A film by: Samantha Ramirez-Herrera
Directed by: Samantha Ramirez-Herrera and Andrew J. Lee
Story by: Samantha Ramirez-Herrera
Screenplay by: Ebony Blanding
Featuring: Samantha Ramirez-Herrera and Jayceon Scruggs
Directory of Photography: Jessica Silva
Music by: Jafe Paulino
Edited by: Jeremy Jenkins and Christian Sanchez
Produced by: Janis Ramirez & Ishak Yusuf
When we approached Samantha about contributing a piece to this showcase, she immediately pitched an idea much bigger than we were expecting: a series that she wanted to write, direct, and act in. We thought it ambitious, but her determination in the idea made it difficult to not be excited by the idea.
“That’s the thing about me. From the moment I wake up every morning, I think about the fact that one day, I’m going to be on E (empty). I want to make sure that I’m going the distance and working on these passion projects while I still can!” she said as she broke into an enthusiastic laugh.
Filmed and produced in Atlanta, the current media Mecca for creators of color, “Gansos Raros” (or “Odd Ducks”) is a pilot to a series idea. The premise is pretty direct: “You want a story of a migrant woman who is doing what she needs to do to follow her dreams? A woman who leaves everything behind and risks everything to come out to Atlanta to try to make films with a bunch of other creative misfits? This is it. It’s not Hollywood. It’s Atlanta.”
The story, loosely based on Samantha’s own life, has a lot of soul and spirit, a certain kind of dignified honesty that only a production made by a migrant director could offer. But producing it was no small feat. After years of paying her dues and volunteering on sets, working diligently to build a community of other creatives (which ultimately manifested into her own production company Off The Record), Samantha found that The Center was not the only entity interested in seeing this pilot come to life; to make it all happen, she called in every favor she could to bring together a professional crew, a cast, and locations to film. Just as she had come out in support of other creators in the past, many of those she called upon came out to support and show the project some love.
“It’s been a story that’s been rolling around in my heart for a long time,” said Samantha, “And there aren’t many places that would, you know, trust a creator like me to do it like this. To have a whole team of mainly people of color and women? It was intimidating, but we did it. And I’m grateful for The Center, for EVERYONE who’s been a part of this. We need more spaces that encourage storytelling like this. Because we have the stories. We have a community. We just need a chance.”
She is the founder of OffThaRecord, a video content agency of creatives who give a damn that leverage authentic storytelling for a diverse array of clients. Sam’s unconventional background has made her uniquely suited to help brands navigate the current digital landscape where preservative-free content is king.
Since launching in 2012, OffThaRecord has developed and produced content for the Ms. Foundation for Women, Google, FWD.us, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Stacey Abrams for Governor, and more. In 2018 their work with the Latino Community Fund of Georgia won an Emmy Award under the Community PSA Campaign category.
Through her work, Sam has created a platform to shine a light on issues she is passionate about from immigration, reproductive justice, and criminal justice reform. She has appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews and been featured in Forbes, The Washington Post, Remezcla, New York Magazine’s The Cut, and more, sharing her experiences as a DREAMer turned Doer. She has also spoken at over 30 colleges and universities across the United States and was named a 2018 scholar at the Aspen Institute.