Clement Virgo

Clement Virgo (born June 1, 1966) is a Canadian film and television writer, producer and director who runs the production company, Conquering Lion Pictures, with producer Damon D'Oliveira. Virgo is best known for co-writing and directing an adaptation of the novel by Canadian writer Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes (2015), a six-part miniseries that aired on CBC Television in Canada and BET in the United States.

Clement Virgo
Clement Virgo at the 2017 CFC Alumni at TIFF Reception (37034658296).jpg
Virgo in 2017
Born (1966-06-01) June 1, 1966 (age 55)
OccupationFilm director, television director, film producer, television producer, screenwriter
Years active1991–present

Early lifeEdit

Virgo was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica. He immigrated to Canada at the age of 11 and grew up in Toronto.[1][2] In the summer of 1991, he attended the Canadian Film Centre's inaugural Summer Lab initiative as a screenwriter, where he developed the screenplay for what would later become his feature film debut, Rude (1995).[3]


Early workEdit

At the Canadian Film Centre, Virgo met a number of Canadian filmmakers, including Damon D'Oliveira. Virgo wrote and directed the stylized short film, Save My Lost Nigga' Soul, with D'Oliveira as producer, through the CFC's Short Film Program. The film won Best Film prizes at the Toronto, Fespaco and Chicago Film Festivals.[4]

Virgo and D'Oliveira were invited to participate in the CFC's film residency program in 1992. Together, the pair established Conquering Lion Pictures and produced their first feature film, Rude. It had its world premiere at Cannes as part of the Un certain regard program.[5]

Virgo's next films, The Planet of Junior Brown,[3] which earned an Emmy nomination, and Love Come Down, were followed by Lie with Me, which caused a stir at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival because it portrayed explicit sexual themes.[6] Starring Lauren Lee Smith and Eric Balfour, Lie With Me had its European premiere at the 2006 Berlin International Film Festival, Panorama Section. It has been distributed internationally, and sold to Showtime in the United States. The film was based on the novel of the same name, written by his wife, the author Tamara Faith Berger.[7]


Virgo next created a boxing drama, Poor Boy's Game, starred Danny Glover and Rossif Sutherland. It was first screened at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival, Panorama Special Section, and was presented as a Special Selection at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. Poor Boy's Game earned Virgo a nomination in 2007 for the Directors Guild of Canada Outstanding Achievement Craft Award for direction of a motion picture film. In a review for Variety, critic Leslie Felperin praised the film's treatment of race, identity and sexuality, declaring it to be Virgo's best work up to that time.[8]

Virgo co-wrote and directed the six-part miniseries adaptation of Lawrence Hill's bestselling novel The Book of Negroes (2015), starring Aunjanue Ellis, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lou Gossett Jr., Ben Chaplin, Jane Alexander and Lyriq Bent. The series aired to wide acclaim and a record-breaking 1.7 million Canadian viewers in January 2015 on CBC in Canada.[9] It premiered in February 2015 in the United States, drawing landmark ratings for BET (Black Entertainment Television.)[10] The series won 11 Canadian Screen Awards,[11][12] two U.S. Critics Choice Television Awards nominations for Best Limited Series and Best Actress in a Limited Series (Aunjanue Ellis),[13] three 2015 NAACP Image Award Nominations, including Best Miniseries, Best Actor (Cuba Gooding Jr.), Best Actress (Ellis), and the NAACP Award for Best Writing in a TV Movie or Miniseries for Virgo and Lawrence Hill.[14] The Book of Negroes was also named one of 60 finalists for the 2016 Peabody Awards.[15]

Virgo's television credits include The Wire for HBO, The L Word for Showtime, Baz Luhrmann's Netflix drama The Get Down (2016), and American Crime for ABC. He directed several episodes of the OWN drama series Greenleaf (2016),[16] on which he served as executive producer with Oprah Winfrey.[17][18]

From 2010 to 2014, Virgo and the Canadian Film Centre co-hosted a series of annual talks to celebrate Black History Month in Toronto, with guests Lee Daniels, Norman Jewison, Spike Lee, Pam Grier, John Singleton, and Chris Tucker.

In 2021 Virgo began production on Brother, an adaptation of the award-winning novel by David Chariandy.[19] In November 2021, he was announced as directing the upcoming Black Cyclone, a biopic on legendary cyclist Major Taylor, for Mind's Eye Entertainment.[20]


In 2017, Virgo and D'Oliveira as Conquering Lion Pictures co-founders received the Canadian Film Centre's Award for Creative Excellence.[21]





  1. ^ Wyndham Wise, "Clement Virgo", The Canadian Encyclopedia
  2. ^ "From rap battles to the Cinesphere getting its groove back, here's what's new at TIFF '17". Ali Chiasson · CBC News · Sep 06, 2017
  3. ^ a b "Great Toronto movies that aren't so white". NOW Magazine, by Norman Wilner, Susan G. Cole, February 24, 2016
  4. ^ Sheila Petty; Sheila J. Petty (2008). Contact Zones: Memory, Origin, and Discourses in Black Diasporic Cinema. Wayne State University Press. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-8143-3099-9.
  5. ^ DeRosia, Margaret. "Close-Up: Conquering Lion Pictures". Canadian Film Centre. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  6. ^ Walker, Susan. (September 25, 2005). "Lie With Me." Toronto Star.
  7. ^ Clements, Warren (10 February 2006). "For your Valentine's viewing pleasure". Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  8. ^ Felperin, Leslie. (February 12, 2007). "Berlin Reviews". Variety. Retrieved 2010-11-24.
  9. ^ "Book of Negroes tops ratings for its time slot". January 9, 2015.
  10. ^ "The Book of Negroes Extras & Exclusives".
  11. ^ "The Book of Negroes wins 11 Canadian Screen Awards - TO411 Daily".
  12. ^ "‘The Book of Negroes’ wins at the Canadian Screen Awards". RAdio Canada International, By Carmel Kilkenny | 10 March 2016
  13. ^ "Two Critics' Choice Awards nominations for The Book of Negroes - CBC News".
  14. ^ "NAACP Image Awards: Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on 2016-08-28. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  15. ^ "The 60 Peabody Finalists".
  16. ^ Regan Reid, "What shows topped the digital charts in 2017?". Playback, December 18, 2017.
  17. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (14 September 2015). "OWN's Megachurch Drama 'Greenleaf' Adds 'The Wire' Alum as EP and Director".
  18. ^ Chris Jancelewicz, "‘Greenleaf’: What to expect from Oprah Winfrey’s new show". Global News, June 21, 2016.
  19. ^ Liza Sardi, "Rising stars assemble for Brother". Playback, October 18, 2021.
  20. ^ Jackson, Angelique (22 November 2021). "Clement Virgo Tapped to Direct 'Black Cyclone' Biopic About Bicycle Racer Major Taylor (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  21. ^ "CFC Celebrates Damon D'Oliveira, Clement Virgo and Acclaimed Conquering Lion Pictures with Fourth Annual Award for Creative Excellence". Canadian Film Centre. Retrieved 1 March 2017.

External linksEdit