Category Archives: I Am More Than My Hair

Just when I was about to give up…

Font graphic reads, just when I was about to give up.

“With 1 day left”, as stated in my previous newsletter, I had embarrassed the reality of not reaching my $6K goal on iFundWomen. Although I would have liked a different turnout, in all honesty I was at peace with this realization and the idea of retiring my project without the completion of the final cut.

In that moment of feeling at harmony with my decision, a few hours later… just when I was about to give up… I received an email notification from the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County notifying me of a grant award.

I received the funding needed to complete I Am More Than My Hair.

The Universe is miraculous.
 

In the spirit of transparency, I wasn’t able to raise the funds to create an accessible exhibition as I hoped for my exhibits next year. However, I will seek support from foundations in order to make this happen.

What does this mean?

I will see I Am More Than My Hair film into completion, as far as I can possibly reach. First focusing on the expenses related to accessibly (for blind and deaf audiences) and the sound mixing and color correction

Once it’s complete in the film festival circuit (December 2020) I will make it available online. I’m not sure of the platform as yet but I promise I’ll figure it out. Once I do, you’ll be the first to know.

This has been a 6 year journey.

As I wind down on the completion of, I Am More Than My Hair, I’m off working on other projects –  another documentary film and my first horror film!

I am forever grateful for the people who supported me and believed in my projects along the years. Thank you to everyone who took the time to support my campaign (it remains open in order to qualify for current grants on the iFundWomen platform). 

Please know that I appreciate you.

With gratitude,

Alyscia Cunningham
Director | Producer | Cinematographer
www.Alyscia.com

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Your Family & Friends Are Not Your Audience

Thirteen years ago, I started a new business venture into the world of Multi-Level Marketing. Three years later, I realized that MLM is not for me but I was grateful for the valuable lessons learned as an Independent Rep.

My first homework assignment was to read Your First Year In Network Marketing (anyone in MLM knows this book). It really prepared me for the world of business that I knew nothing about. The first being…

Your family and friends are not your audience.

It’s been years since I read the book so I’m explaining in paraphrase, but the author made it very clear that you will most likely…

  1. Get ignored by friends and family
  2. Not taken seriously by friends and family
  3. Lose a friend in the process

Although it was a tough reality (they really did ignore my calls) the lessons learned has been extremely helpful in my businesses after MLM. I realized…

My biggest supporters are people I don’t know.

That thought used to upset me, but I developed a good grasp at basking myself in the positive, mutual energy and support that comes from a total stranger. As crazy as it sounds, I used to play tug of war in my mind and block my blessings because I had an expectation of what support should look like –Friends and family. Now…

I welcome the village I’ve always asked for. It’s a beautiful revelation.

I must say, one of my biggest takeaways as an MLM, is the ability to be fearless (cold calls will do that to you). To cut to the chase and not care that your loved ones may not support your vision. If they aren’t living their dream how can they encompass the power of yours?

Hopefully this blog can enlighten the person it was intended for. For those who have the support, you’re blessed.

With 1 day left…

I reflect on the beautiful moments and girls/women that I met on my expedition with I Am More Than My Hair. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to grow in genuine friendship with many of the women. It’s a humbling experience to know that everyone trusted me, a complete stranger to most, to share their stories.

With 1 day left for my campaign on iFundWomen and 75% left to raise $6K, I have made peace with the fact that I will most likely not reach my funding goal. And presumably this means; it is time for me to retire my project and move on.

Black girl let's go of a balloon. She looks up at it.

What does this mean?  I will see I Am More Than My Hair film into completion, as far as I can possibly reach. First focusing on the expenses related to accessibly (for blind and deaf audiences) and possibly the sound mixing and color correction. I’m simply not able to submit I Am More Than My Hair to certain film festivals without a professionally completed final cut.

On the bright side, once it’s complete in the film festival circuit (November 2020) I will make it available online. I’m not sure of the platform as yet but I promise I’ll figure it out. Once I do, you’ll be the first to know.

