During Black History Month, we are taking the opportunity to celebrate some of the many incredible Black woman artists that we know and love. Our next artist is Melina Matsoukas!
Melina Matsoukas is a director and producer of film, television, and music videos. Interestingly, her very first film was actually destroyed upon completion, because it did not live up to her standards.
After getting a masters in cinematography, completing her thesis on music videos, Melina went on to direct music videos for several iconic musicians. These included Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Beyoncé, who she worked with most frequently.
In 2016, Melina directed the music video for “Formation” from Beyoncé’s album “Lemonade.” This video was a huge hit for Beyoncé fans and critics alike; it won several awards including the MTV Music Video Award for Video of the Year and the Grammy Award for Best Music Video.
Melina’s music videos are known for their strong and pointed use of color, sometimes embracing vibrant hues, and other times creating scenes in all black and white.
Melina’s music videos are known for their strong and pointed use of color, sometimes embracing vibrant hues, and other times creating scenes in all black and white. She is also known to tell a story with every video (the Formation video, for example, explores New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina), while at the same time skillfully highlighting and centering the musical artist.
Melina went on to direct and executive produce episodes for two well-loved television series, Master of None and Insecure. She directed one of Master of None’s most acclaimed episodes, “Thanksgiving,” which went on to win two Emmy Awards.
During her time as a television director, Melina was also nominated for two NAACP awards for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series and the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series.
Melina made her directorial debut with Queen & Slim, written by Lena Waithe, who wrote and starred in the “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None mentioned above. Starring Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya, Queen & Slim is about two people who are on the run after killing a policeman in self-defense, while on their very first date.
In a review of the film, FF2 Contributor Carlotta Plys-Garzotto says, “Queen & Slim updates a classic ‘on-the-run’ movie trope by breathing life, power, meaning, and the relevance of right now into it. To successfully create a piece of art that makes an audience feel as much as this film is rare.”
Whether it is Lena Waithe or Beyoncé, Melina is a woman with powerful connections to other artists, leading to ongoing collaborations that are a gift to the world. Every single piece of her work has been both artistically and politically impactful. When you watch “Formation,” you want to see more of her music videos. When you watch “Thanksgiving,” you want to see her direct episodes in all of your favorite shows. When you watch “Queen and Slim,” you hope that it’s the first of many films to come.
To put it simply, when you come across Melina’s work, you want to see more.
© Julia Lasker (2/21/23) FF2 Media
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Featured photo: Photo courtesy of PR Newswire.