Sanaa Hamri

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Sanaa Hamri
Born (1977-11-19) November 19, 1977 (age 41)
EducationSarah Lawrence College
Alma materAmerican School of Tangier
OccupationFilm director, music video director, television director, television producer
Years active2000–present
Known forMusic videos, Empire
Notable work
Something New
Home townTangier, Morocco
ChildrenLaila Hamri Fletcher
Parent(s)Mohammed Hamri
Blanca Hamri

Sanaa Hamri (Arabic: سناء حمري‎; born November 19, 1977)[1] is a Moroccan-American film, television, and music video director.[2] Hamri has directed music videos for musicians including Prince, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, and Sting. She is known for her 2010 film Just Wright and the 2008 movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, as well as for her music video for the Nicki Minaj song Super Bass.[3] She made her directorial debut in 2006 with the Focus Features romantic comedy Something New. She has since directerd the sequel to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Scholar Shelley Cobb has credited Hamri's work as "[offering] alternative representations of black women that productively engage with and even challenge usual stereotypes, even as they use and conform to mainstream cinematic conventions".[4]:157

Early life[edit]

Hamri was born in Tangier, Morocco, to Moroccan Muslim Mohammed Hamri and Jewish American Blanche "Blanca" Hamri. Her father came from the town of Jajouka and was employed as a painter and author. Hamri's mother was a teacher. Both of Hamri's parents were part of the creative community in Morocco, which was made up of ex-pats such as Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Timothy Leary, Ted Morgan and Tennessee Williams.[5] In fact, Hamri's mother was the long-time secretary to Joseph A. McPhillips III, the headmaster of the American School of Tangier, who was later in charge of Bowles' estate.[6]

Hamri attended the American School of Tangier, where her mother worked. The school was not gender balanced: at one point, Hamri was the only girl on the soccer team and eventually, the sole female student enrolled at her high school.[2] In 1992, Hamri moved to the United States after receiving a scholarship to attend Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. In college, she studied theatre arts and pursued acting. Hamri spent her junior year of college in Paris, and in 1996 graduated from Sarah Lawrence College.[7]


Early career[edit]

After college, Hamri moved to New York City in order to pursue an acting career.[2] Hamri struggled through auditions and unemployment before she decided to try working in the production side of the business. She taught herself filmmaking skills firsthand, such as how to use an avid editing machine.[2] Hamri then moved from seeking an acting career to making videos and was eventually noticed by cinematographer, Malik Hassan Sayeed.[2][8] During this time she worked as an editor of music videos at a post-production studio.

Sayeed, who also produced videos, was impressed by Hamri's work and showed it to Mariah Carey, who subsequently hired Hamri to direct a music video.[9] Sayeed also gave Hamri her first editing job for a reggae/hip-hop fusion group called Born Jamericans. Hamri then began to take on more work as she became better known.[10]

Music videos[edit]

Hamri's videos include but are not limited to Jadakiss's "U Make Me Wanna", Prince's "Musicology", Kelly Rowland's "Stole" and Mariah Carey's "Crybaby", Bringing On The Heartbreak, "Don't Stop (Funkin' 4 Jamaica)", and Mariah Carey's unreleased video for "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life". She has directed videos for Nicki Minaj, Lenny Kravitz, Joss Stone, Sting, Common, Raven-Symoné, Eric Benet, Amel Larrieux, Jay-Z, A*Teens, and Christina Aguilera. She also directed the music video for Greyson Chance's "Waiting Outside The Lines".

In 2011 Hamri shot a music video for Nicki Minaj's single "Super Bass." In the video Minaj is portrayed as a "Black Harajuku Barbie", an element which, according to Nina Cartier, states satirizes white beauty standards.[3]


According to Shelley Cobb, Hamri's films are often overlooked in "both contemporary black cinema and contemporary women's cinema" because they sometimes fall in the "broad chick-flick category".[4][page needed] She further opines that Hamri's films challenge the "structural silence imposed on black women.[4][page needed]

In March 2005, production began on Hamri's first feature, the Focus Features film, Something New, a romantic comedy starring Sanaa Lathan (Brown Sugar, Alien vs. Predator) and Simon Baker (The Ring Two, L.A. Confidential).[11] The film was released on January 29, 2006 and produced by Stephanie Allain through her company, Homegrown Pictures, along with the mini-major Gramercy.[4] The film grossed $11,483,669 million and received generally positive reviews.[12] Cobb described the movie as a "feature film about a black woman, written, directed, and produced by a black woman" which she considered "rare".[4][page needed] Hamri's second film as director was 2008's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, with America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel and Blake Lively, which was released on August 6, 2008. The film grossed $44,352,417 and received generally favorable reviews. She went on to direct Just Wright with Queen Latifah and Common, which was released on May 14, 2010. The film grossed $21,570,263 million and received mixed reviews.[2]


Along with directing feature film and music videos, Hamri also directs television. Hamri has directed multiple episodes of Nashville, Shameless, Elementary, Desperate Housewives, Greys Anatomy, and Men in Trees. Mariah Carey's live concert documentary, The Adventures of Mimi, and Prince's The Art of Musicology and Prince Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas were directed by Hamri.