This has been a 6 year journey. It is not a sad moment. In fact, for the community of supporters, we’ve won. It has been a challenging yet beautiful journey. And the gems gained… priceless.

As I wind down on, I Am More Than My Hair, I’m off working on another project. I am forever grateful for the people who supported me and believed in my projects along the years. You are appreciated.

Remember… for those interested, you can always make a tax-deductible donation via my fiscal sponsor Women in Film & Video.

“I Am More Than My Hair” wins Best Documentary Short at Through Women’s Eyes International Film Festival 2020!

What a beautifully challenging journey this has been (all bottled in one). I Am More Than my Hair is my first film. Although it still needs a few finishing touches, I am beyond proud of myself, my film editor Tiffany Lewis (who weaved the stories together so beautifully) and the courageous little girl and women who trusted me to share their stories.

I am thankful for Through Women’s Eyes (TWE) International Film Festival committee, judges and volunteers, for the powerful selection of film, assuring the festival went smoothly, and the audience votes which determined the awards.

TWE2020-award

The response from the audience was undeniably positive and the topic of alopecia is evidently moving from taboo to an openly relatable conversation. The number of viewers that spoke with me about their personal story, a “sister”, “friend” or “mom” was a pleasant surprise.

Overall, seeing a weekend full of films directed by women, was an empowering experience. We laughed, we cried, we were outraged. In the end, we all discovered something new though the lens of these filmmakers. If I could share the dynamic impact of these films with you I would. It was so powerful on multiple levels.

Here’s a few of my personal favorites…
Medicating Normal – by Directors Lynn Cunningham and Wendy Ractliffe
#Female Pleasure – by Director Barbara Miller
SEMA – by Director Macherie Ekwa
LUZ– by Director Jon Banana

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Unfortunately, I missed a handful of films but you can take a look at TWE 2020 Film Lineup.

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I am also very grateful for my homestay host, Lurline, a local resident of Sarasota that opened her home to me as a guest. TWE couldn’t have paired me with a better host. I love how the Universe aligns so that I cross paths with genuine people. Our similarities are amazing.


I think back to me as a little girl…

staying up late at night (while my family was asleep) to watch documentary films on television. I gained an enormous amount of knowledge, often unheard of by my peers, and always spoke about something interesting that I learned (my thoughts on the direction of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Mission Mars, and the New World Order didn’t sit so well with my classmates, and I quickly learned that it’s best to keep some topics to myself – LOL). Regardless it’s rewarding to see that I’ve created what I’ve always loved.

At this point, I’m awaiting the “yay” or “nay” response from ten other film festivals. Actually, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival recently responded, “nay”, so… I have nine more to go.

And my journey continues…

Image of Alyscia Cunningham with the sunset in the background.

“I Am More Than My Hair” Marnobia’s Story

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Meet Marnobia. We met in 2016 during my outreach Nueva Vida, a cancer support and empowerment group for Latinas. They shared my call for participants and Marnobia was the first woman I received a response from in the group.

Given our language barrier I couldn’t understand her exact response to my interview questions, but I could feel her power and bravery in the tone of her voice.

After having her interview translated from Spanish to English, her response about the support she received from her family and positive attitude during her journey with breast cancer treatment, gave me tears of joy. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I do.

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Thanks to your support I’m headed to Sarasota!

I Am More Than My Hair was awarded an Official Selection and will screen at the 2020 Through Women’s Eyes International Film Festival, taking place place on March 6 – 8, in Sarasota, FL. If you’re in the area, consider attending the film festival.

I Am More Than My Hair screens on Sunday March 8th. Read more and purchase tickets

As my outreach continues… with rewards!

If my film continues to be selected (a wonderful problem to have), it’s an average of $1K per festival for me to participate (airfare, travel, lodging, food, etc.). Unfortunately, even if my film is selected most film festivals don’t cover expenses or travel cost.

With that in mind… your support is appreciated! Here’s a few ways you be of support: 

1Make a donation – Donate $50 or more and I’ll mail you a copy of my book, calendar, tote bag or mouse pad (see photos below). You choose!

