Award-winning director, producer, photographer, videographer
Ronald Reagan High School, Class of 2011
Samer Ghani really didn’t understand the impact of MPS until graduating from Ronald Reagan High School. Ghani credits some of his earliest dreams of making it as a creative to two of his teachers. They each shaped his perspective for a better future for himself. Ghani says MPS taught him the importance of pushing through, even with a lack of support and resources in his life. “My teachers at Reagan High School had a resounding impact on how my actions impact the world around me. From my English classes to my art classes, I not only learned the history of these subjects, but I learned how they continue to impact our world today, and that stuck with me all through my time at UW-Milwaukee.”
Around 2013, Ghani’s photography was published on On Milwaukee, a local news website, and that moment brought him validation that he was the photographer he always knew he was. Six years later, he began to pay his way into shows to capture pictures. He didn’t charge for his services because he was just trying to get his name in the scene.
Around 2018, Ghani began to receive requests to take pictures and eventually was paid for his services. Now, Ghani’s day usually starts around 8 A.M. with prep work and replying to clients and businesses. Around 11 A.M., he moves on to his photoshoots, either in his shared studio or around the city. His nights usually end with editing work and networking with other artists.
“I am currently a business owner of my own multi-media company in Milwaukee, working with partners such as Visit Milwaukee, Milwaukee Downtown, Jigsaw, Hanson-Dodge, Google Arts and Culture, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and many more. My time at MPS directly affected my path as a working, full-time artist. From winning awards to helping represent our city, it all leads back to my time in Milwaukee Public Schools,” he revealed. “MPS helped me to realize that my dreams are never too large and that anything is possible.”
In this social media age, Ghani feels it’s important to speak and have face-to-face interactions because that encourages togetherness. “There’s not enough honest connections in the city,” said Ghani. “We have to connect to pave the way for artists younger than us. I shake a lot of hands,” he said. “I make it a point to humanize every experience I have with people.”
Ghani advises not to worry about getting paid because your focus should be on making art with integrity and doing work that you enjoy. He also said it’s important to be honest about where you are in your artistic career. “It’s better to draw a line in the sand than to let others run all over you.”
According to Ghani, there’s so much value in MPS, from the teachers to the students who walk across the stage every year. “MPS breaks walls of segregation and education. We can’t forget the power within MPS despite all the negative comments spewed at the schools and students.” Even with his name growing every day in the city, Ghani said this is just the beginning! “I’m trying my best to leave a positive footprint before I leave this earth.”
“My advice to current students: School is worth your time! The value of meeting other students in your lane, connecting with teachers and professors, making connections and networking, learning about yourself—that’s the true value of education. Those skills you develop in your early years will lead you through the rest of your life. As a first generation American, growing up in a single mother household, I am proud to look back at my time in MPS—the environment totally shaped me into the working artist that I am today. I owe so much to the educators who taught me about the world.”
Ghani gives back to his community by documenting local artists for free. “I value this time when I can give back to the community and I look forward to continue down this path no matter where my artistic endeavors take me. If I could say anything to my fellow alumni from Reagan or the entire MPS community, it would be: Keep changing Milwaukee!”
Ghani’s future goals include creating and promoting a vibrant and dynamic environment for all artists to flourish in Milwaukee. “I was inspired to inspire myself first, then those around me, and now, hopefully, our city.”
To see Ghani’s work, visit his website