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Sunday Spotlight: Meet the Princess Grace Award winning Film Directors


Welcome back to our “Sunday Spotlight” series. Throughout this series, we recognize many of the incredible artists who have previously been awarded by the Princess Grace Foundation-USA.

For this week’s installment, we’re excited to introduce you to some of our renowned Princess Grace Award-Winning Film Directors. They write, produce and direct some of the best in film and television, and you’re bound to recognize some of their work.

The Princess Grace Foundation-USA is dedicated to upholding the legacy of Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco, (neé Grace Kelly) and elevating extraordinary emerging artists in theater, dance and film through career-advancing grants. Through annual unrestricted support, the Princess Grace Awards program recognizes creative generators (animators, theater directors, designers, playwrights, choreographers, filmmakers, etc.) and performance-based creatives (actors, dancers, etc.).


Applications for the Princess Grace Awards 2021 remain open until Monday, February 15.


Cary Joji Fukunaga

Film 2005, Director

The first American to direct a Bond film and the first Asian American to win an Emmy for Outstanding Direction, Cary Joji Fukunaga is a writer, director, and producer who often writes and directs his own work. Perhaps best known for directing the first season of True Detective (and for sporting some daring braids at the 2014 Emmy Awards), Cary got Hollywood’s attention from his first feature film, Sin Nombre, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. But even before all of that, Cary had caught the eye of the Princess Grace Foundation and received his Princess Grace Award while enrolled at Tisch NYU’s Graduate Film Program.


Watch Now: Beasts of No Nation, Jane Eyre, Sin Nombre

Upcoming: James Bond No Time To Die


Nijla Mu’min

Film 2012 , Director

Nijla Mu’min is an Award-winning writer and filmmaker who tells stories about black girls and women who find themselves between worlds and identities. Named by Filmmaker Magazine in 2017 as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film”, she also caught the eye of Ava DuVernay who tapped Nijla to direct episodes of Queen Sugar. Her first feature film Jinn premiered at SXSW where she received Special Jury Recognition for writing. The Princess Grace Foundation has been proud to be part of Nijla’s artistic journey since 2012.


Watch Now: Jinn, Queen Sugar episode “The Tree and Stone Were One”, Insecure episode “Lowkey Losin’ It”

Upcoming: Mosswood Park and Nijla joined the writing team for Blindspotting



Reinaldo Marcus Green

Film 2014, Director & Producer

Reinaldo Marcus Green had an unconventional path to discovering his talent as a writer, director, and producer; at various points in his life he was an athlete, teacher and even worked on Wall Street. After discovering his love of film through his brother (and fellow Award winner!) Rashaad Ernesto Green, Reinaldo made the critically acclaimed short films, Stop and Stone Cars before making his debut feature Monsters and Men, starring John David Washington and Anthony Ramos. Monsters and Men went on to win the Special Jury Award for Outstanding First Feature at Sundance. The Princess Grace Foundation has been thrilled to be part of Reinaldo’s filmmaking journey starting in 2014 when he was at New York University.



Watch Now: Monsters and Men

Upcoming: Joe Bell, King Richard

Jon M. Chu

Film 2001, Director

From Crazy Rich Asians to the long-awaited release of In the Heights and now the upcoming film adaptation of Wicked, Jon M. Chu has created movie magic, bringing some of our favorite stories and musicals to life. He was named one of Hollywood Reporter’s “Most Powerful People in 2018”, but back in 2001 the Princess Grace Foundation already knew he would make waves in the film industry when they gave him a grant to fund his first movie musical - and the short film that caught the attention of Steven Spielberg - When The Kids Are Away.


The “Crazy Rich Asians” cast with director Jon M. Chu (second from left) and executive producer Kevin Kwan (far right)

Watch Now: Crazy Rich Asians, The LXD, Now You See Me 2

Upcoming: In the Heights, Wicked


Chinonye Chukwu

Film 2009, Director

Chinonye made history when she became the first Black woman to win the U.S. Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival for her powerful and emotionally gripping film Clemency. Chinonye has been making films since she graduated from Temple University, directing Alaskaland, The Dance Lesson, and A Long Walk. She also is an educator and an advocate who developed Pens to Pictures which teaches and empowers incarcerated females how to write and direct their own films. The Princess Grace Foundation has been honored to be a part of her pathway to artistic successes since 2009 when she received her Princess Grace Award.


"Clemency" Courtsey of Sundance Institute

Watch Now: Clemency starring Alfre Woodward

Upcoming: Till

Applications are now open for the 2021 Princess Grace Awards. Interested in applying? Learn more here.


Interested in learning more about all of our Award Winners?

Visit us at www.pgfusa.org/award-winners


Coming up next Sunday: "Meet the Princess Grace Award Winning Costume Designers"


Credits: ABC News, Princess Grace Foundation-USA, Getty Images, The Independent, Los Angeles Times, PBS, Deadline, SAG Indie, Rolling Stone, Broadimage/REX/Shutterstock, Variety

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