WMN Role Models: Melina Matsoukas

Beyoncé's video director arrives at her first feature, denouncing racism in the US

By Alessandra Nava

Rihanna being maliciously sexy in "S&M", Beyoncé embracing her creole origins in "Formation", J Lo sensually dancing in "I’m Into You": what do these videos have in common? The filmmaker. And she’s a woman. 
Melina Matsoukas, a natural born Capricorn from The Bronx, New York City, became one of the most talented directors of her generation, highly requested from the artists and acclaimed by the critic
Once she got a degree in Fine Arts, she kept on improving her studies and eventually directed her first music video, starring her cousin Red Handed
Her curriculum grew bigger and bigger, collecting prestigious collaborations with Lady Gaga ("Just Dance"), Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera (Your Body), Ciara and many more. 
Her most beloved artist is probably Beyoncé. They both share the same age, the same passion, the same talent. Their artistic friendship started in 2007, when Melina directed "Green Light", and Queen Bey a young popstar in the making. Then there were "Kitty Kat", "Upgrade U" featuring Jay Z, the "I am… Sasha Fierce" era and finally "Pretty Hurts", Beyoncé’s touching exordium: the visual album that changed the fate of contemporary music.
And then there was "Formation", probably the apex of their artistic bound. The visual manifesto that anticipated the whole "Lemonade" movie album is a popular masterpiece thought to be remembered. The detailed photography, the amazing shots, the super locations all contribute to make this video not only enjoyable to watch, but also filled in with a powerful social message. Queen Bey and her dancers embrace their black beauty, firstly dressed up as in a "Gone With The Wind" remake, then all covered in Gucci suits or denim workwear.
Set in Los Angeles, the music video copes with messages such as racism, black pride, and the aftermath of hurricane Katrina
Matsoukas delved into the complex themes of police brutality and black pride in her first movie, "Queen&Slim". It’s the story of a young Afroamerican couple who accidentally kills a violent cop. The two of them will live a bittersweet adventure that will change their lives. Written and directed in 2019, the movie sadly foreshadowed these days’ saddest news. Matsoukas worked with Lina Waithe, an Afroamerican actress and screenwriter who’s also an activist. 
We do hope to see her movie soon: her sophisticated and touching style, together with the powerful message conveyed through the story, conquered our hearts.