Rooted, but Reaching for the Stars
Senior film student Annie Bercy: “I like where I’m headed.”
It’s Juneteenth. Senior film student Annie Bercy is shooting a racial justice protest in Brooklyn, and she gets a DM from Ciara. Ciara Princess Wilson: Grammy Award–winning, Billboard charts-busting recording artist, model, Revlon brand ambassador. “Ooooh/All my ladies to the flooooor.” That Ciara.
Bercy—who showcases her dynamic portfolio of poppy mood boards, provocative photo shoots, and other culturally rich and hip-on-the-scene aesthetics to her 30,000+ Instagram followers—clicks on the message request, and it’s verified blue. “The one and only,” Bercy thinks. She starts coughing.
The message? “Hey love, I love your work, I really want to work with you, my people…your people.”
“It took me three hours to respond,” says Bercy. “It was so random. What do you say?”
Next thing she knows she’s on a Zoom call with the artist and listening to her latest single, “Rooted,” a thumping nod to the Black Lives Matter movement and general black pride manifesto. She’s hearing the chorus—“Brown skin poppin/I’m rooted,”—and thinking of plants and families and babies and friends. “Black friends, black culture, just black people,” she says.
And then next thing she’s on a flight to Los Angeles with her trusted director of photography to shoot at Ciara’s home. Full creative freedom, even down to the outfits the artist and the rest of the talent wore. The shoot would also take her to Atlanta, San Diego, New Jersey, and then back to New York. Two different edits. More Zoom calls with Ciara to make the final cut. The video was released in August.
“I’m happy with how the world has responded,” says Bercy, a couple months after the shoot. “I was just looking at the YouTube comments and loving every second of it. It took a while to dawn on me, but now I’m finally pinching myself. It says ‘Directed by Annie Bercy’ at the end.”
For the former Queensborough Community College student who was once on a path to becoming an English teacher, the moment where she could really point to her first major production behind the driver’s seat had been years in the making. She had always been prolific with a phone camera, always shooting and editing, really into fashion, and loved writing, staging, and generally bringing a project together. They were passions and skills she had honed in high school in various stage and theater clubs and projects and through work for her church.
She gradually built up a body of work after an encounter with television executive Mona Scott Young, who told her “If you want to direct, just direct.” So Bercy did, following her own creative instincts, making her own projects, and posting them on her Instagram, which started gaining traction. She hit the New York club scene and became the party girl who wasn’t really there to party, but to shoot the video of the party. She got referrals to do different video shoots and small brand commercials. She was meeting people. She networked her way to a job as a videographer/producer/editor at the legendary hip-hop radio station Hot 97 FM. She ended up editing videos for Grammy-nominated artists Sza and Ty Dolla $ign and has been approached by Grammy-nominated artist Lil Baby to work on some content.
Somewhere in between, she decided to get a degree in film production because even though she was getting good work, she wanted to learn “the technical aspects of film, to be versed in the language, and to really understand the different roles in a production.”
She also needed to prove something to her Haitian mother, who didn’t understand where her new party lifestyle and video work was going.
“I’m proud of myself for committing to school because I can’t lie—it’s been tough after already getting so much professional work,” she says. “But I like where I’m headed.”
Her five-year plan is to “just create,” she says. She’s eyeing certain brands, like Zara and Gucci, that she’d love to work with, identifying music artists she thinks her creative vision is compatible with, and generally charging on with the hustle that has already paid off.
“I’m just going to keep walking in this direction,” she says. “It’s where my passion is leading me.”