Celebrating Black History

Honoring Contemporary Black Women


Ava Duvernae

Ava M. DuVernay 

Ava Marie DuVernay (born August 24, 1972) is an American director, screenwriter and film distributor. At the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, DuVernay won the Best Director Prize for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere, becoming the first African-American woman to win the award. For her work in Selma, DuVernay is the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award. With Selma, she is also the first black female director to have a film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, though did not receive a nomination for best director.

DuVernay was born in Long Beach, California, to mother Darlene Maye (née Sexton), who was born and raised in Compton, California, was a human resources executive at a hospital and later became a preschool director, and father Joseph DuVernay, Jr.

DuVernay attended Saint Joseph High School, where she graduated in 1990. Her parents and four younger siblings moved to Montgomery right after she finished high school. She graduated with a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1995, where she double-majored in English and African American studies.



Julia Dash

Julie Dash 

Julie Dash (born October 22, 1952) is an American filmmaker, author and member of the L.A. Rebellion. Her Daughters of the Dust (1992) was the first full-length film by an African-American woman with general theatrical release in the United States. Dash is the film’s producer, screenwriter and director. In 2004, Daughters of the Dust was included in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

One of a generation of African and African-American filmmakers from the UCLA Film School who have created an alternative to Hollywood films, Dash has also made numerous music videos and television movies, the latter including Funny Valentines (1999), Incognito (1999), Love Song (2000), and The Rosa Parks Story (2002). Her Brothers of the Borderland (2004) was commissioned by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Dash’s book Daughters of the Dust: A Novel (1997) is a sequel to the film, set 20 years later in Harlem and the Sea Islands.

Dash began her study of film in 1969 at the Studio Museum of Harlem. As an undergraduate, she studied psychology until accepted into the film school at the Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts at CCNY. In 1974, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree. As a student, Dash wrote the script for a documentary for the New York Urban Coalition, entitled Working Models of Success.

After graduation, she moved to Los Angeles for graduate studies, attending the Center for Advanced Film Studies at the American Film Institute (AFI). There she studied under filmmakers including Jan Kadar, William Friedkin, and Slavko Vorkapich. She attended graduate school at the UCLA Film School, one of a new generation of African and African-American filmmakers who became known as the L.A. Rebellion.




35th Annual People's Choice Awards - Backstage

Gina Prince-Bythewood (born Gina Maria Prince; June 10, 1969) is an American film director and screenwriter.  She is known for directing the films Disappearing Acts, Love & Basketball, and more recently Beyond The Lights.

In 1987, Prince-Bythewood graduated from Pacific Grove High School.  She attended UCLA’s film school, where she also ran competitive track. At UCLA, she received the Gene Reynolds Scholarship for Directing and the Ray Stark Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduates. She graduated in 1991.

Prince-Bythewood is married to film director and writer Reggie Rock Bythewood, who she met on the writing staff of A Different World. They have two sons, Cassius and Toussaint, and live in Southern California.

On life as a transracial adoptee: “I was raised by a great couple—mother was El Salvadorian and German, father was white. They’ve been great parents, and incredibly supportive. Growing up was tough, because we grew up in an all-white area, and not having any sort of reflected image really wrecked my self-esteem. As much love as they gave me, it’s tough standing out that much. Part of the issue was hair. They used a comb, and not a pick—so combing my hair was a hellish experience, and my hair looked crazy! (laughs) I had three ponytails—two on the side, and one on the top. I grew up hating my curls. I wanted straight hair like my sisters, who were both white.”  The opening scene of Beyond The Lights, set in a salon, showed this struggle.

Along with friends Mara Brock Akil, Sara Finney Johnson and Felicia D. Henderson, Prince-Bythewood endows The Four Sisters Scholarship.


To check out a few more African American (Female) Directors Click Here.

I hope you’re enjoying this Black History Month line up.

Feel free to comment and share. If you have any suggestions, let me know!


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