Michèle Stephenson

Filmmaker, artist, and author, Michèle Stephenson, pulls from her Haitian and Panamanian roots and experience as a social justice lawyer to think radically about storytelling and disrupt the imaginary in non-fiction spaces. She tells emotionally driven, personal narratives of resistance and identity that center the lived experiences of communities of color in the Americas and the Black diaspora. Grounded in a Black Atlantic lens, Stephenson tells stories that intentionally reimagine and provoke thought about how we engage with and dismantle the internalized impact of systemic oppression. She draws on fiction, immersive, and hybrid forms of storytelling to build her worlds and narratives. In 2023, Stephenson had two films Oscar shortlisted – the feature documentary “Going To Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and premiered on MAX, and her ESPN short, “Black Girls Play: The Story of Hand Games” which won Best Short Doc at the Tribeca Festival. Her documentary, “American Promise”, was nominated for three Emmys and won the Jury Prize at Sundance. Her work, “Stateless”, was nominated for a Canadian Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary. Stephenson collaborated as co-director on the magical realist virtual reality trilogy series on racial terror, “The Changing Same”, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival; won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Immersive Narrative at the Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Interactive Media Innovative category. Along with her writing partners, Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, Stephenson won an NAACP Image Award for Excellence in a Literary Work for their book, “Promises Kept”. Currently, Stephenson is in post-production on a feature on the Black Power movement in Canada. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a Guggenheim Artist Fellow, and a Creative Capital Artist.