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Ayoka Chenzira

Ayoka Chenzira is a prolific film and video artist whose works span features, animation, documentary, performance art, and experimental productions. As a screenwriter, producer, and director, she has worked on special film commissions in Austria, England, and Brazil and lectured extensively about film throughout the United States, Europe, and Africa. Chenzira was born during the 1950s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and earned a B.F.A. in film production from New York University and an M.A in education from Columbia University.

Chenzira is considered the first African-American woman animator and she is one of the first African-American women to write, produce and direct a 35mm feature film, ALMA’S RAINBOW. Her film HAIR PIECE: A FILM FOR NAPPYHEADED PEOPLE was voted one of the top fifty films to assist educators with discussions of race. Chenzira is also the founder and CEO of Red Carnelian Films, a Brooklyn, New York-based production and distribution company dedicated to bringing thought-provoking and entertaining stories about Black life and culture to the screen through its Black Indie Classics Collection. Chenzira has received numerous awards including those for outstanding contributions to the field of Black independent cinema, and has earned popular and critical acclaim for her films from international audiences.

As the chair of the department of media and communication arts at the City College of New York, Chenzira managed programs in advertising, public relations, journalism, film and video. She also co-created the City College of New York’s first M.F.A in media arts production graduate program. In 2002, Chenzira was invited to serve as the first William and Camille Cosby Endowed Professor in the Arts at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where she is creator and director of the Digital Moving Image Salon (DMIS) and teaches a year-long research and production course. She also created and served as co-director of Oral Narratives and Digital Technology, a joint venture between Spelman College and the Durham Institute of Technology (DIT), where she designed and taught workshops primarily for Zulu students. (10/09)


Hair Piece
A film by Ayoka Chenzira, 1985, 10 min., Color

An animated satire on the question of self image for African American women living in a society where beautiful hair is viewed as hair that blows in t...

Syvilla
A film by Ayoka Chenzira, 1979, 15 min.

A portrait of Syvilla Fort focusing on the beauty of her choreography, the virtuosity of her dancing, and her role as teacher of a generation of Afric...



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