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Celebrating AAPI Month With Award-winning Producer, Director, and Actress, Maria Soccor

By Tammy Reese

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Meet Award-winning Producer, Director, and Actress, Maria Soccor. Maria is a board member of Educate The Block, a career training program in Hudson County, New Jersey, a member of New York Women In Film and Television, Film Fatales, Alliance of Women Directors, and is an accomplished poet and poetry teacher. Truly passionate and dedicated to the arts, she also serves on the Theater/Arts, Photography, and Film Committees at New York’s prestigious National Arts Club. Her awards include New Jersey Essex County Young Woman of The Year, Miss New York, and Ms. National USA.

As a producer and director on her acclaimed documentary feature film, Lords of BSV, has won 13 awards across the world. Maria has thrived these past few years, despite the pandemic. She is the writer and director of “Tillie”, Sybil: In Her Own Words”, and “Freestyle Music: The Legacy”.



May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. What does this time mean for you and how do you celebrate it?

When I think of AAPI month, I think of the diversity of the Pacific Islands and of Asian culture overall. Our heritage is too vast to be celebrated in a month. We are large in population, yet when it comes to opportunities in media, we get a mere morsel of the pie. As an Amerasian actress and filmmaker that is half Filipina, I long to see content that is truly rooted in our culture about Austronesians and pre-colonial Asian culture, and how that can be integrated into media content. This is why my first film KICKS was a launching pad into my journey of narrative feature filmmaking, focusing on Amerasian content.

In essence, I celebrate this month and all year by learning about the AAPI migration worldwide. I see my people out there making huge strides in the media, while not forgetting the sacrifices they had to endure in an industry where we are so visible, and beautiful in our truths, but limited to opportunity.

What have been some of the most memorable moments in your career as an Actress, Director, and Producer?

I remember working with John Leguizamo on the set of his film Undefeated (2003) which he co-wrote with Frank Pugliese, and directed and starred in. Fifteen years later, I followed his steps and made Kicks (2018), which I also wrote, directed, and starred in with an ensemble cast. His impact on my career continues to resonate and inspire me.

What projects are you currently working on or can we be on the lookout for?

Currently, I am writing, directing, and producing several documentaries which are; Freestyle Music: The Legacy, a documentary about the freestyle music artists from the 1980s and 1990s, Sybil: In Her Own Words, I am co-writing with Dr. Patrick Suraci who wrote the book about Shirley Mason, who suffered from DID and painted in six different personalities, who eventually was cured, and Tille, a documentary about Tillie Bing Bryant which documents her journey in the 1960s until her recent death in 2023, as a civil rights activist that participated in lunch counter sit ins.

As an actress, I am an original cast member of The Mannequin Diaries, written by Bryan Wiggins, and directed by Tony Award Winner Trazanna Beverley.

May is also mental health awareness month. How have you navigated a work-life, and self-care balance in such a demanding industry?

Love. To love and be loved keeps me grounded, as well as my acting exercises that I do everyday to make sure my instrument stays well tuned. I would have never been able to balance my thoughts, life, or emotions without love or finding ways to stay “well tuned”.

What is a super fun fact about yourself that many people are not aware of?

I write poetry and love to play pinball!

What advice would you have for anyone who aspires to enter the entertainment industry?

Have a focus and be prepared.

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Photos Credit: Christopher Horne

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Tammy Reese began her career as a theater actress performing in 60 live stage shows a year with The Media Unit TV and Stage Production Company. She also directed the weekly live TV show Rough Times Live.

Eventually, she went to Empire State College to obtain her degree in media studies. After graduation, she did more theater and wrote and produced her own videos to spread awareness on social issues through the arts.

Tammy is an award-winning journalist and is best known for her legendary interviews with Sharon Stone, Sigourney Weaver, Meagan Good, Jennifer Connelly, Laurence Fishburne, Mona Scott- Young, Geena Davis, Essie Davis, Vivica A. Fox, Omar Epps, Joseph Sikora, Nelly, Ryan Coogler, Carmen Electra, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Giancarlo Esposito, Amerie, Leon, Patina Miller, La La Anthony, Neyo, Britt Lower, Michael James Shaw, Aleks Paunovic, Courtney Kemp, Janet Hubert, Tom Arnold, Michole Briana White, Matt Cedeño, Raven Goodwin, Amber Riley, Ross Marquand, Merritt Wever and many more.

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