Sahar Simmons' Neighborhood
Sahar Simmons is an Author/Writer/Producer/Speaker/Creator/ and a Visionary with a passion for youth. It is the latter that fuels her work as an author of stories and technology that are about our children to empower them.
There is a quote from the 'Living Stream Ministry' that reads, "If you want to help the young people, you must have an interest in them." As a self described Kid at Heart, Sahar Simmons has worked professionally in communications and marketing for professional sports and on sets for some of the most successful films of our day, but it is Sahar's desire to inspire young people, particularly young brown girls, that she felt needed more characters in literature that they could relate to.
Characters that looked like them and spoke to their experiences. "There weren't enough images for young girls from multi-cultural backgrounds that were living real life scenarios" says the Hampton University graduate who grew up in Brooklyn, New York.
With the creation of Briana's Neighborhood, the series has allowed Sahar in many ways to revisit her own experiences as a child through Briana who lives in a household comprised of three generations.
Briana's mother is a successful career woman, and her grandmother, who is full of common sense and "sagacity", says Sahar with a smile, bring our young readers through stories that present the challenges most kids experience growing up.
Sahar has written several books featuring Briana and her family, and the series has been featured all over the country on TV and radio talk shows, at libraries, stores, family events and fairs.
The Briana's Neighborhood Dare to Dream Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving young girls with multi-cultural backgrounds "who dare to dream and achieve success" has been one of many ways Sahar has passionately reached out to communities across the country to keep our youth in focus for their well being, quality life, and for a future that carries forth positive growth.
Simmons continued youth outreach is now also evidenced in her Mobile Movie Makers Youth competition that is committed to "entertaining, educating, creating opportunities within digital technology platforms and inspiring youth from diverse backgrounds. We are here to support the future generations of writers, directors, producers, actors and behind the scenes talent tell their stories."
I recently spent some time with Sahar to find out more about her, Briana's Neighborhood and Mobile Movie Makers Youth in my Q&A following her biography page.
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"Each of us has an opportunity to focus on a mindset that reflects positivity and greatness. Everything starts in the mind and one must be intentional about their process. That does not take away from the ever changing challenges in life but the ability to stay laser focused and truly visualize your desires."
-- Sahar Simmons
Sahar Simmons started her career in the fast paced sports industry with a concentration in special events management, media relations and communications. She has worked for Madison Square Garden’s (MSG) Boxing Division, the US Olympic Committee and continued on to, TNT Sports, the NBA (Atlanta Hawks) and NFL (Atlanta Falcons). She has organized and executed some of the largest sporting events for organizations, nonprofits and professional athletes such as the NBA All Star games and professional athletes’ charitable organizations; Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Carmelo Anthony’s foundations.
The enthusiasm of Briana’s Neighborhood has been supported by major partners due to Simmons’ keen understanding of the children’s industry and brand development. Her community involvement includes maintaining literacy partnerships with corporations such as: McDonalds, Carol’s Daughter, Macy’s, Chick fil- A, the WNBA and NBA Leagues. Simmons was a featured author on green initiatives at the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, DC and her most recent partnership is with Wal-Mart. Her brand has serviced over 50,000 children nationally.
Simmons later transitioned into film; Director’s Assistant, Wardrobe Coordinator, Clearances/Product Placement, Accountant, Writer/Producer and Creative Consultant and has worked for a wide range of big budget films and production companies to independent projects: Collateral, Be Cool, Barbershop 3’, Marvel Studios-Avengers, Dream Works, Sony Studios & OWN network to name a few.
Simmons recently launched, Mobile Movie Makers Youth Film Competition and Festival. An innovative and creative approach to support Georgia’s young millennials as filmmakers, television producers, online content creators, actors, directors, etc. The purpose of M3 Youth Film Competition and Festival is to support the next wave of young content creators. M3 is dedicated to nurturing budding young filmmakers and sharing the transformative power of their creativity. M3 empowers youth to use smartphones to create personal stories that will positively influence their peers and community.
Simmons dedicates her time to giving back to kids. She volunteers and conducts writing workshops, book readings and public speaking sessions for youth at schools, universities, organizations and libraries. Her topic discussions on bullying, self- empowerment, literacy, green initiatives and entrepreneurship has been widely supported amongst schools. Her community involvement has been recognized by Rolling Out Magazine as one of the 25 “Most Influential Women” and Who’s Who of Black Atlanta Publication. Simmons was also the 2010 Wells Fargo Entrepreneurial finalist and the 2012 Echoing Green Business Leader finalist.
As the founder of the Briana’s Neighborhood Dare to Dream Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving youth from multi-cultural backgrounds who “dare to dream” and achieve success.
