This Young Filmmaker Used A $5,000 Self-Investment To Manifest Her Dream Life


A dollar and a dream can be invaluable if correctly put to use. In many cases, that's the only thing in this world we are offered. We work the grind, 9-5, all so that we can invest our couple of dollars into our own vision for our dream. That dream for you may mean a paid-off mortgage or a closet full of Louis Vuitton, but for Sanicole Young, that dream was to create a more inclusive landscape for black women in the film industry.

The Chicago-based filmmaker's latest film, Training Wheels, was the result of Sanicole's largest and most lucrative self-investment yet.

Training Wheels is a film based on the childhood experiences of Sanicole, who is depicted by a gorgeous little brown-skinned girl with psychic powers who is determined to bring her waywood wayward father back home. A story that was once a memory in the young director's mind has now been transformed into a vision that will touch the minds of many, but that dream didn't come to fruition without making the decision to invest in herself. She said:

"I've always known it was important for me to invest in myself, because as I thrive in my career doing independent things,there were items I had to buy order to achieve what I had to achieve. [Self-investment] has always been an important concept for me.," she said. "As far as just major sacrifice, it was more so the passion that I had behind what I wanted to do. It was that driving that decision more so than anything. It was the first big step I needed to take in order to get to the finished product of what I was trying to do."

"Self-investment has always been an important concept for me."

Sanicole has successfully transformed what started as a dollar and a dream into a plan of action with concrete goals. She has since gained the entry to some of the country's most prestigious film festivals, and garnered the attention of celebrities like Lil' Rel and Ava Duvernay, and the young filmmaker says that this is only the beginning.

Sanicole Young is proof that self-investment is key to success, and xoNecole got a chance to sit down with the young trailblazer to discuss how she got a 10-fold tenfold return on her initial contribution. San said despite popular belief, believing in yourself isn't always as easy as it seems, and it takes a whole lot of belief to drop a check on a vision that others can't see. She told us:

"It was really a scary step, it wasn't an easy to make that decision because I could have done a million different things with that money," she told us. "But I believed in my idea very strongly, I believed talent strongly. And I felt like I deserved to take a shot. And you only get one shot. I didn't want to look back and regret not moving forward and really making the sacrifice."

A dollar and a dream may be a good starting point, but passion and consistency are needed to cross the finish line.

Sanicole stated, "You are going to have doubt. But the faith in your idea has to be bigger than that doubt. You have to really believe that you will win. I know that sounds cliche, but I've had to wonder whether or not this would be lucrative to me, and I got to a place where I was okay with failing if I failed. Because I wanted to take the shot so bad."

"The faith in your idea has to be bigger than doubt… I was okay with failing if I failed."

Training Wheels

It was at that point that Sanicole shot decided to shoot her shot and ultimately, the budding visionary scored in a major way. Thanks to a number of side hustles and a few sleepless nights, she had finally earned the money she needed to bring her dreams to fruition without even realizing it.

"It's weird because at the time, I had never really even been good at saving money. I'll be honest. And it was crazy how I was willingly saving it. Like, I really didn't even have plans for that money. And I always had my idea, but I never really put them together. I just knew at some point, I'm gonna have to pay for this film. But then, the more I was like working the craft and writing the story, and the more excited about it, it was like man, I started to believe it. Every revision was getting better and better. "

Training Wheels

With $5,000, a heart full of ambition, and a brilliant idea, the formula for her biggest film yet had been concocted.

Only one thing was missing: the rest of the money.

Although her contribution was enough to get started and cover pre-production for Training Wheels, there were still a number of costs that needed to be covered before the project was complete. This left Sanicole at a crossroads, filled with the same self-doubt and inadequacy that we all feel when we've done all we can and it isn't enough. But God came thru, honey.

"When I cut the trailer, I knew I had to raise some money. So, I cut that trailer so many times, and I was letting people watch it and they gave me their feedback. I was just trying to get it perfect. When I got it to a place where I felt like it was the best it could be, I released my indiegogo and I released my trailer and I got an overwhelming response of support that I had never received. That was a very accomplishing moment."

San says that despite her recent success and accreditation, she is most grateful for the connection she's been able to make with her audience.

"Not even just getting into film festivals, I'm not even that far.," she explained. "I felt accomplished just by people connecting to something that I had personally experienced and they were like, 'Oh yeah me too, and let me give you some money and help you finish this.' That was gratifying - not just meeting my goal in four days, - but just connecting to people and really watching my art come alive and touch people. That was big for me. When people really rock with something that you do, they really reach out and thank you for sharing that because they've experienced that too."

Sanicole Young turned her dollar and a dream into a vision for investors, and thanks to her persistence and determination, has garnered executive producers for her film including but not limited to KevOnStage, Lil' Rel, and even some of her own mentors. She is a reminder that self-investment is priceless, and when you truly believe in yourself, you can earn a return on that investment that's beyond your imagination. San had this piece of advice for other women who struggle with the burden of their own aspirations:

"Whatever your heart desires, don't let your inability to recognize your own strength stop you from taking a leap of faith to do what you love."

The short film's opening night will be during the Black Harvest Film Festival at the Siskel Film Center in Chicago on August 4th. If you're in town and you're down to relish in some black girl magic, this event is definitely not something you want to miss. Check out the trailer below:

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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