#BlackWomenDirectors News: Jenn Nkiru helps direct "APESH*T", Mara Brock-Akil drops "Love Is", Janicza Bravo to bring #ZolaStory to life, A Wrinkle in Time passes the $100M mark
Everyone and their mama (and their mamas' mamas) is talking about the gorgeous visuals for "APESHIT", the new track from Beyoncé and Jay-Z's surprise joint album, Everything is Love. And I'm pleased to say that the second unit director is none other than Nigerian-British filmmaker Jenn Nkiru, a Howard University film school alum (HU! You KNOW!) who directed the powerful, exuberant, and non-linear short film Rebirth is Necessary, released in 2017. Read more about her in Mic.
Remember the viral #ZolaStory that dropped in 2015 and shook up the Internet with its lascivious and darkly comic details of a weekend filled with more drugs, strippers, and attempted suicide than anything Harmony Korine could dream up? I certainly do. I never knew what Backpage was until that fateful October day. And now one of my favorite filmmakers, Janicza Bravo, will be bringing the story to life in a deal with A24, according to Collider. Bravo has no problem leaning into the weird, wild, and discomfiting (peep her 2017 feature-length debut Lemon) so she really is the perfect fit. No word on the cast just yet — I have my fingers crossed for Keke Palmer as the lead. Either way, it should be a fun ride.
On Juneteenth, Mara Brock-Akil dropped Love Is, a romantic drama based on the real-life love story between her and her husband /creative partner Salim Akil. The pilot takes us back to the Los Angeles of 1996 and 1997, as two writers— the successful, gainfully employed and dreamy Nuri (Michelle Weaver) and the struggling, slightly arrogant Yasir (Will Catlett)—cross paths in unexpected ways and begin a whirlwind romance. While the pilot's exposition and flash fowards felt a little clunky at times, the cast is filled with wonderful actors, including the angelic Loretta Devine and the formidable Clarke Peters, one of the most underrated actors working today.
Ava DuVernay can now add another "first" to her already long list of firsts: She is now the first Black woman filmmaker to direct a movie that grossed $100 million at the box office, thanks to her sci-fi tearjerker A Wrinkle in Time. While I have always been wary of measuring a film's worth solely by how much money it earns, I would be naïve to forget that the movie business is, in fact, a business. And my hope is that this milestone will continue to make it that much more likely for Black women directors to get the same opportunities to direct all kinds of movies, with all of the attendant budgets, resources, and marketing power that their male peers have enjoyed for decades. It's time. It's been time.