First Black Woman to Direct a Film Backed by a Major Studio


By D.L. Chandler

Darnell Martin is the first African-American woman to direct a film backed by a major studio. While Ms. Martin has downplayed the distinction in the past, she has gone on to an active career on the small screen while scoring some big screen projects as well.

Martin was born January 7, 1964 in the Bronx. Her mother, a white Italian woman, was a dancer. Her father, a Black attorney, was seldom around during her youth so her mother primarily raised her. Her diverse upbringing in the New York borough would later inform her film work. In interviews, Martin proudly speaks of both her Black and white heritage. After attending Sarah Lawrence College and the New York University Film School, Martin began working on music videos.

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