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Painting by Chante Fontaine, C'2011

Division for the Arts 

Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D., Chair

Ayoka ChenziraAyoka Chenzira, Ph.D., is an award-winning and pioneering filmmaker. Her distinctive work spans fiction, documentary, animation, performance, experimental, television, interactive films and theater. She is a graduate of New York University (B.F.A. Film) and Columbia University/Teachers College (M.A. Education). She is also the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in digital media from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dr. Chenzira is recognized as one of the first African American women to write, produce and direct a 35mm feature film, "Alma’s Rainbow," developed at Sundance Institute.   

She is considered the first African American woman animator with her film, "Hair Piece." In 2018, "Hair Piece" was one of the twenty-five films inducted into the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress, which selects culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films. 

For her next animated film, "Zajota & the Boogie Spirit," Dr. Chenzira used an early Macintosh computer to design the film. In production, she combined not only frame-by-frame film but frame-by-frame video and computer-generated imagery. This technique had never been done before. For this achievement, she received the Sony Innovator Award.

Dr. Chenzira’s groundbreaking interactive sci-fi /fantasy film, "HERadventure," combines filmmaking and gameplay and has over 350 visual effects. The project was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and premiered at South-by-Southwest. HERadventure led to Dr. Chenzira’s TEDxAtlanta talk on diversity in sci-fi/fantasy films.  

Films by Dr. Chenzira have been presented in film festivals around the world and translated into three languages. They are also included in prestigious permanent collections, including those at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. 

Dr. Chenzira’s work as a television director includes episodes of the hit series Queen Sugar (OWN) for which she was nominated for an NAACP Award for Best Director, Greenleaf (OWN), Trinkets (Netflix), the upcoming series Delilah (OWN), and Dynasty (CW Network).

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which houses the most diverse and extensive motion picture collection globally, is archiving and preserving her films. Dr. Chenzira is a member of the Director’s Guild of America.

Learn more about Dr. Chenzira's HERadventure  
See the video about the DMIS founder on TEDxAtlanta

Majors and Minors

Graphic of Spelman + Kaplan Partnership