As a kid, when Sunni Minx was asked the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” her response was what most children say.
“It’s ‘I want to be a doctor. I want to be a lawyer. I want to be a fireman,’” she said. “You never think, ‘I want to be a writer or movie director.’ You don't think it’s possible, even as a dream, because you're raised to be in a box. It’s not something on the list, especially for a black girl.”
As a five-year-old, Sunni, wearing a onesie, would sit in front of the television, captivated by the screen. There weren’t as many black female directors or producers then as there are today – which still isn’t a lot – but for Sunni, the scarcity of black women in this space solidified the idea that pursuing a career in filmmaking or television was a long shot. So, she did what anyone who feels like their dream is out of reach does – she kept it bottled up inside of her.
To prepare for a more “practical” career, she earned a bachelor’s in psychology from Maryville University in 2008, then went to community college to study nursing a couple of years later.
“You have to come to the point where you really dig inside yourself and see what it is that you really want to do every day as work. I made my mind up and said, ‘I’m going to do film.’”
Her way back to film and television started over a decade ago in another creative space – music, which is where she crafted her stage name, “Sunni Minx.” The singer’s nickname represents her personality, a blend of her zodiac nature as a Cancer – beauty, beast, glamour, masculine yet feminine, but overall, balanced.
In 2014, she took her interest in writing music videos further by producing trailers for reality television shows. One of the shows was picked up by BET, but it wasn’t produced. After crossing this off her bucket list, she took a break.
“I was telling a few people about a story that I wrote, and they really liked it. And I was just thinking, ‘I'm going to go ahead and shoot this thing.’ It just lit that creative flare again.”
Thus, “Sunshine,” a short film turned web series, was born. Originally written as a book in 2013, Sunni rewrote the story as a movie then again as an episodic project. Described as “Power” with a female lead, the show is centered on Sunshine, a young lady with a beautiful soul whose childhood experiences impact her life as an adult.
“Sunshine The Series” premiered in May 2016 to a full house at The Lux Theatre. A few days later, the series’ trailer for the first episode was published on YouTube, and since then has collected over 59,000 views. The first season of the show premieres this winter.
With everything Sunni does, her vision is to create entertaining content that audiences can relate to and appreciate.
“I have so many synopses and scripts written, [that] I'm looking to start working immediately,” Sunni said. “And not just put stuff out on YouTube or Amazon Prime. I still want a major label. I really see myself making major moves in this business.”
Although her moves come with challenges, she doesn’t let them, nor anything or anyone, deter her from her goals, as her drive to do what she loves comes from within.
“Your motivation has to be more than just your passion. Your motivation has to be more than about the money. For me, it's more than just my family. It's more than just my friends. It's really more than just me. What motivates me is that I can be in a position to change the lives of many people.”
Sunni looks forward to preparing for this position by learning, networking and building her brand. This past August, she was accepted into the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) screenwriting program.
One step and project at a time, she is transforming her dreams into reality. Whether it’s creating content in St. Louis, moving to Los Angeles for the screenwriting program or traveling to Atlanta to mingle with industry professionals, her goal is the same.
“I plan on getting out there and really making a name for myself and letting my work speak for itself. You gotta be about what you talk about,” Sunni said. “You've got to put yourself in the position that has the opportunity. Or, you create the opportunity, which takes more work, but is way more rewarding. You know, they say, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ I believe that.”
Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer and blogger. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.