Open main menu

Neema Barnette

Neema Barnette is an American film director,[1][2] and the first African-American woman sitcom director.[3] Barnette was the first African-American woman to get a three-picture deal with Sony.[citation needed]

Neema Barnette
Born (1949-12-14) December 14, 1949 (age 68)
New York City, New York, United States
OccupationDirector, producer
Years active1982–present
Spouse(s)Reed R. McCants (1 child)

In 1990, she founded Harlem Girl Productions Corporation. Since 1997, Barnette has also worked for the Harlem Lite Productions. She has directed multiple seasons and episodes of a variety of television sitcoms including A Different World, The Cosby Show, Gilmore Girls, and 7th Heaven.

Barnette has directed stage, episodic television, made for TV movies and feature films. Sky Captain was her first short film which she directed as part of the American Film Institute's (AFI) Directing Workshop for Women in 1985.[4] Her 2003 film Civil Brand is a low-budget feature on women in prison who stage an uprising to protest their treatment.[2] Her 1997 film, Spirit Lost, is a psychological thriller with a love triangle that includes a ghost.[1][5]

Her most recent feature film is Woman Thou Art Loosed: On The 7th Day (2012), her 11th movie and third for theatrical release.[6] The film is a thriller and family drama following the story of a marriage on the rocks,[7] which received an NAACP Image Award Nomination for Best Independent Feature in 2012.[8] Barnette directed two episodes of Being Mary Jane: "Hot Seat" and "Don't Call It A Comeback" (2015 - Season 3).[9][10] Barnette is the Executive Producer of Black History Mini Docs, 90 second videos featuring the stories of African-American heroes and she-roes, as well as daily tributes which are posted on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.[8]

She has won numerous awards, honors, and nominations, among them an Emmy Award for her afterschool special To Be a Man,[11] two NAACP Image Awards, and a Sundance Film Festival Award.[citation needed]




  • Super Sweet 16: The Movie (2007)
  • All You've Got (2005)
  • Zora Is My Name!
  • Better Off Dead
  • Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story
  • Close to Danger
  • Spirit Lost
  • Woman Thou Art Loose: On the 7th Day
  • Heaven Ain't Hard to Find
  • Better off Dead[12][13]


  • The Cosby Mysteries
  • The Silent Crime
  • One More Hurdle
  • Scattered Dreams
  • Sin and Redemption
  • Spirit Lost
  • Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story
  • Miracle's Boys
  • Diagnosis Murder
  • What's Happening Now
  • Hooperman
  • The Royal Family
  • China Beach
  • Frank's Place
  • The Sinbad Show
  • A Different World
  • The Cosby Show
  • Different Worlds: A Story of Interracial Love
  • Being Mary Jane[12][13]
  • Queen Sugar
  • The Good Cop


  • TO BE A MAN for ABC Television, for which she won her first Emmy Award.
  • The Silent Crime, an American Women in Radio & Television award for directing.
  • Barnette won an International Monitor Award for Best Director for The Cosby Show episode, 'The Day the Spores Landed.'
  • ZORA IS MY NAME (American Playhouse production starring Ruby Dee which won a Lilly Award for Exceptional Representation of African American Images in Film)
  • One More Hurdle,” an NBC dramatic special, won Neema her first NAACP Image® Award for her directing efforts.
  • While directing an episode for Cosby in which Mr. Cosby gets pregnant, “The Day The Spores Landed” (International Monitor® Award for Best Director)
  • The Delta Society awarded Neema their prestigious Lilly® Award for exceptional representation of African American images in film.
  • The Cosby Mysteries. “ For one episode she directed the show received a Peabody® and Emmy® Award.
  • In June 2002, Civil Brand, the film won the Blockbuster Audience Award at The Black American Film Festival in Miami.
  • In August 2002, “Civil Brand” also won the Audience Award and Special Jury Award at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City.
  • In February, 2003, “Civil Brand” was the opening night gala feature for the 2003 Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles and won the Festival Award at Pan-African Film Festival, and Neema received the Sojourner Truth Award.
  • In April 2003, "Civil Brand", was an official selection of the Philadelphia Film Festival and won the Audience Award at the Roxbury Black Film Festival in Boston.[13]
  • In March 2006, the Reel Sistas of the Diaspora and NY Women in Film awarded Neema the “Trailblazer Award” at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.


  1. ^ a b Thomas, Kevin (August 29, 2003). "'Civil Brand'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
  2. ^ a b Scott, A. O. (October 10, 2003). "FILM REVIEW; Tough Women in the Pen Decide to Get Tougher". New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
  3. ^ Randle, Nancy (January 12, 1993). "Tackling issues Steinem's behind-the-scenes efforts give life to 'Better Off Dead'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 15, 2009. Barnette-the first black woman to direct a primetime sitcom
  4. ^ Gregory, Mollie (2002-08-24). Women Who Run the Show: How a Brilliant and Creative New Generation of Women Stormed Hollywood. Macmillan. ISBN 9780312301828.
  5. ^ McClain, Shonda (June 10, 1995). "'Spirit Lost' a low-down psychological thriller". Indianapolis Recorder. Retrieved November 15, 2009. 'Spirit Lost' is the story of a 'brother' who is caught between two women, one of whom happens to be a ghost. Directed by Neema Barnette, [...]
  6. ^ "Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  7. ^ "Woman-Thou-Art-Loosed-On-the-7th-Day - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes -". Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  8. ^ a b "About BHMD". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  9. ^ Neema. "Barnette".
  10. ^ "Being Mary Jane Season 3". Season Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  11. ^ Chideya, Farai (October 19, 2007). "Honoring Black Female Filmmakers". National Public Radio. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
  12. ^ a b Gregory, Mollie (2002). Women Who Run the Show: How a Brilliant and Creative New Generation of Women Stormed. MacMillan. p. 423. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  13. ^ a b c "School of Theater, Film and Television". TFT UCLA EDU. UCLA. Retrieved 13 December 2015.

External linksEdit