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Now You See Me: Interview with Sherryjenix

Darina Briukhovetska
26 min

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Now You See Me: Interview with Sherryjenix
An in-depth interview with Sherryjenix on her FGC journey, passion for cars, EFight Pass, and much more

Sometimes you encounter a person who's good at so many things that you can't help but wonder, how are they doing it all?! Sherry "Sherrujenix" Nhan is a perfect example: she's a tough fighting games competitor, she's a gearhead who loves everything about cars and racing, she actively helps people who may have trouble getting a US Visa to go there and compete, and does countless more things. In this new episode of "Now You See Me," we talked with Sherry about everything above and much more! Enjoy the interview!

Disclaimer! This is a transcript of the interview, so it was formatted to fit the textual article. Most of the sentences were reworded while retaining 100% of the meaning, tone, and intent.

So, you've been in the FGC for like 14 or 15 years, right? Always killing it in Street Fighter, both local and international. How did you even get into all of this? What's your FGC origin story?

Yeah, it's a bit funny, actually. So, I dove into this whole scene back in 2009. Never really a casual player, you know? I found myself at this arcade in Southern California called Arcade Infinity. Funny enough, I was there for Initial D because, you know, cars and stuff. But, guess what? There was a Street Fighter IV tournament happening right then. A buddy of mine, who was in the tourney, caught up with me, and we got to talking. He told me about this all-girls tourney that was happening. Apparently, he needed someone to coach, and despite me being a total noob at fighting games, he was like, "Come on, it's just for fun." So, I said, "Sure, teach me some Street Fighter."

This was in June 2009, and then Evo rolled around in July. My friends hyped it up, saying it's this massive tournament in Vegas where all the big shots go. I thought, "Why not?" Drove my way to Evo 2009, and man, it was mind-blowing. I didn't know anyone, and the Grand Finals were Justin Wong vs. Daigo - a classic Street Fighter showdown. The whole crowd was screaming, all hyped up. I didn't get why, but I thought, "These players must be crazy good." Daigo ended up beating Justin, but Justin reset the bracket. Front row seats, soaking it all in, meeting tons of people from everywhere - Evo really inspired me to up my game and be part of this community.

I got hooked on Street Fighter IV, hitting the arcade every day after my summer job, barely getting any sleep. Met tons of people on this journey and found out about tournaments happening all over the U.S. But it took me about five years before I started competing internationally. For the first decade, I was all about domestic events.

First time I hopped on a plane for a tourney was Seasons Beatings in 2010 or 2011. I've always loved meeting new people, hearing their stories. At Seasons Beatings, I connected with East Coast players and even got to throw down with some Japanese players in an exhibition. Tournaments back then were more laid-back, you know? More personal. It was addicting - learning, growing, meeting people. I made it a thing to hit up at least one major tournament every month, and luckily, I had sponsors helping out since I was a broke college student. And, well, that's pretty much how it all started. Kept growing, kept traveling, and here I am now.

EVO 2009: Justin Wong [L] vs. Daigo Grand Finals SFIV

Now, let's talk about cars. It blew my mind when I found out you're not just a pro in esports and fighting games, but you're also a legit gearhead, like professionally into cars. And here I am, scared to even drive in the city. For me, you're on a whole other level of pro with that automotive certification. How did you get into cars, and what draws you to that world?

Yeah, it's a bit wild. I don't know what it is. Maybe it goes back to my younger days when I started gaming at around 18-19. I only played a couple as a kid; gaming wasn't a big thing for me back then. Growing up in Philly, I guess my friends influenced me. We were big into basketball and football, and then we'd chill on the sidewalk, dreaming about our ideal cars. If money was no issue, what would you drive, you know? When I moved to California, it felt like Disneyland with endless opportunities. There are so many racetracks here, which is a dream for a car enthusiast.

During the pandemic, I got my hands on a 2020 Honda Civic Type R, one of my childhood dream cars. It wasn't available in the U.S. until this model, so I had to snag it. Despite saying I wouldn't turn it into a full race car, it kinda happened after me and my friends worked on it. I wouldn't call myself a professional driver, but I do hit the track. I specialize in something called Time Attack, not the typical racing where it's all about position. In Time Attack, it's all about who clocks the fastest lap, and that's the winner. I live about two and a half hours from Buttonwillow, a famous track for Time Attack, so I get to practice there a lot. That's where you'll see those cool Instagram videos and shots of me behind the wheel. I've driven on all the California tracks, including the legendary Laguna Seca - yeah, the one you see in all the racing games like Gran Turismo. It was a blast getting to drive there.

That's seriously impressive. Have you already taken your Honda to the racetrack, the new one, right?

