Multitalented film, television and music video artist Melina Matsoukas (AFI Class of 2005) will receive the 2019 Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal. This honor recognizes the extraordinary creative talents of AFI Conservatory alumni who embody the qualities of filmmaker Franklin J. Schaffner: talent, taste, dedication and commitment to quality storytelling in film and television. The presentation of the Schaffner Medal will take place at the AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to Denzel Washington in Hollywood on June 6, 2019.
Matsoukas’ innovative aesthetic has shaped some of contemporary pop culture’s most iconic moments — from the groundbreaking “Lemonade” visual album for Beyoncé to the revelatory “Thanksgiving” episode of MASTER OF NONE. With credits spanning a variety of genres and mediums and collaborations with renowned artists such as Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston and Jennifer Lopez, Matsoukas is a master of crafting modern-day, visual paeans to social justice and female empowerment.
In 2013, Matsoukas won Grammy Awards for Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and Beyoncé’s 2016 “Formation,” a feminist anthem and powerfully evocative statement on the black experience in America today. She champions diverse voices and challenges the status quo in television, directing and executive-producing HBO’s sharp portrait of black millennial life, INSECURE, and Netflix’s MASTER OF NONE. This year, Matsoukas makes her feature directorial debut with the sociopolitical thriller QUEEN & SLIM, written by Lena Waithe. She also directed the pilot for FX’s upcoming post-apocalyptic sci-fi series Y: THE LAST MAN.
She earned her MFA in Cinematography from the AFI Conservatory.