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Must-See Movies by Black Women Directors

Something magical happens when a sister yells, ‘Action!’ Check out these films featuring Whoopi, Ledisi, Phylicia Rashad, VP Kamala Harris and others.

Till

(In theaters and on demand on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Vudu)

Everett Collection

Because of Mamie Till-Mobley’s bravery, we will never forget her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till. Based on a false claim from a white woman, the bright-eyed teen was kidnapped and brutally murdered by a lynch mob of white men in 1955 while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. Directed by Chinonye Chukwu and starring the talented Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie and Whoopi Goldberg as her mother, Alma Carthan, the film chronicles the Chicago teacher-turned-activist’s pursuit of justice for her boy and her decision to allow an open-casket viewing and photographs to let the world bear witness to the atrocities of racial hatred.

Nanny

(Currently in limited theatrical release; premiering on Amazon Prime on Dec. 16)

Everett Collection

In her visually stunning feature film debut, writer and director Nikyatu Jusu gives this familiar story of an immigrant nanny working for a privileged white couple a supernatural and suspenseful spin. Fresh-faced beauty Anna Diop portrays Aisha, a young woman from West Africa who becomes a nanny to save enough money to bring her son to America, and Sinqua Walls makes a memorable impression as Malik, her handsome love interest.

Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story

(Hulu)

Danielle Brooks did her thing as Mahalia Jackson in the 2021 Lifetime biopic Mahalia, produced by Robin Roberts. But if you’re a superfan of the gospel great, you will also enjoy jazzy soul singer Ledisi’s softer and more music-driven portrayal in Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story, directed by Denise Dowse, who passed away earlier this year.

Subjects of Desire

(Starz)

Courtesy of Subjects of Desire

Black is beautiful in every shade, shape and hair texture. The constant microaggressions and negative feedback we receive about our appearance, however, would have us think and feel differently. But we won’t let the haters break our souls. Subjects of Desire is a reminder that we are enough just the way we are. This self-esteem-boosting documentary directed, written and produced by Jennifer Holness, a veteran producer and mother of three daughters, uses the Miss Black America Pageant as a thematic anchor. Frank conversations with singer India.Arie, academics, pageant contestants and controversial cultural appropriator Rachel Dolezal seek to dismantle racial stereotypes and what we’ve internalized about European standards of beauty. Watch this with a young woman you cherish.

Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

(Tubi)

Courtesy of Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

Narrated by Phylicia Rashad, this inspiring documentary features interviews with other prominent members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, including Vice President Kamala Harris. You don’t have to be an AKA to appreciate what the nine founding members accomplished. However, if you are a soror (skee-wee!), this film, written and directed by Deborah Riley Draper, is a must-see. With the founding of the sorority in 1908 at Howard University, these visionary young women prioritized academic excellence, social justice and women’s voting rights. To this day, members of the AKA sisterhood continue to serve the Black community, notably by offering free mammograms via their mobile mammography units.

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