Nadia Sasso is a 24 year-old graduate student at LeHigh University trying to raise funds to complete her first short documentary, AM I. The film explores issues of ethnicity, and identity between African Americans, and American Africans. We caught up with Nadia Sasso days into AM I THE FILM Indiegogo Campaign to learn a little bit more the project, and to show our support to this GoWoman who says this film has got to be made, no ifs, and or buts about it.
GWA: Besides the clearly personal benefit to you, what do you want those who watch the final cut of the film to take away from it?
My hope is that this film will reach people both here in America and Africa and allow them to see and understand the complexities of the American and African fusion and how these women experienced it in their upbringing. I believe that understanding the new identity formations for those African immigrants beyond the first generation will help the relationships of African and American relations, African and African-American relations as well as Returnee and Diaspora relations within the respective African countries.
Viewers will experience each of the women and their personal conflicts with how they identify themselves starting with culture, race, and ethnicity, to their religious, political, and social affiliations. This film will also show how the women experience their transnational identities through language, culture and acclimation. Lastly, the viewer will witness the struggle evoked by having a global and local mindset that are sometimes in tension with each other – a fact that often sets each of these women apart from their peers.
Fill in the blanks: If this film doesn’t get made… I don’t think that’s an option to be honest. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make sure it happens. Where there is Allah and a will there is a way!
What have you learned from this process so far?
I have learned how to make $1 out of 15cents! In other words how to make do with what you have and be creative so that you can reach you end goal. I’ve also learned that there’s nothing I can’t do when I put my heart into. I would have never thought that after my name the title of filmmaker would be written, and now it is.
GWA: How did you choose whom to feature in the film? How does each person’s story complete the narrative?
Before making this film, I’ve had conversations of growing up African in America with several of my peers and mentors. Thanks to social media I was also able to compile a list of people who were just sharing their everyday lives or their accomplishments that I just felt like I had capture these dynamic individuals. So I reached out to some of those women and they were more than ecstatic. In addition to that there were others who saw my early promotions and said to me “Nadia I really want to be a part of this!” So with all of that I finalized individuals who had something different to offer.
For instance, Mariama was unique in regards to the fact that she hosts the biggest Sierra Leonean Independence day event in the DC yet she was not born in Sierra Leone and she is married to an African American. Issa Rae had a unique story given that she is an American Icon but also attributes a lot of Senegalese traditions to who she is today and not too many people know that. Everyone had something different to contribute to the film and you keep up with the film to see for yourself.
GWA: Whats the best part about being African? Whats the worst?
Best: The best part of being African is that you are more than just American; there are other layers of the onion to peel back that lead to continent and make you an interesting individual.
Worst: The expectations are so high when you are an African. You carry this invisible heavy backpack that is filled with responsibility not only for self and your immediate family but your extended family and community as well. Nonetheless, this helps one become and remain responsible but at the end of the day it’s a lot of pressure.
GWA: Whats the best part about being American? Whats the worst?
Best: I would have to say the options, resources, and opportunities are there if you know the right people and maximize the opportunities given to you.
Worst: When on the continent (particularly in Sierra Leone) Africa I always have to be aware and recognize my American privilege. I feel that sometimes because I am American, my peers or fellow Sierra Leoneans perpetuate this “West is best” mentality that often leads them to believe that I as an American am always right or knows what’s best. While I may bring insight to certain things, its good to be challenged and to challenge others, after all I think that’s the only way we all can grow. To sum it up, I guess I dislike the American complex I’m often faced with at times only because I’m not used to it having lived in America lol.
GWA: Whats different about your film thats not been captured before?
This film is multi-dimensional in that it captures the lives of women that are similar yet so different. We take a look at their experiences when it comes to patterns and practices of social mobility, settlement practices, sustaining their respective communities, exploring the assimilation process, exploring language, religious beliefs, political beliefs, dating, fashion, and just being personal in terms of their progression.
GWA: After Am I? whats next for you?
I want to continue telling digital stories! I am praying there is enough finding to do a sequel where I will focus on males from West Africa, because I got a lot of slack for not wanting including the male voice. From conversations I have realized that they have a voice that’s different and needs to be heard. I would also like to do a version of this film that focuses on the first African migrants to America in the 60s and 70’s, my grandparents generation as they can really get into race relations in the US at the time, raising their children,. There is so much to this one topic.