For our Black History Month series, we’re highlight people of color making significant strides behind the scenes. No roundup would be complete without highlighting a woman who is behind the lens in some of the most riveting music videos: Director Melina Matsoukas.


Matsoukas, is the visionary behind Beyoncé’s, “Formation” video. If the aforementioned isn’t enough to make you gag, she is also a Grammy Award winner for Best Music Video for “We Found Love” by Rihanna. Oh-and get this-she’s the director behind Issa Rae’s HBO comedy, Insecure.

black-history-month-Melina-matsoukas02Regarding her involvement with projects that have provoked cultural awareness [“Formation” and Insecure] she tells NYTimes, I feel like I’m now just starting to get to do what I’ve always wanted to do, and hopefully that brush becomes broader and I get to do that with a film and continue to do that in TV, and I’ll probably continue to do a couple of videos here and there. The reason I got into filmmaking was super naïve: to change the world, you know? To really make the voices that we don’t get to hear heard, and the images and the stories that we don’t get to see seen. I would like to normalize that.”

black-history-month-Melina-matsoukas03As she reflects on the world’s reaction to “Formation”, she goes on to say to NYtimes, “That wasn’t anything expected. I had no idea that it would have that reaction and initiate those kinds of conversations. That was very satisfying as an artist to be a part of that. I feel like there’s been a lot of racial injustice in our community, and we’re hungry for somebody to say something and for somebody as strong as Beyoncé to say something and show value to people of color.”

Melina is of Jewish, Cuban, Greek, and Jamaican descent; she tells Refinary29, At the end of the day, I’m a black woman. I see race and culture as different entities and my experience is that of a black woman. I love that because of my different cultures, I’ve been exposed to so many different influences, ideas, views, foods, and experiences, and in terms of culture I wouldn’t say I identify with any of those the most, because I’m American. But, my descent definitely plays a part in how I was raised and what I believe in.” 

black-history-month-Melina-matsoukas03In reference to her style, she says to Refinery29, “I like to play with clothes and dress according to how I feel that particular day. I’m very much a tomboy, but I wear heels to balance that out. I actually live in heels, and I’m trying to work into a lower form of footwear at the moment. On that note, since I’m typically in a rush, I like easy things that you don’t have to think too much about, like jumpsuits. Also, I just love a good outfit, so when I find pieces that work together, I’ll wear them a few days in a row. But, I love clothes and I love getting dressed. If I’m not happy with my outfit, it’s not a good day. In general, I really just dress for me, so I feel confident and good about myself.”

To women aspiring to be in this male dominated industry, Melina tells Refinery29, “Set your goals and go for it one step at a time. Work hard and educate yourself every step of the way. Never stop learning, listening, or seeing. I still am.” 

 Be sure to keep up with Melina on IG @msmelina.

Thoughts on this avant garde director?