Photo: (L to R) April Maxey, April Moreau, Kelly Pike, Mary Angélica Molina, Lucretia Stinnette, Michelle Krusiec – Credit: AFI/Rodin Eckenroth
AFI DWW Showcase 2022: Launching the Next Generation of Directors
On March 30, the Class of 2022 DWW participants – Michelle Krusiec, April Maxey, Mary Angélica Molina, April Moreau, Kelly Pike and Lucretia Stinnette – shared their short films from the program with audiences at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) theater, which was particularly special this year considering their fellow Alum Lesli Linka Glatter (AFI DWW Class of 1982) was recently elected as the DGA President. Other Alumni of the program include Academy Award® winner Siân Heder, writer and director of CODA, winner of this year’s Best Picture Oscar®.
About the graduating class, Karen Schwartzman, Senior Director of Innovative Programs at AFI, said, “This year’s DWW class features an eclectic group of remarkable women and nonbinary directors from diverse backgrounds. We not only celebrate and recognize the completion of their short films but also their preparedness to take the ‘Director’s Chair’ and bring their artistic visions to a broader audience like so many of the others who have gone through this groundbreaking program.”
The evening began with a warm introduction by Rebecca Murga (AFI DWW Class of 2015), the 2020-2021 Program Director of the AFI DWW who oversaw the program when the participants were accepted into the workshop, and AFI Conservatory Dean and AFI Executive Vice President Susan Ruskin .
The distinguished keynote speaker was film, television and music video director Tamra Davis. Davis began her career making music videos and has to date made over 100 videos spanning a diverse array of artists such as NWA, Sonic Youth and Bette Midler; and has directed nine feature films, including GUNCRAZY with Drew Barrymore, BILLY MADISON with Adam Sandler, CB4 with Chris Rock, HALF BAKED with Dave Chappelle and CROSSROADS written by Shonda Rhimes and starring Britney Spears and Zoe Saldana. In addition to her feature work, Davis continues to direct television on shows such as GREY’S ANATOMY, UGLY BETTY, MY NAME IS EARL, CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND, DIRK GENTLY’S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY, YOUNGER, TOGETHER, YOU’RE THE WORST, SANTA CLARITA DIET, EMPIRE, DEAD TO ME and THE POLITICIAN. Davis directed the pilot for HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE SERIES that launched Disney+ and the pilot for GOOD SAM on CBS.
“As a director what an incredible opportunity that you have, the ability to walk onto a set and create the tone and create an environment where people at the end of the day feel really great about their work,” said Davis. On leading with what makes you unique as a director, she said, “what an incredible opportunity to show a new form of leadership and a leadership that inspires people.”
Past AFI DWW participants have gone on to great success, and have broken barriers in the industry with their work, including Dime Davis (AFI Class of 2015), who received a 2020 Emmy® nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series for A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW, becoming the first Black woman to receive a nomination in that category; and Hanelle Culpepper (AFI Class of 2002), a prolific television director who directed the record-breaking pilot of STAR TREK: PICARD, which earned her the distinction of being the first woman director and the first Black director to launch a new STAR TREK series in the franchise’s history. Since the program’s launch in 1974, DWW has trained over 350 filmmakers that strive to give voice to historically underrepresented perspectives – with Maya Angelou, Anne Bancroft (FATSO), Neema Barnette (QUEEN SUGAR), Shaz Bennett (BILLIONS), Pippa Bianco (SHARE), Tessa Blake (AMERICAN HORROR STORY), Tricia Brock (BRIDGERTON), Ellen Burstyn, Rebecca Cammisa (GOD IS BIGGER THAN ELVIS), Dyan Cannon (NUMBER ONE), Jan Eliasberg (GONE), Naomi Foner (VERY GOOD GIRLS), Jennifer Getzinger (WESTWORLD), Lyn Goldfarb (WITH BABIES AND BANNERS), Randa Haines (CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD), Victoria Hochberg (SEX & THE CITY), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (WITHOUT A TRACE), Matia Karrell (CADILLAC DREAMS), Lynne Littman (NUMBER OUR DAYS), Nancy Malone (DYNASTY), Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (UNREAL), Becky Smith (AUGUST IN BERLIN), Cicely Tyson, Jude Weng (FINDING O’HANA) and Joanne Woodward (AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE) included among its distinguished Alumnae.
To learn more about the program, visit the DWW website and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, YouTube.com/AFI, Twitter.com/AmericanFilm and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.