Melina Matsoukas (born January 14, 1981) is an American music video, film, commercial and television director. She is a two-time Grammy Award winner and four-time MTV Video Music Awards winner for her "We Found Love" and "Formation" music videos.[1] She was honored with the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal by the American Film Institute in 2019. Her directorial debut in film was Queen & Slim, starring Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya, and written by Lena Waithe. It was released on November 27, 2019, by Universal Pictures.

Melina Matsoukas
Born (1981-01-14) January 14, 1981 (age 39)
Alma materNew York University
Years active2006–present

Early life and educationEdit

Matsoukas grew up in the Co-op City housing development in the Bronx. Her father worked as a builder,[2] and her mother taught math in a local high school. When Matsoukas was eight, the family moved to Hackensack, New Jersey. Her father is of half Greek and half Jewish descent, and her mother is of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Jamaican descent.[3][4] Both her name and surname are Greek: Μελίνα Ματσούκα. She earned her degree at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and completed her graduate work at the AFI Conservatory with an MFA in cinematography. Her graduate thesis was on music videos.[5]


Matsoukas started out at Black Dog Film, then the now-defunct Gorilla Flix film production company, and is currently a director at Prettybird, which she has been signed to since 2011.

Her work is described as "chock full of bright colors or crisp black and white images, smooth spotlights, and tasteful retro video models."[6] Matsoukas says that expensive equipment is not necessary for a quality video and one should never think that way: "A good video has the right visuals, a well conceptualised story and should be exciting and elicit reaction."[7] In an interview for Venus Zine's Fall 2010 issue, she says about being part of the music video world, "I love it. The quick turnaround, the creativity."[8]

In 2016 and 2017, Matsoukas directed several episodes of the critically and publicly acclaimed television series Master of None and Insecure.

Matsoukas made her directorial debut in film with Queen & Slim, starring Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya, and written by Lena Waithe. It was released on November 27, 2019, by Universal Pictures.[9]

Filmography (director)Edit

Music videosEdit

Year Title Artist Notes
2006 "Dem Girls" Red Handed feat. Paul Wall & Scooby
"Go 'Head" Ali & Gipp feat. Chocolate Tai
"Need a Boss" Shareefa feat. Ludacris
"Cry No More" Shareefa
"Hey Hey" 216
"Money Maker" Ludacris feat. Pharrell
"Dangerous" Ying Yang Twins feat. Wyclef Jean
"Help" Lloyd Banks feat. Keri Hilson
2007 "Because of You" Ne-Yo
"Green Light" Beyoncé
"Kitty Kat" Beyoncé co-directed by Beyoncé
"Suga Mama" Beyoncé co-directed by Beyoncé
"Upgrade U" Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z co-directed by Beyoncé
"Tambourine" Eve feat. Swizz Beatz
"Do You" Ne-Yo
"Give It to You" Eve feat. Sean Paul
"Bleeding Love" Leona Lewis UK version
"Hold It Don't Drop It" Jennifer Lopez
"Sensual Seduction" Snoop Dogg
"How Do I Breathe" Mario
2008 "In My Arms" Kylie Minogue
"Wow" Kylie Minogue
"Modern World" Anouk
"Closer" Ne-Yo
"I Decided" Solange
"Just Dance" Lady Gaga feat. Colby O'Donis
"Energy" Keri Hilson
"Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" Lady Gaga
"Go Girl" Ciara
"Return the Favor" Keri Hilson feat. Timbaland
"Diva" Beyoncé
"Thinking of You" Katy Perry
2009 "I Will Be" Leona Lewis
"So Good" Electrik Red
"Not Fair" Lily Allen
"Sweet Dreams" Beyoncé I Am... Tour interlude video
"Touch My Hand" David Archuleta
"Work" Ciara feat. Missy Elliott
"I Look to You" Whitney Houston
"Million Dollar Bill" Whitney Houston
"Sex Therapy" Robin Thicke
"Never Knew I Needed" Ne-Yo
"Hard" Rihanna feat. Young Jeezy
2010 "Rude Boy" Rihanna
"Put It in a Love Song" Alicia Keys feat. Beyoncé
"Why Don't You Love Me" Beyoncé co-directed by Beyoncé
"Rockstar 101" Rihanna feat. Slash
"Gimmie Dat" Ciara
2011 "S&M" Rihanna co-directed by Rihanna
"Move Your Body" Beyoncé
"I'm into You" Jennifer Lopez feat. Lil Wayne
"We Found Love" Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris
"You da One" Rihanna
2012 "Your Body" Christina Aguilera
"Losing You" Solange
"Looking Hot" No Doubt
"Keep You" Wild Belle
2013 "Pretty Hurts" Beyoncé
"RUN" Beyoncé and Jay-Z
2016 "Formation" Beyoncé


