Sanaa Hamri

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Sanaa Hamri
Born (1974-11-15) November 15, 1974 (age 41)
Tangier, Morocco
Ethnicity Moroccan American
Education Sarah Lawrence College
Alma mater American School of Tangier
Occupation Film director, music video director, television director, television producer
Years active 2000-present
Known for Music videos
Notable work Something New
Home town Tangier, Morocco
Parent(s) Mohammed Hamri
Blanca Hamri

Sanaa Hamri (born November 15, 1974;[1] Arabic: سناء حمري‎) is a Moroccan American film director, music video director, television director, and television producer.[2] She came to prominence as a music video editor and director.[3]

Early life[edit]

Hamri was born in Tangier, Morocco, to Moroccan Muslim father, painter and author Mohammed Hamri, who came from the town of Jajouka, and a Jewish American mother of Russian descent who was a teacher, Blanche "Blanca" Hamri. Hamir's parents were part of the creative community in Morocco made up of ex-pats like Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Timothy Leary, Ted Morgan and Tennessee Williams.[4] Her mother was the long-time secretary to Joseph A. McPhillips III, the headmaster of American School of Tangier, and later in charge of Bowles' estate.[5]

Hamri attended the American School of Tangier, where her mother worked. The school was not gender balanced, and at one point, Hamri was the sole female student at her high school and was the only girl on the soccer team.[6] Hamri won a scholarship in 1992 to attend Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. In college she studied theatre arts. 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. With dreams of becoming an actress, Hamri struggled through auditions and unemployment before she decided to try working in the production side of the business. Hamri taught herself to use an Avid editing machine in 2000 by reading the user manual. She has never taken a filmmaking course, is self-taught.[6] Realizing she had a talent for putting images together in order to tell a story, Hamri began making videos.[8] She worked as an editor of music videos for a time with the mentorship and guidance of her boss at the post-production studio where she worked, Malik Hassan Sayeed.[6]

Sayeed, a cinematographer and video producer, was impressed by her work, and showed it to Mariah Carey, who subsequently hired Hamri to direct her video.[9] Sayeed also gave Hamri her first editing job for a reggae – hip hop fusion group called Born Jamericans.

Music videos[edit]

Her 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 also 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".

The directed-video "Super Bass" for Nicki Minaj has more than 600 million views on, making it the most popular video directed by Sanaa Hamri.


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).[10] The film was released on January 29, 2006. Stephanie Allain produced the film through her company, Homegrown Pictures. The film grossed $11,483,669 million and received generally positive reviews.[11]

2008's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 with America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel and Blake Lively, was the second film Hamri directed and was released on August 6, 2008. The film grossed $44,352,417 and received generally favorable reviews.

In 2010, Hamri directed Just Wright with Queen Latifah and Common, and was released on May 14, 2010. The film who grossed $21,570,263 million and received mixed reviews.[6]


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 Price Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas were directed by Hamri.

Sanaa is currently directing and producing episodes of Empire.

Upcoming projects[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Hamri is multi-lingual as she spoke English, French, Spanish, and a Moroccan dialect growing up.[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. ^ Ahrar, Yassine (30 April 2012). "Portrait de Sanaa Hamri, réalisatrice marocaine à Hollywood: Des racines marocaines et des ailes américaines". Le Matin du Sahara et du Maghreb. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  3. ^ Sesay, Isha; Said-Moorhouse, Lauren (26 February 2014). "It's who you know! Hollywood filmmaker Sanaa Hamri on her mentors". CNN - African Voices. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Emms, Stephen (22 April 2008). "Tangerine dream". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  5. ^ O'Hagan, Andrew (11 April 2014). "The Aesthetes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d Lowenstein, Lael (Summer 2010). "Sanaa Hamri: Hoop Dreams". Director's Guild of America. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Nugent, Tom. "Direction - Sanaa Hamri '96". Sarah Lawrence College. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  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. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Longworth, Karina (20 May 2010). "Sanaa Hamri: Through an L.A. Lens". LA Weekly. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  12. ^ Kang, Inkoo (14 August 2015). "Sanaa Hamri to Helm Film Adaptation of Black Ballerina Michaela DePrince's Memoir". Indiewire. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  13. ^ McNary, Dave (13 August 2015). "Sanaa Hamri Directing Michaela DePrince Movie ‘Taking Flight". Variety. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  14. ^ Anderson, John (24 April 2010). "Featured player: Sanaa Hamri". Variety. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  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]