The Universe(s) of Us

: Narrative Feature
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Development


When New Yorkers Sophie and Jill/Daniel crash into one another simultaneously (but separately), a multiverse love story emerges that changes each of them forever.


Still struggling after a terrible breakup years ago, visual artist Sophie disappears into a world of animated fantasy; but when a failed suicide attempt puts two unlikely lovers in her path, the world around her splits into parallel tracks where love, identity, and revolution are all up for grabs.


It was weeks before Covid hit the U.S. We were visiting Auntie Sandra in Bermuda when I learned about my great-great-grandmother Ada Appleby Virtue, the half Black woman who had married the white tall-ship captain.**

Bermuda abolished slavery in 1834, 51 years before Union troops set the last people free in Texas, and 133 years before Loving vs. Virginia made interracial marriage legal in my home state. Still, it was Sandra’s Uncle Roy who was told by his uncle, Roy Virtue, son of Ada, to make sure and put a W (for white) instead of a C (for Colored) on the form when he’d traveled to Canada in the 1960’s. It made things easier, safer, if one could pass. So we did. So much so, that by the time I was born in 1977, my immediate family knew nothing of Ada. I wonder now if it was her voice in my ear when Mary and I first wrote of Jill.

Shame is a complex shared family (and societal) emotion that encourages us to hide away the truest, most worthy of light, parts of ourselves. I know that has been true for me.

'The Universe(s) of Us' (former tiltle 'Born That Way') is a film about identity and judgment. I didn’t believe I was meant (or even wanted) to be the one to tell it. As a straight white cis gender identifying woman, I didn’t think I sat in the right identity to tell this story. So I enlisted four other directors over the years. Each time, it bewilderingly came back to me, until I finally owned it as mine.

Story in 'The Universe(s) of Us' is told by fracturing traditional narrative, entertaining two (of perhaps any number of) potential realities. The centering/shifting of the Subject (white female) of the narrative discovering attraction to both male and female at the beginning and moving into Black male non-binary and mixed-race female bisexual brings us to an emotionally satisfying understanding of love for self and others by the story's end.

The film is a late-bloomer coming-of-age story. It will feel childish and steeped in fantasy before emerging by the end to gaze at its own growth in reality. We are in a place in history where it's important to sit in, to own, our identities. Yet, on the other side of those separate pieces is a world where we might emerge: one.


**In fact checking our story with Aunt Sandra, she revealed that recently she’d learned that Captain Virtue, the famed tall-ship captain married to Ada, was also half black! All these years the family had believed he was white. Did he also ‘pass?’ I have many questions. Suffice to say, I am learning of my own family’s complicity in denying our past. I marvel that somehow Jill whispered to be born, to tell her story, so that perhaps in time, I will also figure out how to tell the story of my own family lineage. For now, 'The Universe(s) of Us' begs to be born.


Michal Sinnott - Director/Co-Writer

Michal Sinnott is an award-winning, classically trained storyteller. Her first narrative feature, 'Unpacking,’ as a co/writer-director-producer-actor is currently on the festival circuit, where it’s screened at 21 festivals across the globe, (including Cinequest) and won 15 awards, (including Best of the Fest, Best Ensemble, and Audience Choice). She’s appeared in dozens of plays and over fifty principal/starring roles for radio, television and film with companies/institutions as diverse as ABC, Sundance and The Whitney Museum of American Art. She’s best known as the performance capture artist for Tracey De Santa, one of the main characters in the billion dollar video game, Grand Theft Auto V. 

Kerry Schneider - Co-Producer
Kerry Schneider is currently the Director of Partnership Activation and Virtual Event Producer for Net Results Marketing in Washington, DC. Prior to her current position, Schneider led sponsorship sales and servicing for more than two years at Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ). As Head of Corporate Partnerships, she secured and managed over $1.5 million in annual cash and in-kind sponsorships for FONZ’s signature fundraising events and select education and membership programming. Before joining FONZ, she served as Chief of Staff for Vemo Education, a Virginia- based education finance start-up. Schneider also spent 12 years as part of the management team at World Team Tennis (WTT), the co-ed professional tennis league founded by Billie Jean King. Schneider served in various capacities throughout her tenure at WTT, including General Manager of the Austin Aces, General Manager of the Orange County Breakers, and led sponsor servicing and activation of national and regional sponsorships for the WTT League office for 10 years. A graduate of Loyola College in Maryland, Schneider holds a B.B.A. in Marketing from the institution where she was also a member of the tennis team. 'The Universe(s) of Us' is her first feature.

