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Influential LGBTQ+ Filmmakers

Pride month is officially here! In honor of the LGBTQ+ activists who fought in the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969, Pride month is celebrated every year. At AWV, one of our absolute favorite things to do this month is watch content made by queer creators--shocker! Join in the fun and keep scrolling to learn more about three LGBTQ+ filmmakers who have inspired us!

1) Lauren Hadaway

Honestly, the instant we read Lauren Hadaway's story, we fell a little bit in love. If you were to take a look at her IMDb page, you'd see two director/writer credits and 48 sound credits. Hadaway had her sights set on directing since age 15... but when she got to film school, she felt so out of place that she was convinced she could never be a director. Regardless, she excelled in sound design--she landed Damien Chazelle's Whiplash (2014) and Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (2015) just years out of school, at ages 24 and 25. After working in the industry for several years, her intense imposter syndrome subsided. Hadaway decided she wanted to tell her own stories and make her own works of art--and she's definitely succeeding. The Novice (2021), her debut feature-length film, earned 5 Indie Spirit nominations. The director explains in interviews that she is intensely internally-driven (often to an unhealthy extreme), and thus set out to portray the psychological trauma that individuals are capable of manifesting for themselves.

2) Cheryl Dunye

As proud Philadelphians, we absolutely had to talk about Cheryl Dunye. Though she was born in Liberia, she was raised here in Philly. And, like us, she earned her BA in film from Temple University! Her work creates spaces to honor the unique experiences of Black women and Black lesbians. Dunye typically weaves both documentary and fiction into her pieces, skillfully incorporating powerful narratives in her (experimental) short films. The filmmaker's work critically addresses race, sexuality, family, relationships, nuances of white and Black lesbian dating culture, and the experiences of Black women in prison. This work has earned Dunye a myriad of awards, including the Girlfriends Best Director Award (2000), the London International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival Best Feature Award (2002), and the Black Reel Awards for Television Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series Award (2020).

3) Laverne Cox

How could we not include Laverne Cox on this list!? Initially rising to fame in her role as Sophia Burset in Orange Is the New Black, Cox has truly become a trailblazer in LGBTQ+ artistry and advocacy. She has consistently used her platform to advocate for queer rights, especially those of Black Trans women. In 2015, Cox won a Daytime Emmy Award in Outstanding Special Class Special as Executive Producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T-Word. With this win, Cox became the first transgender woman to win a Daytime Emmy as an Executive Producer, and the project was the first Trans documentary to win a Daytime Emmy. Cox was also the first Trans person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the Acting category, and the first to be nominated for an Emmy since composer Angela Morley in 1990. Cox has also been featured on countless magazine covers and interviews. Through it all, she keeps advocacy and activism at the forefront, forever using her voice to fight for the LGBTQ+ community.


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