Directing Queen Sugar Episode 310



My directorial debut for episodic television is for the show Queen Sugar. Titled Here Beside the River, the episode will air today, Wednesday, August 1, 2018, 10:o00 p.m. EST.   I’m excited. Very excited — and not just for personal reasons.

Queen Sugar Ep 310 — Photo Credit: Skip Bolen / @2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar is historic. Ava not only brought the novel of the same name to life on television, but  created a platform for women directors. So now, executives can’t say that there aren’t any women directors or women directors of color or Black women directors, which is what they have been saying for a very too long . Sometimes they throw in the word “qualified” to help make their case.  Busted!  It’s not the case and it never has been.

The Queen Sugar sisterhood is an amazing group of talented women including long time friends Julie Dash and Neema Barnette and now new friends.

But Ava didn’t just bring women filmmakers together. She changed the game at the union level.  More about this at another time.  For now.  I’m celebrating and thanking everyone who has made Queen Sugar possible — with a very special toast to Ava.

with DP Antonio Calvache, Dawn -Lyen Gardner (Charley Bordelon), and writer Chloé Hung

with Queen Sugar directors Nijla Mu’min and Rachel Raimist

with Tina Lifford (Aunt Vi)

with Nana-Kofi Siriboe (Ralph Angel)

with DeMane Davis (Producer/Director)

with Nicholas Ashe (Micah), Nikko Austen Smith (Asha), Myles Truit (Ant), Stevonte Hart (KJ) and Myron Parker Wright (Malik)

Flaherty Seminar 1987: At The Table


Featured in this 1989 photo taken at Flaherty are human rights activist Bia Vieira, filmmaker Zeinabu irene Davis, and writer, filmmaker, activist Toni Cade Bambara. Photo by Bia Viera published on the Feminist Wire


The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar is the longest continuously running film event in the U.S. It’s named after Robert Flaherty who is considered to be the father of documentary filmmaking.  Today, over a hundred filmmakers, curators, artists, scholars, and film enthusiasts attend to celebrate and debate the world of the moving image.

Recently, Patricia Zimmermann, scholar and author of the book The Flaherty:Decades in the Cause of Independent Cinema with Scott MacDonald, invited me to write a reflection piece on my 1989 Flaherty experience.  The event was historic. It was the first time that African American and African filmmakers were invited.  Here’s some of what I was thinking about my work and what was being debated by Black filmmakers then

ABFF: Black Women and Experimental Storytelling


ABFF: Black Women and Experimental Storytelling

The American Black Film Festival, more commonly known as ABFF, bills itself as America’s largest gathering of Black Film & Television enthusiasts. That’s exactly what it is and I was glad to be highlighted as a 2018 Kathy Collins Innovator at this year’s event and speak on the panel Black Women and Experimental Storytelling: Emerging Technologies and Innovation in Cinema presented by Facebook.

Michele Prettyman Beverly, Ayo, Taura Musgrove, multimedia filmmaker (Freedom Fighter), Natalie Bullock Brown (Baartman, Beyoncé & Me), Terri Prettyman Bowles

The annual event features films by people of African descent. Since 1997, each June, the festival hosts five days of packed programming that features films, panels and networking events.

I hadn’t attended the festival since 2006 and was amazed at how much it had grown. Founder Jeff Friday has done an extraordinary job in bringing his vision into the Black film timeline.

I was delighted to be highlighted on the panel Black Women and Experimental Storytelling: Emerging Technologies and Innovation in Cinema programmed in association with Daughters of Eve (sisters Terri Prettyman Bowles and Dr. Michele Prettyman Beverly).

What an audience of supporters! Folks applauded, testified and cried when hearing about my journey and the work of the other two panelists (now sister friends) Natalie Bullock Brown, (Baartman, Beyoncé & Me) and Taura Musgrove, multimedia filmmaker (Freedom Fighter). We are now the 2018 Kathleen Collins Innovators. Kathy was a beautiful spirit, a pioneering African American filmmaker, scholar and godmother to my daughter HaJ. She is also the reason why in addition to being a filmmaker, I teach in higher education. I will write about my friend at another time.

One of my favorite moments at ABFF was reconnecting with friend Michelle Materre and giving her a shout out for all of the work that she has done over her 30-year career as a producer, curator, programmer, educator and all around fabulous woman.

The wonderful Michelle Materre

It was great afternoon. And, of course, hubby Tim was there being the family documentarian

Hubby Tim

Kudos ABFF

TV Directorial Debut: Queen Sugar


TV Directorial Debut: Queen Sugar

Sometimes the universe opens up and asks you what you would like to do and then conspires to make it happen. This is how I feel about recently joining the Queen Sugar family as a director.

Imagine receiving a call from Ava DuVernay asking if you want to direct an episode of her television show. The only answer is yes. This will be your tv directorial debut. You arrive on set in steamy New Orleans where you are authentically met with heart felt welcomes by the cast, crew and others associated with the production. They are all knowledgeable, creative, kind, considerate, and committed to the good of the show. This was my Queen Sugar experience. Warrior women Ava and Oprah have used their Black Girl Magic to create something that is historic, nourishing, inspiring, progressive, transgressive and yes, entertaining. This is particularly noteworthy in a climate where women aren’t being considered as directors – and few are looking for Black women directors. Queen Sugar has changed the landscape and given us 25 women directors over three years.

Queen Sugar is a space deserving of our time and attention. Stay tuned for my episode airing August 1st.