Yeah, so back in my college goofball days, I had an older BMW, nothing too fast, but it was a blast on the track. That was my very first track experience. This was before my deep dive into Street Fighter. When I got into the fighting game scene, I kinda stepped back from driving, still hung out and went to events, but not as much driving. Then, the pandemic hit, stopping us from hitting offline tournaments, but going to the track was considered an outdoor activity, so that was a green light. Saved up some cash, got my dream car, and hit the track. Now, I'm trying to juggle both - racing and competing at the same time. It's a funny balance.


So, one more cool thing from our perspective is eFight Pass for those who can't secure a US visa. It helps so many people, even big names like Arslan Ash or Queen Arrow. What motivated you to start this project, and how's it going so far? What keeps you going?

Yeah, it just happened organically. As I mentioned earlier, I love meeting people and learning about their backgrounds. In 2019, I decided to travel everywhere under my sponsorship, which covered international travel. My work was cool with it, so I visited quite a few countries. While in Mexico at Thunderstruck in Monterey, I met a player named ElTigre, known for playing SoCal players online. I played against his Laura and was impressed. I asked why he didn't come to US events, and he mentioned visa issues. It costs $160 USD to apply, and it's a 50/50 chance of approval. If rejected, the fee isn't refundable. Most players can't afford that risk. I thought about helping him and another player in the Dominican Republic, Crossover, who missed Capcom Cup due to a denied visa. I considered covering their fees and realized many players worldwide faced similar situations. So, I created a website to provide visa information. I started a donation drive, held a charity event, and many players applied through the site. Arslan Ash was part of the first wave after winning Evo Japan. Justin Wong, a close friend, also sponsored players for one tournament. We partnered, got flights and accommodations at a reasonable cost, and sponsored six players for Evo. The pandemic delayed things, but during Evo 2023, I assisted around 25 players in trying to attend. Not everyone got approved, but a good number did. Meeting them at Evo, hearing their thanks, and seeing their performance made it all worth it. Queen Arrow was there too, and these experiences motivate me to continue helping people.

Yeah, it's so heartwarming to know that you can positively influence someone's life, and that feeling propels you to keep going.

Absolutely, and you can see the results - they're here at the tournament with me. It's amazing.

That's fantastic. Do you plan to have sponsors to extend this program for more support? What's the next step?

Yeah, I've collaborated with some companies. Smash World Tour, for instance, hired me to assist their players with visas. It's great to partner with various companies. Some have reached out, especially for events with international players. For example, at finals, if there are international players, they've used my services to facilitate their travel. I've also worked with Kinda Fit Kinda Fat, a clothing company that made an eFight Pass T-shirt. All the proceeds from the T-shirt sales went to support the eFight Pass fund for players' visas. So, there are many cool partnerships happening.

Sherry Nhan discusses eFight Pass and bringing FGC pros to the U.S. for Evo 2019 | ESPN Esports

I think there will be more and more partnerships ahead, especially with the revolution in the FGC. Your work with eFight Pass could easily expand to other markets and players, especially with new releases. Bringing people together for tournaments is crucial, and your efforts in that regard are truly appreciated. Thank you for what you do for the community.
Let's shift gears to the topic of mind games. You were part of Mind Games - the Experiment. Can you share more about that experience and how the documentary series impacted you?

Yeah, it was an incredible opportunity, one I didn't expect. I mean, who would think that ASICS, a running shoe company, would collaborate with the fighting game community for a documentary? When they approached me, I was like, "Wow, this sounds great. I'd love to participate." They reached out to several people in the FGC, and the premise was tying physical fitness to mental game performance—mind athletes, or as they call it, mind games. It was an interesting experiment; they put me on a running program and hired a local personal trainer for strength training. It made me think a lot. They checked in often to assess my cognitive skills and how I felt, looking for any improvement. I don't think the documentary was the sole reason for my performance improvement, as the longer you play, the better you naturally become. However, it might have accelerated my progress because that year, from Combo Breaker to CEO to Evo, was my best in Street Fighter V. Even after the documentary, they continued covering my personal training expenses as a gift, without expecting anything in return. They wanted me to succeed, especially with Street Fighter 6 dropping. It's been an incredible experience, opening my mind to different ways of improving as a player. Instead of fully immersing yourself in the game, finding a balance in life can yield better results. It's not just about playing all the time; a balanced approach with proper sleep, diet, and self-care produces better outcomes than pulling an all-nighter for a single tournament. It makes a lot of sense now.

ASICS | 'Mind Games – The Experiment' Full Documentary

So, you basically lived every esports FGC player's dream this year - you got an invite to Riot Games' headquarters and checked out Project L. We've started covering Project L on DashFight, so we’re interested. Is it living up to the hype? Can you spill some details about your experience?

Yeah, let me think what I can and cannot say. I got to play the same version everyone did during the beta. They introduced this new controller system, making it a two vs. two game instead of the usual one vs. one. Tag teaming and all that jazz. Now, here's the deal - I'm not a team game expert. The only team game I ever touched was Street Fighter x Tekken, and let's just say I wasn't great at it. So, going into Project L, I was in training mode like, "How do you even do a basic attack combo?" Learning all these controls was a whole different ballgame compared to Street Fighter.

