Tag Archives: Alyscia Cunningham

“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

TWE2020-filmmakers_Alyscia-Cunningham

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

Alyscia-Cunningham_Lurline_TWE2020

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” 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!

 

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.

Read more

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.

 

Appreciate the Journey

You know what I’ve grown to appreciate? My trials and tribulations have not only given me the ability to vigorously pace through life, but it has also built me to be undeniably resilient.

Please know that…

When I share the challenges I face on my journey, I am not looking for sympathy.

Instead, I am opening myself and being transparent about the ups and downs that comes with life. Professionally and personally.

People sometimes assume that rewards and accomplishments come easy. Thanks to social media, people can conveniently post about their achievements yet omit the adversities faced in order to get to that level of attainment.

It takes hard work, time, dedication and positive thinking to make things happen.

Furthermore, as a woman of color, married to man of color, with children who look like us and have unfortunately faced hardships related to race, I have no choice but to stand strong. Not only for myself, but also for my family.

With that…

I am undoubtedly able to handle what may crumble the World of someone unlike me.

Would I like for the people of the world to be different? Without doubt. But I am truly grateful that my hardships have strengthen me.

Regardless, anything worth bringing into existence doesn’t come easy, but it’s definitely worth the feeling of success and fulfillment once you stick to it. And in the process, you have the opportunity to know WHO IS and WHO ISN’T for you. Shedding layers and people is a good thing.

On your journey…

You may be redirected, take some time off to breath and reevaluate your steps, or may completely switch paths, but always pick yourself up and keep going.

And remember…

Don’t be afraid to share your quest. It is uniquely yours to hold and carry. It is my hope that sharing the transparency of my journey can be beneficial to someone else on the path to accomplishing a dream or goal.

My gift to you…

Rather than adding to the piles of Holiday emails you’ll receive next week, I send my greetings to you now. I wish you all that you wish for yourself… PLUS all that you need at this moment to appreciate your journey.

Enjoy the Holidays!

PS…

If you’re in the spirit of giving, please consider making a tax-deductible donation, via my Fiscal Sponsor Docs In Progress, to help me finish my film.  Visit the website for more info and to support. Feel free to also follow my blog tour with Goddess Fish Promos.

Happy Holidays graphic

 

My book launch was amazing!

To celebrate the journey (joys and challenges) we celebrated of the release of I Am More Than My Hair, on Sunday September 9th, at the Hyattsville Busboys and Poets.

Rather than the typical author talk, I decided to set the tone for a panel discussion. I gave a brief background on how I came up with the idea for I Am More Than My Hair. Several participants (Janice, Martina, Nicole, Doretha, Jameelah, Shae and Holly) introduced themselves and spoke about their #HAIRstory. Dermatologist Dr. Sharleen St. Surin-Lord clarified the meaning of alopecia and the importance of identifying the root cause.

IAmMoreThanMyHairBookLaunch-58

Jeff Woytovich, Founder of Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP), was gracious enough to travel here (MD) from Pennsylvania and share his organization’s mission and available programs for children.

I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the release of I Am More Than My Hair . It was so much bigger than a book release. It was a gathering in celebration of the beauty and diversity of girls and women. See The Umbrella Syndicate’s photos on Facebook.

Keep Smiling: Bald Edition Book

 

Ken Rochon, Founder and CEO of The Umbrella Syndicate and creator of the Keep Smiling movement, has captured beautiful images at the Bald, Beautiful and Bold Fashion Show as well as this past Sunday at my book launch. If you missed the opportunity to be included in the Keep Smiling: Bald Edition Book, Ken would love to take your photo at his studio for the book. This is open to women, men and children. If he took your photo and you’re interested in purchasing copies (once finalized and available), please contact Ken at (202) 701-0911.

New Retailer!

Bluestockings Bookstore now carries my book. If you’re in the New York City area please help me maintain a retailer/author relationship by purchasing a copy during your next visit. Bluestockings is located at 172 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002.

You can also purchase a copy of I Am More Than My Hair on Amazon or any of these retailers near you:
BookWoman (Austin, TX), Politics and Prose (Washington, DC), Sandy Spring Museum (Ashton, MD), Vroman’s Bookstores (Pasadena, CA), Women’s Museum of California (San Diego, CA).
*10% of sale proceeds will be donated to Children’s Alopecia Project.

Have a bookstore suggestion? Contact me.

Film Fund

If you would like to support and help me finish my film, please consider making a tax-deductible donation via Docs In Progress.

Tax-deductible donation - I Am More Than My Hair

I was interviewed on Fox5 Morning News Good Day DC!Alyscia-Cunningham-Fox5

Thanks for your support!MTMH-launch-sponsors

About Alyscia: Personally, Alyscia is a mom, wife, artist, advocate, writer, Pisces, dreamer, truth seeker, positive thinker, adventurer, traveler, and hiker. Professionally, she’s an entrepreneur, author, speaker, filmmaker and photographer who has contributed  to National Geographic, Discovery Channel, AOL and Smithsonian Institution. She’s also the CEO of a Maryland Home Improvement company, Uprising Builders, LLC, and AC Media, a production and publishing company. To find out more about Alyscia, visit www.Alyscia.com.

Grants for artist of color, about the black experience? I AM the black experience.

It’s no doubt that the grant process is frustrating, especially when most recipients look nothing like me… a woman of color. On the other hand, grants focused on supporting artist of color make it very clear that the “artist” work should encompass the “black experience”.

But I am the black experience.

I am the black experience when I step out into the world and I am judged FIRST based on the color of my skin and not my talents. I am the black experience when I’m constantly in the position of having to fight for my children to be treated equally in a public school institution. I am the black experience when I am in fear and question if my husband will safely return home after a “routine traffic stop”. I am the black experience when I live in a system created against people who look like me.

