*LOS ANGELES – Uptown Ventures Group, the parent company of UPTOWN Magazine, is proud to announce its celebration of “Women Directors in Television and Film” at its annual, black-tie, invitation-only “Uptown Honors Hollywood” pre-Oscar gala on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 in Los Angeles.
The magazine will be doling out accolades to Dee Rees for her Oscar nomination on Netflix’s critically-acclaimed film “Mudbound.” Making history, she is the first African American woman to be nominated for writing an adapted screenplay.
Rounding out the quartet of honorees are award-winning directors Gina Prince Bythewood (Fox’s “Shots Fired” and “Beyond the Lights”), Stella Meghie (“Everything, Everything”) and actress/director Chandra Wilson (ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy).” “Uptown Honors Hollywood” will be hosted by writer/producer Chris Spencer of BET’s “Real Husbands of Hollywood.”
As a prelude to the Academy Awards®, Uptown’s pre-Oscar event will bring together the entertainment industry’s most prolific creators – that is, writers, producers, filmmakers, actors and actresses — for a pre-reception and sit-down dinner followed by a private after-party. For the night of glamour, “Uptown Honors Hollywood” is made possible by the generous support of Lexus as the returning presenting sponsor.
Following the lead of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), which proclaimed 2017 as the “Year of the Women in Cinema,” the magazine wanted to recognize African American women who are making their marks behind the lens, especially female directors, because of their long, overdue inequity as filmmakers. Women are grossly under-represented in the director’s chair, comprising a paltry 4% of directors in the film industry, according to a recent study by the Annenberg Foundation and USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; and only 5.1% are African American, regardless of gender. And interestingly, women make up 52% of all movie goers.
“For Black History Month, we are extremely excited to recognize the achievements of African American women who are trailblazers behind the lens and telling diverse, compelling stories as filmmakers,” said Len Burnett, co-CEO and chief revenue officer of UPTOWN Ventures Group. “Not only is it important to acknowledge the contributions of women in filmmaking, but we must advocate for their equality and empower them to make advances in the industry.”
Past honorees include such award-winning individuals as actress Nia Long, writer/producer Will Packer and producer Charles D. King of MACRO, plus directors Malcolm D. Lee, Lee Daniels, Ava DuVernay as well as Reggie and Warrington Hudlin.
For more information about Uptown Magazine, visit www.UptownMagazine.com.
And so, without further ado, here’s a look at the 2018 honorees:
2018 UPTOWN HONORS HOLLYWOOD | honorees at a glance
- DEE REES – is the award-winning director of Netflix’s critically-acclaimed film, “Mudbound,” a period piece, set during the 1940s Jim Crow era in the Mississippi Delta. Rees landed an Oscar nomination for adapted screenplay, becoming the first African American woman to do so in that category!The film appears on many critics lists, and the Washington Post calls it a “quintessentially American classic.” In 2016, she helmed “Bessie,” the Emmy Award-winning HBO film, starring Queen Latifah as the legendary blues singer. It nabbed 12 nominations, including nominations for Rees in Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special. She was the recipient of the 2016 Director’s Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Miniseries as well as the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Television Movie. Rees made her directorial debut with “Pariah” at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and was honored with the festival’s U.S. Dramatic Competition Excellence in Cinematography Award. The film won a plethora of awards, including the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards, the Gotham Award for Best Breakthrough Director, plus, the Outstanding Film–Limited Release Award at the GLAAD Media Awards as well as seven NAACP Image Award nominations. In 2013, the New York Times named Rees to their “10 Directors to Watch” list.
- GINA PRINCE-BYTHEWOOD – isan awarding-winning writer, producer and director. Her film, “Love & Basketball,” a classic, premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. Prince-Bythewood won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay, plus, a Humanitas Prize for her work on the film. In 2008, she wrote and directed the celebrated adaptation of the best-selling novel, “The Secret Life of Bees,” which nabbed two People’s Choice Awards and two NAACP Image Awards. Her third feature, “Beyond the Lights,” garnered rave reviews and received an Oscar nod for Best Song — the track “Grateful,” performed by Rita Ora and written by Dianne Warren. The film landed on many 2014 critics lists, including The New York Times, the Washington Post and Vulture. Coming up, she’s working on her next film in which she’ll rewrite and direct – that is, “Silver and Black,” a Marvel/Sony film in the Spiderman universe, featuring Silver Sable and Black Cat. Last year, she created and produced Fox’s “Shots Fired” on the small screen with her husband, Reggie Rock Bythewood. The 10-hour special event series featured a stellar ensemble cast, including Sanaa Latham, Stephan James, Helen Hunt, Stephen Moyer, Aisha Hinds and Richard Dreyfuss.
- STELLA MEGHIE – is a Canadian filmmaker and screenwriter, who burst on the scene in 2016 as director of the comedy feature “Jean of the Joneses,” a portrait of a squabbling Jamaican-American family, set in Brooklyn. Meghie’s directorial debut opened at Austin’s South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) and screened in her hometown at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), landing her two Canadian Screen Award nominations, including a nod in Best Original Screenplay. She also grabbed a Best First Screenplay nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards and a Discovery Award nomination for the Best Film at TIFF. As a follow up, Meghie directed “Everything, Everything,” the film adaption of the best-selling YA novel by Nicola Yoon, starring Amandla Stenberg. The film grossed more than $60 million worldwide, opposite a $10 million budget and earned her an NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Director. Next up, Meghie will direct her original script, “The Photograph,” with producer Will Packer (“Ride Along,” “Think Like a Man” and “Takers”) at Universal Pictures.
- CHANDRA WILSON – is best known for her award-winning role as Dr. Miranda Bailey on ABC’s hit drama “Grey’s Anatomy.” The actress-turned-director has received a Screen Actors Guild Award, a People’s Choice Award, a Prism Award, four NAACP Image Awardsand four Emmy nominations for her work on the long-running medical series. As a director on the show, Wilson has received an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Director in a Series Drama and a Women’s Image Network Award for a Drama Series Directed by a Woman. She’s been featured in a variety of publications, including Entertainment Weekly’s year-end issue as one of the year’s “Great Performances, Memorable Moments from 2005.” TV Guide called Wilson a “Scene Stealer” in its August 2005 issue, and she was selected by The New York Times as one of “8 to Watch Onstage, and Behind the Scenes.” She made her television directorial debut with episode 7 of season six, titled “Give Peace a Chance” on “Grey’s Anatomy.” In addition to “Grey’s Anatomy,” she’s worked on “Scandal” and “The Fosters,” directing more than 20 episodes of television.
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