10 Black Film Production Companies and Producers That Showcase BLACK EXCELLENCE
BLACK HOLLYWOOD IS ON THE RISE!
Everywhere from Nollywood in Nigeria, to Los Angeles and Atlanta, Georgia, people love our Black faces and more so, WE love seeing our Black faces on the big screen. As mostly everyone knows, Hollywood movies shaped white peoples perception of Black people, meaning they were in charge of what roles Black people played. In 1905, most African-Americans portrayed in Hollywood films were white actors in Blackface.
The most damaging perception of the Black male image was in the 1915 movie Birth of a Nation. D.W. Griffith produced and directed Hollywood’s first epic movie — "a glorified Ku Klux Klan recruitment film." Black male stereotypes were made in Birth of a Nation: untrustworthy, savage, dumb, slow, bug-eyes, murderer and worst of all, rapist of white women. It's time to change that! ALL the way!
But, before I get into the top 10 Black Production companies you MUST know about, let me give a shout out to Oscar Micheaux for creating Black Roadshow Cinema. A handsome young Film Director who made 44 films, without seeking white approval. If he was able to make the money that white folks made then, he could have been the Tyler Perry of the early 1900s! So, now let's get into the Top 10 that ARE making extreme paper!
#1 John Boyega & UpperRoom Productions
Boyega sealed a deal with Netflix through his production company, UpperRoom, to develop non-English language films centered on West and East Africa. The company is UK based and was started in 2016. John is said to have countless projects on the way, so keep a look out!
“I am thrilled to partner with Netflix to develop a slate of non-English language feature films focused on African stories and my team and I am excited to develop original material. We are proud to grow this arm of our business with a company that shares our vision,” - said Boyega.
#2. Jordan Peele & Monkey Paw Productions
Most of you may know Peele from his famous movies Get Out, US and his new TV series LoveCraft Country, but he has definitely dipped his “paws” in many film projects and has many more creations on the way.
Did you know that Universal just made a 5 year deal with Monkeypaw Productions in an effort to push more diverse entertainment? I mean who wouldn’t want to work with Jordan Peele, after all, both his movies together grossed half a billion dollars. So we can expect to see two great movies in the future between these two companies.
“Jordan has established himself as a premier voice and original storyteller with global appeal. He is leading a new generation of filmmakers that have found a way to tap into the cultural zeitgeist with groundbreaking content that resonates with audiences of all backgrounds,” - Donna Langley, chairman to Universal Filmed Entertainment Group
#3. Matthew A Cherry & Lion Forge Animation
Mr. Cherry is a Chicago native and a former NFL wide receiver who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens.
Believe it or not, Cherry was an Executive Producer on the Academy Award®-nominated film “BlacKkKlansman” from Spike Lee while working as a Creative Executive at Jordan Peele’s production company, Monkeypaw Productions. How did we NOT know about this GUY?! He recently released a short animation called “Hair Love” and signed a first look deal with Warner Bros TV and is set to direct the upcoming comedy heist film The Come Up for New Line Cinema. OH! and HBO Max just picked up the 12-part TV series “Young Love,” a spinoff of “Hair Love.” Go Cherry!
#4. Jeff Clanagan & Codeblack Films
In 2005, Clanagan founded Codeblack Enterprises. Jeff Clanagan, recognized as one of Black Enterprise Magazine's Top 50 Hollywood Power Brokers and a member of Ebony Magazine's Power 150, is responsible for the release of nearly 200 DVDs. His projects have generated over $150M in revenue. He entered the entertainment industry as a concert promoter for vanguard artists Run DMC, LL Cool J, The Isley Brothers, MC Hammer, and Luther Vandross, as well as others. His first role after that was as President of Master P's seminal No Limit Films. At No Limit, Clanagan was responsible for the production of the films Foolish and Lockdown. Below are a few movies you might have seen. If you haven't, be sure to check them out, they are some of my favorites!
#5. Oprah Winfrey & Harpo Productions
I think its safe to say Oprah Winfrey needs no introduction, but:
Did you know that Harpo was Oprah spelled backwards?? In 1986, Winfrey founded Harpo Productions Inc. and decided to use her first name spelled backwards.
