DREAM BIG Little Leader: Who is Julie Dash?

Julie Ethel Dash is an African-American film director, writer and producer.

Dash received her MFA in 1985 at the UCLA Film School and is one of the graduates and filmmakers known as the L.A. Rebellion. After she had written and directed several shorts, her 1991 feature Daughters of the Dust became the first full-length film directed by an African-American woman to obtain general theatrical release in the United States.

Daughters of the Dust is a fictionalized telling of her father’s Gullah family who lived off the coast of the Southeastern United States. The film features black women’s stories, striking visuals shot on location and a non-linear narrative. It’s included in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for its cultural, historical and aesthetic significance. Dash has written two books on Daughters of the Dust—a “making of” history co-written with Toni Cade Bambara and bell hooks, and a sequel, set 20 years after the film’s story. Daughters of the Dust was named one of the most significant films of the last 30 years, by IndieWire.

Dash has worked in television since the late 1990s. Her television movies include Funny Valentines (1999), Incognito (1999), Love Song (2000), and The Rosa Parks Story (2002), starring Angela Bassett. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center commissioned Dash to direct Brothers of the Borderland in 2004, as an immersive film exhibit narrated by Oprah Winfrey following the path of women gaining freedom on the Underground Railroad. In 2017, Dash directed episodes of Queen Sugar on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

At the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, it was announced Dash’s next project will be a biopic of civil rights icon Angela Davis, to be produced by Lionsgate.

Find out more about Julie via her website.

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