Blackfilm’s List of The Top African-American Film Producers for 2018By Wilson Morales
September 21, 2018
When it comes to films, believe it or not, it’s not easy to find 10 African American producers consistently working. Granted, unless they have had one film be financially successful or critically acclaimed, having the next film greenlit isn’t always a sure thing.
Blackfilm.com has compiled a list of 10 FILM producers of 2018 who have projects that were released this year and/or have projects currently in production. We’re not including producers who are mostly known for their TV projects but rather those who are getting films produced for theatrical release or streaming services, although some may have TV projects as well.
If there’s anyone on top of his game right now, it’s Will Packer. From his early success at Screen Gems, where his films either opened at #1 or #2 at the box office to his current run at Universal, where he’s had hits with the Ride Along films and most recently Girls Trip, he continues to turn out hits. Earlier this year, he produced the Gabrielle Union thriller Breaking In, and has the Kevin Hart/ Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School coming out this month. Upcoming projects include a remake of Jacob’s Ladder with Michael Ealy and Nicole Beharie, What Men Want, a reboot of the Mel Gibson film that will star Taraji P. Henson, and Little, starring Blackish star Marsai Martin and Insecure’s Issa Rae.
As co-founder and co-CEO of Alcon Entertainment with Andrew Kosove, they have produced a number of box office hits for nearly twenty years. Among their films include Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia, Love Don’t Cost a Thing starring Nick Cannon, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1 & 2, The Bind Side, which netted Sandra Bullock an Academy Award for Best Actress and made Johnson the first Black producer to receive an Oscar nomination, The Hughes Bros. film The Book of Eli, Lottery Ticket, Joyful Noise, Prisoners, and last year’s Blade Runner 2049. Earlier this year, Alcon exec produced 12 Strong, which starred Chris Hemsworth.
After spending 20 years as a talent agent for the William Morris Talent Agency (now William Morris Endeavor), Charles King started his production company MACRO. With a mission to produce films from the perspective of people of color, MACRO has helped produced Steven Caple Jr’s The Land, Denzel Washington’s Fences, which brought Viola Davis an Academy Award and Roman J. Israel, Esq, which netted Washington his 8th Oscar nomination. MACRO also helped produced Dee Rees’ Mudbound, which received four Oscar nods, and this year’s Sorry To Bother You, starring Lakeith Stanfield. Upcoming projects include Really Love, directed by Angel Kristi Williams and Tigertail, the upcoming Netflix movie from creator Alan Yang (Master of None).
With BlacKkKlansman currently in theaters and receiving rave reviews, some may think that this is Spike Lee’s comeback, but that’s not the case. With over 70 producing credits, Lee has helped shepherd numerous independent films, short films, and documentaries to fruition. Besides his series She’s Gotta Have It on Netflix, he’s producing the sci-fi film See You Yesterday, based on the award-winning short film and serves as an exec producer on writer-director Faraday Okoro’s Nigerian Prince, which hits theaters on October 19.
Datari Turner is one of the few individuals solely producing films as opposed to being part of a group. Most recently, his latest project, Qasim Basir’s A Boy. A Girl. A Dream just hit theaters. Besides his successful Growing Up Hip Hop and Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta TV series, he’s worked on Sheldon Candis’ LUV starring Common and Michael Rainey Jr, Corey Grant’s Dysfunctional Friends, Ty Hodges’ A Girl Like Grace, and Justin Chon’s Gook. With close to 40 production credits. Upcoming projects include Uncorked, directed by Prentice Penny. If Not Now, When?, directed by Meagan Good and Tamara LaSeon Bass. Same Difference, directed by newcomer Derege Harding, and the Showtime series, Shut up and Dribble, executive producing with Lebron James and Maverick Carter.
Stephanie Allain/ Mel Jones
For over 20 years, Stephanie Allain has been responsible for getting filmmakers their first taste in the big leagues such as Reggie Rock Bythewood’s Biker Boyz’s, Craig Brewer’s Hustle & Flow, Sanaa Hamri’s Something New, Tina Gordon Chism’s Peeples, and Gerald McMurray’s Burning Sands. Allain was credited with being a producer on those films, along with Gina Prince Bythewood’s Beyond The Lights and Justin Simien’s Dear White People. It’s not listed on IMDB, but Allain was a script reader at Columbia at the time and got executives to green light the amazing film that came to be known as Boyz N The Hood. Along with Mel Jones, their upcoming projects include Stella Meghie’s The Weekend, which recently had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and Clark Johnson’s Juanita, starring Alfre Woodard, and Angel Kristi Williams’s Really Love, starring Queen Sugar’s Kofi Soriboe.
While he’s acting in lead and supporting roles, Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker has also been working behind the camera and helping filmmakers get their feet wet. He helped produced Ryan Coogler’s feature debut Fruitvale Station, after it won acclaim as a short film. He produced Rick Famuyima’s Dope, which introduced folks to rising stars Shamiek Moore and Kiersey Clemons, Roxanne Roxanne with Chanté Adams, and Boots Riley’s Sorry To Bother You..
A former Sr. Vice-President of Production for Columbia’s TriStar Pictures, DeVon Franklin’s first producing credit came with Miracles From Heaven, which had a $13M budget and grossed $73M. He followed it with the faith based animated film The Star, which featured the voices of Gina Rodriguez, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey. Currently filming is his next project, Breakthrough, directed by Roxann Dawson and starring This Is Us actress Chrissy Metz, Topher Grace and Mike Colter. On deck is a reboot of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
Oscar nominated for producing Manchester By The Sea, Kimberly Steward became the second black female to achieve that milestone after Oprah Winfrey (Selma). Prior to that, she had produced Thomas Allen Harris’ acclaimed documentary Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People. Coming up next is Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria, which she exec produced and The True Adventures of Wolfboy.
Roxanne Avent and Robert F. Smith
In a short amount of time, Roxanne Avent and Robert F. Smith, associated with the production company, Hidden Film Group have increased their slate of films. From the success of Meet The Blacks, to Traffik starring Paula Patton. Upcoming films include the comedy feature “All-Star Weekend,” directed by and starring Jamie Foxx, along with Robert Downey Jr., Gerard Butler, & Eva Longoria, Meet The Blacks 2: The House Next Door, The Intruder starring Michael Ealy, and Fatale starring Hilary Swank.