These Filmmakers Are Paving The Way For Zillennial Creatives

The new class of creators are making waves in Hollywood

Black filmmakers have always been at the forefront of pushing boundaries in the industry, paving the way for emerging Zillennials to continue their legacy. These filmmakers have challenged the status quo through their storytelling and commitment to authentic representation.

From pioneers like Oscar Micheaux, who defied racial borders in films, to modern visionaries such as Ava DuVernay and Barry Jenkins, who have brought stories of the Black experience to global audiences, the contributions of Black filmmakers have been pivotal in shaping the landscape of cinema.

In today’s digital age, Gen Z filmmakers harness the power of technology and social media to amplify their voices and tell stories that resonate with their generation. With the help of the new class of directors coming into Hollywood, Zillennials have some new inspiration to use as they prepare to enter the realm of storytelling.

With platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram providing accessible avenues for self-expression, young Black filmmakers use these tools to share their perspectives and connect with audiences worldwide. Through their commitment to authenticity, innovation, and social justice, Black filmmakers are paving the way for Gen Z to drive meaningful change in the film industry and beyond.

Shaka King

Shaka King is a director, screenwriter, and producer best known for directing and co-writing on Judas and the Black Messiah, scoring nominations from The Academy Awards, NAACP, and more.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 25: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) In this handout photo provided by A.M.P.A.S., Shaka King attends the 93rd Annual Academy Awards at Union Station on April 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Troy Harvey/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

Nia DaCosta

Nia DaCosta made her feature film debut as a writer and director for her film Little Woods. She garnered significant acclaim through her hard work; she created new content across platforms and soon became the director of The Marvels.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 09: Nia DaCosta speaks onstage during THE MARVELS Fan Screening Surprise Talent Appearance at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California on November 09, 2023. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Terence Nance

Terence Nance is best known for his directing debut, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. He then created a series, Random Acts of Flyness, that tells the story of the complexities of American life through his perspective.

VENICE, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 07: Terence Nance walks the red carpet ahead of the 76th Venice Film Festival closing ceremony at Sala Grande on September 07, 2019 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Laurent KOFFEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Cord Jefferson

After starting a career in journalism and writing for several publications, including being an editor at Gawker until 2016, Cord Jefferson stepped into directing and writing. His recent work, American Fiction, became a beloved moment during award season and received wins from BAFTA, Critics Choice, and more.

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 25: Cord Jefferson, winner of Best Screenplay for ‘American Fiction’ poses at the 2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 25, 2024 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

Daniel Kaluuya

Though Daniele Kaluuya is not a new face in the industry, he’s charting new territory with his directorial debut, The Kitchen. The film highlights the Black British experience in a futuristic universe. With this project, Kaluuya is opening the door for more Zillennial actors to become directors and tell stories behind the camera.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 07: Daniel Kaluuya attends the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton on January 07, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

About the Author: Kenyatta Victoria is the lead writer for Essence GU, working on all things pop culture, politics, entertainment and business. Throughout her time at GU, she’s garnered devoted readers and specializes in the Zillennial point of view.

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