Oscar & Emmy Winning Director

Roger Ross Williams

Roger Ross Williams is an Oscar and Emmy award-winning director, producer and writer and the first African American director to win an Academy Award ®, with his film Music By Prudence. 

“Beautiful,” “Uplifting,” “Extraordinary,” “Triumphant,” “Rich with insight,” “Searing,” “Remarkable,” and “Inspirational” are accolades Williams’ films have received from the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Forbes, Stephen Colbert, and Entertainment Weekly

Williams has directed a number of acclaimed films including Life, Animated, which won the Sundance Film Festival Directing Award, was nominated for an Academy Award ® and won three Emmys in 2018, including the award for Best Documentary. He also directed God Loves Uganda, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award ® and American Jail, which examined the U.S. prison system and premiered on CNN last July.  Williams’ Traveling While Black, a VR documentary made for Facebook’s Oculus, premiered at Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy.  His film The Apollo, a documentary about Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater, was the opening night film of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. He recently directed three hours of The Innocence Files, which premiered on Netflix in their top ten.  

His production company, One Story Up, is producing a variety of projects including two limited documentary series for Netflix.  One Story Up specializes in creating documentary films, television, streaming series and specials, animation and VR.  The company recently announced a short doc series  with Topic and First Look Media that focuses on filmmakers from underrepresented communities.  The series will be hosted by Williams.

Since 2016, Williams has been on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences serving on the Documentary Branch and the documentary Diversity Committee.  Williams serves on the advisory board of the Full Frame Festival, and the boards of the Tribeca Film Institute, Docubox Kenya, None On Record and the Zeitz Museum Of Contemporary Art Africa.  He resides in New York and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.