Women in film has to be one of the top things the world needs, next to women in music and women in office. Icons like Shonda Rhimes have bought us shows like “Scandal” and “How To Get Away With Murder.” Legends like Ava DuVernay brought us “Queen Sugar” and “When They See Us” and masterminds like Issa Rae have brought us relatable shows like “Insecure.” However, there’s more room for black women to take up space in film and the five queens below have shown just that. Here’s our list of Black female showrunners, producers and directors to watch out for.
Deborah Riley Draper
Deborah Riley Draper is an award-winning filmmaker and storyteller. In just a short period of time, she directed and produced “The Legacy of Black Wall Street,” a two-part special on OWN that honored the Greenwood community on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre. She also created Deborah’s “Twenty Pearls,” a documentary that paid homage to the 113 years of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.’s sisterhood and history, which featured Madam Vice President Kamala Harris.
Her resume includes the likings of Variety Magazine, New York Fashion Week, Logo TV, Lamborghini, Coca-Cola, FedEx and Adidas. She also has two Emmys, a Gold Effie and several Addy Awards.
Tressa Azarel is an award-winning writer and producer. Tressa wrote her first novel in 2003 and has gained over 162 published titles since then, which has led her work to the desk of BET, TV ONE and Urban Movie Channel, which adapted her work as films and TV series. She also has her award-winning film company MegaMind Media, which has produced the American Film Festival and the BET award-winning film “ALL IN.”
Azarel is also known for giving back. She teamed with BETHer to produce “The Waiting Room” and “The Couch,” a series highlighting mental health and breast cancer awareness. She has brought numerous actors to the big screen, including Lisa Raye and KJ Smith. She has also hired hundreds of independent artists and creatives, keeping the creative economy alive.
Felicia Pride is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. After ending her career as an entertainment journalist and writing several books, Pride went on to become a film distribution exec and impact producer. She then became a screenwriter who wrote for Ava DuVernay’s “Queen Sugar” and the hit tv series “Grey’s Anatomy.” She has sold pilots to Netflix and Bravo and is a graduate of NBC’s Writers on the Verge program as a comedy writer. She currently runs Honey Chile, a production company that pours into black women forty and up.
Katori Hall serves as the showrunner and executive producer of the most talked about shows on television, P-Valley. She recently signed an overall deal with Lionsgate to continue producing and developing groundbreaking projects and content across their many platforms. Other projects in Hall’s arsenal include a hit musical, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, and her play The Mountain Top, which portrays the final night of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s life. Her awards range from Pulitzer Prize to an Olivier Playwright Award, and she is also a two-time Tony award nominee.
Lisa Cortés is a producer and director. She has been nominated for an Academy Award and has won an Emmy. As executive producer for the 2009 film “Precious,” she helped bring a touching, classic black story to life, marking the acting career of Gabourey Sidibe. Precious won two of the six academy awards it was nominated for. She has also brought The Apollo documentary and The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion documentary to our screens. She started in the music business holding the titles at Def Jam Label. With a degree from Yale University, Cortés applauds herself for creating stories that shine light and empower inclusive voices and stories.