Celebrating a Career Trajectory Filled with Artistic Purpose, VARNEL by Los Angeles Filmmaker Sam Hicks – Available Now

Niche genre film distributor Maverick Entertainment has announced the release of “Varnel,” the coming-of-age story of a young New Yorker who suddenly quits his nine-to-five job to pursue acting full-time. But first, he must pick up the pieces of his personal life.

Written/co-directed by Jason Gray and co-directed/produced by Sam Hicks, the film follows millennial Varnel Hill (played Stephen Cofield, Jr.) after he comes to terms with his fear, both practical and psychological, of his new lifestyle as an actor. At his career crossroads, Varnel must also manage his feelings for his ex-girlfriend, the captivating and playfully aloof Sydney Porter (played by Ebonee Davis). Thankfully, Varnel’s best friend, Bilal Graham (played by Freddie B), is there to support the protagonist as a carefree and sincere voice of reason. Bilal, who is the driving force behind the film’s humor, keeps Varnel honest about his professional and romantic aspirations by offering realistic advice wrapped in wit, silliness, and brother-like levels of care.

Meanwhile, Sydney’s best friend Natalie James (played by Cherase McDaniel) echoes Billal’s straight-shooter manner, providing a similar dose of honesty, sarcasm, and charm as she helps Varnel’s love interest sort through her feelings. 

Varnel” is filled with popular African-American comedic nuances that resonate with the 18-to-34-year-old audience. The main character’s leap of faith to pursue his art instead of a full-time, traditional desk job is a universal dream that speaks to millions of people.

With regards to Varnel’s pursuit of a creative career, lead actor Stephen Cofield Jr. said, “I think Varnel was at a point in his life where he got stuck and he didn’t know how he should move. But once his friends took their own leap of faith and did whatever it was that they wanted to do, he almost understood, this is a thing, this is feasible. If they can do it, why not me?”

It’s the second film by producer and cinematographer Sam Hicks, whose 2018 debut “Outgrown” takes place in the golden age of hip-hop and was directed by Huriyyah Muhammad, a 2020 Sundance Producer’s Award Recipient. In the film, two passionate and clever kids go on a journey to their dream concert in New York City. “Outgrown” is now streaming exclusively on the UP Faith & Family network.

“As a producer of ‘Varnel,’ finding the right home for the film was our top priority,” said Hicks,“Our partner, Maverick Entertainment, has a track record of success distributing African-American niche feature-length films, so the company was a natural fit. We’re thrilled to partner with Maverick to showcase our story to the world.” 

BIO – Sam Hicks:

Formerly at Cheddar, a business news network, Hicks served as a cinematographer for interviews and packages featuring CEOs of Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft and Delta. Simultaneously, Hicks independently produced and filmed two films. The first award-winning film ‘Outgrown‘ is about two kids following their dreams; it is now streaming on  UP Faith & Family. The second film Hicks produced, co-directed, and served as Director of Photographer on is titled ‘Varnel.’ ‘Varnel’ follows the story of a fed up employee who’s on a quest to leave his corporate job in order to follow his dreams.

Varnel has secured distribution through Maverick Entertainment Group and was released August 25th (available now).


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Varnel explores the black male experience from the perspective of Varnel Hill who is an aspiring actor working in corporate America trying to get out to pursue his dream as an actor. Varnel is in his early 30’s and works as a mail clerk at a marketing firm. Varnel spends most of his days daydreaming about quitting his job, trying to get his ex-Sydney back (and dating), and hanging out with his best friends Tommy and Bilal. Watch it for FREE on Youtube here.