Year Title Client Notes
2011 Year off Target / Beyoncé
Fuel for Life Diesel
2012 All Originals Represent Adidas
2013 Change Lanes Lexus
2016 Pop Stella McCartney / Grimes, Amandla Stenberg, Lola Leon, Kenya Kinski-Jones
2017 Equality Nike


Year Title Notes
2016 Insecure 7 Episodes
2017 Master of None 2 Episodes
2020 Y also executive producer[10]


Year Title Notes
2019 Queen & Slim also producer[11]


Year Award or Organization Category Nominee Result Ref.
2008 UK Music Video Awards People Choice Awards "Bleeding Love" (Leona Lewis) Won [12]
2012 Antville Music Video Awards Best Hip-Hop "Losing You" (Solange Knowles) Nominated [13]
Best Performance Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Video of the Year "We Found Love" (Rihanna with Calvin Harris) Won [14]
UK Music Video Awards Best Pop Video – International Nominated [15]
2013 Grammy Awards Best Music Video "We Found Love" (Rihanna with Calvin Harris) Won [16]
Music Video Production Awards Best Direction of a New Artist "Losing You" (Solange Knowles) Won [17]
Best Direction of a Female Artist Won
UK Music Video Awards Best Pop Video – International Won [18]
2014 Camerimage Video of the Year "Pretty Hurts" (Beyoncé) Nominated [19]
Best Cinematography Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Best Direction Nominated [20]
2016 Camerimage Video of the Year "Formation" (Beyoncé) Nominated [21]
Best Cinematography Nominated
Cannes Lions International Festival Excellence in Music Video Gran Prix [22]
Clio Awards Video of the Year Won [23]
Kinsale Shark Awards Best International Director Music Video Won [24]
Best International Music Video Won
London International Awards Best Music Video Bronze [25]
Music Video Direction Bronze
MTV Video Music Awards Video of the Year Won [26]
Best Direction Won
Best Cinematography Won
UK Music Video Awards Best Urban Video - International Nominated [citation needed]
Best Styling in a Video Won
2017 Black Reel Awards for Television Outstanding Comedy Series Insecure Nominated [27]
Outstanding Directing - Comedy Series "Thanksgiving" (Master of None) Nominated
Gold Derby Awards Best Comedy Episode of the Year Won [28]
Grammy Awards Best Music Video "Formation" (Beyoncé) Won [16]
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series "Insecure as F**k" (Insecure) Nominated [29]
Webby Awards Best Music Video - People's Voice "Formation" (Beyoncé) Won [30]
Best Music Video Nominated
2018 Black Reel Awards for Television Outstanding Comedy Series Insecure Nominated [31]
Outstanding Directing - Comedy Series "Hella Perspective" (Insecure) Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series "Thanksgiving" (Master of None) Nominated [32] [33]
2019 African-American Film Critics Association Impact Award Queen & Slim Won [34]
Top 10 Best Films Won
American Film Institute Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal Herself Won [35]
Austin Film Critics Association Awards Best First Film Queen & Slim Nominated [36]
Florida Film Critics Circle Best First Film Won [37]
Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society Awards Best First Feature Nominated [citation needed]
National Board of Review Awards Best Directorial Debut Won [38]
Online Association of Female Film Critics Awards Breakthrough Filmmaker Nominated [39]
Online Film Critics Society Best Debut Feature Nominated [40]
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best First Feature Nominated [41]
2020 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Motion Picture Queen & Slim Nominated [42]
Outstanding Director Nominated
Outstanding Emerging Director Won
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directing - First Time Feature Film Nominated [43]
Hawaii Film Critics Society Awards Best First Film Nominated [citation needed]
Best New Filmaker Nominated [citation needed]
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Motion Picture Nominated [44]
Outstanding Independent Motion Picture Nominated