Donate $200 + and I’ll ship all 4!

  • Not interested in the tax-deduction? Contact me and I’ll send you an invoice via PayPal. Simply click the button below to send an email letting me know your preference.
  • If you prefer a tax-deduction, donate via my fiscal sponsor, Docs In Progress. Please note that it will take longer to ship as the funds aren’t immediately available. I’ll keep you posted on the ETA.


2. Purchase a copy on Amazon. If you prefer to purchase a copy of I Am More Than My Hair on Amazon, please purchase directly from me (AC Media). 10% of proceeds from book sales are donated to Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP). Please note, I am only able to donate to CAP if you make a purchase via AC Media. I won’t receive payment for books sold via the other companies.

3. Prefer not to make an online payment? Not a problem. Feel free to mail a check. Please include your reward preference (book, calendar, tote or mouse pad) on the check. Contact me for the mailing address

4. Interested in hosting a private screening? Contact me for more info.

Thank you for your continued support!

 

“I Am More Than My Hair” is an Official Selection in the 2020 Through Women’s Eyes International Film Festival

I Am More Than My Hair has been selected to screen at Through Women’s Eyes International Film Festival 2020 taking place place on March 6 – 8, in Sarasota, FL. If you’re in the area, consider attending the film festival.

TWE is a fundraiser for the US National Committee for UN Women (USNC), an arm of the United Nations. UN Women works in more than 90 countries in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment. TWE is a volunteer-staffed festival and all net proceeds of TWE are donated to the USNC for advocacy programs and to support the work of UN Women worldwide. Read more and purchase tickets

Film Festivals

movie theatre marquee of I Am More Than My Hair

It’s a hefty price of $25 – $100 per submission as well as travel/lodging expenses, if my film continues to be selected (a great problem to have). That’s an average of $1K per festival (give or take a few hundred $).

With that in mind… your support is still appreciated! 

Here’s a few ways you can support:

1Make a tax-deductible donation via my fiscal sponsor, Docs In Progress. Donate $50 or more and I’ll mail you a copy of my book (please forward the confirmation email to Alyscia@momsinfilm.org). If you’d like me to write a special message for someone, once you make the donation contact me and let me know who the book should be autographed to and the message you’d like to share.

2. Purchase a copy on Amazon. If you prefer to purchase a copy of “I Am More Than My Hair” on Amazon, please purchase directly from me (AC Media). 10% of proceeds from book sales are donated to Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP). Please note, I am only able to donate to CAP  if you make a purchase via AC Media. I won’t receive payment for book sold via the other companies.

3. Mail a check. If you don’t care to make a tax-deductible donation, feel free to make a donation via check and mail it. Once again, if you make a donation of $50 or more. I’ll send you a copy of “I Am More Than My Hair” Contact me for the mailing address.

4. Host a private screening. Interested in a private screening? Contact me for more info.

Thank you for your continued support!

 

“I Am More Than My Hair” Wins Award in Best Shorts Film Competition and A Show For Change Film Festival

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I am honored to inform you that I Am More Than My Hair has been recognized with an Award of Merit by the Best of Short Film Competition. The Best Shorts Competition demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who contribute to profound social change. Knowing that is confirmation that I’ve my film is making a difference in society.

Storytelling

I was also recently informed that my film won the Storytelling Award for November’s A Show For A Change Film Festival. a socially conscious entertainment company that changes the world through the power of story.

 

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Thank you!

I am so grateful for the outpouring of support along the years. The patience, resources, donations and cheer leading me through my challenges hasn’t gone by unnoticed.

I Am More Than My Hair has been a 4 year journey. The funds raised were a huge contributing factor from the start of my film to its current stage. I can’t thank my supporters enough. If this is you… THANK YOU!

Would you like to support my film? Please consider making a tax-deductible donation via my fiscal sponsor, Docs In Progress.