The foundation’s mission is to provide literacy components which include: innovative programs, book readings, writing workshops, forums, and seminars that assist in the personal growth of minority youth and provide leadership opportunities that will focus on their growth and community involvement. In addition, Dare to Dream is organized to promote self-empowerment, health and physical fitness within the community.
Stay tuned for continued books from the Briana series, a line of kids’ products and animation based on the lead characters of the Briana’s Neighborhood brand and Simmons’ new series, Leadi’s Loco Life coming soon!
* [Referenced: Excerpted from Sahar's Biography]
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit,"— Aristotile
Q&A with Sahar
Thank you for taking this time out of your busy schedule to let our readers learn more about you Sahar!
Q) While doing some research on you and with some of the material you provided, I was struck by the quote you use on your signature line. The quote is from the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotile, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit,". What a great quote. Is this philosophy something you have always believed to be true for your own life and career?
A) Hi - Yes it actually is. Each of us has an opportunity to focus on a mindset that reflects positivity and greatness. Everything starts in the mind and one must be intentional about their process. That does not take away from the ever changing challenges in life, but the ability to stay laser focused and truly visualize your desires.
Q) You are the author of a children's story series that has garnered many accolades and sponsorships. What is the name of your book series, and what prompted your creativity to produce a children's book series?
A) The series is called, Briana's Neighborhood. My parents, especially my mother, was always on the search for characters that reflected positive images from different ethnicities. Young black girls in story books barely existed and sadly today there are similar struggles. I have always been an avid reader and grew up in a household where creative expression was nurtured. My parents promoted my dreams at a young age and I thought that anything that I set my mind to do was possible. Briana's character is a reflection of myself. Her storyline definitely mirrors some of my experiences, however Briana is inquisitive, a dreamer, a writer, a problem solver and cares so much about other people and her environment.
My goals are to continue to inspire brown girls and all youth from multicultural backgrounds to dream big, think big and use the power of their voices to discuss topics that matter to them in today's climate. I consider myself a voice for youth through Briana in order to create impactful story books and to produce thought provoking animations that teach and inspire.
Q) When did the idea of Briana's Neighborhood first come to you, and what were some of the circumstances surrounding the creation of this series?
A) It has honestly been a thought in my mind since my early twenties. I have always wanted to have a youth focused platform. I honestly don't quite remember how it came to fruition except that youth pull my heart strings and I knew for a very long time that this creation and others are a part of my legacy.
Q) How much of Briana is you as a kid growing up, and how different is Briana's neighborhood from the neighborhood you grew up in?
A) Briana's personality is very similar to my own. She is definitely my mini me! I am naturally a drama queen and have always lived in an imaginary world as a kid There is a reference in the, All About Me book where Briana lines up her dolls and speaks to them like she is Oprah Winfrey. I laughed when I wrote that part because it's so me and I remember those moments during my childhood.
My neighborhood experience was very similar. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY surrounded by a lot of love and support. My Parents were very involved and my friendship bonds to this day remain solid. Briana's Neighborhood will always resonate a warm feeling within. I want youth to be able to experience the same love through my books.
Q) Where can kids and parents find Briana's Neighborhood, and is there a new story coming soon in the series?
A) They are currently on my website, www.briananeighborhood.com, amazon and in some Walmart stores in Atlanta.
Q) You did not start off as an author, your major was in communications in college, and you have worked quite extensively in sports marketing and entertainment business. We have listed some of your accomplishments in this area in our bio profile of you, but what are some of your most rewarding work professional work experiences in the sports and entertainment field?
A) I would say that each experience has been about growth. I definitely enjoyed seeing the beginning of a concept to its completion happen. It is so rewarding and exhausting! Most of my projects reflect just that. I loved working the NBA draft events and interviewing the players and of course really appreciated all of the youth initiatives in the sports arena. The TV/Film industry is understanding how each department works together to complete the making of a film or TV show. It's an intense process and I never sugar coat. You have to be ready for some long hours and a lot of sacrifices. I am always the last person at the movies because I appreciate the credits and know how hard the crew had worked on a project. These experiences have definitely groomed me to be the strong woman that I am and I value all of my great industry relationships.
Q) Earlier this year I was privileged, as I am now, to do an article on someone whom i referred to as a drum major leading young women through her field of African Dance as a way to find purpose for a quality of life and higher purpose. Much in the way you are inspiring young people through your series of stories with Briana's Neighborhood, but you have also launched a new application for young people who aspire to become filmmakers and visual artists with Mobile Movie Makers Youth. Please tell our readers what Mobile Movie Makers is and why you started this platform?
