SISTERS IN THE LIFE FILMMAKER PROFILE
Name: Dee Rees
Diandrea “Dee” Rees (born February 7, 1977) is an American screenwriter and director. Rees was born in 1977 in Nashville, Tennessee. She attended local schools and college at Florida A&M University. For graduate school, she attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts as a film student. She is known for her feature films Pariah (2011), Bessie (2015), and Mudbound (2017). The latter was adapted from the 2008 novel by the same name by Hillary Jordan and earned Rees an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Rees has also written and directed episodes for television series including Empire, When We Rise, and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.
Rees’ first full-length film was a documentary, Eventual Salvation (2009), aired on the Sundance Channel. The film follows her American-born, 80-year-old grandmother, Amma, as she returns to Monrovia, Liberia to rebuild her home and community. She had barely escaped a decade earlier from the devastating Liberian civil war.
Rees completed development and filming of her debut feature film, Pariah, which she has described as semi-autobiographical. It premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Rees was nominated for NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Directing and Outstanding Writing, and won the Gotham Award for Best Breakthrough Director. Lisa Schwartzman of Entertainment Weekly wrote, “In her fearless, world-here-I-am! debut Pariah, writer-director Dee Rees demonstrates, with simplicity and verve, that there’s no substitute for authenticity”.
In 2015, Rees’ film Bessie premiered on HBO, starring Queen Latifah as the iconic singer Bessie Smith. The film was well received by critics.
It also won four Primetime Emmy Awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie. Rees was nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special and Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special.
Together with Virgil Williams, Rees wrote Mudbound, a period drama adapted from the 2008 novel of the same name by Hillary Jordan. Rees also directed the film, starring Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, and Mary J. Blige. The film was simultaneously released in theaters in November 2017 and on Netflix.
Rees and Williams were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Mudbound, which made Rees the first queer black woman to be nominated for any Academy Award in a writing category, and the first black woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. As well, the nomination of Mary J. Blige for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Mudbound made Rees the first black woman to direct a film for which an actor or actress was nominated for an Academy Award.
2018 – Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (TV Series) (1 episode) – Kill All Others (2018)
2017 – When We Rise (TV Mini-Series) (1 episode) – Night II: Parts II and III (2017)
2017 – Mudbound
2015 – Empire (TV Series) (1 episode) – Without a Country (2015)
2015 – Bessie (TV Movie)
2013 – Boys on Film 9: Youth in Trouble (segment “Colonial Gods”)
2011 – IPariah
2009 – Colonial Gods (Short)
2008 – Eventual Salvation (Documentary)
2007 – Pariah (Short)
2005 – Orange Bow (Short)
*Information retrieved from IMDB, Wikipedia, and or Artists website*