Annie Bercy was eating a sandwich and minding her business when she received an Instagram DM from Ciara. “She was just telling me that she loves my work, that her people were already reaching out to my people, and that she wanted to work with me,” Bercy, 23, recalls over the phone. “I nearly choked on my sandwich. I was just like, ‘Wait... What!?’”
That DM would lead to a trip from Bercy’s Queens home to Ciara’s California abode about one week later to direct the visuals for “Rooted,” the Grammy Award-winning artist’s Black pride manifesto, which features singer-songwriter Ester Dean. Ciara’s DM came in on Juneteenth as Bercy was shooting an organized protest in Brooklyn, which the director and content creator took as a sign. “I was just like, ‘You know what? I’ve gotta get on it. Let me do what I have to do.’”
And she did. In one day and eighteen scenes, Bercy directed a stunning love letter to Black culture — her first of high-profile status, but certainly not her first overall (see: her captivating portfolio, which features everything from additional videos to moodboard art). The four-minute clip, for which parts were shot just two days before Ciara went into labor with her son Win Harrison Wilson, casted over 60 people — friends, family and hand-picked models — some of whom were shot separately between San Diego, Los Angeles, Atlanta and New Jersey.
“I wanted to create a video that was based on Black culture, Black people, and Black families, because when I hear the word ‘rooted,’ I think about family and knowing where you come from,” Bercy shares. “It’s funny because, even though you put so much effort into it, into the details, into making sure people have bantu knots or have their afros out, people look at the video as a whole and they think it’s effortless. I love that.”
“I feel like I’m in a position where I reap what I sow."
For Bercy, filmmaking’s magic lies within the makeup, the unseen alchemy that no one knows about. “Where there’s a will there’s a way,” Bercy muses — a mantra she knows quite well, and one she’s come to understand over the years through the sequential nature of creating art. “I love planning something from the start and then finishing it to an end,” she continues, noting clubs like stage crew and theater — which she participated in throughout high school — as examples of places where she became familiar with the process.
Bercy’s been manifesting visions both on and off screens since the early 2000s. Back then, images of long nails and icy grills were her primary visual catalysts. By the time she reached Queensborough Community College for her associate’s degree in Liberal Arts (she currently attends Brooklyn College to attain her bachelors degree in Film Production), she knew she was ready to dive head-first into directing after exploring multiple creative interests throughout her teenage years. She then spent much of 2018 and 2019 planting the seeds that would ultimately bud into what she calls a “thriving” 2020 — something that isn’t lost on Bercy amid a pandemic that has affected the lives of many. “I feel like I’m in a position where I reap what I sow,” she reflects. “You never know who’s watching. All the videos that I made, all the hard work that I did last year is starting to pay off.”
Earlier this year, Bercy premiered Waves, a visual project created to destigmatize Black men in durags. The portrait series, which can be viewed here, was featured by Paper Mag. Bercy also recently directed Brooklyn-based artist Courtnie’s music video for “What’s Up,” which premiered in late June and has received 50K+ views as of this writing.
“The story that I wanna tell through my videos, through my photos, through my content, as I progress throughout my career is that anybody can do it if they have the drive and motivation to make it happen,” Bercy concludes. “Anybody can work with Ciara.”
She especially wants Black people to know that the sky's the limit.
“All you have to do is work towards it, and don’t let anybody stray you away from what you wanna do,” she continues. “Prioritize your passion and walk in that direction. If you don’t do it, someone else will.”