by Sherif Awad
Especially for

Mercedes Mercado

My family immigrated to New York City from the Dominican Republic. Although my father was an athlete a few of my siblings and myself leaned more towards our artistic side, which we also got from his side of the family. Although school was a breeze for me I decided to pursue acting after graduating from college. I had taken an acting class my senior year and got the lead in a play with just the one class under my belt. I was hooked.

I was always a good storyteller and had gotten accolades in school for my writing, so I wrote 2 short films which I ended up directing myself. And that’s when I discovered my true passion: writing and directing.

I loved watching movies growing up, especially classic ones.  I watched Alfred Hitchock movies, Olson Welles and Akira Kurosawa amongst many others. My favorite movies always had great twists, so THE USUAL SUSPECTS is in my top 5 list of all time favorites.  I loved singing and dancing so I grew up watching tons of music videos on MTV, back when they actually played music videos.

Being an entertainment artist is extremely difficult so one must have complete dedication, but most importantly one must be really prepared. My advice is to take as many classes as possible so when the opportunity arises you’re one hundred percent prepared.  You cannot leave anything to chance or luck.

After I discovered directing I know there’s nothing else I’d rather do in the world. I have written a book and I have acted, but nothing compares to bringing a story to life by directing it myself. It’s pure magic. Of course everyone wants worldwide success, but I’d be satisfied if I can continue to direct, make a living out of it, and be recognized for my work by my peers.

Unfortunately as a woman I’ve had to face quite a lot of sexual harassment like so many other women. I’m happy that the #metoo movement has helped out a bit, but I don’t feel that much has changed.  I don’t know if the harassment will ever stop. I am happy that there are more and more female directors emerging, but the number is minuscule as compared to male directors.

Things are changing in the film industry in the U.S., just not fast enough. I do see more females directing TV shows and movies, but I do know it will be a very long before there is an equal ratio of male to female directors.

I had no intention of ever directing anything, I was simply asked to write a short script for someone. But being the perfectionist that I am, I asked if this can be shot this way and if this scene could be shot that way. The person got annoyed with my demands and said (in anger) that I should just “direct it myself!”  And so I did. And that’s when I found my true calling.

Now after two short films that I wrote and directed, I’m moving on to writing full length scripts. I finished my first one and am now in the process of making the dream of directing it come true. It’s a Herculean task. And I will stop at nothing.
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