But hey, I'm a huge League of Legends fan - I've been playing it since the beta. When Riot emailed me about this, I was ready to rearrange my entire life to be there for the beta testing. I knew all the characters they showed us because, you know, League of Legends fan here. Funny enough, most of the FGC folks there, like Justin Wong, SonicFox, and the crew, they're not big on League of Legends or Riot games. They were like, "Who's that character?" and I was like, "I got this, I know who that is." I was stoked about the character reveals and how Riot treated League of Legends. I feel like Project L has insane potential, especially with Riot's backing. It's not just about Project L itself but how it might shake up the whole FGC scene. Who knows what Evo will look like? What will happen to all those tournaments combining different fighting games now that Project L is in the mix? I'm telling you, it's gonna be huge.

Project L: Introducing Duo Play - /dev diary

What's your secret to juggling everything you want - cars, esports, fighting games? How do you manage it all?

I don't sleep much, to be honest. I live a very active lifestyle, and I'm not good at sitting around. I try to get about eight hours of sleep a day, which is optimal, and then I'm off. If I'm not working, I'm out doing something - either gaming at a local, practicing, catching up with people, or doing car meets and track stuff. The cool thing is that everything ties in with each other. My work is related to racing stuff, so work events tap into my passion. When it comes to competing, I don't see it as work; it's something I enjoy doing. I'm blessed to have this life, and as for balancing, I'm still figuring it out. I don't have much time for other stuff. Even my vacations revolve around tournaments. For instance, my recent trip to Puerto Rico was a mix of competition and community time. I maximize my time doing what I love.

What's your idea of a perfect day of relaxation? Does your work find its way into your relaxation day? How do you unwind?

For relaxation, I try to get as much sleep as possible. No alarms, just waking up whenever I want. Interestingly, every aspect of my life ties into my passions. Relaxing, for me, is going out to eat with friends, who are usually from the FGC or racing scene. We end up discussing tournaments, characters, or cars. That's all I need. I'm very extroverted, so I enjoy being out and about with people.

So, we just talked about this with KawaiiFaceMiles, she mentioned you by the way…

Yeah, she's a good friend of mine!

Now You See Me: Interview with KawaiiFaceMiles

… and we concluded that in male-dominated industries, women often experience impostor syndrome more than in industries that aren't as male-dominated. We discussed how she constantly feels assaulted by the thought that she's not good enough, leading her to work harder. Have you found yourself in a similar situation? Do you sometimes think, "It's okay, I'm not good enough," and feel the need to work harder to prove yourself in this industry, not just because you enjoy it?

Funny you bring that up; it came up during the documentary filming. They asked me about my biggest hurdle as a competitor with ASICS. Miles hit the nail on the head. I mentioned impostor syndrome. Logically, we know we're great competitors, deserving of our success. But as natural competitors, we always tell ourselves we're not good enough, even when winning. "Did I win enough? I only won one tournament, not two." You look at players like Tokido and Punk, who seem to effortlessly win, and you think you'll never be the best unless you're at that level. It's not necessarily true, but in the moment, you feel it. Impostor syndrome is real - a self-imposed pressure from being natural competitors. What doesn't help is the online community often putting a negative spin on our achievements. For example, I got 33rd in Puerto Rico, and to me, that's not good at all. I've done better before, so why should I even congratulate myself? I have to remind myself that it's a new game, only out for five months. Learning is a process, and my timeline may not match others. Impostor syndrome is tough; it's something many competitors deal with. With us, there's extra pressure as women in the fighting game community or esports in general - we're the minority. We hear voices saying, "Being a woman gets you this because you're just a woman." It's a real thing.

What unique challenges did you face as a woman in the FGC? How did you overcome them?

There are numerous challenges, especially outside of competing, especially when you become an ambassador and gain online recognition. With the spotlight on you, every action and word gets misconstrued and twisted. While online harassment isn't exclusive to women, we do face a different type. For instance, the bar is set so low for women as competitors that if a guy does a combo, no one blinks, but if a woman does the same, there's excessive praise. It's frustrating; we have accomplished women like Kayane winning, yet the low expectations persist. In Street Fighter V, I had an experience at Combo Breaker. Playing casuals, my opponent, unaware of who I was (which is fine), made a comment that highlighted the issue. As he got beaten, he laughed hysterically, saying, "This girl actually knows how to play the game." It's disheartening that the standard for women is so low that someone finds it mind-blowing when a woman knows how to play a video game.

