Photo Credit: Avel Chuklanov
Black Talent TV (BTTV) is most notably known for our Best Web series List that is posted annually, and it has been a huge success in many ways — so many ways that this year we decided that we should not limit ourselves to just web series! We are now including various different best lists, from web series to directors to screenwriters and more. It is crucial for Black Talent TV to showcase as many multicultural creatives through as many mediums as possible for our readers. This particular best list’s purpose is to showcase the best upcoming directors of 2019. These directors display levels of forward-thinking, change agency, social justice and uniqueness in their works. Check out the 10 best upcoming directors of 2019 below!
10. Matthew A. Cherry
Matthew A. Cherry is Chicago raised former NFL wide receiver turned seasoned filmmaker, film and television executive, writer and producer. He has continuously lived his life with passion from the field to the entertainment industry where he has worked as a production assistant and director for countless commercials and music videos. He has gone on to direct videos for Michelle Williams, Snoop Dogg, Take 6 and most recently the “Warrior” video for the Wrinkle In Time soundtrack. His work isn’t limited to short clips, Cherry has also directed short films like This Time, Almost 30 and Almost Home. His first feature film The Last Fall had received acclaim at the African American Film Festival and HBO Best Feature Film Award. These acclaims made their way to Image Entertainment and we can now find his work streaming on Netflix and Hulu. Following this success, he also created his latest feature film 9 Rides and Hair Love. Most recently Matthew directed episodes of the TBS series The Last OG, The Red Line and Whiskey while also being the executive producer on the Academy Award-nominated film BlackKklansman and The Last OG. If you want to see Cherry’s various pieces of work, you can find them all here.
9. Sam Q. Bailey
Sam Q. Bailey is a Chicago raised director and creator. She is most known for her Gotham-nominated web series You’re So Talented and Emmy nominated Brown Girls, that was in development at HBO. On her extensive resume, Bailey has also received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series in 2017. Her works have been praised on various platforms, including Elle, W Magazine, Fox News, and Out Magazine. In 2016, Sam was included on NewCity’s Film 50 list and has not stopped her passion for storytelling and character development since! Based on her film work and numerous interviews, Bailey has no room for old ideas or toxic communities. She is taking on her platform for the better, being an advocate for safe spaces, the LGBTQA+ community, and multicultural diversity. She is changing the Hollywood landscape one step at a time, even currently developing her first feature with Bron Studios. To support Bailey, check out her work here.
8. Bobby Huntley II
Bobby Huntley II is a director and editor that Black Talent TV has come to know and love. Known for Louisiana 1961 and Nana Roxie’s Revenge, Huntley has dedicated his career to building a noteworthy brand. Huntley is appreciated for taking ideas and creating the “bigger picture” for his projects, launching his career to new heights. For example, Huntley’s feature film directorial debut, La Vie Magnifique De Charlie is gearing up for its release later this year and had his first television director credit for the project entitledTre for AspireTV with Damn Write Originals. He focuses on continuing to make “black girl magic” and “black boy joy” come to life in his pieces as he claims that this generation is “reinventing film.” He has won many rewards including Outstanding Feature Film and Best New Director. If you are looking for a filmmaker that understands the complexities of the human mind and relationships, especially with strong female leads, give our fan-favorite try, here!
7. Kashif Boothe
Kashif Boothe is an upcoming director that is most known for his scripted web series Nate & Jamie. Beyond his hilarious web series, Boothe also has filmed documentaries, produced talk shows and a podcast. His quick wit and big-time work ethic have lead Boothe to a spinoff miniseries, Imperfect. Boothe claims he finds a passion for his work because he is a natural storyteller, takes inspiration from conversations and daily observation, and then converts his day to day life into a story perfectly crafted for the screen. For some hilarious interactions and all-too-real scenarios, check out Boothe’s work here.
