Julie Dash

Julie Dash

Born in New York City, Julie Dash is a filmmaker, music video and commercial director, author and website creator. Her film studies began in Harlem in 1969, but eventually led her to the American Film Institute and UCLA, where she made The Diary of an African Nun (1977), based on a short story by Alice Walker, which won a student award from the Directors Guild of America. Dash’s critically acclaimed short film Illusions (1982) later won the Jury Prize for Best Film of the Decade awarded by the Black Filmmakers Foundation.

Dash’s first feature — Daughters of the Dust (1991) — was the first film by an African American woman to receive a general theatrical release in the United States; the Library of Congress named it to the National Film Registry in 2004. Dash returned to the film’s characters and their Gullah milieu in her novel of the same title, published in 1999.

Her television films include “Love Song” (2000), starring R&B singer Monica Arnold, the romantic thriller “Incognito” (1999), and the domestic drama “Funny Valentines” (1999). Dash was nominated for a Directors Guild Award for “The Rosa Parks Story” (2002) starring Angela Bassett.

She has directed music videos for Tony! Toni! Toné!, Keb’ Mo’, Peabo Bryson, Adriana Evans, Sweet Honey in the Rock and Tracy Chapman.

When not working on her projects, Dash is a frequent lecturer at many leading universities, including Stanford University, Princeton, Harvard and Yale.


Birthplace: New York City, NY
Education: UCLA, M.F.A. 1985

Selected Filmography

Film Role(s) Year
Four Women (1975) Four Women

Dancer Linda Martina Young portrays the four Black women described in Julie Dash's dance film set to Nina Simone’s stirring ballad.

Director
Writer
Editor
1975
The Diary of an African Nun (1977) The Diary of an African Nun

A nun in Uganda weighs the emptiness she finds in her supposed union with Christ. Julie Dash adapted Alice Walker's short story.

Director
Producer
Editor
1977
Illuisons (1982) Illusions

Set in Hollywood during World War II, Julie Dash's Illusions explores the nature of Hollywood fantasy and the illusion of racial identity.

Director
Producer
Writer
Editor
1982
Daughters of the Dust (1991) Daughters of the Dust

Julie Dash’s masterpiece, the first American feature by an African American woman to receive a general theatrical release, announced a formidable talent with its story of an island family, descendants of escaped slaves, living off the Southern coast of the US in 1902 and contemplating a move to the U.S. mainland.  Superb performances, cinematography, music and touches of magical realism, grace this unforgettable film.

Director
Producer
Writer
1991
Film reel "Funny Valentines"

A woman runs from a troubled marriage in New York, returning to her home in the Deep South and the cousin she left behind. Directed by Julie Dash.

Director 1999
The Rosa Parks Story (2002) The Rosa Parks Story

Based on the true events of the “first lady of the civil rights movement,” Julie Dash’s "The Rosa Parks Story" chronicles the history of Parks’ famous act of civil disobedience. Focusing on both the moment that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and Parks’ personal life, the film is an uplifting tale of courageousness and humanity in the face of bigotry and injustice. 

Director 2002

Video Clips

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Links