Sahir Champion talks about Juneteenth, the COVID-19 pandemic, and making a change with his work
Updated: Jun 30
By Devyn Imholt
Sahir Champion is an accomplished editor, director, and producer who has worked for a variety of high-profile clients and companies. He is concerned about far more than simply becoming successful, instead he prioritizes creating impactful content that can make a change. I spoke with him about balance, societal change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and his plans for the future as he continues to embellish upon the success he has already reached.
Sahir has been in the media production industry for over twenty years. He is an executive producer for the On! channel, has worked on music videos for Ty Dolla $ign and Jhene Aiko, produced for BET and Complex, and directed for MTV. He explained that working across various mediums has allowed him to grow, “you learn a lot of techniques in shorter form content that you can then apply to longer form…when you put all these tools together… you have an immense capability to create something fantastic.” He sees the creation of visual media as an opportunity to tell a story, whether it be a music video, film or commercial. His ability to create within these different mediums has allowed him to expand both his clientele and his skills as a creator.
Sahir places an emphasis upon stimulating societal change towards true equality. “One of the reasons why I got into filmmaking was because I knew there was a lack of Black stories being told…I wanted to be a purveyor of some of these magnificent stories.” Before COVID-19 and the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement, he was able to create a Black History Month feature with Starz and Orlando Jones. He explained that the best part of this project was getting to reconnect with Orlando, “Orlando pushes the culture…you couldn’t find anyone more pro-Black than Orlando.” He recently worked on a documentary about R&B entitled Where’s the Soul?, “a tribute to the people that came before.” Describing the film’s reception, he commented that “the reaction has been really well… we’re just trying to push the culture forward.”
June 19th, 2021 was the first Juneteenth to be recognized as a federal Holiday. Asking Sahir what this recognition meant to him, he explained that “it means that the US government is finally recognizing it… it’s almost like accepting responsibility versus trying to hide it under the rug.” Although this may be a sign that the US government is coming to terms with its past, Sahir made sure to clarify that “it’s about time and its overdue… the first step to many.”
Sahir may be an accomplished director, editor, and producer, but his “first and most important job” is that of raising his children and providing for his family. “Making sure I nourish them, not only with monetary things, but also with their minds, their souls, and their hearts.” This past Father’s Day was spent grilling with his family, “the way I prefer it.” How does he balance his many careers with his family? “It’s something you have to constantly work on…There’s never enough time in the day so you have to make time for things that are important.” This balancing act is one that he has had to learn over time, explaining that “having the essential life work balance is very important mentally” in order not to overwork himself and burn-out.
When discussing the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic I was surprised to hear him say that he “got busier when the pandemic came.” “I produced six projects from May to December…ranging from music videos…to a short film on suicide awareness…to a BLM piece… we turned it up a notch and got busy.” Working freelance, he was able to pick up the work that many companies and corporations were unable to do as a result of the pandemic. Los Angeles’ closure and eventual reopening has had little effect on his workload, “I was busy before it and I’m busy now…I see how everyone else is busier now.”
When discussing the future, Sahir made sure to separate his personal and professional goals. “Professionally, just keep making great stuff and getting behind work that we really support, content that means something to us. It’s not just about selling something shiny to someone that doesn’t need it, it’s about providing value, providing resources.” He described one way that he has been able to provide value to others with his internship program, where he allows interns to come and work on sets in order to see if they truly want to pursue a career in filmmaking. “Personally, I’m trying to do more and be better…Increase the good and decrease the bad…I’m going to keep growing and hopefully do the same for my company and the people around me.”