Samuel Trotter—The New York Times/Redux

Melina Matsoukas

Melina-Matsoukas-TIME-100-Next- Samuel Trotter—The New York Times/Redux 

I can usually tell from the first frame whether a film knows its voice. The first shot of Melina Matsoukas’ debut feature film, Queen & Slim, is of a waitress. And you can tell Melina deeply cares about every thread of that woman’s costume, every follicle of her hair. Immediately, it’s clear this director knows exactly who she is. She is deeply passionate about presenting black people with the kind of visual consideration and love that we haven’t seen in the industry. She’s honest, and her truth will resonate, whether it’s a positive or negative effect. I don’t want to pigeonhole her. If you look at her back catalog of music videos for Beyoncé and Rihanna and Solange, and the diversity of images in those projects—she can do anything. She’s not monolithic. Her work is going to be broad but always empower people like her. And that’s exciting.

Kaluuya is a writer and an Oscar-nominated actor who stars in Queen & Slim

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