By the late 1990s, Winfrey's show had about 20 million regular viewers, and Harpo Productions had annual revenues of $150 million with about 200 Chicago employees.
My top 3 favorite movies by this Harpo production company:
#6. Lebron James & Springhill Entertainment
King James isn’t just pushing his talents on the court, but shares with us his talents for the TV/Film Industry. Lebron started Springhill Entertainment with Maverick Carter in 2007. Their first documentary was called More than a Game followed by a 4 season TV series, with Starz, Survivor’s Remorse. SpringHill Entertainment is now a global consumer and entertainment brand focused on empowerment, which has secured $100M in financial backing. Remember the movie Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, starring Octavia Spencer? That was Springhill Entertainment! Last summer of 2020, Lebron made a deal with ABC studios to develop scripted TV projects for all platforms.
"SpringHill Entertainment makes the shows LeBron and I want to watch. We look at every project as a way to connect with our community and ask ourselves if it will entertain and empower them. We want our content to be insightful in every way,” - said Carter, CEO of The SpringHill Company.
#7. Michael B Jordan & Outlier Society Production
I can’t talk about our great Black Entertainers and Producers without bringing up Michael B. Jordan and his company Outlier Society Production. We all know Michael B Jordan from his roles in Black Panther and Fruitvale Station; maybe even The Wire. He took his first deal with his production company with Warner Brothers. WB partnered with Jordan with an agreement of his Inclusion Rider, a clause that can be added to contracts for actors and others working on a movie, requiring that the movie’s producers hire a diverse cast and crew.
This isn’t a surprise to me, seeing as Michael has been with Warner Brothers since his debut in The Wire. He was 15 years old at the time! Outlier has produced films like Fahrenheit 451, Raising Dion, The Liberators, and David Makes Man.
#8. Eddie Murphy & Eddie Murphy Production with Paramount
Eddie Murphy is one of THE most talented comedic actors! With all of the movies he has starred in playing multiple characters himself, no wonder he has his own production company! Some popular movies you may know are Coming to America, Beverly Hills Cops I, II, and III, Boomerang and Harlem Nights, were ALL created by Eddie Murphy Production. Recently, Netflix licensed the Beverly Hills Cop sequel, so we know this will only be more money for Eddie. Let’s not forget the remake or should we say Part 2 of Coming to America is coming out as well this year! Ah!!
#9 Debra Martin & Martin Chase Productions with Walt Disney
Many of you may not know who Debra Martin Chase is, but you may know her work. She is a beautiful Black movie producer known for her films Courage Under Fire, The Sisterhood of the Traveling pants, and The Princess Diaries. Before she started in the Film Industry she worked as a lawyer. She later worked for the legal team for Columbia Pictures, making her way in Denzel Washington's production company, Mundy Lane Entertainment. (YES HE HAS ONE TOO!) She produced the phenomenal movies, Pelican Brief, Devil in a Blue Dress, The Preachers Wife, and the documentary Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream (may he rest in peace). Her recent work was the movie Harriet, released in 2019.
Her production company is now affiliated with Universal Television, a division of NBCUniversal Television Group. Disney made her the first Black female producer to have a deal at a major studio. There, she created Cinderella with Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston as well as the original musical Lemonade Mouth. She may be behind the scenes, but her name is definitely well known in the industry!
#10. Ava Duvernay & Array
Another Black woman producer and director of excellence is Ava Duvernay. Array was founded in 2010. She is best known for the documentary 13th, which earned her an Oscar Nomination as well as the winner of Best Director of the film Middle of Nowhere at the Sundance Film Festival, 2012. She is known for one of my favorite TV series, Queen Sugar and was also nominated for an Emmy for the limited series When They See Us.
Ava and her company Array, have countless films under her belt. Some favorites I recommend are: Vaya, HoneyTrap, and Mississippi Damned. She is currently still working on Queen Sugar, and her new CBS series The Red Line and her upcoming OWN series, Cherish the Day.
Stay locked in for more insight on Black TV excellence! This is our time and there are plenty of us out there producing and directing GREAT material. You know I’ll stay on top of it!
Thanks for reading Kings and Queens!!