  1. ^ Okeowo, Alexis (March 6, 2017). "The Provocateur behind Beyonce, Rihanna and Issa Rae". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "The Provocateur Behind Beyonce Rihanna and Issa Rae". Archived from the original on July 12, 2011. Retrieved May 14, 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^
  5. ^ Kamuzu Banda, Tim. Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 22:01. "Video queen: Melina Matsoukas", Daily Nation.
  6. ^ "Visionary: Melina Matsoukas" Archived January 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, WatchLookListen.
  7. ^ Banda, Tim Kamuzu (2008). "Video queen: Melina Matsoukas", p.2, Daily Nation.
  8. ^ "Venus Zine: Melina Matsoukas" Venus Zine Fall 2010 Issue No. 44
  9. ^ Jodie Smith-Turner to Star Opposite Daniel Kaluuya in ‘Queen & Slim’ (EXCLUSIVE)
  10. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 5, 2018). "FX Orders 'Y' Drama Pilot Based On 'Y: The Last Man' Comic Book Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  11. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (July 19, 2018). "Makeready Sets 'Queen & Slim'; Daniel Kaluuya Stars, Melina Matsoukas Directs Lena Waithe Script". Deadline. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  12. ^ "Bjork promo triumphs at UK Music Video Awards | News | Music Week". Music Week. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  13. ^ "Antville Music Video Awards 2012 – THE WINNERS". December 30, 2012. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  14. ^ "One Direction beat Justin Bieber and Rihanna at MTV awards". The Daily Telegraph. September 7, 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  15. ^ "Music Genre Categories". UKMVA. December 12, 2012.
  16. ^ a b "Grammy Awards: Melina Matsoukas". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  17. ^ "2013 MVPA Award Winners". VideoStatic.
  18. ^ "UK Music Video Awards 2013 – all of last night's winners!". October 29, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  19. ^ "2014 MUSIC VIDEOS COMPETITION NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED". Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  20. ^ "Here's Your Full List of 2014 VMA Winners". MTV News. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  21. ^ "2016 MUSIC VIDEO NOMINATIONS ARE HERE!". Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  22. ^ "Beyonce's 'Formation' Music Video Wins Grand Prix at Inaugural Cannes Lions Entertainment for Music Awards". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  23. ^ "Beyoncé – Formation". Clios. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  24. ^ "2016 Kinsale Shark Awards - Short Film and Music Video". Kinsale Shark Awards. Retrieved November 3, 2017.[dead link]
  25. ^ "London International Awards". Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  26. ^ "MTV VMAs 2016: the MTV Video Music Awards – as it happened". The Guardian. August 29, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  27. ^ "2017 Black Reel Awards for Television". Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  28. ^ Montgomery, Daniel (July 26, 2017). "2017 Gold Derby TV Awards nominations: 'This is Us,' 'Veep,' 'The Leftovers,' 'Stranger Things' among top contenders". GoldDerby. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  29. ^ Washington, Arlene; Lewis, Hilary (February 10, 2017). "Hidden Figures, Loving, and Queen of Katwe nominated". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  30. ^ "Here Are The Winners Of The 21st Annual Webby Awards". Webby Awards. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  31. ^ "2018 Black Reel Awards for Television". Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  32. ^ Swertlow, Meg (February 3, 2018). "DGA Awards 2018 Winners: The Complete List". E! News. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  33. ^ "DGA Announces Nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television, Commercials and Documentary for 2017". Directors Guild of America. January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  34. ^ "Jordan Peele's 'Us' Named Best Film by African-American Film Critics Association 2019". October 10, 2019. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  35. ^ "Director Melina Matsoukas To Receive AFI's Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal". May 10, 2019. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  36. ^ "Austin Film Critics Association Awards 2020". Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  37. ^ "Florida Film Critics Circle Awards 2019 - Winners". Retrieved December 29, 2019.
  38. ^ Sharf, Zack (December 3, 2019). "National Board of Review 2019: 'The Irishman' Wins Best Film, Adam Sandler Named Best Actor". IndieWire. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  39. ^ "Online Association of Female Film Critics 2019 Awards". Retrieved December 29, 2019.
  40. ^ "Online Film Critics Society 2019 Awards (23RD ANNUAL)". Retrieved December 29, 2019.
  41. ^ "StLFCA Awards 2020". Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  42. ^ "Black Reel Awards Nominations: 'Queen & Slim' Lead The Field, Kelvin Harrison Nabs Double Nomination". Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  43. ^ Jackson, Angelique (January 7, 2020). "Directors Guild Nominees Include Bong Joon Ho, Sam Mendes, Taika Waititi". Variety. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  44. ^ "NAACP | NOMINEES ANNOUNCED FOR 51st NAACP IMAGE AWARDS". NAACP. January 9, 2020. Retrieved January 9, 2020.

External linksEdit