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Meet Samantha Sadoff

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Sadoff.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Samantha. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The worlds and stories beyond our own were always what excited me most growing up. I was a director from the start, guiding my brother on how to partake in my elaborate stories and imaginative games. At the age of six, my parents took us to see the Lion King on Broadway and the performance, the theatrics and the transcendent quality of the show solidified exactly who I was and what I wanted to do.

I spent the next couple weeks writing, choreographing, producing and directing a two-hour rendition of the production myself, which my brother and I performed for my parents, complete with an intermission performance and curtain call.

From there, I began acting classes, which led to signing with an agent and booking roles in film, television, print and radio. I would fly about 2-3 times a week from my small hometown in Northern California to the shiny city of Los Angeles for auditions, callbacks and shoots, and soon this led to my mom and I staying in LA for months at a time. Los Angeles became my new place of belonging and working on a film set was the magic that fueled my ambitions.

From my time as a child actor, I learned so much about the way the industry works and how set operations are performed, and as I got older, I turned towards the other side of the camera. I saved up for years and bought my first DSLR my junior year of high school for a multimedia class, where I learned so much more about the conventions of filmmaking and what it means to be a true storyteller. Going into my senior year, I worked with that teacher on constructing a new syllabus for the class, which I ended up co-teaching alongside him.

These experiences led to my acceptance to the Film and Television Production program at the University of Southern California, which allowed me to relocate full-time to the city that always felt like home and actively pursue my goals as a writer, director and producer.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No dream is ever easy to achieve. There have definitely been roadblocks on my journey of getting to where I am today. The film industry is ruthless and being conditioned from a young age that you will receive hundreds more “no’s” than you will “yes’s” can be damaging. Even with the validation of getting into the number one film school in the world, it was so hard not to compare myself to others around me. So often I wonder, am I doing enough? How does my work compare? Is it a mistake that I am here?

Yet, by surrounding myself with people who lift me up, and investing in my own self-care, I am finding the answers I need to stay focused on my own unique path.

More so, operating as a woman of color in any context of life is a challenge. I often find myself working harder and speaking louder just to be noticed on the same level as my peers, only to be told that some forms of this recognition come with the intention of a mere diversity requirement.

It is draining, it is upsetting and it is unjust. But, it ignites such a fire in me to prove my adversaries wrong. Now more than ever, audiences are demanding diversity in media representation and women, African-Americans, and other minority storytellers are the ones who can do it. Our voices are needed and it’s important to push through any discrimination you may face!

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a Director and a Writer, and I make it my mission to champion diversity in all facets of these roles.

Sexism and racism make women of color a rare find in the film industry, however I utilize my personal experience to normalize and bring these stories to the forefront. While my intersectional identity may invite a litany of prejudice on my path, it also grants access to communities and stories that are largely left untold. My diverse perspective tells the story of a universal human condition, which empathizes with minority communities to create three-dimensional characters with agency undefined by ‘otherness’.

I am most proud to say that I tell stories with character. Stories bold enough to journey to places largely ignored by mainstream media and stories introspective enough to evoke a lingering weight of emotion.

I don’t make movies with fairy-tale endings. I create slices of life that leave you walking away feeling unsettled, ruminative, and inquisitive of the world we live in.

Most recently I’ve created a podcast that does just that. In light of the recent Black Lives Matter movement I wanted to create a platform for fellow USC students to share their experiences with micro or macro aggressions to spread awareness and start a conversation about the covert racism that haunts our everyday lives. My hope is to make our voices heard and ground the members of our Trojan community in the movement, because when you become aware of your own classmates, peers and colleagues’ experiences with prejudice, the issue becomes personal and will resonant farther beyond the “trendiness” of the current moment. This project entitled, ‘Speak Your Story: A Black Lives Matter Conversation’ can be found on Spotify or by visiting  https://anchor.fm/samantha-sadoff with new episodes released every Wednesday/Friday.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My success would not be possible without the power of guidance and collaboration.

From the very start, my family has been tremendously supportive in helping me achieve my dreams. They trusted that the little girl who put on a Lion King play in the living room would work hard enough to make the collective family effort of spending money on plane tickets and months apart from each other all worthwhile. Without their faith and guidance in realizing my goals, I would not be where I am in my career today.

More so, making a movie is exciting in that it cannot be achieved independently. My time as a filmmaker has exposed me to the power of working together as a team to make friends who would soon feel more like family. One of these collaborators I have to give credit to is a directing professor in the junior thesis class at USC- David Maquiling. From the very start, David has given me so much advice on not only how to be an effective director, but more importantly, how to be an upstanding person. His insightful words of wisdom, which my peers and I lovingly hold onto as “David Quotes”, never fail to fill you with hope and a new perspective on life. With David Maquiling as a mentor, I feel more prepared and motivated than ever to start on my professional journey.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Emerson Lee, Brian Charbonnel, Alissa Brasington, Titeanya

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