6. Chloé Zhao
Chloé Zhao is a Chinese film director, screenwriter, and producer. Her debut feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, premiered at Sundance Film Festival and followed came her feature film, The Rider. Her film was critically acclaimed and received several accolades including nominations for Independent Spirit Award for Best Film and Best Director. Following this, she also won the Bonnie Award, awarded to female directors in their mid-careers. Zhao uses the real lives of others and members of the community she is filming to create breathtaking and authentic films. If you want to learn or watch any of these films and support this woman-empowered director, her work can be found here.
5. Christina Choe
Christina Choe is an American filmmaker whose 2011 short film, I Am John Wayne, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival, taking her career to new heights. Choe’s documentary series Welcome to the DPRK, a personal portrait of North Korea and feature film debut, Nancy, have allowed her to attend and showcase her work at many film festivals. her feature film had its world premiere in the US Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where Choe was awarded the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Choe has spoken out against the struggles of being a woman trying to get a feature film made and the perseverance one must have to make it in the industry. Her films most notably have to do with the themes of the blurred lines between reality and fiction. Choe has worked hard to create a character who is morally ambiguous with a lot of emotional layers to uncover. Ultimately, she created an anti-hero in her feature film to portray to audiences no one is perfect and there are not enough imperfect characters in the world. Feel free to watch Nancy, here.
4. Aneesh Chaganty
Aneesh Chaganty is an American film director and screenwriter. He started creating countless short films across the years and finally made his feature film directorial debut with the 2018 thriller Searching. His journey making this movie was no easy feat, for he left his dream job at Google to follow his real passion — film making. For his debut film, he won the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Chaganty’s second film Run, starring Sarah Paulson will be released on January 24, 2020. Chaganty in past interviews has noted that success is not linear and nothing is guaranteed, making him a realistic, yet inspiring creative for many to look up to. Watch Searching on Amazon.
3. Crystal Kayiza
Crystal Kayiza is an Oklahoma turned Brooklyn-based documentary filmmaker. She was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film; her work focuses on pursuing more nuanced storytelling about the African Diaspora, women empowerment and racial injustice thanks to the minors she maintained at Ithaca College. She is a recipient of the 2017 Jacob Burns Film Center Woman Filmmaker Fellowship and 2018 Sundance Ignite Fellowship. As a Woman Filmmaker Fellow, she directed and produced her most popular film, Edgecombe. This film takes a look at the ways that a rural Black community in Edgecombe County, North Carolina is systematically put at a disadvantage due to the criminalization of poverty. The film was an official selection of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Crystal Kayiza is an advocate, ally, the future of documentary filmmaking and most importantly a force to be reckoned with as she truly captures the world around her. Visit her Vimeo if you are already feeling inspired!
2. Olivia Milch
Olivia Milch has made her debut with stoner-millennial woman dramedy, Dude on Netflix, as well as co-writing the script for Ocean’s 8 and Sony’s upcoming live-action Barbie movie projected to release in 2020. Once going from Hollywood’s Blacklist, directly into the spotlight, there is not much Olivia Milch is afraid to write or direct about. With her female-dominating films and quick wit, Milch has noted that she gets her greatest joy and passion from telling stories about women. Milch’s goal has always been to commemorate the range and diversity of all of the different types of women that she sees in the world. Whether you want to see an all-female heist or a coming of age tale, Milch has created some legendary films since the beginning. Check out some of her pieces here.
1. Ciara Boniface
Ciara Boniface is an up and coming filmmaker, visionary and storyteller. She is a New Orleans native who is studying at the University of North Texas. When beginning her studies she hit the ground running with her legendary short films. Most notably, she has directed Skintight, Dirty Money and Ayuda, Mi Alma Llora. Not only a talented filmmaker, but she is also a fantastic cinematographer, working on various music videos in the Dallas area. Boniface’s use of captivating cinematography and metaphorical writing leaves audiences with cliff hangers and psychological thrills. Not only that, but Boniface also won a contest for the nationwide search for the Next Visionary Filmmaker from Nissan and Disney Studios. She continues to use her platform to create projects that focus on the representation of women and people of color in media. Check out her directing and cinematography here.