At age ten, Saniyya Sidney seems wiser, smarter, and more successful than most adults. Intuitively drawn to acting from watching TV, the ten-year-old has been in the biz since age five. “I was amazed how people got to express themselves through acting, and I was inspired, I knew I wanted to do it one day.”She fervently expressed an aspiration to act to her parents. Unconditionally supportive, but understandably unsure at first, they thought it might be best to wait. That notion quickly disappeared once Saniyaa began memorizing scenes from TV shows and performing monologues in their living room. It was obvious that their spirited daughter was born to act.
Saniyya remembers driving by the location where the Oscars are held and saying to her father, “Dad, I’m going to be here…. I’m going to go to the Oscars one day,” She recalls, “And the next year, I was there!” Saniyya’s early intuition proved to be correct, upheld by two Oscar nominations for films: Fences and Hidden Figures. “It was a dream come true, I was so proud to be a part of two Oscar nominated films.” But the best thing about the Oscars? “Meeting Justin Timberlake!” Before rattling off an impressive list of other big name stars, like “Martin Scorsese, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Clint Eastwood, Viola Davis, Denzel Washington…” She was overjoyed to meet so many talented actors and actresses at her first Oscars.
Even with all her raw talent, Saniyya continues to strive to be the best actress she can be. Working with incredible actors and actresses allowed Saniyya to fine-tune her art. Industry alum, Viola Davis, offered valuable advice while on the set of Fences. “Viola taught me how to tune into my emotions, if you ever need to cry, think about something that makes you think in life. She cries differently every single time, and I asked her, ‘How do you give such great performances?’ She said it always happens in different ways, but you always have to be artistic, and find your truth.” Saniyya remains a huge fan of Viola Davis, and cherished their time working together.
When asked about the hardest part of working on set, you might think a ten-year-old would say being away from friends or school is difficult. On the contrary, Saniyya responded with only positive comments and revealed her favorite thing about being on set is, “meeting a new family, getting to meet new people, getting to love and be close to one another.” She was certainly in good company on the set of Fences with Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Denderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, and Mykelti Williamson. Denzel Washington also provided Saniyya with some unforgettable wisdom, “Mr. Washington taught all of us to be humble, be yourself, always stay wise. Acting is a gift, and you get to show it to the world. Work hard.” She certainly absorbed Washington’s wisdom, as she maintains a high level integrity and desire to achieve excellence in each role.
“I always bring 100% into my work. I always bring a smile, and try to stay kind, courteous, and nice.”
Her ambitions have paid off, as she just landed her second lead role, a Ridley Scott project, that begins shooting in June. “I’ve been working hard for this. I’ve always prayed, and God has answered my question. I’ve focused on my craft, been honest and true to myself.” She says, “I continue to strive 100%, and when I got my first lead, it was really touching. I was so grateful, especailly getting to work with such awesome artists, it’s a true blessing.” She’s also thrilled with the shooting location, Atlanta, Georgia where her family is, so they can visit her on set.
“I’m excited it’s in Georgia where my family is, and the storyline is awesome, Ridley Scott’s stories are always so artistic, and the way they end always makes you want to see another.”
Although she loves to work she could barely contain her excitement about summer vacation plans, like any normal kid. With a trip to the Grand Cayman Islands and a cruise to Miami, who wouldn’t be excited?! Saniyya emits contagious positive energy, and a strong sense of values, hard work and integrity.
When asked what advice she’d give to a kid her age trying to break into the acting industry, she said, “always be yourself, strive to be the best, work hard and always bring your best to the table, be kind, generous and sweet, give 100% to your character, basically be a ‘Viola Davis.’ Believe in yourself and stay true to who you are.” This advice seems transferrable to the anyone, no matter what age. Everyone can learn a little something from sensational, Saniyya Sidney.