“I Am More Than My Hair” Hits The Film Festival Circuit

I know you have many causes to choose from for #GivingTuesday. However, please consider supporting I Am More Than My Hair into the next phase of the film festival circuit. If you make a tax-deductible donation, I’ll mail you a copy of the book.

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For today and tomorrow, #GivingTuesday, I’ll mail an autographed copy of I Am More Than My Hair book for anyone who donates $50 and up. That’s until December 3rd only by 11:59PM PST.

It’s a hefty price of $25 – $100 per submission as well as travel/lodging expenses, if my film is selected to be screened. That’s an average of $1K per festival (give or take a few hundred $).

With that in mind… your support for this new phase of my film is needed and appreciated!

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How can I help you ask???

Here’s a few ways:

1Make a tax-deductible donation via my fiscal sponsor, Docs In Progress. If you donate $50 or more I’ll mail a copy of my book to the address you provided when making your tax-deductible donation. If you’d like me to write a special message for someone, once you make the donation contact me and I’ll let me know who the book should be autographed to and the message you’d like to share.

DOUBLE BONUS: Donate $500 or more and I’ll host a private screening at your home (note: you must reside in the DC metro area or cover the cost of travel expenses).

2Become a Sponsor  if you or someone you know is  interested Contact me.

3. Share my project with friends and family. I’ll make it easy for you. Simply copy and paste the info in #1.

 

How can I purchase a copy of the film?

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I can’t duplicate and sell copies of the film if I want to submit it to film festivals. Unfortunately, this is one of the stipulations if I want I Am More Than My Hair, or any future films, to be considered for the film festival circuit. Regardless, this is a new journey for my documentary and I am excited!

With all my excitement comes the reality of the expense to participate in film festivals.Your support is needed and appreciated. Thank you in advance for supporting I Am More Than My Hair on #GivingTuesday!

 

 

*Docs In Progress is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which gives individuals tools to tell stories through documentary film to educate, inspire, and transform the way people view their world.

Your donation towards I Am More Than My Hair also supports Docs In Progress in their mission to support documentary filmmakers. If you’re in a giving mood, please consider also making a tax-deductible directly to the organization.

My Premiere Was Phenomenal!

When I first thought of the idea of “I Am More Than My Hair”, I visualized it to be a photography book encompassed with photos accompanied by personal essays of the women who participated. Never did I imagine it to not only evolve into a film but I also didn’t consider how life changing it would be for me, the girls and women involved, their families and my audience.

Although I feel very passionate about this project (as well as my previous), I thought back to the challenges I faced and how the women and girls involved were my driving force. They didn’t know me yet trusted me to share their stories. Despite the struggles that came with being a first-time Director, Producer and Filmmaker, it was vital that I live up to and deliver what I promised.

I am truly honored to have met everyone and provide the platform to share their stories, educate my audience (awareness) and create a shift in the way we see beauty and female hair loss (alopecia).

“The only way you can sustain a permanent change is to create a new way of thinking, acting, and being.” – Jennifer Hudson

Thank you for attending and supporting the premiere screening of I Am More Than My Hair!

View Gallery

Were you unable to attend the premiere?

If you were unable to attend the premiere but would like to support my project, please consider making a tax-deductible donation via Docs In Progress. You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon. 10% of sale proceeds will be donated to Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP).

The next phase is to secure distribution so that it will be available for streaming, purchase or rental. You donation is greatly appreciated.

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We Did it! My First Premiere Screening

I’m finally having my first official Premiere Screening of I Am More Than My Hair. I couldn’t be more excited and nervous at the same time. Between now and then, I’ll have a load of work on my plate.

It takes place on Sunday, October 20, 2019 from 5-7PM at AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD. Tickets are $10 in advance on Eventbrite. If you prefer to pay with cash, limited paper tickets are available. Contact me to purchase tickets.

Join me for an inside look behind the story of my 2-part project, I Am More Than My Hair, documentary film short and photography book. Meet the women who participated, hear about the medical aspect of alopecia, from Dermatologist Dr. St. Surin-Lord, and join in on the discussion of redefining beauty standards. Q&A and Book Signing to follow (the film isn’t available as yet for purchase).