And I think that's just one experience. I don't believe this happens often to men. If a man was beating him, he'd likely say, "Oh, what's your name? You're pretty good." It wouldn't be a surprise to him that he was losing. So, that's just one of the experiences. Another one outside of competing is something I made a video about a couple of years ago. There's this guy I call a stalker, and technically, he is one. He was emailing me almost every day, even though I never responded. He was talking as if I was engaging with him. He started showing up at all these tournaments. I couldn't exactly say, "Hey, don't let this guy into a tournament," so I just avoided him at events. But it got to a point where I was with my friends who weren't part of the fighting game community; they were my college friends. We went to Universal Studios, and this guy found me in line. It was then that I realized he had followed me throughout the entire park the whole day. That's when things got serious, and the police got involved. I started messaging tournament organizers, saying, "Hey, this guy doesn't make me feel safe. He goes to your tournaments, and it's escalated to the point where he's also following me outside of tournaments, and that's not okay." So, I had to release a YouTube video about this guy, and eventually, he got banned from tournaments. Funny enough, to this day, after that incident, I finally answered one of his emails, telling him the police had been notified, and tournament organizers were aware. I asked him to stop contacting me, and he actually did cut off contact. Until maybe last year, when he started emailing me again. It's unfortunate, but crazy fans, as they say, is something that women also have to deal with.

Yeah, I don't think men have a lot of crazy fans like stalkers who go to tournaments. So, if you could change one thing in the FGC, what would it be, and why do you think it's important?

Ah, hmm. I don't know what I would change because I feel like the FGC is moving in a pretty positive direction, and I love to see its growth. However, there are things I would love to change about this season, specifically in Street Fighter. I think what created a unique fighting game community and made us special was the abundance of offline grassroots events organized by locals from Texas to Chicago to New Jersey. I feel like the current direction in the community has stripped away the blessings these tournament organizers provided, like a venue and a place to meet and compete offline. There are so many stories and so much history in the fighting game community that I'd hate to see that aspect diminish.

And that was all created because we would fly, meet up with each other, have these in-person interactions, and stay up till seven in the morning playing games until the sun comes out, sharing all these moments. Now, because the net code is so good, people are just playing online, and I feel like we're losing that. Going to First Attack this past weekend in Puerto Rico, seeing players I haven't seen, being able to hug them, say, "Hey, let's play some sets," and talk smack while playing—that's lost when you play online. It's a major change happening within the fighting game community that I am highly opposed to. I'd rather find a balance between online and offline events because I do see the benefits of online events. Not everybody has the means to travel and compete all the time.

But completely removing, like 80% of our offline events, I think is harmful to what built the foundations of the fighting game community. So, if I were to change things, I would bring back those tournaments and provide developer support to these events because that's what made them prosper in the first place. These people have worked hard for so long, and these tournaments have 10 years plus of being the go-to tournament in their area. Losing the recognition and support from the developers is a big blow, like saying, "Oh, you've been supporting us? Well, whatever. We don't care. Let's just focus on online." I find that really sad. The essence of my passion for esports spawned from all these offline interactions and meeting players from all over the world. So, I would love to bring back more offline events.

Okay, and the final question: imagine you have three Oscars in the FGC, and you need to give them to the top three female representatives. Who would you choose?

Oh, that's great. Okay. Kayane, first and foremost, because I think she is the pioneer, trailblazing for women. She had her medals at 13 years old, holds Guinness World Records, and has been a very positive example. She's always been composed, knows how to handle herself, and has navigated various situations, similar to me. She's come out on top and is doing well for herself. That's always great to see.

The other one is Cuddle Core. I think that's a very common choice, obviously, because she's seen so much success in the past couple of years. This is all a result of her hard work for decades, playing for so long. She's another positive light, always exuding positive energy. It shows that women can be successful in video games in a male-dominated realm. Both her and Kayane did the same thing. We are the minority, so seeing their success as minorities is inspirational, and how they carry themselves is commendable. I envy them; I would love to be like them and do the same in Street Fighter, I'd say.

Like I said, we are the minority. So just to see their success as minorities is inspirational, and how they carry themselves is very admirable. I envy them; I would love to be like them. I'd love to achieve what they've done in Street Fighter.

And for the third one, it's kind of up in the air. There are so many women who have done a lot for the community outside of being competitors, like third-grade tournament organizers who get things done. I think women are just really good at organizing and getting everything in place. So, as far as tournament organizers go, there are many behind the scenes doing a lot of work. I'll say, for my third choice, Marine. She's also in the Street Fighter community. She started out as a competitor in Street Fighter V, and I've seen her grow into becoming a strong competitor. Now, she's on the commentary side of things, and I see how hard she works. I have a personal relationship with her; she's great. Again, these three women are just so positive and happy. It's funny because even though they're so happy, they've gone through all the stuff that I've gone through. Just to see them in such a happy, positive state, keep on moving, keep on growing, is inspirational. They've stuck to what they want to do, been strong, and gone through it all.

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