It is extremely difficult to become a successful director in the entertainment industry especially for African-Americans. Fortunately for us there are amazing hardworking visionaries that continue to create, break barriers and thrive in the movie business. We’ve compiled a list of our top five black directors in Hollywood.
He burst onto the big screen in 1998 with The Replacement Killers, an action packed film starring Yun-Fat Chow and Mira Sorvino. Since, he’s directed film classics like Training Day (2001), King Arthur (2004), and Olympus Has Fallen (2013). Fuqua recently announced that he is directing Suge Knight’s highly anticipated documentary. He has also directed music videos for Coolio, Usher, Stevie Wonder, and Prince.
Though Lee Daniels doesn’t have as many credits as many of our other favorite directors, but when he strikes, the experience is memorable. The Oscar Nominee got his start producing movies like The Monster’s Ball (2001) starring Oscar-Award winner Halle Berry and The Woodsman (2004) with Kevin Bacon. His recent films, Precious (2009) and Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013) starring Forrest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey really catapulted him into super star director status. He’s currently working on fictional drama-series Empire starring Terrance Howard and Taraji P. Henson scheduled to premiere later this year.
3. John Singleton
The directorial giant hit the ground running with the Oscar nominated, urban classic Boyz In the Hood (1991) about the lives of teenage Black males growing up in the ghetto of South Central, Los Angeles. It created a platforms for the acting careers of Black stars like, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, and Ice Cube. Singleton is responsible for so many African-American film classics like Poetic Justice (1993) starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur, Baby Boy (2001) starring Tyrese Gibson and Taraji P. Henson or the speed-thrilling action movie 2 Fast 2 Furious starring Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson. He’s also dabbled in producing hot films like Higher Learning (1995) and Hustle & Flow (2006). Singleton is currently working on chronicling the life of deceased rapper, Tupac Shakur.
Tyler Perry is the youngest on the director on this prestigious list. In his short time in Hollywood he’s accomplished more than most directors with twice as many years in the business. This Black Reel Award winner has over 30 projects under his belt that range from the big screen, theatre and television. This man does it all. He started directing dramatic comedic plays that toured around country. As an actor, he perfected his star character, the gun totting, outspoken Madea. Since 2002, Tyler has directed films like Madea’s Family Reunion, For Colored Girls (2010) and Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (2013). You can also catch one of his newest T.V. shows, The Haves and the Have Nots (2013-14), a drama series about the intertwined lives of the rich and the poor.
This cinematic legend has a whopping 56 (and counting) movies in collection some of which dating all the way back to 1977. But Lee first didn’t receive his commercial success until his masterpiece She’s Gotta Have It (1986). This film is about a young beauty and her three simultaneous relationships with men whom she refuses to commit to. This Award winning artists has perplexed minds of several generations with films like School Daze (1988), Malcolm X (1992), The Original Kings of Comedy (2000), and Hurricane Katrina inspired documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006). This man has electrified the meaning of black culture on all screens. He’s currently in post-production for a few things to be released later this year.
Our honorable mentions are Malcolm D. Lee, Forest Whittaker, Ava Marie DuVernay, and Denzel Washington.