritage. "I'm a product of a multicultural union of my father who is and was Moroccan and my mother who is American," says Hamri. "So I was able to grow in a household that had both. I very much identify as a Moroccan woman because I was born and raised there. My father's Moroccan and I went to school there so that is home to me."
Education is vital. Hamri's mother, Blanca taught at the American School of Tangier and she credits the establishment with providing opportunities that others in her neighborhood didn't have. "The memory of it for me is education was something that was a gift that you have to take advantage of," she explains.

Minority director tackles tough issues

Rebellion can ignite a journey you'd never contemplated before. "I would look around and I would see all of these men in the cafes and on the streets and I would think to myself, 'I can be just like that and do whatever I want to do as you do.' Just because I'm of a different gender, that doesn't mean I can't drive, I can't rule, I can't think, I can't create."

read more: cnn

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