Events / Recent Event

In honor of Black History Month, February 28, the virtual meeting of the African American Steering Committee (AASC) featured the roundtable, The Future of Black History. In a conversation moderated by AASC Co-Chair Jeffrey W. Byrd (our kind of people), director-executive producer Ernest Dickerson (Raised by wolves), Olatunde Osunsanmi (Star Trek: Discovery) and Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Golden age) spoke about their process on set, examining the past and future of what black people do on camera, how we can all seek to advance black storytelling, and how to tell black historical stories that don’t depend still heavily on slave narratives.

Prompted by Byrd, Richardson-Whitfield kicked off the conversation with a dip into the past and a discussion of how she was drawn to Golden age, a series set in 1880s New York. “Ultimately, it’s about telling that story. What I do is kind of completely immerse myself in this world, read books, watch classic movies, wrap my brain around it. Then I kind of mix my new style of directing with this old style. I’m pretty good at infusing myself with anything that feels suffocating.

Reaching the far future of the 32nd century, Osunsanmi shared how Star Trek: Discovery affected him on a personal level. ” Everything about star trek do they have a motto, ‘What should be the future?’ When you have a universe where aliens exist, it really puts into perspective who we are as human beings. The series understands that we are different races, but the same human entity. We highlight it through Sonequa Martin-Green as the first black female captain. And it’s great to do something that my daughter and my son can see and say, “She’s the captain of this ship going to warp 9.9 and she’s doing it with her pigtails.”

Reversing course slightly in the near future, Dickerson shared what little he could about his work on the upcoming series. DMZ, which is set in Manhattan after the Civil War of the 21st century and the United States is fractured into separate parts. “We shot in Atlanta and tried to make it look like a post-apocalyptic Manhattan.” He also shared his work on the planet colonization series Raised by wolves, where he shot the first block of the second season. “I got a call from producer David Zucker who said, ‘How would you feel about directing the first two episodes of season two? Ridley Scott designed the look for season one, but it’s set in a part of the planet that hasn’t been seen, so you have to rethink the look of the show. And I said, ‘I’m in!’

Responding to questions from Byrd and the audience online, the panelists also discussed what they look for when hiring directors and crew for their respective shows, highlighted how preparation is key to the process and encouraged participants to challenge themselves and focus on improving their skills in order to perfect their craft.

The video of this event will soon be available in the gallery below

About the panelists:
Ernest Dickerson
A member of the DGA since 1992, Dickerson’s directorial credits include feature films Juice, Survive the game, Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, never die alone and Double-dealing; and episodes of television series including Thread, The Walking Dead, Dexter, Bosch, Card castle and The Man in the High Castle as well as the series DMZ where he is also an executive producer. He is an eight-time NAACP Image Award nominee, winning Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for his 2009 Lincoln Heights episode, “The Day Before Tomorrow” and its 2011 Treme episode, “Treme: Do Watcha Wanna.”
Olatunde OsunsanmiOlatunde Osunsanmi
Osunsanmi’s Directing Credits Include Feature Films The cave, The fourth kind and Evidence; as well as episodes of falling sky, Existing, The last boat, sleepy hollow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Timeless, Gotham, Blind spot and Bates Motel. He is currently an executive producer and director on Star Trek: Discovery. Osunsanmi joined the DGA in 2011.
Salli Richardson-WhitfieldSalli Richardson-Whitfield
Richardson-Whitfield was best known for her work in front of the camera before moving into directing with episodes of the hit network series Syfy, Eurekaand Ava DuVernay sugar queen. Her directorial credits now include shows such as wheel of time, Reprisals, Altered carbon, american gods, Survivor’s remorse, The Chi, Scandal, Blackish, Luke Cage, winning time and Golden age where she is also an executive producer. Richardson-Whitfield joined the DGA in 2010 and served as co-chair of the African American Steering Committee from 2018 to 2020.

Jeff ByrdJeffrey W. Byrd (moderator)
Byrd’s directing credits include feature films The King’s Ransom and A beautiful soul; movies for tv seventeen again and Jasper, Texas; and episodes of the series Dynasty, the flash, Charm, Black Lightning, soul food and Single women as well as our kind of people where he is also an executive producer. A member of the DGA since 1999, Byrd is in his third term as Co-Chair of the African American Steering Committee and has also served on the Western Directors Council and as a Director’s Category Representative for the AASC from 2018-2020. .

About the committee:

The African American Steering Committee (AASC) was born out of a desire to meet the specific needs of African American members of the Directors Guild. One of the primary goals of the committee is to establish a productive line of communication between African American members and the creative community. The committee meets monthly to plan events throughout the year celebrating the achievements of African Americans, as well as forums with industry leaders to proactively discuss what can be done to hire more of African Americans.

Jennifer C. Burleigh