A) I have had the opportunity to work on some amazing film projects; Avengers 3 & 4 and Barbershop 3', to name a few. There has always been a lack of inclusion and diversity as it pertains to equality in the industry. Youth are the driving force of the future and we can see and feel their passion as it pertains to topics that matter. We also know that youth are natural content creators and social media experts. Youth also average over eight hours a day on their mobile devices. I wanted to create a platform for youth that provided them with opportunities to create content that eventually produces currency.
In 2017, M3 launched as a mobile film competition. High school students created five-minute mobile films and competed for prizes and exposure. We had some amazing actors, producer and directors support the platform and participate as judges.
In 2018, we have expanded the platform throughout GA for middle and high school students and have added a music category, called Songbuilders. We will have the 1st annual Mobile Movie Makers Film Festival on October 13th, 2018. This day will feature: youth film screenings, workshops, awards ceremony, interactive exhibition hall and live entertainment. Some of winners from last year serve as our youth ambassadors for this year and we are also extremely proud to announce TBS (Turner) as our presenting sponsor.
Q) Where can young people interested in participating in this program find out more about it?
A) We are in the process of creating a new M3 website. Middle and high school students will be able to fill out a quick application, signed by a parental guardian and upload their video directly to the website, www.mobilemoviemakersyouth.com. SUBMISSIONS end on July 31st, 2018.
We also encourage adults and students to follow @mobilemovieyfc for continuous updates. We have some great free resource apps on our website that really enhance the film, in addition to some great prizes. Five minutes is all you need!
Q) What is it that you would like to see happen with Mobile Movie Makers, and what are some of the long term goals with it; who are you teaming up with, or hope to team up with to realize some of your goals with this project?
A) Our goals are to become a national platform in 2019, in addition to building our network of business relationships, schools, non-profits and sponsors. We are growing the M3 platform as a solid staple national/global competition and film festival. Our goals are to in the near future have a facility that offers film production training to youth.
Q) So, beyond your full career, and your continued story work with Briana's Neighborhood, and your work with Mobile Movie Makers, what else can our readers expect to see from your very creative mind and talents Sahar?
A) When you love what you do, it' s never work! I am committed to youth so expect to definitely see more opportunities for them. I currently have a very special Briana book highlighting experiences that have recently taken place in this country; police brutality, Black Lives Matter, Gun Violence, Youth Driven Marches, etc. This book is about their current civil rights and conflicts and I am overall passionate and thoughtful in the way, Briana and her friends tell the story.
I have written and produced my first animated film from the Briana's Neighborhood series. Expect much more!
I also have a new series called, Leadi's Loco Life coming soon! Leadi is a Latina pencil from the Bronx who experiences life being passed around as a pencil.
Q) I personally see you in the same category as an Oprah Winfrey, Channing Dungey at ABC Entertainment, Motown's Suzanne DePasse (before them), and even Writer/Producer - Shonda Rhimes. Like them, it seems to me, it is so important to you that our young people, young girls especially, gain greater awareness and presence through your creations. So, if you were speaking to a graduating young women, right now regardless of the career endeavors they seek, what would be your words to them?
A) This is a big question....I think some of my speech would be to always Dare to be Different and be unapologetic in who you are and what you stand for. Time waits for nobody and neither does opportunity....Go for it!
Q) Please tell our readers where they can find you on social media Sahar...
A) I am growing all aspects of myself and my social media platforms. Please check out the following links and follow me! www.brainasneighborhood.com www.saharsimmons.com www.mobilemoviemakersyouth.com @mobilemovieyfc @saharsun @brianasneighborhood @leadislocolife
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
It has been a real pleasure interviewing you Sahar! Thank you and we'll check back with you soon for all of your new projects coming soon.
Dare to be Different and be unapologetic in who you are and what you stand for. Time waits for nobody and neither does opportunity....Go for it!"— Sahar Simmons
Sahar's Photo Gallery
Exhale TV Interview
Fitness w/Briana-Children's Health care of Atlanta Mascot Fun Run
v103 Radio Interview w/ Big Tigga & Sahar
Sahar on 'Good Day Atlanta' for M3 - 2018
- New contest hopes to inspire future filmmakers - Story | WAGA
Calling all young people who dream of being a film director!
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What Others Are Saying About Sahar
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- Sahar Simmons (@SaharSimmons) | Twitter
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If you want to help the young people, you must have an interest in them."— Living Stream Ministry
When you love what you do, it' s never work! I am committed to youth so expect to definitely see more opportunities for them. I currently have a very special Briana book highlighting experiences that have recently taken place in this country; police brutality, Black Lives Matter, Gun Violence, Marches. This book is about their current civil rights issues and conflicts and I am overall passionate and thoughtful in the way, Briana and her friends tell the story.
-- Sahar Simmons