While the stars in front of the camera are often given the most recognition, the team of creators behind the scenes in Hollywood move the needle for representation and cultural storytelling just as much.
Whether they’re writing, producing, or directing (or all of the above), these behind-the-scenes creators breathe life into the latest films and shows that uplift, inspire, entertain, and make us think.
Recent years have seen the likes of Jordan Peele, Ryan Coogler, and Issa Rae rise from the outskirts of industry recognition to the A-list. The names on this list are buzzing now, but will likely prove to be the new class of highly sought-after creatives in film and television in 2023 and beyond.
Robinson has already made her mark in television, serving as a writer for FX hit afro-surrealist comedy Atlanta and as executive producer of absurdist vampire sitcom What We Do in the Shadows. Now, this 6-time Emmy nominee is tossing her hat into the film arena. Her first-ever feature film, Chevalier, documents the story of one of history’s near-forgotten Black musicial geniuses Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Starring Kelvin Harrison, Jr., this compelling period piece opens in Spring.
This Nigerian-American director, writer, and producer made major waves when she directed and executive produced 2022’s critically acclaimed historical drama TILL. But it’s a far cry from her early beginnings as an aspiring filmmaker attending Temple University, whose first feature film, 2012’s Alaska-Land, was rejected from every festival she submitted it to. Hollywood took note in 2019 when she wrote and directed Clemency in 2019, starring Alfre Woodard as a prison warden and Aldis Hodge as a death row inmate who makes her re-examine her worldview.
Bravo’s unique directorial eye has gained her popularity and awards nominations for television projects like Atlanta, Mrs. America, and the recent Hulu hit Kindred. Her big splash came with 2020’s buzzy stylistic A24 hit Zola, starring Taylour Paige, which dramatized the most action-packed thread in Black Twitter history.
Richard “Byrd” Wilson and Lucien Christian Adderley
The screenwriting duo, who sometimes go by ‘The Florida Boys’ based on their Sunshine State upbringings and topical focus, already have a Peabody award under their belts for their work on the dramatic OWN coming-of-age series David Makes Man. Now, they’re working on The Highwaymen, the story of a mysterious painting that sends one art student traveling through Florida’s forgotten backroads to discover a near-forgotten story of a regional Black art movement.
A university professor-turned-writer/director, this Sierra Leonean-American filmmaker is making waves in the horror space, having just written and directed 2022 critically lauded TIFF darling, Prime Video Horror/Thriller Nanny. Up next, an as-yet-untitled horror project meant to serve as a sequel to George A. Romero’s famed horror classic Night of the Living Dead.
Known by the nickname “Shooter” on-set, Glaude has had a hand in directing some of the most popular shows on Television and streaming, including Queen Sugar, P-Valley, The Chi, Twenties, and Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. Up next, Disney +’s The Crossover, based on the book by Kwame Alexander, which follows two brothers’ coming-of-age both on and off the basketball court as their ex-pro-baller father adjusts to life after basketball and their mother finally has a chance to chase her own dreams.
Perrier wears multiple hats as an actress, writer, producer, and director, and has flexed her juggling skills on projects like 2019’s Jezebel. Next, she’ll write, direct, produce and star in The Erotic, a biographical project that focuses on the life, loves, and mischief of womanist writer Audre Lorde.
He’s already directed Beyoncé in her 2020 Black Is King music visual in his family’s home country of Ghana. Most recently, he turned his lense on today’s Black country music stars for Amazon Music’s 2022 documentary film For Love and Country, deep diving into the cultural origins of the art form and the social stigmas surrounding creatives of color who participate in its creation today.
Ericka Nicole Malone
As writer and producer of Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story, Malone memorialized one of the most beloved powerhouse voices of Gospel Music, providing a film acting avenue to cultural icons like Janet Hubert, Ledisi, and Wendy Raquel Robinson among others.