"Selma" And The Legends Who Paved The Way Gala "Selma" And The Legends Who Paved The Way Gala
GOLETA, CA - DECEMBER 06: Director Ava DuVernay attends the "Selma" and the Legends Who Paved the Way gala at Bacara Resort on December 6, 2014 in Goleta, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Top Black Female Directors You Need to Know

All hail the heroines of cinema! No, we're not talking about the Hollywood starlets. Though we still love them, we're saluting the game-changers behind the camera, calling the shots and taking names.

Although Hollywood isn't the first to jump at supporting minority fueled films—with a handful of exclusions like TV powerhouse Shonda Rhimes, who's relentless primetime domination continues in unapologetic—some ladies are still making ripples in Tinsel Town.

Who was the first black female director nominated for a Golden Globe? Who directed Beyoncé in Cadillac Records? If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, read on. We're celebrating black female directors who don't always get recognition from Hollywood.

Photo Credits: Getty Images


The living legend Julie Dash broke new ground in 1991 when her film Daughters of the Dust was picked up for theatrical distribution in the U.S., an unprecedented movement. She went on to direct films including The Rosa Parks Story starring Angela Bassett, which won Dash an a nomination from the Director’s Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television.


The first black woman in history to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director. After taking Hollywood by storm with the critically-acclaimed film Selma, the biopic about Martin Luther King, Jr., DuVernay continues to raise the bar for Hollywood directors.

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You may not know her name, but we bet her first directed feature film is one of your favorites. Prince-Bythewood broke into mainstream after directing the 2000 romantic drama Love and Basketball. Since then, the writer directed two more films, including the 2014 drama, Beyond the Lights.


British director Amma Asante achieved critical success after writing and directing her debut film, A Way of Life in 2004. She directed her sophomore flick, Belle, about a mixed race girl raised in 18th century England in 2013.

86th Annual Academy Awards East Coast Viewing Party
Debuting in Hollywood with the southern-voodoo film Eve's Bayou—starring a young Jurnee Smollet and Megan Good—Kasi Lemmons effortlessly became one to watch.  She went on to direct the drama The Caveman's Valentine with Samuel L. Jackson, and Talk to Me, starring Don Cheadle. In 2013, she wrote and directed the star-studded musical, Black Nativity.


Few female directors can boast of directing the one and only Beyoncé, and Martin is one of them. From Grey's Anatomy to Oz to ER, Martin has found her niche in both TV and feature film directing, showing no signs of slowing down. In 2008, she jumped back into film, writing and directing Cadillac Records (based on Chess Records), where Queen Bey played Etta James.

The 66th Annual Writers Guild Awards East Coast Ceremony
When Spike Lee backs you, you know you're an amazing talent. Rees, who studied at NYU's Film School, went from interning for Lee to directing her own movie, Pariah, which eventually became a feature film in 2011. The 27-year-old's current project includes Queen Latifah in the HBO biopic about Bessie Smith.

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SZA Calls For Peace While Receiving 'Rule Breaker' Award At Billboard Women In Music

SZA called for peace and understanding at Billboard's Women In Music event Thursday (Dec. 6).

During her speech for the Rule Breaker award, singer-songwriter recalled today's climate, asking her peers and those watching at home for a little bit of peace.

"I'm sorry for the state of the world honestly, for everybody in this room and I pray that all of us just get through it a little bit easier and just try not to lash out at each other," she said.

The recurring theme of unity among women was also heard on the carpet from artists like Tierra Whack. In addition to her message of love, the "Broken Clocks" singer also thanked her TDE family for rocking with her creative process.

"I'm just so thankful for everybody having patience with me, " she said. Shouting out the key members of her family in attendance, the TDE affiliate gave praise to her mother, father, and grandma. In this brief speech centered around the artist's growth Solána Imani Rowe, known more commonly as her stage name, Rowe everyone for their trust in her.

"I'm grateful for everybody taking the time to have the patience to watch someone grow, it is painful and sometimes exciting but mostly boring. And I am thankful for Top (Top Dawg Entertainment's Anthony Tiffith) for not dropping me from that label. For Peter, who I change my ideas every day and he be like okay I like this," she continued.

Thanking the likes of musical powerhouses like Alicia Keys and Whack, "The Weekend" singer offered her appreciation and condolences to Ariana Grande.

Watch SZA accept the Rule Breaker award above.

READ MORE: Anderson .Paak, Tierra Whack And More Praise Female Artists At 2018 Billboard Women In Music

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Beyoncé, Rihanna, And J. Lo Make Forbes’ Highest-Paid Women In Music List

As November comes to a close, many publications will be crafting their year-end lists for all things pop culture. Forbes released a ranking of the world's highest-paid women in music on Monday (Nov. 19), with Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Rihanna holding it down for women of color.

Beyoncé comes in at No. 3 on the list with an earning of $60 million as she made most of her money through her historical Coachella performance, the joint album with husband JAY-Z, Everything is Love, and the Carters' On The Run II Tour in support of its release.

Jennifer Lopez made No. 6 for earnings tallying of over $47 million thanks to her lucrative Las Vegas residency, endorsements, and shows including World of Dance where she serves as a judge.

Rihanna follows behind the "Love Don't Cost A Thing" diva at No. 7 with earnings of over $37.5 million. Although she hasn't toured since 2016—thanks to her cosmetics and lingerie lines, Fenty Beauty and Savage Lingerie—the Bajan pop star has been keeping herself busy.

Forbes' annual list (which factors in pretax earnings from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018) has placed Katy Perry at the top with over $83 million in profits due to her gig as an American Idol judge and her 80-date Witness: The Tour that brought in an estimated $1 million per night.

Scroll down to see Forbes' full list below.

Katy Perry ($83 million) Taylor Swift ($80 million) Beyoncé ($60 million) P!nk ($52 million) Lady Gaga ($50 million) Jennifer Lopez ($47 million) Rihanna ($37.5 million) Helene Fischer ($32 million) Celine Dion ($31 million) Britney Spears ($30 million)


READ MORE: Nas Makes Forbes’ List Of ‘Hip-Hop Cash Kings’ For The First Time

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Kelly Rowland Hops In Her Bag With New Single "Kelly"

Kelly Rowland has it all and isn't afraid to brag about it on her new single, "Kelly."

Released Thursday (Nov. 22), the singer goes the clubby, confident route while rightfully dropping her attributes like her relationship with God, smoldering looks (a.k.a the drip) among other things. With "Kelly" being the first single since her 2013's Talk a Good Game, the singer comes out swinging, reminding everyone of her power in the game.

The mother of one has promised that her new tunes will be edgier and most honest than her past work that included vulnerable tracks like "Dirty Laundry" and massive hits like "Motivation" and "Commander." Speaking with Vogue over the summer, Ms. Kelly disclosed a few details behind the album.

“It’s about love, loss, and gain and whether it’s professional or with family or whatever, it’s just honest," she said. "I had no choice but to be honest and authentic with this record: it’s about friendship and marriage.”

She also explained a drop in confidence caused her hiatus. “I was thinking about pulling back from recording, but I couldn’t help myself: I still wanted to record. I still felt like I was missing something. The third year just came and left so fast. The fourth year I said: ‘I have to get to work’ and now I’m ready to release some music! I felt like I wasted so much time, and it was my husband who actually called me out on it. He said: ‘Babe, as great as those records were, I think you were nervous, you got gun-shy’, and when he said that it was like boom, a gong went off.”

Glad to have you back, Ms. Kelly. Listen to the eponymous record up top.

READ MORE: Kelly Rowland Debuts Smoke x Mirrors Eyewear Collection At Barneys New York

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