And my list goes on…

Although I wish the grant process… well life in general, wasn’t biased, it is my unfortunate reality. When I apply, though I do my best and hope for a great outcome, I know that most likely the “look” of the grantees won’t change.

Then on the other end of the spectrum, some of the organizations that fund projects by artist of color has a specific criteria. The topic of focus should include slavery, racial injustice, police brutality, immigration, etc. Is that all the black experience encompasses?

In this case, my work is too black for one… not black enough for the other… and a box I simply can’t fit in.

Does this mean I change the direction of my work? Absolutely not. Although this isn’t the case for all organizations, it is evident that I have to continue working 3 times as hard. But not to worry. I get what I set my mind to. Nonetheless, I do look forward to the day when more opportunities live outside the box. Who knows? I may just start something new… in due time.

You can help me finish my documentary film, I Am More Than My Hair.

Tax-deductible donation - I Am More Than My Hair

 

I-Am-More-Than-My-Hair-book-launch-smallres

Join me as I present my research behind my project, meet the women who participated and take part in a Q&A. Book signing to follow.

Sunday, September 9, 2018
5-7PM

Busboys and Poets
5311 Baltimore Avenue
Hyattsville, MD 20781

There will be an open menu for food and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Tickets are $10. Proceeds from tickets sales will go towards the finishing funds for my film.

To learn more and get get tickets, visit Busboys and Poets or Eventbrite.

 

The Books Have Arrived!

THE SEED HAS FINALLY SOWN

Book-arrived.jpg

It’s been 4 years in the making of research, planning, production, and post-production… and I Am More Than My Hair books are finally here. Thank you to everyone who believed in my project, supported my fundraisers, and gave words of encouragement or resources to help me more forward.

This is not the end, but only the beginning of an entirely new direction. I have to hit the road with books signings, exhibitions, speaking engagements… and of course… I must sell these books.

You can now purchase on Amazon for $39.95. Remember, 10% of sales proceeds will be donated to Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP). I LOVE their mission: “Help change the emphasis from growing hair to building confidence.”

So feel free to order a copy… or 2… or 3.  Purchase your copy on Amazon.

UPDATE ON THE FILM

I am still in the post-production phase with I Am More Than My Hair documentary film. I’ll have a narrative rough-cut by the end of new week. However, I’m still raising funds to finish because after receiving the rough-cut, there are other steps needed to complete, such as color and sound correction, original score (music) and footage/music licensing (I’ve been working really hard to get permission for India Arie’s song, I Am Not My Hair.

So far I’ve been given access to footage from OWN TV (Harpo Inc.) and I’m very grateful for the permission granted. Your support to help me finish my film will be greatly appreciated… and it’s tax-deductible. Please share.

UPCOMING EVENTS

booklaunch-flyer_264x194.jpg

Book Launch – September 9 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Busboys and Poets
5331 Baltimore Avenue
Hyattsville, MD 20781

Join me in celebration of the launch of my book, I Am More Than My HairPurchase your ticket »

 

SandySpringMuseum_Logo-small

Book Signing – August 4 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Sandy Spring Museum
17901 Bentley Road
Sandy Spring, MD 20860

This is my first book signing. I will be on hand to sell and sign copies of I Am More Than My HairReserve your spot »

The proof is here!

20180509_132238.jpgI received a proof copy of I Am More Than My Hair book. How exciting!

After review, Robin Benson, my Designer, made a minor change then I gave the OK for printing. All copies are expected to arrive by or around July 23, 2018.

In the meantime, I’m working on plans for distribution, marketing, speaking/book tour and of course… grant applications.

This time around, I’m applying finishing fund grants. And in a few weeks I’ll launch…

iFundWomen crowdfunding campaign

I discovered iFundWomen last month while attending Light City Baltimore. How cool is it to have a crowfunding platform dedicated to women only. Amazing!

After speaking with one of the coaches I decided to launch a crowfunding campaign to help cover the finishing cost of I Am More Than My Hair film. I’m almost there. I just need one more push to complete it.

At this point, I will edit the film on my own (rough-cut) and will hire an Editor to complete the fine-cut. As much as I tried to avoid it, I’m guessing the Universe wants me to edit this film. 🙂 I’ll keep you posted.

Pre-order your copy

If you’re interested in pre-ordering a copy of I Am More Than My Hair book, you can do so via PayPal. It will also be available on Amazon but won’t go live until I receive the shipment of books. Pre-order your copy here.

 

HuffPost covered the Fashion Show!

HuffPost Editor, Jamie Feldman, covered the Bald, Beautiful, & Bold Fashion Show. If you missed it, read more here.
BBB-huffpost.jpg

Keeping it Simple: Keep a Child Alive Week #3

I’m moving into week 3 of my campaign to raise funds for Keep a Child Alive (KCA). In order to help keep things simple I’ve pointed out the highlights of my campaign.

1. What is a campaign? Work in an organized and active way toward a particular goal.
2. 100% of the proceeds from my campaign fund the youth-led peer support groups (the support groups simply help build confidence and empower the youth of KCA)
2. I DO NOT make $ from this. I’m volunteering.
3. Your donation will make a huge difference and positive impact for the children of KCA, who are all affected by HIV/AIDS.
4. The videos ARE MY CAMPAIGN. The individuals in the videos volunteer their time to say a message of encouragement for the youth of KCA.
5. Only $5 from multiple individuals is enough to successfully fund my campaign. Please make your $5 donation here.

I hope this helps to simplify my mission and gives you sufficient information to support the youth of Keep a Child Alive. I appreciate you!