Nwaka Onwusa - Producer
Nwaka Onwusa, Vice President of Curatorial Affairs & Chief Curator at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is a lover of music and a contemporary bohemian with an old soul. Her knowledge and appreciation of music and art span a vast globe of cultures and histories. Hailing from Southern California, Nwaka began her curatorial career at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE. There she specialized in exhibition development researching, developing and curating more than 25 unique and memorial exhibits. As curator at the GRAMMY Museum, some of Nwaka’s exhibits and programs included: Jim Marshall’s 1967; Legends of Motown; All Eyez on Me: The Writings of Tupac Shakur; John Lee Hooker: King of The Boogie; Monterey Pop International Music Festival: Music, Love and Flowers, 1967; The Taylor Swift Experience; Jenni Rivera: La Gran Señora; Ringo: Peace and Love, and Bruce W. Talamon: Soul, R&B, And Funk Photographs 1972-1982: A Love Letter to the Music. Prior to becoming a curator, Nwaka worked in educational programs committed to inspiring students to explore the arts and museum studies. Nwaka earned a Bachelors in Sociology at UC Riverside and a Masters of Leadership at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. In 2012, she was honored as a Museum Rising Star by the Museum of African American Art and in April 2018 was selected by American Express to participate in their Women in Music initiative identifying the industry’s rising leaders and was named one of Cleveland’s Most Interesting People of 2020.

Emma Berdie Donson - Producer
Emma Berdie Donson grew up in Ossining, NY and graduated with a BFA in Acting (High Honors) from the University of Michigan. She has produced the plays Flu Season and Hamlet (as an immersive, interactive experience in a tea shop) in Los Angeles as well as 2 showcases for the Michael Laskin Acting Studio. She produced the feature Shot in the Dark which is now represented by Raven Banner Entertainment for distribution. She also produced a charity concert featuring Betsy Randle for End The Backlog in early 2020. She is an Artist in Residence with the Jewish Women’s Theatre and has toured the US with them. She's enjoying getting to know her new city of Austin, TX and loves spending sunny days outside with her Fox Terrier, Winnie, and making jewelry by hand ( She's currently a Partner Success Associate at AppSumo, a daily deals website for digitally distributed goods.

Mary M. Parr - Co-writer
Mary has spent much of the last decade working to help others heal through her art, writing, healing practice, & bread baking. Much of it began with the creation of 'The Universe(s) of Us,' the feature she co-wrote with her best friend Michal Sinnott during her first cross country move west after college. She and Michal met studying drama together at Catholic University. In addition to writing a feature that emphasizes the need for social justice & spark towards hope for humanity, Mary extended her healing mission into practicing holistic medicine. In 2015 she became a Physician of Chinese Medicine, graduating magna cum laude & as valedictorian of her cohort. She’s in private practice in Hopewell, NJ. While completing her graduate studies degree, she found another way to excite her community towards a more holistic lifestyle by starting her company, Sourland Bread. She teaches dough to loaf bread classes to kids & adults via zoom worldwide.

Rob Travalino - Co-executive Producer
Rob brings two decades of experience in producing, strategizing, story-forming, managing, writing & marketing entertainment & gaming properties, for clients like DreamWorks, Disney, LucasFilm, Warner Brothers, Sega, Coca-Cola, and Hasbro. Rob is writer & producer on the upcoming feature ON THE WINGS OF THE PHOENIX, the true story of Dr Feng Shan Ho (China’s Oskar Schindler), a man who in pre-war Vienna, saved thousands of Jews from the coming Holocaust. Chow Yun Fat has committed to the project which is out for packaging. Rob just finished his manuscript THE SHOWMAN, a look into the life and musings of Muhammad Ali as told by one of his closest confidants. The book is repped by NY lit agent Linda Langton and will be developed for TV next year. Earlier in his career, Rob was a key development force behind helping G.I. JOE & TRANSFORMERS become feature film franchises for Hasbro. Rob worked as story consultant on HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON for DreamWorks & has done the same for the STAR WARS, BATMAN and HARRY POTTER franchises. In the kids tv space, Rob co-created & story edited DRAGON BOOSTER for Disney & co-created "GROWING UP CREEPIE" for Discovery Kids. Winner of the EMMY, GEMINI & TELLY AWARDS, Rob has written & produced nearly 50 half-hours of tv, co-authored several YA novels & created gaming & publishing programs for many of the world’s biggest brands. Rob has produced & directed over 200 TV commercials & is a member of the DGA.

Jordan Bruner - Animation Director / Animator
An ADC Young Gun winner and Emmy Award nominee, animation director Jordan Bruner explores human and animal experiences in colorful fantasy worlds. She has designed, animated and directed rich and beautiful music videos for bands like Hem and Paramore, commercials for Paul McCartney, Yakult, Travelbird, and JetBlue and mythical independent films and animation for long documentaries like WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. She’s created Clio award winning illustration and worked as an animation director for clients such as the NYTimes, Google, Eve Ensler, Amazon, and This American Life. Her films have shown at festivals worldwide including Pictoplasma and the LA Film Festival, and her illustration work has been honored by the Society of Illustrators and American Illustration. Jordan enjoys traveling, cooking and hangin’ with her partner Zack and cat Pablo. Jordan’s based in Brooklyn, NY and Richmond, VA.


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The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2024
2nd Rounder Sundance Screenwriter's Lab
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Quarter Finalist Gotham International Screenwriting Competition


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