For too long, Hollywood has been dominated by a white male perspective. But in recent years, things have begun to change. More and more black directors are making movies that are not only entertaining but also thought-provoking and groundbreaking. Here are six such directors whose films have changed the film industry for the better.
Oscar Micheaux was one of the first black directors to make a significant impact in Hollywood. His 1921 film The Symbol of the Unconquered is believed to be the first feature-length film made by a black director. Micheaux went on to make over 40 films, most of which dealt with race relations in America. His work helped pave the way for future black directors.
Spike Lee is one of the most well-known black directors working today. His 1989 film Do the Right Thing was a game-changer, tackling racial tensions head-on in a way that had never been seen before on film. Lee has continued to push boundaries with his films, most recently with 2018’s BlacKkKlansman, which tells the true story of an African American police officer who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan.
John Singleton was only 23 years old when he made his directorial debut with 1991’s Boyz n the Hood. The film was an instant classic, telling the story of life in South Central Los Angeles from the perspective of those who lived there. Singleton went on to direct such other films as Poetic Justice and Baby Boy, cementing his place as one of Hollywood’s leading voices on issues of race and class in America.
Ava DuVernay made history in 2014 when she became the first black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director for her film Selma. The film tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. DuVernay has continued to make waves in Hollywood with her films 13th and A Wrinkle in Time, proving that she is a force to be reckoned with both behind and in front of the camera.
Jordan Peele made history in 2017 when he became the first black director to win an Oscar for Best Director with his hit film Get Out. The film is a shocking and satirical look at race relations in America, told through the lens of a horror movie. Peele has said that he wants his work to “spark conversation” and it’s safe to say that he has more than succeeded in that regard.
Tyler Perry is best known for his work as a playwright, actor, and producer, but he has also directed several successful films, most notably 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman. The film was groundbreaking not only because it starred an all-black cast but because it dealt with issues like domestic abuse and infidelity in a frank and honest way. Perry has continued to make films that speak directly to the African American experience, most recently with 2018’s Acrimony starring Taraji P. Henson.
These six directors have changed the face of Hollywood forever with their powerful and groundbreaking films. By shedding light on important issues facing the black community, they have helped change the conversation about race in America for the better. We can only hope that there will be many more filmmakers like them in years to come.