Here’s the program:
5:00 pm: Mix and mingle with light refreshments
5:30 – 7:00 pm: Screening and facilitated Q&A session with the filmmaker and panel

Would you like to help with the event? Feel free to contact me.


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My work-in-progress screening at Docs In Progress on August 13, 2019 was a success! Not only did I receive great feedback about my rough-cut, but the topic of alopecia, beauty and the media led to powerful conversations.

In turn, it helped with the finalizing the fine-cut of my 30 minute documentary film short I Am More Than My Hair. I would love for you to join me on October 20th for the Premiere Screening of my documentary at AFI Silver Theatre.


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If you’re unable to attend but would like to support my project, please consider making a tax-deductible donation via Docs In Progress. You can also purchase a copy of the book on Amazon. 10% of sale proceeds will be donated to Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP).

 

My Trip To California

Alyscia Cunningham's lecture at Saint Mary's College of CaliforniaI returned from the Bay Area after a visit to and lecture at Saint Mary’s College of California (in Moraga). Typically, when I travel for speaking engagements I stay at a nearby hotel. This time around, I was offered the opportunity to stay at the visitor’s residence on campus. I couldn’t have asked for a better communal experience.

Not only had staying on campus given me the option for convenience but it also provided me the time to connect with the students and staff of Saint Mary’s, beyond what may have been possible if I stayed at a local hotel.

Alyscia Cunningham's lecture at Saint Mary's College of CaliforniaTwo weeks have passed since my visit and the positive energy and heartfelt moments continue to replay in my memories and bring a warm feeling to my soul. I have to say it was my most monumental lecture thus far. And I’ve had quite a few.

Alyscia Cunningham's lecture at Saint Mary's College of California

I was surrounded around a beautiful campus on California’s gorgeous landscape and good hearted people. It was a intimate group and setting with genuine discussion, feedback and consideration for one another. For me, that’s the best ingredients for a successful event. Also, have I ever mentioned I LOVE California?

Alyscia Cunningham's lecture at Saint Mary's College of California

Over two years ago, Sharon Sobotta, Director of the Center for Women & Gender Equity, and I connected about the possibility of a speaking engagement at the Center. Although it took some time, Sharon made sure this event came to life.

Alyscia Cunningham and Sharon Sobotta
Alyscia Cunningham and Sharon Sobotta at the Center for Women & Gender Equity at Saint Mary’s College of California.

Directly after my talk, Sihin Tsegay, Gender Justice Leader at the Center for Women and Gender Justice, organized a meet & greet with the Black Student Union at the Center for Women & Gender Equity. We had a deeper discussion about personal and professional experiences and challenges faced as someone of color. I couldn’t have ended the day on a more profound note.

Alyscia Cunningham's lecture at Saint Mary's College of California
Meet & Greet with BSU, Gender Justice Leaders, and allies in the CWGE.

I am truly appreciative for this experience and connection with like mindedness. That for me is priceless.

Have you heard of Great Shoals Winery in Takoma Park, MD?

Alyscia Cunningham at Great Shoals Winery in Takoma Park, MD

Two days after my returning (I’m noticing a recurrence with the number 2), Great Shoals Winery in Takoma Park, MD hosted a book signing for I Am More Than My Hair. If you’re in the area and looking for a local winery with a cool vibe, visit Great Shoals. It used to be located at Heyser Farm in Silver Spring, MD (the farm where I often purchase eggs). Although I enjoyed wine tasting at the farm as chickens roamed around (I’m a city girl but I love the country), it’s nice to have space dedicated to wine… and cheese.

If you’re buying wine, don’t forget to look for local options.

Alyscia Cunningham at Great Shoals Winery in Takoma Park, MD
Thanks to Habibah, fellow GirlTrekker, my brother, and neighbors, for stopping by and supporting.

Alyscia Cunningham at Great Shoals Winery in Takoma Park, MD
Inside Great Shoals Takoma Park.