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Vance creates short film

Theressa Velazquez
Professor Sherie Vance stands in her office surrounded by posters of films and past events.

Dallas College professor Sherie Vance hit rock bottom at the age of 42. By 2005, Vance had not completed her college education, her mother had died a few years back, all her children had left home and she was divorced.

Now, Vance has a masters in fine arts and is in her seventh-year teaching at Dallas College North Lake Campus. 

In the spring of 2023, Vance’s short film “Cleaning” was accepted in the Bare Bones International Film Festival. She won third place in the short film category and received the Louis Webber Legacy Award, an award given to outstanding female directors. 

As a film student, Vance worked on numerous short films and documentaries but “Cleaning” marks her debut as an independent filmmaker. 

Filmmaker Susan Bohl was the producer for “Cleaning.” She has over 15 years of experience in film, commercials and television productions. Bohl said: “Sharie’s gift of fantastic storytelling has only just begun to surface with ‘Cleaning.’ We will be seeing a lot more of Sharie and her future projects, of that I am certain.” 

The triumph to Vance’s accomplishments did not come so easy. 42-year-old Vance had to dwell deeply about her identity, change her beliefs imposed by her blue-collar and middle-class family, and not allow her anxiety to weigh her down. 

“At this point in my life I was like, ‘what do I really want to do?’ and it was scary as hell for me to go to school for something creative,” Vance said, in her office filled with movie posters, wearing a black blouse that revealed the black ink permanently marked on both arms.

Early Days

Vance was born on the cusp between Generation X and the baby boomer generation. Her family owned a truck stop in Lancaster, Texas, located across a green field from where her childhood home was. “I was left to roam the creeks and go swimming by myself as a very young kid,” Vance said.

Growing up Vance enjoyed drawing, writing, sculping, making dioramas out of everyday objects and flipping through the pages of her favorite magazine, National Geographic. 

At age 15, Vance became pregnant with her first child.

“I basically had to put aside anything that I wanted to do so I could take care of my kids,” Vance said. “It wasn’t their fault that I didn’t get my education before they were born, and they deserved my full attention.” 

Vance had to work to help raise her four kids so going to school was practically impossible. 

She attempted to take a few classes in her late 20s but during that chapter in her life even one class was too much to manage with a partner, children and a job. 

The wildlife and nature photography featured in National Geographic fostered Vance interest in photography and painting at the age of 28. She took a photography course to learn how to compose images because she wanted to take pictures of things she wanted to paint. 

Vance said all her pictures sucked, but that did not discourage her, she practiced and practiced more. “I got pretty good at it,” Vance said with a smile that shinned brighter than the jewel pierced on her right nostril. 

“You can’t just go ‘Oh I’m not any good at it’ and stop,’” she said. “If you really want to do it, you have got to do it, and you’re going to suck so, you got to keep doing it, because you are only going to get better.” 

Turning Point

Her children eventually departed to build a life of their own. In in the wake of her divorce, Vance received unexpected news at a time when she was deeply struggling to find a new purpose. 

Vance was left with an inheritance of $10,000 from a long-lost uncle in 2005.

“Sounds like a monopoly game,” Vance said, “but I got this inheritance, so I was like, ‘What am I going to do with this money?’”

After paying off her car debt, Vance pondered what do with the surplus of money and time. Would she return to school to become a graphic designer? Or would Vance delve into the medical profession because her deceased mother had always dreamed of her becoming a doctor? Neither option felt right to her. 

Before choosing a major and returning to school, Vance said she had to dismiss the engraved thoughts that going to school for a creative degree was impractical and dumb. She had been raised by her working-class family to value a practical school education that would earn her a job that paid the bills. 

“This was an extremely creative but also volatile moment in time for me,” Vance said about her educational expedition. “I was embarking on this huge journey, intellectual journey, creative journey and it was very scary … I had a storm of ideas and things that I could do, [but] I wasn’t quite sure if I could actually make it happen.”

A new world of possibilities came about when Vance finally decided to bravely step toward the path of returning to school for something that felt congruent to who she was. Although she was met with challenges, Vance found the strength within herself to overcome them.  

“If you’re being untrue to who you are as a person, it’s almost as if you subconsciously throw up barriers and you’re constantly running into brick walls,” Vance said. “Nothing seems to be working … because maybe that’s not where you should be going.”

    School Education

Vance decided to register for classes in the video technology program at NLC because she wanted to make music videos and short films. Vance became a student of Andy Childs, retired NLC professor and coordinator of the video technology program.

Childs said Vance was a non-traditional student with a background in art and writing, who was determined and eager to learn. “I believe she was looking for something different in her life and wanted to find a creative way to express herself,” Childs said. “All of which worked out very well for her.”

Filmmaking is a freelance profession, so due to Vance’s upbringing and age, she yearned for a secure profession that would pay for the food on her table but would also feed her creative soul.

Vance earned her associate degree at Dallas College, formally known as North Lake College as part of Dallas County Community College District. Afterwards, Vance attended the University of Texas at Arlington and completed her bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies. Then Vance went to the University of North Texas where she completed the courses for her masters in fine arts degree in 2015. 


In 2015, while in graduate school, Vance received a call from Childs offering her a position as an adjunct instructor to teach multiple production classes at NLC. He said Vance would be a powerful mentor and resource for students in the video technology program. 

Childs said: “I was familiar with her work ethic, production skills and dedication. She was a really hard worker and got along well with people. With a masters degree and work experience, I felt she was more than qualified for the job.” 

Vance was then offered a full-time position after one year of teaching, a very rare occurrence.

 Filmmaking Debut

In 2020, Vance’s father died. “He had what I call a good death,” Vance said. “He was home surrounded by his loved ones, and I was holding his hand when he passed away.”

Vance had written a script in graduate school for a short film titled “Noise.”  It was inspired by her complicated relationship with her father. It was a dramatic story with an ending with a first-degree murder, but the ending to “Noise” never felt right so the film never came into existence. 

As she mourned the death of her father, Vance was inspired to grab story elements of “Noise” and write “Cleaning.” Vance said it was cathartic to write about the traumatic event.

 “Cleaning” is about the sufferings in life that nobody talks about. It follows the story of Lisa who is the caregiver for her elderly father. The film explores the themes of family dynamics, communication barriers and the emotional challenges of caregiving. 

When Bohl read the script, she knew “Cleaning” had to be made into a film. “Sharie’s script included all of the key elements of great storytelling: real people, real dialogue, real situations,” Bohl said. “We all believed in Sharie, and in this story and wanted it to come to fruition.”

The bitter ending of Vance’s era as a daughter became the sweet beginning of her filmmaking vocation. The almost 12-minute film was shot within a 12-hour workday.

Vance said they accidentally left out a shot during production, which made her feel very angsty, but she couldn’t allow that missing footage to destroy her opportunity in creating this film. Vance had to make the story work during post-production. “I couldn’t just let it die on the vine,” she said. 

“Cleaning” was a USA Film Festival Finalist and was part of the official selection for the Burbank International Film Festival.

Present Days 

“Over the years, Sharie has grown more confident and secure in not only her teaching abilities, but she has blossomed into an incredibly creative and influential figure in the North Texas area, women in film scene,” Childs said.

Vance’s professional plans are to continue promoting “Cleaning,” and finish the three scripts she has in the works and to get one made before 2025. 

In the meantime, her personal goal is to ski on a difficult trail. Skiing down a mountain brings joy to Vance’s heart as much as getting hugs from her grandbabies or having a student tell her that she has inspired them.

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Theressa Velazquez, Editor-in-Chief

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