Modern Black Film Directors Who Are Flipping the Script

Jordan Peele

Hollywood has a long history of overlooking the stories of Black people. These modern Black film directors seek to change that. These directors have shattered box office records and won critical acclaim for the compelling stories and stunning cinematography they produce.

Spike Lee

Spike Lee, never one to shy away from difficult topics in his work, shines a light on prevalent issues in our society, including issues of crime, poverty, racism, and colorism within the Black community. The winner of several awards, Lee most recently received the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film BlacKkKlansman. Perhaps one of the most well-known modern Black film directors, Spike Lee has directed over 80 works, from film to television, and even directed the MyCareer story mode for the video game NBA 2K16.

Jordan Peele

Though Jordan Peele may be new to directing, he’s already making waves in the film industry and taking the horror genre by storm. Peele established himself as a talented comedic actor, starring opposite Keegan-Michael Key in the hit sketch show, Key and Peele, but only recently started to flex his directing muscles. His directorial debut, Get Out, garnered critical acclaim and earned Peele four Academy Award nominations. Of these nominations, Peele was awarded the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, making him the first Black winner of this award. Peele’s second film, Us, premiered earlier this year and raked in over $71 million during its opening weekend.

Ava DuVernay

From documentaries to historical dramas to family-friendly adventure films, Ava DuVernay proves her directorial skills know no bounds. In an industry dominated by male directors, DuVernay holds her own and picks up nominations at every turn. Her works tend to focus on topics of race in America, such as the Academy Award Best Picture nominee Selma, the story of the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. For her work on Selma, DuVernay was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Director, making her the first Black female director to receive this nomination.

Tyler Perry

A self-made millionaire, Tyler Perry began his entertainment career on the stage, writing plays that he would later adapt for film. His stage play, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, led to the creation of his supremely successful Madea film franchise, which earned millions of dollars in box office sales worldwide. Clearly not one to limit himself, Perry has not only directed for stage and film, but also for television. His long-running sitcom, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, follows a multi-generational Black family living under the same roof and ran successfully for 8 seasons. Currently, Perry directs The Haves and the Have Nots, a crime drama based on Perry’s 2011 play of the same name.