By Stephanie Okun
Let’s give a warm NYWIFT welcome to Luchina Fisher! Fisher (she/her) is an award-winning director, writer and producer who works at the intersection of race, gender and identity. She is the founder and CEO of Little Light Productions. Her feature directorial debut Mama Gloria, about Chicago trans icon activist Gloria Allen, was nominated for a 2022 GLAAD Media Award. The film premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival and BFI Flare London; won numerous jury awards; and made its broadcast debut on World channel and PBS. We were also proud to show it as part of our NYWIFT Member Screening Series in November 2021.
Previously, Fisher co-executive produced and co-wrote the critically acclaimed feature documentary Birthright: A War Story, about the war on women’s reproductive health. It appeared in more than 70 theaters nationwide, qualified for Oscar consideration, and streamed on Hulu. She is the director of two scripted short films and has written and produced several nationally broadcast documentaries, including The American Presidency, with Bill Clinton. Her work has appeared on History, A&E, ESPN, ABC and Discovery.
Fisher began her career as a journalist and has written for People; The Miami Herald; The New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; and ABCNews.com. Fisher is a Sisters in Cinema Documentary Fellow and a member of Brown Girl Doc Mafia, the Black Documentary Collective, and Film Fatales. She is an inaugural recipient of the Brown Girls Doc Mafia Black Director’s Grant and a Spark Fund Award Winner from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Firelight Media. Her work has been supported by Black Public Media, the Field Foundation, Firelight Media and the Queen Collective.
Luchina Fisher spoke to us about her early childhood influences, her next documentary, and her hopes for the future of women in media.
Luchina, what is your current position?
I am an independent film director, producer, and writer. I also started my own production company last year. It’s called Little Light Productions, which is the meaning of my name — Little Light.
Can you give us a brief overview of your career in media?
I majored in journalism in college and started out as a journalist, working in every area of media — radio, newspaper, magazine, digital. I even wrote books. One of those books, on Gladys Knight, led to the first TV documentary that I wrote and produced for A&E’s Biography series. After years of making films on the side, I made my feature directorial debut with the GLAAD-nominated film Mama Gloria in 2020. And I’ve been a full-time filmmaker ever since!
What are three fun facts about you that others would not know just by looking at you?
That I’m older than I look! [Laughs]
I have three children.
That I met my husband through a personal ad that I wrote!
What were the first influences in your life that led you to becoming a writer/director?
The first influence was my brother, who was five years older than me and the ringleader in our household. He would make me and my sister reenact scenes from the television shows we watched, including Lost in Space and Star Trek. I was lucky if I got a speaking role, but what I really yearned to do was what he was doing — directing. As a kid, I also watched every kind of movie, from Westerns to comedies to Blaxploitation films to civil rights documentaries.
Describe your most recent project and then your most favorite project as a writer/director.
My newest film is a short documentary called Team Dream, about friends and competitive swimmers Ann and Madeline and their journey to the National Senior Games. After our first screening, at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, we received a standing ovation. At our official premiere, the Chicago International Film Festival, we won the Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film. The film is part of the 2022 Queen Collective and is executive produced by Queen Latifah. It will be broadcast sometime next year on BET.
As for my favorite project, that’s like asking me to choose my favorite child. I love all my babies! I’m especially proud that Mama Gloria continues to have an impact in the world, two years after its premiere.
What’s your favorite part about being on set on the day-to-day?
On set you are firing on all cylinders — observing, guiding, listening, problem-solving. You have to be “on” and present for whatever unfolds. I never feel more alive than when I’m on set.
What attracted you to NYWIFT and how might the organization serve you?
The first event I ever attended in the city for women in film and television was sponsored by NYWIFT. Laurens Grant was talking about how she transitioned from journalism to producing. She and Michelle Materre were kind enough to chat with me afterward and share their emails with me. I love that this is an organization of women helping other women.
What kind of contributions would you like to make to NYWIFT?
I would like to pay forward that kind of mentorship and support to the next generation of female filmmakers.
What do you see moving forward for the future of women as media makers?
What’s the saying — the future is female. I think we will continue to see more women’s voices rising to the top of the media landscape, with more women in the executive roles, able to green light projects.
Additional reporting by Katie Chambers.
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