Sanaa has also directed and produced episodes of Empire, Nashville, Elementary and Shameless.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Hamri is multi-lingual as she spoke English, French, Spanish, and a Moroccan dialect growing up. In 2000, Hamri had a daughter, Laila Hamri Fletcher, whose father is Loyst P. Fletcher, a Los Angeles attorney.[13]

On being a non-white woman working in Hollywood, Hamri states: "I don't feel this huge weight on me by any means," continuing that she is "not an international person" and she wants to be a part of movies "that people from all walks of life can enjoy, or get something out of."[14]




As director unless noted

  • 1998: Mariah Carey: Around the World (TV Movie) – Editor
  • 2004: Prince: The Art of Musicology (TV Special)
  • 2007: Desperate Housewives (1 episode: "No Fits, No Fights, No Feuds")
  • 2007: Men in Trees (1 episode: "The Indecent Proposal"
  • 2009: Acceptance (TV Movie)
  • 2010: Life Unexpected (1 episode: "Honeymoon Interrupted")
  • 2012: Bounce (1 episode: "Pilot")[15]
  • 2012: 90210 (2 episodes: "Bride and Prejudice," "Hate 2 Love")
  • 2013: Nashville (2 episodes: "I'm Sorry for You, My Friend," "My Heart Would Know")
  • 2013: Lovestruck: The Musical (TV Movie)[16]
  • 2013: Hit the Floor (1 episode: "Pilot")
  • 2013: Full Circle (1 episode: "Robbie & Celeste")
  • 2014: Glee (1 episode: "New New York")
  • 2013-2014: Elementary (4 episodes: "Details," "Ancient History," "The Marchioness," "No Lack of Void")
  • 2014: Hemlock Grove (1 episode: "Hemlock Diego's Policy Player's Dream Book")
  • 2014: Rectify (1 episode: "Weird as You")
  • 2015–present: Empire – Executive producer & Co-executive producer: 11 episodes; (4 episodes as director: "The Devil Quotes Scripture," "Our Dancing Days," "My Bad Parts," "Episode #2.10")
  • 2011-2015: Shameless (4 episodes: "Daddyz Girl," "Order Room Service," "Like Father, Like Daughter," "I'm the Liver")
  • 2015: Studio City (TV Movie)

Music videos[edit]


  1. ^ "Sanaa C Hamri - United States Public Records". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Lowenstein, Lael (Summer 2010). "Sanaa Hamri: Hoop Dreams". Director's Guild of America. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b Cartier, Nina (2014). "Black Women On-Screen as Future Texts: A New Look at Black Pop Culture Representations". Cinema Journal. 53 (4): 150–157. JSTOR 43653683.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Cobb, Shelley; Palmer, R. Barton (2016). "BLACK WOMEN, ROMANCE AND THE INDIEWOOD ROM COMS OF SANAA HAMRI". Indie Reframed. Women's Filmmaking and Contemporary American Independent Cinema. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 154–168. doi:10.3366/j.ctt1g0529f.15. ISBN 9781474403924. JSTOR 10.3366/j.ctt1g0529f.15.
  5. ^ Emms, Stephen (22 April 2008). "Tangerine dream". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  6. ^ O'Hagan, Andrew (11 April 2014). "The Aesthetes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  7. ^ Nugent, Tom. "Direction - Sanaa Hamri '96". Sarah Lawrence College. Retrieved 2 November 2015.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Davis, Peter (4 April 2006). "Beautiful People 2006: Sanaa Hamri". Paper. Archived from the original on 24 June 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  9. ^ Kaira-Murdock, Mwabi (5 November 2007). "Director Sanaa Hamri Gears Up for Her Second Motion Picture". Jamati. Archived from the original on 16 April 2008. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  10. ^ CNN, Isha Sesay and Lauren Said-Moorhouse,. "It's who you know! Hollywood filmmaker Sanaa Hamri on her mentors". CNN. Retrieved 2018-02-12.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  11. ^ Torres, Jason (1 February 2006). "Girl Talk: Sanaa Hamri and Sanaa Lathan Had a Blast Making a Serious Romantic Comedy". City Paper. Archived from the original on 16 February 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  12. ^ Longworth, Karina (20 May 2010). "Sanaa Hamri: Through an L.A. Lens". LA Weekly. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  13. ^ Anderson, John (24 April 2010). "Featured player: Sanaa Hamri". Variety. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  14. ^ Anderson, John (April 2010). "Helmer mixes melting-pot roots, singular style". ProQuest. 418: 5.
  15. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (24 July 2012). "VH1 Gives Series Order to Scripted Drama 'Bounce'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  16. ^ Rose, Lacey (1 August 2011). "'Just Wright' Helmer Sanaa Hamri to Direct ABC Family Musical (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 November 2015.

External links[edit]