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Spelman College Faculty Stories

Faculty Stories

Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D., Receives NAACP Image Award Nomination

February 2019

Film by Ayoka Chenzira in National Registry Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D., division chair for the arts, chair of the Department of Art & Visual Culture and professor, received a NAACP Image Award nomination in the category of Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for the OWN TV show, “Queen Sugar.”

In 2018, Dr. Chenzira joined an impressive list of  first-time television directors who completed the Season Three, all-female directorial line-up of “Queen Sugar,” the critically acclaimed OWN drama series from Academy award-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay. That effort continued the creative initiative established in the show’s first season by series creator and executive producer DuVernay to hire all female directorial teams.

In addition to Dr. Chenzira, other directors for the show included Nijla Mu’min, Christina Choe, and Rachel Raimist, along with the return of “Queen Sugar” show runner Kat Candler. These directors join the previously announced line-up including “Queen Sugar” producing director DeMane Davis, Patricia Cardoso, Shaz Bennett, Maria Govan and Lauren Wolkstein.

An award-winning artist and recognized pioneer in Black independent cinema, Dr. Chezira is a graduate of New York University (B.F.A. Film), Columbia University/Teachers College (M.A. Education) and is the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in digital media from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Her distinctive body of work spans fiction, documentary, animation, performance, experimental narratives, and interactive cinema. Her film work includes “Alma’s Rainbow,” one of the first 35mm independent films by an African-American woman, along with “Hair Piece: a film for nappyheaded people,” “Zajotaand the Boogie Spirit,” “My Own TV” and HERadventure.” “Queen Sugar” marks her directorial debut for television.